Com­mu­ni­ties adding al­co­hol vote to Tues­day

The Covington News - - Sunday, march 4, 2012 -

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

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.

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