HOPE vote coming in House

ATLANTA --- The General Assembly hits the halfway point today as it holds its first five-day week of the session.

As the 20th day of the 40-day session, today is the midpoint, but many major bills are still early in the process.

Tax reform and a rewrite of the state's Sunshine Law just got introduced late last week. Both are likely to spend some time in committee before coming to the House floor for votes.

"Given the busy nature of what else is going on in the House (this) week, I suspect any hearings on that will be put off to two weeks later or so," said House Majority Leader Larry O'Neal, R-Bonaire.

One bill that is moving quickly, HOPE Scholarship and Pre-K reforms, just got introduced Tuesday, sailed out of committee Thursday and is headed for a House vote this week. The speed is because of the bipartisan agreement that Gov. Nathan Deal brokered behind the scenes with leaders of the House and Senate before he introduced it.

The House is also going to vote this week on a bill similar to Arizona's empowering of local police to make arrests when they suspect violations of federal immigration laws. That bill came out of a series of public hearings in the fall that a joint House-Senate committee conducted.

The Senate has a hectic week, too, according to Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers.

"The Senate expects to receive the HOPE legislation from the House and begin immediate work," said Rogers, R-Woodstock. "We also intend to pass another zero-based budgeting bill aimed at eliminating previously unseen areas of government waste and inefficiency."

The Senate also will consider legislation aimed at eliminating state mandates on local governments that opponents see as efforts to limit public access to information and opportunities for input. The bill by Republican Sens. Frank Ginn and John Albers will remove requirements that local governments draft land-use plans or coordinate with the state and neighboring communities when they consider approving major developments that could have an impact on the region's resources.


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