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The end is here for legislators

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POSTED: April 24, 2008 5:00 a.m.

The end is near for the 2008 Georgia General Assembly session. By the time many of you read this, the session will be completed and we will have adjourned Sine Die. Next week I will provide you with the highlights of the 40th day, but for now, this is what happened in the final week. Most of the debate these final days is based on the amendments that have been added to some bills as they have gone to the Senate for their approval. The committee process allows the Senate to make changes to the bills that we have passed and they send them back to us. We then have a choice to "insist" on our position or to disagree with the Senate position. We also are working on some high-profile legislation that has taken a while to be properly vetted by the committee process.

One of the bills that we hope to pass that will make your state government more transparent is Senate Bill 300. This bill provides for the creation of a free, publicly accessible website to provide state expenditure information. The bill passed unanimously. Another bill that passed unanimously would revise and streamline the ways Georgians may "give the gift of life" by being an organ donor. S.B. 405 updated and more importantly, harmonized the giving rules with other states to make the laws more "uniform."

We also passed unanimously, S.B. 196, a bill that provides free scholarships to children of our Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, and Airmen who died of combat wounds or were injured suffering a 50 percent or greater disability. This was a great way for us to help Georgia citizens who have paid the ultimate sacrifice in the Global War on Terror.

One bill we passed is designed to create three student loan programs that will allow students to apply for low interest financial aide programs. S.B. 169 will have three programs which will allow for a 1% need-based loan that will act as a bridge gap for financial aid the student may receive in that the primary financial aid doesn’t quite cover the costs. The second program, called Graduate On Time loan, has an interest rate that would be no higher than the prime rate. If the student graduates with a grade point average of 2.0 or higher and completes school in four years, the loan gets a reduced retroactive rate of 1 percent. If the student graduates in five years and with a 2.0 GPA or better, they would get a 2 percent rat e. The third program creates a loan for people who want to work in community service, they would receive a 1 percent rate if the spend between 5 and 15 years in public service. S.B. 169 passed 158-1.

S.B. 1 is a bill we passed that would make it unlawful for sexual predators from photographing minors without the consent of the minor’s parents or guardian. This would apply only to registered sex offenders and the bill passed 133-32.

S.B. 374 amended a number of lien laws. The bill basically updates the state lien laws that are used in building or renovating homes and commercial structures. The bill passed 160-3.

We easily passed legislation urging the state Department of Audits to closely examine the use of state-issued credit cards by continuing to audit certain accounts to ensure that transactions are authorized, legal, and ethical. The resolution passed 155-2.

Please do not hesitate to let me know your position or thoughts on issues that concern you. If you would like to reach me, please call me at (404) 656-5099 or write me at: State Rep. Ron Stephens ,228 CAP, State Capitol, Atlanta, GA 30334 or e-mail me at ron.stephens@house.ga.gov

 

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