Rep. Shaw’s metal theft enforcement bill OK’d by subcommittee

2/27/2012

I am pleased to report that my legislation to address the growing problem of metal theft in our state was favorably reported by a House Judiciary subcommittee last week and is now awaiting action by the full committee.

HB 872 would impose tighter regulations on the recyclers and scrap metal dealers who provide the market for stolen metal. Under the bill, those attempting to sell scrap metal would be required to show a valid identification card, while payment for the metal would have to be in the form of a check or through an electronic funds transfer, which is one of only a couple of minor amendments made to the bill following a subcommittee hearing lasting more than three hours.

The proposal would also establish a statewide database of buyers and sellers that would be available to law enforcement agencies. Increased thefts of copper wire, air conditioning coils, manhole covers and even church bells and grave markers, along with rising prices for scrap metal, have necessitated tighter regulation and stronger enforcement. I will continue working with all stakeholders to make sure we pass a bill that will help protect Georgians.

Also last week, I introduced a resolution urging the U.S. Department of Labor to withdraw its proposed policies that would restrict young people from working on farms. As someone who grew up working on a farm, I can attest to the value of hard work and find it hard to believe that people in Washington, D.C., somehow thing there is something wrong with that. HR 1561, which was referred to the House Industrial Relations Committee, states that “passing on the family farm to the next generation is vital to the continued survival of the agriculture industry.”

Two measures I introduced were favorably reported by the House Insurance Committee on Feb. 22. HB 513 would allow the issuance of a group life insurance policy to approved groups, and HB 931 would update provisions of state law regarding domestic farmers’ mutual fire insurance companies. Both bills now await action by the full House.

In other business last week, a proposed constitutional amendment to allow the state government to set up charter schools, whether the local board of education approves or disapproves, received the necessary two-thirds majority approval in the House of Representatives. HR 1162 passed by a margin of 123 to 48 on reconsideration after having fallen 10 votes short of the two-thirds majority two weeks earlier. Some changes were made to the legislation with regard to local school funding, and several House members changed their earlier "no" votes to "yes."

I voted no on HR 1162 because the overwhelming consensus among educators in House District 176 is that it is an unnecessary expansion of state authority over decisions that should be made at the local level. I want to thank everyone who contacted me with their views on this issue.

The charter schools amendment now goes to the Senate, where it must also receive two-thirds majority approval in order to appear on the statewide ballot for consideration by the voters in November.

The House also voted to approve legislation aimed at ensuring state revenues collected in the form of special state fees are directed toward the purpose for which they were created. HB 811 is aimed at ending the practice of spending special fee revenues on other general budget items instead to going to their designated programs. Examples of these revenue sources include the solid waste disposal surcharge fee provided for the hazardous waste trust fund; the tire disposal fee provided for the solid waste trust fund; additional offender fines and court filing fees provided for peace officer and prosecutor training, indigent criminal defense and driver education and training. When these funds are redirected to other programs, the fee-based funds are short-changed, sometimes requiring local governments to make up the difference.

Under HB 811, if the amount of revenue generated by a fee is not allocated for the purpose spelled out for the fee in law, the General Assembly will be required to reduce the fee by a proportionate amount. The bill now goes to the Senate for its consideration.

Other legislation approved by the House and sent to the Senate last week includes HB 472, which would raise the maximum legal amount of beer that can be manufactured and distributed by beer pubs; HB 514, which would allow liquor distilleries to hold on-premises tastings and serve half-ounce samples to visitors; HB 730, which would prohibit state and local government agencies from requiring that bidders for a public works project have union workers on their payroll; HB 850, which would require criminal background checks for persons seeking to become a guardian or conservator; HB 879, which addresses diabetic care for students and would require schools to train a volunteer staff member to assist with the growing number of students who have been diagnosed with diabetes; and HB 895, which would strengthen the Sexual Offender Registration Review Board's methods for gathering information related to sexual offenders.

In addition to legislative business last week, members of the General Assembly took time to recognize the brave Georgians in uniform who protect our great state and nation. Feb. 22 was Georgia National Guard Day. On this day, we honored the sacrifice of our 45 fallen heroes who were killed in Iraq and Afghanistan and welcomed their families to the capitol. We also recognized our current National Guard troops who serve and protect us. It was an honor to recognize these incredible soldiers and airmen at the State Capitol. We are forever grateful for the sacrifices that they have made for our freedom.

On Feb. 21, I was honored to host members of Leadership Lanier on their day at the Capitol. I appreciate their making the trip and always enjoy seeing home folks during the legislative session.

This week, lawmakers will be in session through Wednesday, Feb. 29, which will be the 28th legislative day of the 40-day session. As always, please contact me with your views on the issues or whenever I can be of service.

• Rep. Jason Shaw represents the 176th District in the Georgia House of Representatives. Contact him during the legislative session at 508 Coverdell Legislative Office Building, Atlanta, GA 30334; by phone at 404-656-0213; or by email at jason.shaw@house.ga.gov.


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