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State looks to help soften impact of explosion
Legislative update
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Our state's lingering drought has Georgia lawmakers coming up with some creative solutions this session.
The Georgia Senate and House approved resolutions last Wednesday claiming that an 1818 survey of the Georgia-Tennessee border was inaccurately drawn, mistakenly placing Georgia's northern border over a mile south of where it should be located. Georgia lawmakers want to figure out whether this historic mis-measurement can be corrected almost 200 years later.
The proposed adjustment of the border would place part of the Tennessee River under Georgia's control.  It will be interesting to see how this issue develops.
Tennessee lawmakers are rumored to be already drafting a response to Georgia's assertion.  We have instructed a commission formed to investigate the matter to report back to the General Assembly by the beginning of the 2009 legislative session.
The CEO of the Imperial Sugar Co., John Sheptor, and four workers from the Imperial Sugar plant in Port Wentworth came to Atlanta to visit with state lawmakers last week.  The House honored the four workers for the heroism they showed in response to the blast that destroyed the landmark sugar refinery.
CEO Shepter called on the Governor and lawmakers to send aid to the hospitals that treated the victims and emergency agencies that responded.  We heard that about 120 people are already back to work at the Imperial Sugar facility, helping investigators, recovering processed sugar and assessing rebuilding options.
However, until operations resume in full, many local businesses are likely to suffer. The House will be looking at ways that the state can assist this devastated community.
The Georgia House acted last week to address the fact that Florida does not allow graduates from Georgia universities to have special license plates recognizing Georgia schools even though the Georgia Department of Motor Vehicles presently grants this privilege to Florida grads when they obtain a vehicle license plate in Georgia.
In response, the House passed House Bill 1165, which would deny alumni of out-of-state colleges or universities the privilege of school themed specialty license plates unless their school's home state allows Georgia alums the same privilege.
The House also passed HB 1040, which will give juvenile courts the authority to appoint a permanent guardian for a child whose custody is the subject of controversy due to adjudication that the child is a deprived child.
And, we passed HB 611, which will allow holder of Class I electrical contractor's license to work on residences that have single-phase electrical installations of up to 400 amperes.  The current restriction on the Class I license is 200 amps.  This bill is important to Georgia's construction industry because as the average size of residences increases, many new and remodeled homes require electrical services greater than 200 amps.
The Senate approved a measure already passed in the House to allow Georgia residents to freeze their credit report to prevent identity theft.  The Senate measure differs from the one passed in the House in terms of the amount that would be charged consumers to freeze their credit reports. Compromise between the Senate and House bills must be reached before the bill can be sent to the Governor.
Also last week, the House wrapped up the week's business by approving a 2008, mid-year budget to send to the Senate (HB 989).  Differences between the House and Senate versions of this budget will need to be ironed out.  One of the main differences in the proposals is school funding.  The Senate budget does not include $95 million in additional education appropriations proposed by Gov. Sonny Perdue and the House.
If you have any questions about the 2008 General Assembly, please feel free to contact me at my Capitol office at (404) 656-6372.

Williams, (D-Midway) represents House District 165.  He serves on the Appropriations, Economic Development & Tourism, Game, Fish, & Parks and State Institutions & Property committees.

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