HOUSE LEGISLATIVE REPORTRepresentative Barbara Massey ReeceWeek of March 2 -6, 2009  Thursday, March 12th is scheduled for “cross over day.”  This is the 30th day session day and the last day bills can cross from one chamber to the other for the first time. Transportation Tax – HB 277 and HR 206 provide for a one cent statewide sales tax to fund transportation projects listed in the bill.  Sales tax collected would be kept in a trust fund managed by an 11 member Oversight Committee.  The sales tax is expected to raise $25 billion over a ten year period.  If passed by the Senate and signed by the Governor, it must be approved by voters in the November 2010 election. An additional state sales tax can be a burden for many families in Northwest Georgia.  Few projects for our area were included in the plan which caused me to question the return on investments by our taxpayers.  It is possible that a more acceptable regional plan with more local control of projects may emerge as the House and Senate continue to work toward a compromise. Senate Transportation – SB 39, sponsored by Senator Mullis, would allow counties to work together on specific transportation projects planned by local governments.  An additional tax to complete designated projects would require approval of voters within the area.  This bill passed the Senate. Upon arrival in the House, a committee eliminated the transportation plan and completely replaced it with a MARTA bill allowing more spending for operating costs of the rapid transit system.  I voted against the bill.  It passed and has returned to the Senate which can change it back to include the original transportation plan.  Probably a conference committee will be appointed to reach an agreement on the best plan. Pay for Math and Science Teachers – HB 280 allows new high school Math and Science teachers to be paid at the step four level of the salary schedule.  This is $4,500 more per year than the salary for other first year teachers.  I voted against the bill.  It is true that many school systems have a shortage of Math and Science teachers, but rural areas have difficulty finding speech therapists, teachers for vision impaired, and special education.  I feel these funds can be

best used for salaries to employ teachers so that reductions in force resulting in larger class size are not necessary. Voter Registration – HB 45 requires that persons registering to vote prove they are U. S. citizens.  The bill’s author was able to give only one example of someone violating existing citizenship rules.  This bill was opposed by the League of women Voters, a non-partisan organization.  I voted against the bill since local election officials are already charged with reporting suspected non citizens to the Secretary of State who can require proof and conduct investigations. Sickle Cell HB 184 requires that The Department of Human Services post on its website information describing the importance of obtaining a blood test for sickle cell disease.  Tax Appraisers – HB 304 provides that a tax appraiser may not enter your property until he has given reasonable notice as to why he is entering your property.  Homestead Exemption Increase Fails – On Wednesday, March 4th the House failed to get the necessary 120 votes to pass SB 83. The statewide referendum would have increased the homestead exemption and additional $2,000.  I voted for the increased exemption.    Rep. Reece may be reached at 404-656-7859 or  Rep. Reece serves on the Education Committee, State Institutions and Properties Committee, Science and Technology Committee, and the Legislative and Congressional Reapportionment Committee.  She is also Secretary of the Rural Caucus.