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Tuesday, February 28, Eyewitness News at 6

6:56 PM, Feb 28, 2012   |    comments
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OUR TOP STORY TONIGHT... CAPITOL LOBBYISTS SPENT THOUSANDS ON MIDSTATE LAWMAKERS IN 20-11.. AND THEY'RE ON PACE TO SPEND AS MUCH OR MORE IN 20-12.
ACCORDING TO REPORTS FILED WITH THE GEORGIA GOVERNMENT TRANSPARENCY AND CAMPAIGN FINANCE COMMISSION.. LOBBYISTS SHELLED OUT ALMOST THIRTY-SEVEN THOUSAND DOLLARS ON TWELVE OF CENTRAL GEORGIA'S STATE LAWMAKERS LAST YEAR....FOR FREE MEALS....SPORTS TICKETS...AND MORE.
AND AS AMY AUBERT AND RANDALL SAVAGE LEARNED.. THE MORE POWER A LAWMAKER WEILDS.. THE MORE MONEY LOBBYISTS SPEND ON THEM.
<< HUNDREDS OF LOBBYISTS SPEND THOUSANDS OF HOURS UNDER THE GOLD DOME WHEN THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY IS IN SESSION.. CROWDING THE THIRD-FLOOR HALLS NEASR THE HOUSE AND SENATE CHAMBERS.
LOBBYISTS PULL LAWMAKERS ASIDE TO DISCUSS PENDING BILLS.
BUT AFTER HOURS.. LOBBYISTS OPEN THEIR WALLETS AND PICK UP LEGISLATORS' TABS ON EVERYTHING FROM BASEBALL AND FOOTBALL TICKETS TO MOTEL AND FOOD EXPENSES.
1:00:42:19 Varsity Guy: What'll you have...haaaaavvvvvvvvvv...hot dogs.. chili steaks.. ... no beer .. wecome to the Varsity.
1:00:04:07 Randall Savage, Eyewitness News: The money lobbyists spend for food for General Assembly members range from $6.99 combo's here at the Varsity to places...
1:00:19:28 Randall Savage, Eyewitness News: Like Bones here in Buckhead where lobbyists spend upwards of $500 for dinner and drinks for a few lawmakers.
LAST YEAR.. STATE REPRESENTATIVE LARRY O'NEAL OF WARNER ROBINS RECEIVED MORE TREATS THAN ANY MIDSTATE LAWMAKER.. THEY TOTALED MORE THAN ELEVEN THOUSAND.. THREE HUNDRED DOLLARS..
LOBBYISTS BOUGHT O'NEAL FOOD.. ATLANTA BRAVES BASEBALL TICKETS.. PAID HIS MOTEL EXPENSES AND SPRUNG FOR A FEW ROUNDS OF GOLF.
DESPITE THEIR SPENDING.. O'NEAL SAYS LOBBYISTS DON'T EXPECT FAVORABLE VOTES IN EXCHANGE.
1:02:54:23 Larry O'Neal, State Representative: No. I've never had anybody just outright tell me they expected me to vote a certain way. They provide us with information. The good ones always make sure they provide us with truthful, verifiable information and that's pretty much the extent of it.
O'NEALL.. A REPUBLICAN.. SERVES AS HOUSE MAJORITY LEADER...THE THIRD MOST POWERFUL POSITION IN THAT CHAMBER.
O'NEAL SAYS HIS VOTE.
1:03:25:07 Larry O'Neal, State Representative: If anybody anywhere thinks that my vote or my support for anything can be bought with a dinner, then they probably just need to send somebody else up here in my place. That's not the case, never will be the case so help me God.
BRAD CARVER SERVES AS LOBBYIST FOR THE LAW FIRM OF HALL.. BOOTH.. SMITH AND SLOCUMB ..HE SAYS LOBBYISTS DON'T EXPECT FAVORABLE VOTES IN RETURN FOR THEIR SPENDING.
1:03:13:02 Brad Carver, Lobbyist: For me, it just offers an opportunity for us to get to know the legislator and truthfully what that mean on down the road is they'll at least listen to what I have to say. They may not agree with what I'm going to say, but they'll at least entertain me a conversation in their office where I can talk with them.
IN SECOND AND THIRD PLACE AMONG MIDSTATE LAWMAKERS WERE TWO REPUBLICAN SENATORS. CECIL STATON OF MACON.. GOT MORE THAN SEVEN THOUSAND DOLLARS IN GIFTS FROM LOBBYISTS.. AND ROSS TOLLESON OF PERRY.. MORE THAN SIX THOUSAND DOLLARS.
STATON SERVES AS MAJORITY WHIP OF THE UPPER CHAMBER.. AND TOLLESON CHAIRS THE NATURAL RESOURCES AND THE ENVIRONMENT COMMITTEE.. AND SERVES ON THE APPROPRIATIONS AND RULES COMMITTEES.
RANDALL SAVAGE.. 13 WMAZ.. EYEWITNESS NEWS.
>> AT THE OTHER END OF THE SCALE.....STATE REPRESENTATIVES BUBBER EPPS OF DRY BRANCH AND WILLIE TALTON OF WARNER ROBINS RECEIVED THE LEAST.
EPPS.. A FORMER DEMOCRAT WHO SWITCHED TO THE REPUBLICAN PARTY AFTER THE 20-10 ELECTION.. GOT JUST OVER FIFTY-THREE DOLLARS IN GIFTS FROM LOBBYISTS IN 20-11.. TALTON.. ALSO A REPUBLICAN.. GOT TWO HUNDRED AND THIRTY-EIGHT DOLLARS.
TOMORROW.. WE'LL TAKE A LOOK AT A BILL IN THE STATE LEGISLATURE THAT WOULD LIMIT THE AMOUNT OF MONEY LOBBYISTS CAN SPEND ON LAWMAKERS.

