The Banks County News
January 24, 2001
on legislative session
The first session of the 146th General Assembly began at 10 a.m.
on Monday, January 8. All 180 members were sworn in, and elections
were held for the leadership posts. Representative Tom Murphy
of Bremen won the speakership for the 14th consecutive time.
Speaker Murphy has served in the House since 1961 and was elected
speaker in 1974. He is the longest-serving speaker in the nation.
Robert E. Rivers was re-elected clerk of the House unanimously.
The clerk is the custodian of the bills, resolutions, records
and other official documents filed in the House of Representatives.
Representa-tive Jack Connell of Augusta was also re-elected speaker
pro tem. The rest of the day was spent taking care of housekeeping
and organizational matters such as establishing the House rules
for the session.
The majority of the time the House spends in session is dedicated
to considering bills and resolutions. One bill receiving much
time in the press is HB 16, which seeks to change the state flag
to the pre-1956 design, while putting the current flag in a place
of honor in state museums. Another bill of considerable merit
is HB 65, seeking to exempt certain teacher and public school
employee information from the state's open records laws. Proponents
of the measure feel that it is not only appropriate but necessary
that these men and women share the same privacy protection considerations
that we already extend to law enforcement officers, judges and
the like. This bill is co-sponsored by me and Speaker Murphy.
Typically, thousands of measures are dropped for consideration
each session but only hundreds make it to the House floor for
final consideration after being reviewed in committees.
Gov. Roy Barnes was invited to the House chamber Thursday to
present his FY 2002 budget proposal before a joint session of
both House and Senate members. It is the third time that this
governor has presented his budget requests, and this year's package
outlines almost $15 billion in state spending.
While this figure is massive, it is still a considerably conservative
estimate of next year's revenues. Recent rumors of a coming national
recession, and an expected statewide economic slowdown have prompted
Gov. Barnes to keep this year's estimate close to the cuff. Most
lawmakers agree that it is better to be safe than to face the
revenue shortfalls confronted by several other states this year.
Again, education tops the governor's priority list. Last year's
education proposals have been receiving feedback, and this year
the fine-tuning begins. One such adjustment deals with classroom
para-professionals. Teachers and administrators alike were up
at arms over what they saw as a cut in money available for para-pros.
It is the reason that Gov. Barnes has set aside $68.5 million
to specifically fund para-professional positions. Lawmakers were
happy to hear that this means that approximately 60,000 para-pros
will be employed to fill every kindergarten classroom in this
state. Gov. Barnes received a standing ovation after proclaiming
Gov. Barnes is proposing a 4.5 percent increase coupled with
a program to expand options for classroom teachers that would
allow them to earn higher wages without moving into administrative
Other education spending initiatives include:
·$7 million to be spent on statewide reading programs
determined by the community.
·$3.5 million to fund pilot extended day programs in willing
·$18.9 million to extend the "Early Intervention
Program" up to grade five.
·$500,000 to set up an alternative certification program
so that experts in certain fields may enter the classroom if
they so desire.
Another area that has received much recent attention is the sub-par
working conditions of the state's child welfare department caseworkers.
To that end, the governor is proposing $3.5 million so that more
caseworkers may be hired to lighten existing caseloads. He also
set aside some $7 million to increase the salary paid to caseworkers
by five percent across the board, and to increase starting salaries
for caseworkers with master's degrees by 18 percent.
The total increase in funding to the child welfare system comes
to approximately $42 million, and will include $5.2 million to
increase the per diem paid to foster families to cover increased
expenses of providing for these children in need.
These are only a few of many proposals in a massive state spending
plan. It now becomes the job of the House and Senate to consider
these proposals and to make the adjustments they deem necessary.
It is a long and labor-intensive process that is usually not
resolved until the session's last days. While lawmakers may sometimes
feel overwhelmed at the enormity of such a task, they point with
pride to a process that consistently produces a budget widely
considered to be one of our nation's most fiscally sound. The
General Assembly was in adjournment for the week of January 15th
with budget hearings being held on Tuesday through Friday.
If you have any questions or comments, please to do not hesitate
to call me at (404) 656-5064.
The Banks County
January 24, 2001
of the house
I've noticed those personality tests in women's magazines before,
but have never taken one. I think I'm afraid to find out what
category I fit into. But when I saw a "personality plus"
test for cats, I decided to find out where Quincy fits in.
The choices were: "the possessive cat," "the manipulator,"
"the non-committal kitty," "the bad boy/bad girl
cat," or "the wired cat." I couldn't imagine my
baby fitting into any of those categories. I mean, he is perfect.
He is just a little angel-ask anyone.
I decided to go ahead and read all of the characteristics listed
under each category. He's not possessive. He's the only cat in
the house. In fact, he won't allow any other animals in the house.
You could say that means he is possessive, but I don't think
so. He just doesn't like cats or dogs. Nothing wrong with that.
Lots of people don't like other people. So, what's wrong with
him not liking other cats?
All I had to do was read the first line of "the noncommittal"
kitty paragraph, to know that it wasn't describing Quincy. "This
cat keeps its people at arm's length," the article said.
Quincy doesn't keep anyone at arm's length. If you come into
our home, you better like cats because before you leave, you
will have one very big cat curled up in your lap. He shows no
discrimination. It doesn't matter if it's a woman or man or child.
If you sit on the couch, he is going to curl up in your lap.
Noncommittal, no way. My Quincy is a lap cat, no doubt about
it. Unfortunately, lap cat wasn't a category, so I kept reading.
Next, I read about "the bad boy/bad girl" cat which
is prone to destroy your home. All cats make a mess every now
and then, but I don't think Quincy does too much damage. Of course,
I did smile when I read, "You may never be able to display
a bouquet of flowers in your home again." We can certainly
relate to this, but I don't think that makes Quincy a bad boy.
When we left him alone for a week, he did knock things in the
floor, but he missed us. He wasn't being a bad boy.
As for "the wired cat," Quincy is too lazy to be this
kind of cat. Eating and sleeping are his two main activities
each day. In between this, he cuddles up with his family on the
couch. Not lot of activity there, so I kept reading.
Now, the manipulator. I couldn't believe it when I read the first
sentence, "The manipulator cat is a master at leaping up
on the dresser in the early morning and knocking off objects
just to get your attention." I couldn't believe it. I thought
Quincy was the only cat who does this. Not many mornings go by
that I don't hear my glasses and alarm clocking hitting the floor.
I just thought he was trying to look out the window. I never
imagined that he was being manipulative.
So, I guess a cat psychiatrist would say Quincy fits into "the
manipulator" category. While that may not sound like the
kind of animal that would make a perfect companion, he is the
king of our house.
Angela Gary is editor of The Banks County News and associate
editor of The Jackson Herald. She can be reached at AngieEditor@aol.com.