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Winners and losers in 2011 legislative session

A look at the winners and losers in the 2011 legislative session:WINNERS:DELTA AIR LINES: The Georgia-based airline won renewal of a hefty tax break on jet fuel The tax break had been set to expire this year. But Georgia legislators approved an extension that could mean up to $30 million in tax savings for the company over two years. Delta posted a profit of $593 million last year, its first since 2007, and is projecting a $400 million profit in 2011. Democrats objected to renewal of the tax break, saying the nation's No. 2 airline doesn't need a giveaway. But supporters say the state must do what it can to keep the company - and its jobs - in Georgia. Gov. Nathan Deal must still sign the bill.GROCERY AND CONVENIENCE STORES: After five years of trying, grocery and convenience stores in Georgia finally won passage of a bill that will allow voters to permit Sunday alcohol sales. The measure had stalled for years in the state Senate amid opposition from religious groups and facing a veto threat from then-Gov. Sonny Perdue. Gov. Nathan Deal has signaled he'll sign the bill, which allows local governments to ask voters to decide whether their communities should allow Sunday sales. Separately, a proposal to place the state sales tax back on groceries failed.HOUSE MINORITY LEADER STACEY ABRAMS: Democrats saw their numbers in the Legislature shrink even after last year's election, as members jumped ship to the GOP. It wasn't expected the minority party would yield much sway in the session. But new House Democratic Leader Stacey Abrams changed that assumption. Abrams, a tax lawyer, eviscerated a Republican tax reform plan, using data requested by the GOP to demonstrate that it would raise taxes on the middle class. She worked with Gov. Nathan Deal on an overhaul of the HOPE scholarship and was at his side when he announced a plan to begin studying a rewrite of the state's tough sentencing laws.NATHAN DEAL: The new Republican governor put forward a limited agenda and got what he wanted. He won passage of a budget that largely resembled the one he proposed and included money for water infrastructure projects. Lawmakers approved a bill he had sought paving the way for private-public partnerships for reservoir construction. And his sweeping plan to scale back the HOPE scholarship to keep it from going broke sailed through the House and the Senate in just three weeks. He's already signed it into law. Plus, Deal won rave reviews from many lawmakers for being accessible and collaborative.REP. MATT RAMSEY: The two-term state representative emerged as a lawmaker on the rise this session, authoring the session's biggest bill - a landmark immigration measure that has some elements of a tough Arizona law. Ramsey came out the winner in a House-Senate fight over who would lay claim to the bill. And the final product kept in the mandate that most businesses use a federal E-Verify system he he'd fought for. Ramsey was also the lead sponsor on another contentious bill, allowing the sale of health insurance across state lines. Republicans have sought for years to pass the measure without success but the Peachtree City Republican pushed it through his year.SENIOR CITIZENS: The failure of Georgia lawmakers to approve a tax overhaul bill was good news for wealthier seniors. It means that all retirement income will continue to be excluded from taxes. The tax proposal under consideration would have capped that exclusion at $35,000. Lawmakers also finally passed legislation sought for years to allow more elderly Georgians to remain in assisted living centers, rather than being forced into more costly nursing homes. And legislative budget writers also replaced some $1 million that had been cut for the Meals on Wheels program and $225,000 for Alzheimer's respite services.TEA PARTY: Tea party groups came out swinging in Georgia this session, taking on ethics as part of a coalition with Common Cause of Georgia. They lobbied lawmakers hard and helped defeat plans to begin creating a health exchange in Georgia as part of the federal health law. And they joined with House Democrats in helping to kill a GOP tax reform plan, arguing that plan was being rammed through in a way that wasn't transparent.LOSERS:ATLANTA PUBLIC SCHOOL BOARD: The troubled school board will have Gov. Nathan Deal looking over its shoulder. Georgia legislators approved a bill that will allow the governor to oust all the school board members and appoint replacements. Deal hasn't said yet whether he'll sign the bill but it has the backing of Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed. The district is facing a possible loss of accreditation amid allegations of mismanagement and a high-profile cheating scandal.BUSINESS GROUPS: Big business - typically aligned with the state's Republican majority - battled against a tougher version of an illegal immigration bill and lost. They had argued that a mandate requiring them to check the immigration status of new hires was onerous. They also failed to shed the sales tax on energy used in manufacturing even though both Republicans and Democrats agreed it was a good idea that would make the state more competitive. The proposal was part of a tax reform plan that didn't move this session.COLLEGE STUDENTS: Most HOPE scholarship recipients will see their awards shrink under broad changes to the lottery-funded program approved this year. The changes will also eliminate payments for books, feed and remedial classes. And it's almost certain that the state Board of Regents will hike tuition at the state's public colleges and universities for the coming school year.ENVIRONMENTALISTS: It wasn't easy being green this session. Environmentalists lost some big battles at the Capitol. After years of trying, outdoor advertising businesses finally pushed through legislation allowing billboard owners to cut down many trees that block their signs from being seen. Reservoir construction also received a boost, with the state budget proposing $32 million in borrowing for projects. And Georgia lawmakers approved a bill that clears the way for private-public partnerships on reservoir financing. Another bill which received final passage will allow yard trimmings to be discarded in landfills, which some say will hurt the composting industry.SENATE LEADERSHIP: It was a rocky year in the state Senate, where an eight-member leadership team - nicknamed "the ocho" - took many powers away from Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle. Infighting in the chamber was commonplace as factions jockeyed for position. At one point, a clearly exasperated House Speaker David Ralston said the Senate needed to end its "little experiment" and decide who's in charge. The power struggle spilled over into legislative delays and confusion. An immigration bill only passed on the session's final day, stalled, in part, because of the Senate split.SOCIAL CONSERVATIVES: Despite commanding Republican majorities in the House and the Senate, there were few victories for social conservatives this session as most eyes were on the budget and immigration. Religious groups lost the battle to block Sunday alcohol sales. No major abortion legislation passed. An effort to mimic a Nebraska law that would have outlawed abortions based on a fetal pain argument went nowhere.TAX COUNCIL: The Special Council on Tax Reform and Fairness for Georgians spent some six months poring over the state's tax code and issued a lengthy set of recommendations only to watch them go nowhere. The panel was appointed by the state Legislature but lawmakers distanced themselves from their findings. The council suggested lowering the personal income tax rate but also replacing the state sales tax on groceries and hiking the tax on cigarettes. Tax increases were a non-starter in the Republican General; Assembly. Even a heavily revamped version of their proposal failed to move.


Anderson, Robert - 1 p.m. Snodgrass Funeral Home, South Charleston.

Atkins Jr., Archie - 11 a.m., Fidler & Frame Funeral Home, Belle.

Burdette, Davy - 8 p.m., Allen Funeral Home, Hurricane.

Edwards, Dianna - 2 p.m., Montgomery Memorial Park, London.

Loving, Nancy - 1 p.m., Groves Creek Community Church, Harrison.

Meadows, James - 2 p.m., Good Shepherd Mortuary, South Charleston.

Miller, Ruth - 11 a.m., Handley Funeral Home, Danville.

Smith, Carl - 11 a.m., Cunningham-Parker-Johnson Funeral Home, Charleston.

Thornton, Sammie - 1 p.m., Gatens - Harding Funeral Home, Poca.

Vance, Zenda - 11 a.m., Montgomery Memorial Park, London.

Whitson, Grady - 7 p.m., Deal Funeral Home, Point Pleasant.

Williams, Mary - 2 p.m., Handley Funeral Home, Danville.