House session report, Week 6

This year’s session of the Georgia General Assembly is more than half complete. Friday, Feb. 22, marked day 22 of the 2008 session.

This [past] week I introduced House Bill 1307 to change the way in which the Board of Commissioners in Fayette County is elected.

The board is currently divided into three district commissioners and two at-large commissioners. However, all five are elected by the entire county.

This bill would keep the five commissioners, but each commissioner would be elected only by their fellow citizens who live in their respective district.

The current system is outdated and unfair. The system needs to be revised. This legislation would put into place a more equitable system.

I have also sponsored legislation, HB 1264, that would provide for comprehensive tax reform. The Georgia tax code is out of date and in bad need of revising. This bill addresses income, sales and ad valorem tax reform. If passed, 95 percent of Georgians would see a reduction in the amount of taxes they pay each year.

House Bill 1185, also authored by me, would allow senior citizens living in Union City to apply for a homestead exemption from municipal valorem taxes.

In addition, I cosponsored HB 1219 which would give a tax credit to low-income families with regard to the fees they incur in the application process for citizenship.

I also cosponsored HB 1197, which would put an additional $1 tax on a pack of cigarettes. The additional revenue raised by the tax would go to offset the state’s massive healthcare costs.

This [past] week I introduced HB 1258, which would require the owner of a mobile home park to give adequate advance notice to residents of the park before selling or closing the property.

On Thursday, I met with the Legal Redress Committee of the Fayette NAACP and Governor Perdue to discuss issues in Fayette County.

I also met with Sherri Jefferson with the African-American Juvenile Justice Project to discuss ways of reforming our juvenile justice system in Georgia.

Midpoint of the session — Wednesday, Feb. 20, was the 20th day and the midpoint of the session. Two of the most important bills adopted so far are HB 989, the Supplemental Budget, which is a revised spending plan for the current fiscal year that ends June 30, and a comprehensive statewide water plan, HR 1022, intended to help the state better conserve its water resources.

Still waiting to see action in the House is the state’s $21.4 billion budget that would begin July 1; legislation calling for a one cent statewide sales tax increase for transportation, HR 1226, that would have to be approved by voters; and legislation, HR 1246 and HB 979, that replaces most property taxes with 174 new sales taxes on goods and services that would also have to be approved by voters.

House Republicans now favor restoring education cuts — On Thursday House Democrats lauded efforts by House Republicans to finally, after five years, begin restoring the austerity cuts to Georgia’s public schools but urge full funding. This year the governor proposed an additional $141.5 million cut to the Quality Basic Education Act that funds public education, bringing the total to $1.5 billion in cuts since 2003.

We have been calling for this all along because it has caused property taxes to rise throughout the state. In total, public education cuts by the GOP are $1,537,971,356.

Moving the state border — With Georgia’s current drought taking center stage in the General Assembly the House adopted HR 1206 on Wednesday by a vote of 136-26. Because of a surveying mistake in 1818 the Georgia-Tennessee border is actually 1.1 miles south of where it should be located, which is the 35th parallel.

An accurate state border would take into account a portion of the Tennessee River in the northwest corner of the state, giving Georgia another valuable water source to tap into, especially during the current drought.

Enter HR 1206, which creates the Georgia and North Carolina and Georgia and Tennessee Boundary Line Commission. The legislation directs the governor of Georgia to communicate with the governors of North Carolina and Tennessee to have joint surveys and settlements of disputed boundary questions.

Three members of the state House of Representatives would be appointed by the speaker of the House of Representatives and three members of the state Senate would be appointed by the president of the Senate.

Additionally, the legislation requires the commission to report its findings and recommendations to the 2009 General Assembly. Tennessee has already indicated that it is not onboard with the legislation, which is why legal action may be the next step.

Combining state children’s agencies — A measure that drew some controversy on Tuesday was HB 1054. The Children and Youth Coordinating Council and the Children’s Trust Fund Commission would be combined into a new Governor’s Office of Children and Families under the legislation.

