We have completed 26 days of the 2008 Georgia General Assembly session and we are quickly approaching “Day 30” which is “Crossover Day.” Crossover day is the last day that the House or Senate will consider their own legislation and pass it over to the other body for consideration. If a bill that originates in the House of Representatives hasn’t been passed by the House by this Day 30, then the bill effectively is considered “dead.”
Day 30 activities are widely active as members of the House and Senate try to push bills through and we have a very long calendar of bills to consider.
Last week we passed House Bill 455, a bill that dramatically helps us to control narcotic prescription drugs that are dispensed at drug stores. The bill establishes a program for monitoring prescribed and dispensed schedule II, III, and IV controlled substances. Dispensers of these drugs will be required to submit specific information regarding when the prescription was filled, the quantity dispensed, as well as, the patient’s data and the prescribing doctor’s information. This bill is designed to help fight the growing battle of “prescription shopping” that some drug addicts use to get prescribed drugs. The bill passed 149-8.
Georgia is a large state with many transportation needs in both our urban and rural areas. The House adopted House Bill 1019 authorizing the creation of the Georgia Transportation Infrastructure Bank. The bank will provide low interest loans to communities across Georgia for transportation projects providing viable funding options to move ahead with local projects.
Several education bills were considered this week that will impact both local education and the HOPE scholarship. We adopted House Bill 250 enabling the Professional Practices Commission to investigate complaints against educators involving illegal substances and sexual offenses. We also adopted House Bill 1091 redefining residency guidelines for students applying to our state universities and for the HOPE scholarship.
Tourism is a growing industry in Georgia attracting visitors from across the globe to our state each year and creating new jobs for our citizens. To encourage the development of new tourist attractions in Georgia, the House approved the Georgia Tourism Development Act. House Bill 1129 provides a sales and use tax refund to companies building or expanding a tourist attraction.
With more children every year entering our foster system, I believe it is important that we do everything we can to support those families that give them a permanent loving home.
This week, I supported the adoption of House Bill 1159 providing a state income tax credit for families who adopt foster children. I hope that this measure will encourage more of our Georgians to open their hearts and provide these children with a permanent home.
In the Transportation Committee this week, we passed Senate Resolution 781 calling on the Georgia Department of Transportation to create a statewide strategic transportation plan and present it to the General Assembly by Dec. 31. This is a necessary step to provide Georgia with a comprehensive map to address our transportation needs. We also adopted House Bill 1189 requiring the DOT to make an annual report to the governor, lieutenant governor, speaker and chairs of the House and Senate Transportation Committees. The report must include progress made on the Statewide Strategic Transportation plan plus a list of projects realistically expected to begin in the next five years, the cost of those projects, and the source of funding for those projects.
I will continue to keep you up to date on our actions as the legislative session progresses.