Vouchers got boost in Senate this week

ATLANTA - This week, the Senate focused on changes to how students are educated while the House continued crunching numbers to create a new budget for the state.


The Senate saw its first real floor debate of the year Wednesday on a proposal to offer parents of handicapped children tuition vouchers to attend private school if they want.

After three hours of discussion, the upper chamber voted 33-21 to pass Senate Bill 10.

"The people out there get this," Sen. Eric Johnson, R-Savannah, who sponsored the measure, told the other senators. "You'll remember this vote the rest of your career."

Democrats argued against the bill, saying it would open the door to vouchers for other students and take state money away from public school systems.

It was another relatively light week in the House, where a handful of bills passed.

One urged the Capitol Arts Standards Commission to approve a statue for Zell Miller.

As a U.S. senator, the Democrat broke with his party to endorse President George W. Bush's re-election bid.

Before that, as governor, he spearheaded the push for the state's lottery and the HOPE scholarship it funds.

A bipartisan group of lawmakers voted 153-3 for the tribute to Mr. Miller, who also was the state's longest-serving lieutenant governor.

"This man has had probably as much impact on bringing Georgia forward of anyone I've known in my lifetime," said House Minority Leader DuBose Porter, D-Dublin.

Also this week, two measures dealing with the future of Jekyll Island were introduced.

A bill by Rep. Terry Barnard, R-Glennville, would extend the lease granted to the Jekyll Island Authority for another 99 years, until 2148.

And a resolution urging the authority to proceed carefully in the redevelopment of creaking hotels and infrastructure was introduced by Rep. Al Williams, D-Midway.

Reach Vicky Eckenrode and Brandon Larrabee at (404) 681-1701.


Members of the Georgia Senate gave their approval Wednesday to a bill that would provide tuition vouchers for private school to parents of handicapped children. Here's how senators from the Augusta area voted:

J.B. Powell, D-Blythe: NO

Ed Tarver, D-Augusta: NO

Jim Whitehead, R-Evans: YES

- Morris News Service