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Report from the Capitol -- Bills that survived crossover day

By Pam O'Dell,

Capitol Reporter


The Georgia State House heard forty-one bills within twelve hours last Thursday. Ending at 9:31 pm, the infamous “Cross-over Day” (the 30th day of the legislative session and the last day in which a bill must pass either chamber or die) went two and a half hours short of its constitutional limit of midnight. With only ten more legislative days ahead, we have some idea of what may be permanent policy changes for the year with a couple of caveats: Bills that ‘died’ are often resurrected upon being amended to a ‘live’ bill and, bills are often ‘gutted’ in order to provide a ‘vehicle’ for another bill that failed to pass on time (thereby losing their intended value).


Safe Carry Protection Act: HB 512-   Rick Jasperse, R-Jasper (117-56)

Picken’s hometown boy worked hard on what may be the gun bill of the year. The Georgia Carry bill does away with prohibitions against licensed gun owners carrying firearms in churches, bars, unsecured government buildings and some areas of college campuses. Another- NRA-backed- bill passed the Senate but ‘the talk in the hall’ (of the capitol) is that the Senate version will probably be incorporated into the House bill (letting all know who has more political clout at the capitol among the gun-rights groups).

Powerball scales upward to $183M



ATLANTA – Powerball is moving onward as the jackpot for Wednesday’s drawing is up to $183 million to a single annuity winner. The excitement is spreading across Georgia as Powerball continues to roll.


The jackpot has grown since Feb. 9 and has rolled nine times.


Two lucky Georgia Lottery winners won $10,000 from Saturday’s drawing. Chevron in Cumming and EZ Shop in Atlanta sold the winning tickets.

Hood Road park work underway



City of Jasper crews took advantage of the warmer and drier weather Friday to work on a new park in the Hood Road area north of downtown.

The city is using an industrial blower connected to the long metal tube (seen at the front of the pile) to pump air into the brush to make it burn hotter.

When the photo was taken, the city employees were just beginning work. Once the fire gets going, there should be little smoke as the constant flow of air makes the flames hotter and quickly gets rid of the moisture, which causes the heavy smoke.
Mayor John Weaver said the winds on Friday allowed them to burn as the smoke that was created blew back into the 62 acres of woodland for the park.


See complete story on the forthcoming park, "New Jasper park to be big on trees, trails" in this week's print and e-edition.


State unemployment unchanged at 8.7 percent

ATLANTA – The Georgia Department of Labor announced today that Georgia’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for January was 8.7 percent, unchanged from December. The rate was 9.3 percent in January a year ago. 

There was a loss of 47,700 mostly seasonal jobs and an increase in initial claims for unemployment insurance benefits over the month, but the increases were not enough to impact the unemployment rate.

“The good news in this report is that we lost the fewest jobs for January since 1987,” said State Labor Commissioner Mark Butler. “And, we start the year with 79,600 more jobs in January than we had in the same period a year ago.” 

The number of jobs increased to 3,956,300 from 3,876,700 in January 2012. Most of the over-the-year job growth came in professional and business services, 25,500; leisure and hospitality, 21,300; education and health care, 16,100; trade, transportation, and warehousing, 13,000, and manufacturing 5,800.

The number of first-time claims for unemployment insurance benefits, resulting from layoffs during the month, increased by 20,669 to 71,530 from 50,861 in December.  The increase is mostly from seasonal layoffs in manufacturing, administrative and support services, construction, and retail trade. However, the number of initial claims was down by 6,226, over the year, dropping from 77,756 in January 2012. Most of the over-the-year decline came in manufacturing, retail trade, construction, accommodations and food services, and transportation and warehousing. 

Georgia’s labor force grew by 15,704, reaching 4,846,362 in January, its highest level since July 2008. The labor force has grown by 54,127, or 1.1 percent, from 4,792,635 in January 2012.  

The number of long-term unemployed workers declined by 3,700 to 191,300 in January, its lowest level in 35 months. The long-term unemployed—those out of work for more than 26 weeks—make up 45.2 percent of those unemployed in Georgia.