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Waiting to become laws
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The longest legislative session in memory actually produced a wide range of legislation due in part to the fact that the 2010 session was the second year of the term and a number of pieces were already waiting in committees in each body when the session began. Additionally, there was markedly less acrimony between the chambers and legislation with support on both sides was not held back for some other emotional reason.

Over the next few weeks, we will review legislation that passed, keeping in mind that the governor has the option of signing, vetoing or allowing legislation to pass into law for 40 days after the session concludes. We will report on any vetoes as time passes. The beginning is always a good place to start.

This column will contain enough info to convey the main ideas in a bill. Remember you can read the entire bill by going to Select either the House or Senate and the number of the bill or resolution in the top right corner. All sorts of information is available on legislation. The last “version” listed is the one that passed. You can follow the path through the legislature by date, committee and floor changes.

Agriculture and consumer affairs
HB 883 — Updates civil and criminal penalties for food processors for not following the Sanitary Activity for Enterprises (SAFE) Act of 2009. Increases penalties for introducing adulterated foods to 20 years or max of $20,000. Updates civil penalties as well to $5,000 per violation or up to $7,500 per violation per day for “knowingly” violating food safety regulations. Also makes it a misdemeanor to fail to report a positive test for E-coli. Effective upon signature of the governor.

HB 1106 — Requires animal shelters to scan for microchips before euthanasia and notify owner. Effective July 1.

HB 1345 — Updates Georgia’s “Fair Business Practices Act” to clearly outline requirements for advertising that foods are “kosher.” Section 2 effective upon signature, balance July 1.

SB 237 — Clarifies what constitutes “price gouging” during states of emergency. Effective upon signature.

SB 447 — This bill levels the playing field for contractors competing for public contracts in state government. Requires state contracts to give in-state contractors preference when awarding construction contracts if in state contractors are receiving preference in the states where they are located. Effective July 1.

Appropriations committee
SB 1 — Requires zero-based budgeting for state government beginning in FY2011 on at least one-quarter of the budget on a rotating four-year basis. Requires agencies to justify expenditures and to consider three levels of alternative funding by program including a priority listing of programs.

SB 206 — Requires the governor’s budget to include a tax expenditure report that outlines the cost of exemptions, tax credits, exclusions and other deductions from state revenues authorized by legislation. Places the responsibility of tracking these costs on the Department of Revenue. Effective upon signature.

SB 421 — Raises the Revenue Shortfall Reserve (Rainy Day Fund) from present 10 percent cap to 15 percent cap in light of the recession when state reserves were not nearly enough. Effective upon signature.

SB 480 — Creates under the governor a Council of Economic Advisors who will compute the Revenue Estimate for the next budget cycle and present recommendations to the governor, lieutenant governor and speaker of the House. Each has appointees to the Council. Effective July 1, 2011.

Next week: Banking and Financial Institutions, Economic Development and Education and Youth

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