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Zero-based budgeting moves ahead
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To our readers: State Sen. Buddy Carter (R-Pooler) will be reporting each week during the Legislative Session. The session began Jan. 10, 2011 and is expected to last until the latter days of March.

Day 20 (Monday, Feb. 28): For the second session day in a row, I have a bill on the floor as I present SB 95, legislation that I am sponsoring on behalf of the Police Chiefs Association of Georgia. This bill will allow law enforcement agencies access to written documentation of prospective employees from their previous employers. The request for this documentation will be accompanied by a notarized letter from the employee agreeing to hold the previous employer harmless when releasing the information.

This bill was passed by the legislature last year but vetoed by then Gov. Sonny Perdue. Instead of overriding the veto, we have made changes to the bill suggested by Gov. Perdue. Later in the day, I meet with a House Judiciary subcommittee on SB 36, the Prescription Monitoring bill, to begin the process of working the bill through the House.

Day 21 (Tuesday, March 1): Today I present SB 66 before the Senate, a bill that protects the use of the title “nurse.” Because of problems we are experiencing with people using the title nurse, such as faith healers who are billing Medicaid using the title,  this bill allows only those who have obtained the educational and professional qualifications of a nurse to use the title.

Also during session today, we pass SB 33, the zero-based budgeting bill vetoed by the governor last year, that will require one-fourth of the state budget to be built from scratch each year, so that the entire budget is justified over a four-year period.

Currently, more than 90 percent of the expenditures of previous budgets are rolled over automatically from year to year. Later in the day, I present SB 79, a statewide bill I am sponsoring to change all school board members to serve a four year term, before an education sub-committee and am pleased that it passes unanimously.

Day 22 (Wednesday, March 2): We begin the day by welcoming representatives from the City of Savannah and Southern LNG to the capitol to meet with the Chatham County delegation to discuss the proposed expansion of the LNG plant. Later in the morning, I present SB 67, a bill establishing continuing education and licensure requirements for clinical perfusionists in our state. Perfusionists are medical professionals who operate the machinery used to treat blood outside the body during procedures such as heart transplants.

Also today we pass SB 122 that will allow private developers to build reservoirs for local governments and water utilities. Later in the day, I present two more bills to different committees and both pass out unanimously. I am carrying far more bills this year than I have ever carried, making for a very busy session.

Day 23 (Thursday, March 3):  For the fifth straight session day, I have a bill before the full Senate today as I present SR 103, a yearly bill that grants utility easements to state owned property throughout the state. As chairman of State Institutions and Properties, it is my responsibility to carry this legislation. Later in the day, I present SB 79, the statewide four-year term school board bill to the full Education committee and am pleased to have it pass.

Finally I meet with representatives from the insurance community regarding a bill I have introduced to increase formulary compliance of prescription medication.

Day 24 (Friday, March 4): My consecutive day streak of presenting bills before the Senate comes to an end today as I don’t have any on the agenda. Nevertheless, my streak of five in a row is not only a personal best but also the most of any senator this session.

Most of the buzz at the Capitol today centers around HB 326, the governor’s proposal to overhaul HOPE, that was passed out of the Senate Higher Education committee this morning and is expected to be heard before the full Senate early next week.  

Sen. Buddy Carter can be reached at Coverdell Legislative Office Building (CLOB) Room 301-A, Atlanta, GA 30334. His Capitol office number is (404) 656-5109.