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Crossover Day for new legislation is March 7

POSTED: March 7, 2012 4:00 a.m.

The Georgia General Assembly has completed 28 days of the 40 days allowed.

"Crossover Day" is scheduled for March 7.

Crossover Day is the 30th and final legislative day that most House bills have to pass the House and make their way to the Senate. We will put in some of our longest days this week to ensure a quality review of as much legislation as possible before time runs out this year.

Because my colleagues and I believe that securing a positive future for Georgia's children should be one of our most important priorities, many of the bills passed by the House last week aimed to protect the well being of children in our state.

Two pieces of legislation that passed the House last week, House Bill 215 and House Bill 845, seek to protect the physical wellbeing of children.

HB 215 does this by ensuring registered sex offenders cannot work as school bus drivers.

The legislation makes it impossible for registered sex offenders to receive the commercial driver's license required to drive school busses, charter buses and other commercial vehicles that may be employed to transport children.

HB 845 helps protect children from the flu viruses, which are particularly dangerous for children and the elderly.

It increases access to flu vaccine information in early learning facilities.

With the Centers for Disease Control estimating that 200,000 Americans are hospitalized each year for influenza, we felt that parents should have access to information that can keep their families safe from this potentially deadly disease.

In addition to protecting our children from the flu and potential abuse, we also passed HB 692 to protect our children from being cheated out of their education.

Specifically, HB 692 would help deter cheating on state tests by requiring educators proven guilty of CRCT cheating to return all bonuses and/or incentive pay that they received as a result of their students' CRCT results. These funds would be returned to the local school system. Although the future of these teachers' jobs are in the hands of their local school boards, this bill allows the state to ensure that teachers are not financially rewarded for cheating.

After five years of research and meticulous work, we passed HB 641, which provides a comprehensive overhaul of the state's juvenile code.

This bill will allow the state to better help children who enter the state system either through no fault of their own, such as those in foster care, or through their own actions, such as those in juvenile detention.

HB 641 would make Georgia's juvenile courts more efficient in handling cases of abuse, neglect, youth violations of the law and other circumstances requiring court intervention.

The legislation would also improve communication between state agencies by requiring them to create a coordinated plan for each child in the state system.

HB 641 would help foster children by ensuring they have access to caring adults who can provide them with the guidance, skills and opportunities needed to become independent adults.

Although many of the bills passed by the House this week focused on protecting children, we also passed House Bill 456 to reduce the size of government and its unnecessary intrusion into the lives of Georgians.

HB 456, also known as the Georgia Government Accountability Act, will allow the state to determine whether there is a continued need for existing state-run programs and agencies.

HB 456 creates a Joint Legislative Sunset Advisory Committee, which will evaluate state agencies and entities based on their productivity, efficiency and responsiveness.

The committee will then submit its findings to the General Assembly with a recommendation for legislative action that could include privatization, consolidation or elimination of the state program or agency.

For those who produce more solar energy than they can use, we passed HB 520 which increases the amount of energy that an electric service provider can purchase from an individual.

Like all the legislation passed this week, HB 520 must now receive approval from the Senate and Gov. Nathan Deal before becoming law.

Finally, yes, it is true that I am retiring at the end of 2012, but until that time I am still your State Representative.

I will continue to represent you 24/7/365 until the new Repres-entative Elect is sworn in at the start of the 2013 Legislative Session next January. It continues to be a joy representing you in the General Assembly.

On Saturday and March 17, I will be at the Wagon Wheel Restaurant in Dahlonega for my breakfast with constituents at 8 a.m.

On March 24, I will be at Ryan's in Dawson County at 8:30 a.m. Come join us.

Rep. Amos Amerson can be reached at 401 Capitol Avenue, Atlanta, GA 30334; phone (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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