Week Ahead: Lawmakers get busy as they head to the halfway point

By Walter C. Jones 
Morris News Service
ATLANTA – Wednesday will be "Hump Day" for members of the General Assembly, not just because it's downhill to Friday, but also because it's the midpoint in the 2013 legislative session.
Most of the headline-making bills are already in the mix by now, and it's just a matter of them working through the political machinery, according to House Majority Leader Larry O'Neal, R-Bonaire.
"As far as any major initiatives boiling up, I don't really know of any. We're at that point in time where a lot of legislation has had the opportunity to travel through committees," he said.
So far, 542 bills have been introduced of the roughly 1,500 that's expected in a typical legislative session. Only five have made it all the way to being signed into law.
"I suspect that by the beginning of next week, that's going to be different. There's a lot of legislation traveling out there," O'Neal said.
On Tuesday, the first day after a four-day recess, the House considers four bills, including House Bill 124 that defines what a package store can sell. The Senate considers two bills, including one that shortens the ginseng-harvesting season.
As O'Neal said, the committees plan to be active, pushing out bills for consideration by the full House and Senate.
One committee, the House Public Safety & Homeland Security Committee, even meets Monday during the recess to hear testimony on four bills that would liberalize the state's gun restrictions, including allowing them in churches.
Tuesday, Mental Health Day, committee action includes consideration of a requirement that the General Assembly approve all rules of the Department of Natural Resources, increasing the requirements to run for sheriff, and giving individuals control over the use of their image in photographs. 
Also that day, Gov. Nathan Deal speaks to Augusta civic leaders and the Future Farmers of America. The Cover Georgia coalition holds a two-hour briefing for the press on reasons to expand Medicaid.
Wednesday, committees will consider bills that revise the Tourism Development Act, allow local sales taxes of less than a penny, and limit cities and counties' say over cell-phone towers.
Thursday is Disability Day. It could also turn out to be Ethics Day since the House Ethics Committee considers a pair of bills further restricting people owing late taxes from serving in public office, and Speaker David Ralston's bill limiting lobbyists' gifts could be before the full House that day. 
That's also when the Black Conservative Summit in a legislative committee room will showcase policy proposals important to minority voters.


More Local

Governor's widow to be buried today

The widow of Gov. Ellis Gibbs Arnall will be buried in Newnan today. Ruby Hamilton Arnall, 96, Friday. Her funeral service will be today at ... Read More


Buy One, Give One

Local clinic receives $10,000 grant

Local New York Life agent Warren Budd, with the help of his colleagues, recently secured a $10,000 Community Impact Grant from the company t ... Read More


Harassed by former city employee

Torment victim challenges Senoia council

For more than two years, Pat Sharp felt like a prisoner in her own home, thanks to the actions of her next door neighbor, Joey Bigler. Bigle ... Read More


Regional leaders taking fresh look at TSPLOST

The regional TSPLOST for this region was rejected by voters five years ago, but new legislation has regional leaders looking at options for ... Read More


NTH Turns 150

Historic local newspaper photos sought

The Newnan Times-Herald is asking readers to share stories related to the newspaper’s history as the Times-Herald’s 150th birthd ... Read More

Department of revenue Chief shares info on tax fraud crackdowns

The Georgia Department of Revenue saved Georgia taxpayers over $33 million in fraudulent tax returns in 2014, according to Revenue Commissio ... Read More