Legislative Week 6: Teen driver cell phone bill progresses

Last week, the legislature convened for legislative days 22, 23 and 24. With the session now well past the halfway point, the legislature is moving at a rapid pace. The House passed several important bills this week, including the mid-year budget adjustment for 2009 and an important education related measure.

Last week the House considered an education related bill titled “Move on When Ready Act,” House Bill 149. The author’s intent in moving forward with this bill is to continue reforms aimed at moving away from a “one size fits all” model in education toward one aimed at meeting the individual needs of each student.

In a nutshell, House Bill 149 allows high school juniors and seniors to transfer to colleges (including technical schools) and obtain their diploma, while also earning credits toward their next degree or certificate.

The state of Minnesota enacted a similar program about 10 years ago, and their data shows that both high-achieving students and those at risk of dropping out have benefited tremendously by providing them a greater measure of control over the path of their education. The legislation passed the House and now moves to the Senate.

Each session, the legislature considers both the supplemental budget for the current fiscal year and the budget for the next fiscal year. Due to a significant shortfall in revenues, budget reductions were necessary in this year’s mid-year adjustment.

Last week, the 2009 supplemental budget, House Bill 118, passed the House with near unanimous support and the Senate will take it up soon. The $18.9 billion budget represents over $2 billion in cuts.

However, I am happy to report that the Homeowners’ Tax Relief Grant will receive full funding, roughly $428 million, which will preclude local governments from being forced to send out an additional property tax bill of between $200 and $300 to property owners.

The measure also demonstrates Georgia’s strong commitment to education. K-12 education makes up almost half of our state’s budget. I think the mere fact that education makes up such a large part of our state’s budget makes clear it is a priority.

On average, every other state agency’s budget was reduced by more than 8 percent in HB 118, with some well over 10 percent. Despite the fact that education represents such a large percentage of the budget, the House’s bill contains reductions of less than 3 percent in the area of K-12 education.

In terms of legislation I am working on personally, HB 23 and HB 123 both passed out of committee last week and will be heard on the floor in the coming weeks.

HB 23 would prohibit cell phone use for teen drivers and HB 123 would close up a judicially created loophole that limits the ability of prosecutors to go after child molesters.

In addition, legislation I am carrying for Gov. Perdue that will give school systems greater flexibility with state dollars during the current budget crisis was passed out of committee last week and is now pending in the Rules Committee.

Serving as your representative is an honor, and I take the responsibility seriously. As the session moves into the home stretch, I will continue to update you on legislation and events important to Georgia and our district. Please do not hesitate to call on me if I can be of assistance.

[Matt Ramsey, an attorney in Peachtree City, represents District 72 in the Georgia House of Representatives.]

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Submitted by AirForceDude on Sun, 03/08/2009 - 10:00am.

Why is Mr. Ramsey writing laws that pertain to teen age drivers? What should be done is to write laws that pertain to ALL drivers. Teen drivers (under age 18)should have no special laws pertaining to them. I believe no one should be licensed to drive until age 18. Age 18 is considered the age one doesn't need parental consent. That should also apply to driving. Cell phone usage while driving is dangerous no matter what the age of the driver. Please remove your head from the sand and get in the real world.

DarthDubious's picture
Submitted by DarthDubious on Wed, 03/04/2009 - 1:52pm.

I hope Mr. Ramsey that you support measures to draw a line in the sand as the states of New Hampshire, Oklahoma, and Montana have recently.

They have all introduced legislation that calls out the Federal Government as it oversteps its Constitutional bounds. Will you step up to the plate to defend us from a tyrannical US Government?

This is far more important than a nonsense TEEN cell phone bill that should include ALL persons using a phone while driving. Stats show ANYONE using a phone while operating a motor vehicle is as dangerous as a person who is DUI.

Get your priorities in order please, Mr. Ramsey

In Liberty,


Submitted by mysteryman on Sun, 03/08/2009 - 10:30am.

This nation stands at the start of the next American Revolution, subject to breakout at any moment, and here we are worry about the kids talking on the phone... Can you hear me now... The coming death toll from the approaching conflict, will far outnumber the casultys caused by folks talking on the phone while driving. Please as Darth says get your prioritites and affairs in order quickly if you know what is good for you....PEACE

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