Georgia General Assembly Session Begins

Decisions over the next eight to ten weeks in one building will affect Georgians for years to come, from taxes, to healthcare to education. The General Assembly gathered this morning to start this year's session.

The biggest fight will be tax dollars: how to spend them and where to get them. One of the toughest issues may be a budget that has seen major cuts the past few years.

"It's been tough times," Rep. Butch Parrish (D-Swainsboro) told us. "So I'm hoping the economy is turning around and we can do some things to help with those cuts that have taken place."

As Republicans take control of both the House and the Senate for the first time in a century, they promise the budget will be done quickly and not used for last-minute leverage.

"That's how they did it in the old days. If you don't vote this way on something, we'll take your projects out," said ( Sen. Eric Johnson, the majority president pro tem. "We're going to try to get the budget out of the way."

"Everybody says it takes four hours to play golf. The truth is it only takes two," House speaker Glenn Richardson said. "The rest of the time is spent messing around looking for balls."

Supporters of tort reform say it would cut the cost of doing business in Georgia. "There's a premium for that because of these lawsuits so we're going to address that early in the session," said Rep. Jerry Keen (R-St. Simon's Island). "Hopefully, we can bring some litigation tax relief to consumers in Georgia."

Maybe the only points on which everyone agrees are there's plenty to do and only 40 days in which to do it. They'll use those 40 days carefully, so we'll see some breaks in between to make the most of them.

With the transition of power from Democrats to Republicans, some think the big struggles will actually be between the rural areas and the urban centers like Atlanta. So we could have battles on all sorts of fronts.

Reported by: Dal Cannady,