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House overrides a dozen vetoes
Legislative update
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On the first day of the 2008 session of the Georgia General Assembly, the House of Representatives made history by voting overwhelmingly to override Gov. Sonny Perdue's vetoes of 12 bills adopted during the 2007 session.
All of the bills were approved unanimously or nearly so last year by both the House and Senate but were vetoed by the governor after the session. It takes a two-thirds majority to override a governor's veto (120 votes in the House), and all of the Jan. 14 override measures were supported by at least 147 members.
The vetoes overridden involved the following bills:
1. HB 549, related to occupational speech and physical therapy services for children with disabilities.
2. HB 229, which would change the way lottery reserve funds are measured to protect book allowances for HOPE recipients.
3. HB 451, which would authorize a state tax refund to provide an incentive for developing tourist attractions in Georgia.
4. HB 218, which would modify the authority for security guards for the Georgia Ports Authority to exercise police powers.
5. HB 69, which would eliminate the fee charged for access to online driver's records.
6. HB 91, which would require the reporting of financial information by state agencies to the General Assembly.
7. HB 529, which would correct references to the legislative budget office throughout state law to recognize the current status of the House Budget Office.
8. HB 162, which would provide sales tax exemptions for the construction of performing arts centers and volunteer health clinics.
9. HB 441, which would repeal a 2005 law regulating bank dividends.
10. HB 559, which would authorize state health insurance benefits for public charter school teachers and employees.
11. HB 807, local legislation for the city of Auburn.
12. HB 413, a sales tax exemption for the sale of property to expand the Chattahoochee Nature Center.
All of the motions were sent to the Senate, where a two-thirds majority is also required to override the vetoes.
On Jan. 16, the governor delivered his State of the State address to a joint session of the House and Senate, announcing his proposal for a constitutional amendment that would eliminate the state portion of ad valorem taxes paid by home and automobile owners. He said the move would provide $94 million in annual tax relief, an average of $30 per household.
Gov. Perdue also outlined his annual state budget proposal for fiscal year 2009. His $21.4 billion spending plan is about $1 billion more than the current budget, and includes the following line items:
• $1.2 billion in state bonds to pay for construction of new highways and other state facilities.
• A $142 million tax cut for affluent senior citizens.
• $50 million for a revolving loan fund to assist local governments with completing road projects.
• $17 million to help small businesses provide health insurance coverage to their employees.
• $53 million to upgrade the stateís trauma care system.
• $120 million for water infrastructure and reservoirs.
• $14 million to launch a program aimed at reducing truancy in public schools.
Unfortunately, the governor is once again proposing to reduce the amount of state funding to our local schools. The new plan slashes $141 million, bringing the total cuts during the past six years to more than $1.5 billion. These education cuts not only hurt our students, they place a greater burden on local property taxpayers when the state fails to meet its obligation to our public school system.
The governor is recommending only a 2.5 percent pay raise for public school educators, which is woefully insufficient to offset inflation and rising costs of health insurance. Hopefully legislative budget writers will keep our teachers from suffering a net loss in compensation before final approval of the plan.
The legislative session is in official recess until Jan. 28. Budget hearings will be held Jan. 22-25.
House members voted Friday to approve the statewide water management plan recommended by the Georgia Water Council. The plan establishes 11 regional water planning districts that will decide such policy issues as whether and where to impound reservoirs to ensure a sufficient supply of water for Georgia residents.
Also, I co-sponsored legislation this week urging the NCAA to implement a playoff system for Division I-A football to determine the national champion. University of Georgia President Michael Adams made a reasonable proposal for such a system earlier this month, and a bipartisan group of legislators is supporting such an effort under HR 1034 on behalf of all college football fans in Georgia.

Williams (D-Midway) represents the 165th District (Liberty County) in the Georgia House of Representatives. Contact him at 511 Coverdell Office Building, Atlanta, GA 30334; by phone at 404-656-6372, 404-326-2964, 912-977-5600 or by e-mail at
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