The 2012 legislative session of the Georgia General Assembly is now officially over halfway through the 40 days we are allowed to meet.
House Resolution 1325 is one piece of legislation we passed this week. This resolution urges Congress to repeal an outdated law so that illegal cell phone use can be more easily detected in prisons. Illegal cell phone use has become a huge problem in Georgia’s prisons. In 2011, the Georgia Department of Corrections confiscated more than 8,500 illegal cell phones. These phones are often used by inmates to initiate attacks against prison guards and coordinate gang activity from behind bars.
Georgia corrections officers have reported that they could dramatically decrease the violence with the use of cellular jammers, devices that prevent cellular phones from receiving signals from base stations. Unfortunately, prisons are unable to use cellular jammers due to an outdated federal law. While we cannot change this law ourselves, we can send a strong message to Washington, which we did with HR 1325.
This week we continued our Red Tape Watch initiative. Through this series of hearings, we have had the opportunity to hear from small businesses across the state, as they shared the challenges they face with unnecessary government regulations. For example, business owners from several different industries have complained about delays in working with state agencies to obtain inspections and licenses.
Also, many owners of day care centers complained of a new requirement that employees must have a technical or college degree. Some of these centers say they may have to lay off workers who have been working with them for 20 years. We need to look at policies like these and determine if this is the right step to take.
On Thursday, several bills made their way to the House floor for consideration. House Bill 835 passed unanimously and this legislation would allow the commissioner of the Department of Transportation to issue a permit called the Annual Commercial Wrecker Emergency Tow Permit, with a fee of $500, for towing disabled commercial vehicles and allow a 5 percent variance on the weight limitations. House Bill 728 passed unanimously and relates to property covenants that were in place prior to a city or county adopting zoning laws and would allow the land use to continue to be effective until the covenant expires.
On Friday, the House passed out House Bill 824. This legislation revises the method for calculating equalization grants. Equalization is additional funding that is provided to city and county K-12 systems that have low property tax wealth per public school child. It is not the regular QBE per child funding, but rather a separate grant to make up for differences in property tax digests across the state.
You can call my Capitol office at (404) 656-5099 or email me at email@example.com. I am always happy to hear from you.