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Senate busy with controversial bills
40 days at the Capitol
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Day 31 (March 21): After a very short weekend, we were back at it bright and early as I met with the chairman of Senate Appropriations, Sen. Jack Hill, and members of the senate budget office regarding drug courts in our state. 
Gov. Nathan Deal, whose son Jason is a drug-court judge in Hall County, has said that he wants to see our state expand this concept in order to decrease our prison population that is draining our state treasury. While violent and repeat offenders are not eligible, others who want to change their lives have had great success through this program. 
Although we only had one bill on the calendar because the deadline to pass bills from one chamber to the other had passed, it turned out to be very controversial. H.B. 80, dealing with the annexation of unincorporated islands by cities, received much debate and soundly was defeated.  However, this will not be the last time we see this bill. The author asked for reconsideration, and it was sent back to the Rules Committee for further work.
Later, I met with Dr. Frank Mullins with the Joseph M. Still Burn Center in Augusta about legislation I will be carrying to include burn centers in the state’s trauma network.                              
Day 32 (March 22): The morning was busy with meetings – I had a total of six before noon, including one with the governor’s director of Executive Appointments regarding an appointment to a state board as well as a Health and Human Services Committee meeting. 
As we went into session today, I was honored to introduce our Doctor of the Day, Dr. Dan Deloach from Savannah Plastic Surgery. Deloach is serving as chairman of the Medical Association of Georgia (MAG) this year, the organization that sponsors this program. Every day that we are in session, a visiting doctor volunteers in the nurse’s clinic at the Capitol to assist those in need of medical attention. 
Today, we unanimously passed S.R. 228, a resolution urging authorities to study the feasibility of surface water withdrawal, storage and distribution from the Tennessee River basin.
Later, I presented three bills before the House State Institutions and Properties Committee as well as a resolution before the House Economic Development Committee. Of the four, I was able to get two passed while the other two were sent to a subcommittee.       
Day 33 (March 23): As is the case every Wednesday morning that we are in session, we had a Bible study at 7:15 a.m. in the governor’s conference room. This particular Bible study is for legislators only and our studies are led by different legislators each week.
We were in at 10 a.m. this morning. While we recognized a number of groups from our state, we only had one bill on the calendar, H.B. 223, which exempts farm buildings used to store manure from minimum state building requirements. As can be expected, discussion on this bill got out of hand quickly. 
After the session, I attended the weekly chairman’s lunch with Senate leadership to review the bills we had in our committees. At 3 p.m., I faced the impossible task of being in four meetings at the same time. However, with the assistance of my intern and administrative assistant, I made it to each meeting to present my bills. Thankfully, they all passed.
It was announced that the 2012 budget had been received from the House. It was going to be voted on the following Monday, which meant that as a chairman of an Appropriations Subcommittee, I was there the rest of the week working on my department’s submissions. 

Carter, R-Pooler, is reporting each week during the legislative session, which is expected to last until the middle of April. He can be reached at Coverdell Legislative Office Building Room 301-A, Atlanta, GA, 30334. His Capitol office number is (404) 656-5109.

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