Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Lawmakers Face Busy Week after Days of Flag Debate

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Lawmakers Face Busy Week after Days of Flag Debate

Article excerpt

ATLANTA -- With the logjam that was the debate over Georgia's flag now broken, this should be the busiest week thus far for the 2001 General Assembly.

Several major events that had been delayed by days of wrangling over legislation to change the flag are on tap, including Gov. Roy Barnes' State of the State message, set for Thursday. Senate Republicans, originally due to release their session agenda a week ago, will go public with their priorities early this week.

Barnes will kick off the flurry of activity today when he announces his long-awaited strategy for tackling the state's water-quality and water-quantity needs.

The package is expected to include legislation creating a water planning district to oversee stormwater, wastewater and water-supply projects in 16 counties in the Atlanta region. Another piece of the puzzle could be a proposal to form a study committee to look for statewide solutions that lawmakers could consider next year.

A task force made up mostly of metro-Atlanta political and business leaders has recommended that the new water planning district be run by a board controlled by local elected officials. That's a sharp contrast from the Georgia Regional Transportation Authority Barnes pushed through the legislature two years ago, which is governed by a board he appoints.

"We find some comfort in that," said House Minority Leader Lynn Westmoreland, R-Sharpsburg. "We don't want to add another level of bureaucracy . . . for him to get more political appointments."

The water legislation is headed first for the Senate.

Meanwhile, the House will take up two bills introduced by Barnes late last week after he and the legislature completed work on the flag bill.

The first would put new limits on teenage drivers in 18 metro-Atlanta counties, toughen current laws against drunken driving and crack down on aggressive driving habits that have come to be known as "road rage. …

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