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Lawmakers hit crossover day
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Georgia General Assembly:
ATLANTA - Friday marks the daylong scramble for senators and representatives to keep bills in play or see their causes put off on issues ranging from transportation, ethics, education, racial profiling and abortion.

While much of the focus this year has been on the state's looming budget crisis, senators and representatives have priorities of their own. Though Gov. Sonny Perdue has had success on water conservation, his transportation plan has stalled.

And new Speaker of the House David Ralston is fighting to keep alive his pledge of ethics reform.

Crossover Day, which comes on the 30th day of the session, is the deadline for bills to pass at least one chamber of the General Assembly to remain active. Senators will vote on 33 bills on Friday while the House will consider 29.

Among the more controversial bills in the Senate is a proposal to ban abortions based on the race of the unborn child. Supporters of the bill claim African-Americans are unfairly targeted for the procedure and have posted billboards across the city warning that "Black Children Are an Endangered Species."

Also up for consideration is a measure that would create a need-based version of the HOPE scholarship, which pays for tuition for Georgia students with at least a B average. The bill could help nearly 50,000 poor students pay to attend the state's public colleges under a $30 million program that has support from key Senate Republicans.

In the House there are likely to be fireworks over a proposal to break off Atlanta's predominantly white, wealthy suburbs to the north and put them in a new Milton County. The poorer, black neighborhoods in Atlanta would remain in Fulton County, Georgia's most populous county and home to most of the city of Atlanta. The resolution must be approved by a two-thirds vote in the House and the Senate. It would then need approval from voters in the proposed new county.

The House will also take up a bill that would help fill the state's budget hole with $90 million in new fees, including a $100 charge for Georgians filing civil lawsuits. A plan to slap hospitals with a new tax is also up for a vote.

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