Work on legislation will start this week

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ATLANTA - Lawmakers this week will begin working out the details of more than 120 bills that have been introduced during the first three weeks of the session. But they expect it to be later in the week, if at all, before they start taking full chamber votes on any measures.

"We'll finally start working on bills and legislation," said Senate President Pro Tem Eric Johnson, R-Savannah.

Newly formed committees will start taking up a lengthy slate of bills, ranging from giving parents of disabled children money to attend private school if they want to making it a penalty to drive while talking on a cell phone.

"We'll just really sort of get into business as usual," said House Majority Leader Jerry Keen, R-St. Simons Island. "I don't anticipate anything coming to the floor (in front of the full House) of any magnitude."

With hundreds of proposals to dissect and debate, committees become integral to ensure issues are addressed early.

"The real work for the legislative process is in committee," Mr. Keen said. "That's where the work should happen."

Because legislators serve on many committees - which sometimes causes them to duck out of one meeting early to make it to another - the House is testing a new way to get bills moving this week. Though both chambers typically start their daily sessions in the morning, the House will wait until 3 p.m. on Tuesday so committee chairmen can schedule a full morning of committee hearings and get the process moving forward.

"We're going to try it as an experiment," Mr. Keen said.

The Senate also plans to spend most of this week holding committee meetings.

"There's not anything that we perceive coming to the floor," Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle said.

Both chambers plan to start working on their recommendations for the state budget after spending last week hearing requests from various state agencies.

Reach Vicky Eckenrode at (404) 681-1701 or vicky.eckenrode@morris.com.


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