Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Veterans Holiday Bill Back Again; Another Legislator Wants the Day Labeled as a Holiday by Georgia

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Veterans Holiday Bill Back Again; Another Legislator Wants the Day Labeled as a Holiday by Georgia

Article excerpt

Byline: TERRY DICKSON

BRUNSWICK - For the third time in four years, a Glynn County legislator has introduced a bill to make Veterans Day a state holiday.

The latest, freshman state Rep. Alex Atwood, R-St. Simons Island, said he introduced a bill Tuesday that will get its first reading on the house floor today to close state government offices and schools in observance of the Nov. 11 holiday.

"We've got a million veterans in Georgia,'' Atwood said. "It's the only federal holiday we don't observe in Georgia. I think it's time we do it.''

Two previous bills, one introduced in 2009 by former House Majority Leader Jerry Keen, R-St. Simons Island, and the 2010 Senate version that former Sen. Jeff Chapman, R-Brunswick, introduced, both sailed through their respective chambers only to be held up by individuals.

Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle held up Keen's House bill without letting it come up for a Senate vote while Chapman's bill, that had easily passed the Senate, ran aground in a familiar place, the House Defense and Veterans Affairs Committee chaired by Rep. John Yates, R-Griffin.

Yates, the last remaining World War II veteran in the General Assembly, has said he wants schools to remain open on Veterans Day so veterans can go into classrooms and talk with students about their experiences.

Had Keen's 2008 bill not been assigned to the Education Committee, it would likely have died in Yates' Veterans Affairs Committee without ever going to the floor for a vote.

Other attempts to make Veterans Day a holiday didn't even fare as well as the 2008 and 2009 bills. Another bill never came out of Yates' committee, but the house passed a resolution encouraging schools to recognize the service of veterans on Nov. 11.

Atwood said he is hopeful his bill also will be assigned to Education.

Atwood said it is daunting for a freshman to introduce such a bill, but he already has some support from committee chairs. Joe Wilkinson, R-Sandy Springs, who chairs the Ethics Committee and Reapportionment Committee Chairman Roger Lane, R-Darien, have signed on as sponsors as has House floor leader Hank Huckaby, R-Athens, Atwood said. …

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