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Legislative session concludes with ‘Sine Die’

The 2010 legislative session came to an end on Thursday, April 29, when the House and Senate completed the 40th legislative day. This final day is known as “Sine Die,” a Latin term meaning “without assigning a day for further meeting.” Because the General Assembly is constitutionally limited to a 40-day session, Sine Die was the last opportunity of the year for bills to make their way through the state legislature.  With this deadline in mind, we worked long hours to ensure the passage of key bills that will affect you and your family.  Legislation that passed on the final two days of the 2010 legislative session include bills designed to expand second amendment rights, fund state trauma care, and promote public safety. Bills approved by the House and Senate now head to the Governor’s desk for consideration.
Senate Bill 291 and Senate Bill 308 both allow permit holders to carry firearms in non-secure areas of airports, such as passenger drop-off and pick-up areas.  Supported by the National Rifle Association (NRA), SB 291 also brings Georgia law into compliance with federal law regarding restrictions on persons eligible for a permit and creates an automatic renewal notification process for permit holders. The bill further strengthens the second amendment by prohibiting firearm seizure and registration by government officials.
Senate Resolution 277 will allow Georgia voters to decide if the state should institute a $10 annual fee on passenger vehicle tags to support our statewide trauma network. If this constitutional amendment is approved by Georgia voters in the upcoming November general election, the resulting funds would go into a special trust fund separate from general state revenues with the specific purpose of funding our trauma network.
Senate Bill 360 bans texting while driving for all drivers in Georgia, and House Bill 23 bans all cell phone use for 16 and 17 year old drivers.  Unfortunately, cell phone usage by drivers has already resulted in minor to fatal traffic accidents.  Together these bills will help ensure that drivers on Georgia roads stay focused and do not become distracted by cell phones. 
Senate Bill 458, which also passed this week, will now require adults in pickup trucks to wear seatbelts.  This legislation is expected to save 21 lives and prevent 300 injuries each year, which could save $30 million in hospital costs a year. 
In an effort to give greater rights to our property owners and to expand those rights, the legislature passed Property Tax Reform, Senate Bill 346.  This bill will protect taxpaying property owners by guaranteeing their right to appeal assessments and protecting them from unfair tax assessments. 
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the Fiscal Year 2011 budget passed the House and Senate.  Totaling $17.8 billion, the budget shows a $3.3 billion decrease from last year due to the current economic recession.  Despite this difficult economy, with responsible fiscal management we were able to approve a balanced budget without raising taxes. 
Now that the legislative session has ended, I look forward to spending more time in the district.  Although the session is over, I encourage you to contact me with any questions or concerns that you might have regarding state government.  You can reach me at my Capitol office at 404-656-5116 or email me at jon.burns@house.ga.gov. Thank you for your time.