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Legislators support education, reform, motorcycles
by Noreen Cochran
February 03, 2014 03:44 PM | 1837 views | 0 0 comments | 15 15 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The Henry County delegation to the Georgia Legislature has taken a bird’s-eye view of impending changes in existing laws and new additions to the Georgia code, working on bills to benefit citizens statewide as well as locally.

District 78 State Rep. John Yates, R-Griffin, a member of the House motor vehicle committee, said he has narrowed his focus to a single piece of legislation.

“Presently the only bill I plan to co-sponsor is House Bill 161 from the previous session, 2011-12, to help motorcyclists get safely through traffic lights,” he said.

Prior session bills that did not pass have to be reintroduced and it can take another two-year cycle before reaching the governor’s desk for signature. The bill takes into account a motorcycle’s light weight compared to a passenger vehicle, which can activate a detection mechanism when stopped at a red light.

If passed, the amendment will allow motorcyclists to treat a red light as a stop sign after waiting 60 seconds and if the intersection is clear. The bill gained some traction in the previous session with motorcycle advocates who wanted uniform rules of the road, but did not go to the floor for a vote. Yates said the most important item is always a balanced budget that will cover the needs of all departments, “especially education.”

“We will be very busy on the higher education subcommittee of appropriations as we discuss the needs of capital items for colleges and technical schools,” he said.

House appropriations committee vice chair, District 110 State Rep. Andy Welch, R-McDonough, said he has filed or will file bills including:

-HB 794 calling for a balanced budget amendment to the federal Constitution

-HB 802 to create greater fiscal flexibility under special purpose local option sales taxes earmarked for education

-HB 815 to modernize Georgia’s notary laws

-HB 760 to provide committees with subpoena power, “and, hence, better oversight.”

The provision will enable a Fulton County Superior Court judge to compel a state department head to testify before a House or Senate standing committee and produce documents necessary to the subject at hand.

-HB 731: a code revision bill.

Welch, the House code revision committee vice chair, said it is for “repealing unconstitutional code provisions, antiquated programs which have not been utilized and updating certain code provisions.”

Tagged the J. Calvin Hill Jr. Act after the late representative from Woodstock, the 19-page bill amends laws on the environment, school system property, street vendors, medical marijuana, Confederate Soldiers’ Homes, the Atlanta Regional Commission, criminal defamation, the National Bureau of Standards, medical facilities and preclearance from the U.S. Department of Justice.

It also substitutes the term “intellectual disability” for a previous, now politically incorrect term and deletes references to the Communist Party. District 17 Sen. Rick Jeffares, R- McDonough, said senators “are hitting the ground running.”

“This year’s session will be abbreviated and is scheduled to end in mid-March. This will accelerate the legislative process, encouraging a more efficient turnout of bills while also saving taxpayer money,” he said.


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