VALDOSTA -- Four local officials are gearing up for the 2004 legislative session, which contains more than 3,000 bills and resolutions.

Of the four, Sen. Tim Golden (D-Dist. 8) will have to wait until House Representatives Ellis Black (D-Dist. 178), Ron Borders (D-Dist. 177), Jay Shaw (D-Dist. 143) and the remainder of the House members send them to the Senate.

There haven't been any major issues yet, Black said, though there have been some bills enacted from last year's late rush. Black is on the agriculture committee and is sponsoring a bill to make 221 agriculture licenses due at the beginning of the calendar year.

Black thinks this session will run smoother than last year's lengthy session. One thing the governor made clear, Black said, is "he's threatened to veto any tax increases."

Shaw is on the Rules Committee that will set the rules calendar, he said. Shaw isn't happy with the governor's budget. "It shifts the taxing burden from the state to the local government," he said.

Golden's waiting to see if $16.6 million will be approved for new classrooms for Valdosta Technical College. He and his Republican colleagues lobbied the governor for the Val Tech money, he said. "The governor did put it the budget," he said.

Both Borders and Golden are involved with the sales tax holiday that would last for four days prior to the beginning of the school year. Borders is also working on another bill in addition to the back to school sales tax holiday. He wants to have a back to campus sales tax holiday for college students. This tax would aid college students living in a dormitory room or apartment by giving a tax break on appliances college students need.

Borders was contacted in 2000 by then-Brig. Gen. Victor Renuart Jr., commander of the 347th Wing at Moody AFB, about payday loans that turn short term loans with high interest into years of debt for military personnel. It's been almost four years, but Borders is trying to draw attention to this problem, which he believes might affect the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure list.



To contact reporter Rip Prine, please call 244-3400, ext. 237.

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