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John Douglas - Historic week at the Gold Dome

We have now completed 10 of 40 working days of the 2008 legislative session, and the pace is increasing daily as senators and representatives introduce new bills, meet in committees and debate and vote on legislation. So far, we have already taken up many of the tough issues facing the legislature and will continue to work hard moving forward. Much remains to be done as we look to Georgia's future.

Illegal Immigration

Illegal immigration issues have already taken center stage in Atlanta. I authored Senate Bill 335, which will be heard in the Public Safety subcommittee early next week. SB 335 ensures that English-speaking employees of cities, counties or the state are not forced to learn Spanish or another language to satisfy their employers. Some Georgia cities require Spanish training in order for their American employees to even be eligible for promotion. I believe that the goal should be for everyone to learn English since non English speakers came here to America and not vice versa.

This bill has been amended from its original form to say that any employee hired after July 1, 2008, can be required to learn another language if the employment notice contained that stipulation. Employees hired before that date would be protected from the language training requirement.

A related bill making its way through the legislative process is SB 340, otherwise known as the "Sanctuary Cities" bill, a further step in the effort to curb the influx of illegal immigrants in Georgia. SB 340 prohibits local governments from implementing or enforcing sanctuary policies. A sanctuary policy is defined as any regulation, policy or practice that prevents local officials, such as law enforcement, from reporting a person's immigration status to the federal government. Local governments who fail to cooperate with the federal government in reporting a person's immigration status will be subject to the withholding of important state and/or federal funding. The bill unanimously passed through a key Senate committee this week and now goes to the Senate floor for consideration.

Transportation

In other important news, we announced the first pieces of legislation that will make up Georgia's new transportation funding plan during a Wednesday press conference. Senate Resolution 781 will require the development of a statewide transportation plan that must be approved by the General Assembly and updated every five years thereafter. The goal is to create a 50-year, safe, mobile, reliable, predictable and dependable transportation system for the state using projected growth and demographic trends. The plan will include forecasts for Georgia's transportation needs in five-year increments.

As always, please remember to contact me in my office on any issues of concern. You have honored me with this position and I am happy to help you any way I can.

State Sen. John Douglas serves as chairman of the Veterans, Military and Homeland Security Committee. He represents the 17th Senate District, which includes Newton County and portions of Henry, Rockdale, Spalding and Walton counties. He may be reached by phone at 404-656-0503 or by e-mail at john.douglas@senate.ga.gov.