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State House passes budget

POSTED: March 7, 2012 12:51 p.m.

Georgia lawmakers are breaking for lunch following the passage of a new spending plan for the state.

The $19.2 billion plan largely mirrors one introduced by Gov. Nathan Deal earlier this year, but some recommendations didn't make the cut, including the governor's plans for the state's Court of Appeals and recommendations for staffing levels for assistant district attorneys.

The plan now goes to the Senate for more carving, but House lawmakers praised their efforts, passing the budget with a 151-21 vote and no debate.

"This may be the most straightforward budget we've produced in some time," said Rep. Terry England, a Republican from Auburn and the vice chairman of the House Appropriations Committee.

Today is Crossover Day, the final day of reckoning for most bills seeking to become law this year. Any bill that doesn't pass out of at least one chamber by the end of today will essentially die.

There are some notable exceptions, including bills that would change the state's tax structure and one that would overhaul the criminal justice system in an attempt to save money.

The House has been in session since 9:30 am, and has passed more than 10 bills including the budget.

Both chambers have ahead of them a long list of bills that include a ban on assisted suicide and measures on abortion and charter schools.

Other bills that could be debated would add drug testing and community service requirements for those who receive public assistance, create religious exemptions related to abortion for health care providers and ban certain mass picketing.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.



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