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Posted: April 14, 2010 12:00 a.m.

The pace quickens

The pace of the Georgia Legislature is increasing as the clock ticks to the end of the final day, scheduled for April 21.

The Senate recently passed House Bill 307, which includes another tax cut for Georgians and an effort to keep the federal government's hands out of your pockets. The bill contains a $75 million cut in the state portion of a tax on health insurance premiums. Currently there is a 5 percent tax on those premiums, half going to local governments and half to the state. Under the gigantic "Obama Care" bill in Washington, that Georgia tax revenue would begin going to the federal government in 2013 so rather than seeing it confiscated by Washington, we will eliminate the tax and save our working citizens a substantial amount of money.

SB 136, my bill to deport illegal aliens already in our prisons, cleared the House Judiciary Committee and awaits one more reading before moving to the full House for final approval. The bill would put Georgia in compliance with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, ICE, directives that provide for the program. Any illegal alien in our prison system could volunteer to be deported home once eligible for parole. That would get them out of prison earlier, relieve our taxpayers of their upkeep and get them out of the country much faster than otherwise possible. I look forward to final passage in the House.

Another strong message was sent to the federal government when the Senate passed Sen. Chip Pearson's (R-Dawsonville) resolution explaining any Cap and Trade legislation would be extremely detrimental to Georgians, potentially costing families $6,800 by 2035. Senate Resolution 801 says that the alleged environmentally friendly legislation fails to consider that a large portion of carbon emissions resulting in global warming are produced from cropland and forest conversion, rather than by the production of energy such as natural gas, coal and oil.

Sen. Judson Hill's (R-Marietta) legislation protecting Georgia's rights on health care choice continues its momentum through the capitol. SB 317, approved by the House Health and Human Services Committee after passing the Senate, would prohibit mandatory participation in any health care system.

"This bill simply protects the basic rights of choice that we all currently enjoy today by not allowing the federal government to force an unconstitutional mandate on Georgia's citizens or punish anyone for not buying heath insurance," said Hill. "Each person should have the right to purchase private health care, purchase government health care, or exercise their right not to purchase any health care at all."

The legislature returned to Atlanta on Monday. As always, serving as your Senator is a great honor. Please call on me any time.

Senator John Douglas, (R-Social Circle) represents all of Newton and parts of Henry, Rockdale, Spalding and Walton Counties. He is Chairman of the Veterans, Military and Homeland Security Committee and serves on five others. He can be reached at 404-656-0503, e-mail: john.douglas@senate.ga.gov or through his Web site, www.senatorjohndouglas.com.


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