State targets ‘super speeders’

Published 7:35 pm Tuesday, April 7, 2009

The Super Speeder legislation passed by the Georgia General Assembly is intended to help reduce traumatic automobile accidents and provide funds for trauma care in the state.

“I commend the General Assembly for passing legislation to discourage reckless driving and increase funding for trauma care in Georgia,” said Gov. Sonny Perdue in a news release. “The Super Speeder bill will make our roads safer and save lives.”

The Super Speeder legislation will generate approximately $23 million in fiscal year 2010, which Perdue recommended be spent to improve the state’s trauma care network. The legislation adds an additional $200 fine for driving over 85 mph anywhere in the state and for driving 75 mph or more on a two-lane road.

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State officials estimate about $100 million in annual revenue is needed to fully fund the state’s Trauma Care Network, an initiative to encourage hospitals to make life-saving care more accessible to rural areas of the state, said Georgia Rep. Gene Maddox, R-Cairo. For example, South Georgia only has one facility that provides trauma care south of Macon, and it’s located at Thomasville’s Archbold Medical Center.

Rep. Maddox, who was on a study panel that looked at the state’s trauma care needs, said the group found most of the costly, time-critical care has to be in place because of motor vehicle accidents. In addition, many of those accidents are caused by persons driving under the influence or speeding, he said. Under the new “super speeder” legislation, repeat traffic violators and others who drive recklessly will have to pay more to the Georgia Department of Driver Services in order to get their licenses back after having them suspended.

Schools face continued budget crunch

The legislature and Gov. Perdue have granted school boards a little more time to do their budget planning for the next school year.

For the 2009-2010 school year only, school boards will have until May 15 to offer teachers new contracts. Normally, the contracts have to be offered no later than April 15.

“School systems will have to make some tough decisions after seeing what our budget did and the effect it will have their system,” said Sen. John Bulloch, R-Ochlocknee.

According to Sen. Bulloch, the legislature also voted to temporarily waive rules that calculate how schools have to spend money they get from the state for instruction purposes. The waivers will be in effect for two school years and are designed to give local school systems more budget flexibility, Bulloch said.

Some school programs saved

Other bills passed by the General Assembly would set aside some of Georgia’s share of the federal economic stimulus package to fund school nurses and maintain the 10 percent bonuses given to teachers who obtain national certification, Bulloch said.

After hearing that some school systems might no longer be able to afford locally sponsored dual enrollment programs, the legislature agreed to set up a similar program that would allow 11th- and 12th-graders to attend state colleges and universities while also pursuing their high school degree, Rep. Maddox said.

State aims to recruit math and science teachers

House Bill 280 will start new fully certified math and science teachers at the same salary as a fifth-year teacher.

In an effort to encourage elementary teachers to increase their competency in math and science, the governor’s proposal also provides a $1,000 annual bonus to elementary teachers who hold a math or science endorsement. The incentives will be available for the 2010-11 school year, which will begin in the fiscal year 2011 state budget.