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Thoughts remain with refinery explosion victims
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To our readers: State Rep. Buddy Carter (R-Pooler) will be reporting each week during the Legislative session. The session began Jan. 14 and is expected to last until the latter days of March.
Day 15 (Feb. 11): I’m at the radio station at 7:15 this morning for a quick interview with my good friend Bill Edwards before hitting the road to Atlanta for our afternoon session. Today is United Methodist Day for Love and Justice at the Capitol and I have the honor of introducing South Georgia Bishop Mike Watson as our chaplain of the day.  Later in the session, I take the well to give an update on the situation at the sugar refinery back home as members from across the state are anxious to hear the latest news.  

Four bills are debated today, including one that will authorize the Department of Driver’s Services to approve the use of on-line courses for driver instruction. It also makes only DDS approved defensive driving and DUI risk reduction courses available for pre-trial diversion and ticket dismissal. After much discussion, primarily concerned with how to make the courses secure and fraud-proof, the bill passes.

Another bill that passes will allow fathers to voluntarily legitimatize their children born out of wedlock before the child is 1 year old. Outside in the halls of the Capitol, news quickly spreads of the “anti-Gator” legislation being proposed that will require other states that have Georgians residing in their jurisdictions the same right to tout their alma maters on prestige plates as Georgia extends to “immigrants” from their states. If a state, such as Florida, refuses to reciprocate it would constitute grounds for terminating the prestige tags.

Later that afternoon, I attend a meeting at the Department of Transportation with Effingham County officials to meet newly elected commissioner Gena Abraham and discuss road projects in our area.                        

Day 16 (Feb. 12): After a Republican caucus and Appropriations Human Resources meeting, we go into session at 10 a.m. There are four bills on the debate calendar again, today including one that creates a Georgia lottery legislative oversight committee. As a result of executives of the lottery corporation giving themselves large bonuses following a successful year of increased lottery revenues, the committee is being formed to give the legislature better oversight of the lottery corporation.

Another bill that receives much attention creates two new levels of cosmetology- master estheticians and wax technicians. As skin care has become a big part of cosmetology, this would allow barber shops to employ a master esthetician or wax technician without it being required to be licensed as a cosmetology shop or salon. After enjoying a lunch with other members of the Chatham delegation and officials from the city of Savannah to discuss items of importance back home, the afternoon is spent in committee meetings and working on perfecting legislation that I am sponsoring for the pharmacy association.        

Day 17 (Feb. 13):  As is the case each Wednesday at 7:15 a.m. during the session, we hold our legislative prayer caucus at the Capitol. This week, the group of 15 representatives and senators inform me that they have been praying without ceasing for the people involved in the sugar refinery tragedy. Afterwards, I still have time to visit with FFA students from Effingham County visiting the Capitol for their annual breakfast.  

Before the session begins, I have a chance to read our local newspaper and am incensed to see the full page ad by a Dallas, Texas, lawyer soliciting clients from the tragedy.  After we go into session, I bring the ad to the attention of the chairman of Judiciary Committee, Rep. Wendall Willard, who takes the well and condemns the action.  

As fate would have it, the State of the Judiciary address given by Supreme Court Chief Justice Leah Ward Sears is today and many judges are in attendance to witness the passionate yet eloquently delivered condemnation by Chairman Willard.  

Afterwards we debate four more bills, including one setting up the War of 1812 Bicentennial Commission as well as one dealing with foreclosed mobile homes being abandoned on landlord land. The bill would allow a landlord to file a lien for rental charges against a mobile home beginning 30 days before eviction or after vacancy.  

The afternoon is spent in an Appropriations Human Resources Committee meeting reviewing the ’09 budget.   

Day 18 (Feb. 14):  I’m at the Capitol early to attend a Family Connections breakfast and visit with attendees from Chatham and Effingham counties. We have seven bills on the debate calendar today, including one that changes certain provisions relating to special parking permits and license plates for persons with disabilities. The bill requires those special parking permits to be laminated on both sides and creates a graduated scale of fines for individuals that illegally park in a parking place designated for persons with disabilities. Another bill that passes provides that a course of instruction given within the context of a bona fide home schooling program constitutes an approved driver education training course.

The afternoon is spent hearing requests from different groups requesting funds for the Human Resources ’09 budget before heading home.

Rep. Buddy Carter can be reached at Coverdell Legislative Office Building (C.L.O.B.) Room 508, Atlanta, GA, 30334. His Capitol office number is (404) 656-0213.