Valdosta Daily Times

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March 16, 2012

2012 Ga. Legislative session update

VALDOSTA — 'Go Build Georgia' educational session Monday at Wiregrass Tech


An educational session for local high school students about the new "Go Build Georgia" program will be held Monday, March 19, at 6:30 p.m. in the Brooks Hall Conference Center at Wiregrass Georgia Technical College, 4089 Val Tech Road, Valdosta.


Gov. Nathan Deal and the Governor's Office of Workforce Development recently launched Go Build Georgia as a statewide program highlighting the need and opportunity for skilled craft labor in Georgia. America's highly skilled labor workforce is aging, and there are not enough young people entering the industry to replace those retiring. With 16,500 available positions in the skilled trades in 2012, there is an abundance of opportunities for Georgia students, businesses, and educators.


A core component of Go Build Georgia is educating young people and all Georgians about the wage, lifestyle, and employment benefits in the skilled labor trades. With this goal in mind, the Governor's Office of Workforce Development is conducting a 13-stop tour, providing information to high school students throughout the state.


For more information or to RSVP for the event, contact Brett Lacy at For more information on Go Build Georgia, visit


Criminal Justice Reform


The recommendations of a Special Council on Criminal Justice Reform, appointed last year by Gov. Nathan Deal, have resulted in the introduction of HB 1176, a bipartisan proposal that seeks to find a balance between ensuring public safety and reducing Georgia's prison system costs, which have risen dramatically along with the inmate population, which has more than doubled in the past 20 years. The state spends more than $1 billion a year to incarcerate more than 56,000 inmates.  Included in the measure are provisions that would:

Give judges more sentencing discretion for nonviolent offenses.

Raise the threshold for suspects charged with certain felonies.

Revise sentencing guidelines for burglary, shoplifting, forgery, marijuana possession, and other offenses.

Expand the use of drug and mental health courts, which offer alternative sentencing for certain offenders, and add more community-based treatment centers for low-level offenders.

Gov. Deal explained the reasoning behind handling nonviolent offenders differently from hardened criminals this way: "We have to decide who we're scared of and who we're just mad at. This is not a 'get out of jail free' card. If you commit a violent crime in Georgia, you're going to prison, and we have more cells to keep you there for as long as needed."  HB 1176 is being reviewed by the Special Joint Committee on Criminal Justice Reform.


Supplemental Budget


The House and Senate gave final approval this week to HB 741, the amended budget for the remainder of fiscal year 2012, which ends June 30. Totaling $18.5 billion, the plan now goes to Gov. Deal for his signature.


Final Passage


The House also agreed with Senate changes on two measures, sending those bills to the governor's desk. They include HB 48, which would change certain provisions regarding the Freeport exemption process, and HB 477, which would change the license renewal period for insurance agents from every year to every two years.


Other Senate bills approved by the House and sent to the governor include:

SB 300, which would require proper labeling for bottles containing sugar cane or sorghum syrup.

SB 309, which would grant special hunting permits for big game or alligators to terminally ill children under the age of 21. The measure would waive some rules on weapons, antler restrictions, and hunter education requirements, although the young person would have to be supervised by a licensed adult hunter.

SB 343, which would designate the state accounting officer as the official comptroller general of Georgia, a position previously held by the state insurance commissioner.

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