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One of the longest sessions ends, wrap up reports begin

POSTED: May 5, 2010 4:00 a.m.

One of the longest legislative sessions in the history of the Georgia General Assembly finally came to an end on April 29. This final day is known as “Sine Die,” a Latin term meaning “without assigning a day for further meeting.” 

  

Because the General Assembly is constitutionally limited to a 40-day session, Sine Die was the last opportunity of the year for bills to make their way through the state legislature. With this deadline in mind, we worked long hours to ensure the passage of key bills that will affect you and your families. 

  

Legislation that passed on the final two days of the 2010 Legislative Session includes bills designed to expand second amendment rights, fund state trauma care and promote public safety. Bills approved by the House and Senate now head to the Governor’s desk for consideration.

  

Senate Bill 291 and Senate Bill 308 both allow permit holders to carry firearms in non-secure areas of airports, such as passenger drop-off and pick-up areas.  SB 291 brings Georgia law into compliance with federal law regarding restrictions on persons eligible for a permit and creates an automatic renewal notification process for permit holders. The bill further strengthens the second amendment by prohibiting firearm seizure and registration by government officials.

  

Senate Resolution 277 will allow Georgia voters to decide if the state should institute a $10 annual fee on passenger vehicle tags to support our statewide trauma network.

  

This equates to less than 3 cents per day, per vehicle. With 8 million vehicles registered in Georgia, this would bring in $80 million to expand our trauma network.

  

I have written before about the lack of good emergency support south of Macon.

  

This will be a constitutional amendment to be approved by Georgia voters in the upcoming November general election. The resulting funds will go into a special trust fund separate from general state revenues with the specific purpose of funding our trauma network.

  

Senate Bill 360 bans texting while driving for all drivers in Georgia, and House Bill 23 bans all cell phone use for 16 and 17 year olds while driving. 

  

Unfortunately, cell phone usage by drivers has already resulted in many traffic accidents, from minor to fatal.

  

Together these bills will help ensure that drivers on Georgia roads stay focused and do not become distracted by cell phones. Many thanks to Sally Sorohan for all the hard work she put into getting these bills passed.

  

I am proud of my participation in the passage of these most important bills.

  

Senate Bill 458, which also passed last week, will now require adults in pickup trucks to wear seatbelts.

  

This makes Georgia the 50th and final state to require adults in pickup trucks to wear seatbelts. This legislation is expected to save 21 lives and prevent 300 injuries each year, which could save $30 million in hospital costs a year. 

  

Sen. Don Thomas MD has spent the past six years trying to get this legislation through the House.

  

I personally want to thank Speaker David Ralston for allowing SB 458 to come up for a vote. Senator Thomas announced his retirement, and this is a great present for him and the State of Georgia. 

  

Please remember to “buckle-up.”  Former Lumpkin County Sole Commissioner Charlie Ridley was killed recently when he was ejected from his vehicle during an accident on Hwy. 53. Had he been wearing his seatbelt, he might well be alive today.

  

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the Fiscal Year 2011 budget passed the House and Senate. Totaling $17.8 billion, the budget shows a $3.3 billion decrease from last year due to the current economic recession.

  

Despite these cuts, we were able to fund the Georgia Council for the Arts and our state’s Educational Technology Centers. I was also pleased to see that the budget does not include any state mandated furloughs for teachers and other state employees. Despite this difficult economy, with responsible fiscal management we were able to approve a balanced budget without raising taxes.

  

I want to thank the folks in House District 9 for returning me for another term as your State Representative; this time without any opposition.

  

Because of this, I can attend to your legislative needs during election season without having to run a costly campaign at the same time.

  

This is the first of a number of CY 2010 Session wrap-up reports I will write to explain our successes and continuing challenges.

  

The session is over, however, your legislative needs continue.

   

Rep. Amos Amerson can be reached at 689 N. Chestatee Street, Dahlonega, GA 30533; (706) 864-6589; e-mail hamerson@windstream.net. Or contact Gerald Lewy at (706) 344-7788.

 

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