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No texting while driving is just plain common sense

POSTED: February 10, 2010 4:00 a.m.

The “no texting while driving” legislation (HB 944) had its first hearing last week. I want to thank Sally Sorohan for coming to the Capitol and testifying on behalf of the bill. Thanks also to all of you who have sent e-mails, written letters and made phone calls. 

  

To most of us, this is a common sense bill, but there are a lot of people who don’t view it that way. They see this as another government intrusion into their private lives, just as they did when we mandated seatbelts, helmets, and restraints for children. It matters not to them that those laws have saved thousands of lives.

  

We heard testimony that punishment should only occur if the texting led to an accident. Folks, I do not want to be the victim before someone texting gets a ticket.

  

“Your freedom ends where my nose begins” was a statement often used by my father. Another driver should not have the freedom to move into my lane because he is not paying attention. Why should he have the freedom to run me off the road before he gets a ticket? I really need your help to get this bill passed.

  

Feb. 5 marked Legislative Day 13, putting us more than a quarter of the way through the General Assembly’s 40 day legislative session.

  

Last week’s debates continued on the House floor, committees considered dozens of bills, and the House Appropriations Committee delved further into the budget.

  

Next week, the House of Representatives is expected to vote on the amended budget, which will set state spending levels through the end of June.

  

Over the past year, banks have also felt the pinch of the economic downturn. 

  

This week, the Georgia House of Representatives debated House Bill 926, which would allow state-chartered banks to more easily renew loans or lines of credit to customers in good standing.

  

This is a necessary step to help Georgia’s banks and the businesses and citizens who rely on them. Current law prevents state-chartered banks from renewing or restructuring loans or credit for any customer if doing so would cause the bank to exceed the amount it can lend to a single borrower.

  

House Bill 926 will assist Georgians by giving banks more flexibility and helping to ensure that financially responsible Georgians have the loans and credit they need to make their businesses grow.

  

The House also passed a series of education-related measures this week to give local school boards more flexibility and the tools they need to make the best decisions for their students, teachers and schools. 

  

These bills, as well as all other legislation that came before the House floor this week, passed with overwhelming support. Each piece of legislation will now move to the state Senate for consideration.

  

As you know, water is a crucial issue for our state. In the last few years, Georgia faced a devastating drought and ongoing litigation between Alabama and Florida that brought this issue to a head.

  

In 2008, a law was passed to help build reservoirs throughout the state and improve conservation efforts.

  

This week, House Bill 1094, the Georgia Water Stewardship Act, was introduced as a result of the hard work of Georgia’s Water Contingency Task Force. It is my hope that this legislation will strike the right balance between conservation and meeting our state’s water needs.

  

During the 2008 Session of the General Assembly, I introduced legislation to provide increased homestead exemptions for Dawson County senior citizens and disabled persons with incomes less than $50,000 per year. That income was not supposed to include Social Security, but a transcribing error omitted that part of the legislation.

  

Next November, you will get a chance to vote to correct that. Additionally, you will get to vote on whether or not to allow homeowners, age 70 and over, an exemption from Dawson County School District ad valorem taxes of $120,000 of the assessed value of their homestead (that’s $300,000 of fair market value).

  

Local legislation is the most important legislation that I can introduce. It is legislation that you, the people, want to be passed. Sometimes that request comes directly from constituents, and sometimes it comes from our local governments.

  

This year, legislation will be introduced on behalf of the City of Dahlonega, the Lumpkin County Magistrate Court, the Dawson County Commissioners and the citizens of Dawson County.

  

On Friday, Governor Sonny Perdue announced that legislation would be introduced to create a cabinet form of government. Under the proposal, the heads of the state’s agricultural, insurance, education and labor departments would be appointed by the Governor, subject to Senate confirmation.

  

“This proposal will result in better government for Georgians,” Governor Perdue said.  “It will ensure that agency heads are focused on good policy, and not bogged down with the politics of running for re-election.”

  

Currently, only nine states elect commissioners of agriculture, 12 states elect insurance commissioners, 14 states elect state school superintendents and five states elect state labor commissioners. Since I will have to vote on this change, I need to know what you think.

  

I will be at the Wagon Wheel Restaurant in Dahlonega for Saturday morning breakfast with constituents at 8 a.m. on Feb. 13, 20 and 27.

  

As we get deeper into the session, I will let you know the rest of the Saturday breakfast schedule.

  

Rep. Amos Amerson can be reached at 401 State Capitol, Atlanta, GA 30334; (404) 657-8534; fax (404) 463-2044; e-mail amos.amerson@house.ga.gov. Or contact Gerald Lewy at (706) 344-7788.

 

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