Communities adding alcohol vote to Tuesday
The pace on the House floor picked up again last week. We voted on 34 bills and resolutions.
HB 215 would make it illegal for anyone who is listed on the State Sex Offender Registry to receive a driver’s license allowing them to operate a commercial bus, which would include school buses. A previous law that had attempted to address this issue apparently ran into constitutional issues, so it was necessary to revise the method of dealing with the problem. I supported the bill, and it passed by 157 to 4.
HB 456 is titled the “Georgia Government Accountability Act”, and would create a review process to examine the efficiency and value of various arms of state government. Under the bill, a sunset advisory committee composed of legislators would routinely look at all state agencies and departments that receive state appropriations. The committee will examine whether an agency is meeting the mandate of legislation which created it, and could recommend it be abolished and direct that legislation be drafted towards that end. It is interesting to note that Georgia has over 500 independent authorities, some of which have not had board meetings in years. We passed a very similar bill last year, but it got bogged down in the final days of the session. I voted in favor of the bill, and it passed by a very partisan 108 to 50.
HB 692 is a strong reaction to the scandal last year involving falsification of test scores by teachers and school system officials. It would create a process for repeal of a teacher’s salary increase or bonus that was based on falsified test scores. The bill also has a mechanism to allow systems to reclaim funds that have already been paid. The measure passed by 140 to 2, with my support.
Contact Info: My office phone is 404-656-0152, and email address is Doug@dougholt.org.
LOGANVILLE, Ga. (AP) — Firefighters are crediting alert neighbors will helping to save a sleeping homeowner whose house became engulfed by fire.
Gwinnett County fire officials say heavy smoke and flames were coming from the Loganville home when they were called to the scene around 3:30 a.m. Wednesday.
Fire officials said in a statement that neighbors reacted quickly, alerting the sleeping homeowner of the blaze. After the homeowner escaped uninjured, the fire quickly engulfed the entire home.
Authorities say the homeowner escaped uninjured, and there were no reports of any other injuries due to the fire.
Fire officials say the blaze, which started in the garage area, appears to have been an accident.
ATLANTA — A panel of federal appeals court judges in Georgia said today it will wait for direction from the U.S. Supreme Court before deciding the constitutionality of Georgia and Alabama’s immigration laws.
Both states were represented in the 11th District Court of Appeals in Atlanta, seeking relief from district courts that struck down key provisions of their individual immigration laws last year.
While a panel of three judges spent three hours hearing all sides of each state’s case, the timeline on its decision depends upon what happens with Arizona’s immigration law.
Arizona, unlike Georgia, is being sued by the federal government for its efforts at immigration regulation.
The U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments on that state’s law in late April.
Georgia is appealing a June decision by U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Thrash to block two sections of the state’s anti-illegal immigration bill: one that makes it a crime to knowingly transport illegal immigrants and another that authorizes local law enforcement to check the immigration status of any suspect.
Georgia’s legal opponents are civil and human rights groups, a number of whom marched outside the downtown courthouse throughout the morning’s hearings.
They call those portions of the bill unconstitutional.
Inside the courthouse, attorneys for Georgia and the human rights groups revisited many of the arguments they made in a June 2010 hearing.
Georgia’s Attorney General’s Office held fast that its law, House Bill 87, in no way pre-empts federal immigration law. State officials say the bill helps to mitigate the costs of illegal immigration on the taxpayer.
“It’s axiomatic that both state and federal government can prosecute criminals,” said Devon Orland, senior assistant attorney for the Attorney General’s Office.
Judges, too, quizzed an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union on whether states had a right to write laws that complement federal law, especially if a federal issue like immigration “morphs” into a public safety issue.
But the attorney, Omar Jadwat, said the Georgia law creates a scenario never before seen in American history.
“We’ve never had a requirement in this country to carry identification to be free from detention by police,” he said.
Among other plaintiffs, the ACLU and the Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights have claimed the law violates a constitutional protection against illegal search and seizure and invites racial profiling by local law enforcement.
Mario Venegas, who marched outside the courthouse with a “Georgia Doesn’t Grow without Immigrants” poster Wednesday morning, said he felt the law already had encouraged racial profiling in Latino communities.
Among them is one that makes it a felony with hefty penalties to use false information or documentation when applying for a job. Another creates an immigration review board to investigate complaints about government officials not complying with state laws related to illegal immigration.
The new law also requires businesses with 500 or more employees to use a federal database to check the immigration status of new hires, a requirement that will be phased in for all businesses with more than 10 employees by July 2013.
Applicants for public benefits also have to provide at least one state or federally issued “secure and verifiable” document.
ATLANTA (AP) — Voters in several Georgia communities will be deciding whether to allow wet Sundays when they vote on Super Tuesday.
Several Georgia cities and counties have added Sunday alcohol sales votes to their ballots for the state’s Republican presidential primary next week.
The Atlanta Journal-constitution reports (http://bit. ly/zljlj6 ) that at least 13 metro Atlanta communities will hold Sunday sales votes. They include Cobb, Dekalb, Forsyth, Gwinnett, Henry and Rockdale counties as well as the cities of Austell, Buford, Conyers, Cumming, Lovejoy, Marietta and Powder Springs.
More than 100 Georgia communities voted on Sunday alcohol sales last year after state lawmakers and the governor agreed to let local jurisdictions decide the issue. About 80 percent were approved.
A Rockdale County High School student was tasered and arrested today at the school after refusing to follow an officer’s commands, according to the Conyers Police Department.
A faculty member and a female student came into a disagreement today and the CPD’S school resource officer at RCHS reportedly stepped in.
Another student, a 17-yearold male, intervened into the situation as well.
According to CPD Maj. Mike Waters, the male student began confronting the officer. “The officer was giving commands to back away,” said Waters. “Ultimately the student got Tasered.”
The 17-year-old was charged with disorderly conduct and obstruction.
Waters said it’s a rare occurence for a Taser to be used on a student and that the last time a student at RCHS was Tasered was last year.
Waters said an officer’s useof-force guidelines are the same for students as the general public.
In an usual move, three members of the Rockdale County Water and Sewer Authority spoke out against items in the proposed Rockdale Water Resources budget at Tuesday’s Board of Commissioners meeting in signs of growing disagreement and frustration between RWR and the Authority.
The impasse has grown to the point where a task force was recently appointed to figure out whether RWR ultimately answers to the Board of Commissioners or the Authority.
RWR’S 2012 proposed $25.2 million operating budget, a 3 percent increase over the 2011 proposed operating budget, and $9.7 million capitol budget had a first read today. That budget contained about $270,000 for additional radio read water meter technology.
That amount, along with about $390,000 budgeted last year, would go towards purchasing radio read meter technology for a pilot project in District 5, which is south of Interstate 20 and east of Ga. Highway 138, and District 6, around the Quigg Wastewater Treatment Plant north of Interstate 20 and east of Ga. Highway 138, said RWR Director Dwight Wicks after the meeting.
Authority members Elaine Nash, Chip Hatcher, and Phyllis Turner spoke out during the public comments portion of the BOC meeting.
All three said they opposed spending money on “Cadillac” radio water meter technology and emphasized the importance of putting funds towards replacing leaking water pipes, dredging the reservoir, regular capital maintenance, and building cash reserves to prepare for an additional sewage treatment plant needed in 2018.