Originally created 03/19/03

Across Georgia



Public hearing will focus on flag issue

ATLANTA -Georgia voters will get a chance to tell lawmakers what they think about the state flag Thursday in the first planned hearing on a referendum to change the official banner.

A top House Democrat, Rep. Calvin Smyre of Columbus, said a public hearing will be held Thursday afternoon near the Capitol. It will be the first time Mr. Smyre's Rules Committee has considered the matter, although a vote is not planned.

Republican Gov. Sonny Perdue has suggested a nonbinding referendum next March to determine whether people like Georgia's current flag, which was changed in 2001 to all but eliminate the Confederate cross.

House panel considers tobacco tax increase

ATLANTA -Gov. Sonny Perdue's proposed tax increase on tobacco products cleared its first legislative hurdle Tuesday, about two months after he called for the step to help offset the state's budget problems and to deter teen smoking.

After hearing from supporters and opponents, a subcommittee of the House Ways and Means Committee voted to send the measure to the full tax-writing committee, which is expected to act on the measure Thursday.

Transportation leader agrees to keep post

ATLANTA -Georgia's transportation commissioner, Tom Coleman, will keep his job under the new Republican administration of Gov. Sonny Perdue. The governor made the announcement Tuesday.

In a statement issued by his press office, Mr. Perdue said Mr. Coleman agreed to stay on and added, "His counsel will be very important as the state moves forward into a new era of transportation policy."

CNN turns down offer from Turner to report

NEW YORK -CNN turned down a volunteer for its Baghdad reporting team - Ted Turner, the network's founder who lost control of it in its merger into AOL Time Warner.

Mr. Turner said Tuesday he offered to join the coverage. "They said no," he said.

"I'm 64 and pretty well wiped out (financially) anyway. I might as well go down in flames," he said to laughter from the audience.