Some of the duties of the new agency include serving as a state-wide clearinghouse for child-related information and research; coordinating with all components of the children’s service systems to develop legislative proposals and execute policy proposals relating to, among other things, child abuse injury prevention, treatment, and juvenile justice systems; reviewing and developing and integrated state plan for services provided to children and youth through state programs; and serving in an advisory capacity to the governor on issues impacting the state’s children’s service systems.

Furthermore, the legislation creates a 15-member advisory panel, appointed solely by the governor, to monitor the Office of Children and Families.

Many thought these agencies should remain separate, and the new office will have too much political influence from the governor, which takes away from the goal of keeping the best interest of children in mind. In the end HB 1054 passed 99-67.

State bridges — From state borders to state bridges, the House passed HB 1123 as well on Wednesday by a vote of 164-0. Under the bill, the commissioner of the Department of Transportation must submit an annual report on the condition of Georgia’s roads and bridges to the governor, lt. governor and speaker of the House of Representatives. The report must also include an analysis of whether inspections of bridges already performed by the Department of Transportation have been adequate.

Specialty tags — Lawmakers also adopted legislation on Thursday that says when the state of Georgia issues a specialty license plate tag for a university, such as University of Florida or Auburn University, the state where the university is located must do the same for Georgia.

Or in more technical terms, HB 1165, which passed 142-0, authorizes the Commissioner of the Department of Driver’s Services to enter into reciprocity agreements with other states on behalf of the state of Georgia when issuing a specialty license plate tag.

Fingerprinting childcare employees — On Friday the House adopted HB 904 by a vote of 159-1. The legislation alters the definition of a “Records Check Application” for childcare employees to include a state fingerprint records check determination and a national fingerprint records check determination. Currently, the national fingerprint records check is not required.

I want to remind everyone that March 31 is the deadline for applications for the Virgil Fludd Scholarship Program. There will be four $1,000 scholarships awarded. If you would like more information, please go to my website,

We will be back in session on Tuesday, Feb. 26, for day 23 of the 2008 legislative session. If you have any questions about the 2008 General Assembly, please feel free to contact me at my Capitol office at 404-656-0314.

[Rep. Virgil Fludd (D-Tyrone) represents part of Fayette and Fulton Counties. He serves on the Banks and Banking, Children and Youth, and Ways and Means committees.]

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AF A-10's picture
Submitted by AF A-10 on Tue, 02/26/2008 - 8:01pm.

You will find more sympathetic ears than you may have expected. Thanks for sharing the information. I hope you visit often. You can learn alot form surfing these waters.


Kevin "Hack" King

Main Stream's picture
Submitted by Main Stream on Tue, 02/26/2008 - 6:56pm.

It's great to have you on board here and I look forward to your posts.


Cyclist's picture
Submitted by Cyclist on Tue, 02/26/2008 - 6:59pm.

You mean we're all nuts like "$"? Shocked

Caution - The Surgeon General has determined that constant blogging is an addiction that can cause a sedentary life style.

Cyclist's picture
Submitted by Cyclist on Tue, 02/26/2008 - 6:51pm.

Please enlightened us, unfair to whom and why?
Caution - The Surgeon General has determined that constant blogging is an addiction that can cause a sedentary life style.

sdg's picture
Submitted by sdg on Tue, 02/26/2008 - 7:21pm.

The current system is outdated and unfair. The system needs to be revised. This legislation would put into place a more equitable system

Equitable according to you?

I'll grant there are some arguments in favor of district voting. My biggest (but not the only) problem with it is this.

The five districts of Fayette will become a microcosm of DC. Each district commissioner wanting to "bring home the bacon" for his group. If you want proof look to the statements of a candidate who (unsuccessfully) ran in the last election saying he was going to get "his share" for his end of the county.

What district voting will give us is a tit for tact system that says "I'll vote for the needed bridge in Brooks IF you give me another park in my district."

The net result is that we spend money we don't need to spend.

By the way Mr. Fludd, the normal protocol is for counties to ask for their rep to introduce local legislation.
Not to have the rep who represents less the 10% of the people in the county shove voting changes down their throat.

Cyclist and I await your explanation of how much better you all knowing bill will make our area.

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