WITH A WEEK TO GO UNTIL GEORGIA'S PRESIDENTIAL PRIMARY... TONIGHT... WE'RE HEARING FROM RICK SANTORUM SUPPORTER TIM ECHOLS.

HE TELLS YOU IN HIS OWN WORDS... WHY HE THINKS YOU SHOULD VOTE FOR THE FORMER SENATOR.
MY NAME IS TIM ECHOLS, AND I CURRENTLY SERVE AS THE CHAIR OF THE GEORGIA PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION.
HAVING GONE THROUGH THREE DIFFICULT ELECTIONS IN 2010, I CAN APPRECIATE WHAT ALL THESE REPUBLICAN CANDIDATES ARE GOING THROUGH.
EACH OF THEM BRING A DIFFERENT SKILL SET TO THE TABLE, AND ANY OF THEM WOULD BE A FINE REPLACEMENT FOR THE MAN WHO CURRENTLY OCCUPIES THE WHITE HOUSE.
I AM PERSONALLY SUPPORTING RICK SANTORUM FOR TWO MAIN REASONS.
FIRST, HE IS THE CANDIDATE THAT MOST REFLECTS MY OWN PERSONAL VALUES.
SENATOR SANTORUM UNDERSTANDS THAT SOCIAL ISSUES, WHILE NOT THE MOST IMPORTANT ASPECT OF THE ELECTION, TELL A LOT ABOUT A NATION.
WE HAVE ABORTED OVER 50 MILLION CHILDREN IN THIS COUNTRY SINCE 1973. COINCIDENTALLY, WE HAPPEN TO HAVE A SHORTAGE OF SKILLED WORKERS AND WE ARE FAILING TO REPLENISH THE SOCIAL SECURITY TRUST FUND.
MANY OF THE PAYERS INTO THAT SYSTEM WERE NEVER ALLOWED TO LIVE. ABORTION HAS HURT OUR COUNTRY, EVEN ECONOMICALLY.
SECOND, SENATOR SANTORUM IS FROM AN IMPORTANT SWING STATE, WHICH COULD DETERMINE WHO WINS IN NOVEMBER. HIS STATE, PENNSYLVANIA, AND NEARBY OHIO, WILL BE PIVOTAL IN THE GENERAL ELECTION.
WHILE I AGREE WITH MANY OF MY FRIENDS THAT THE FORMER SPEAKER IS THE BEST DEBATER OF THE FOUR CANDIDATES, THE TRUTH IS THAT PRESIDENT OBAMA WILL PROBABLY NOT DO MORE THAN ONE DEBATE WITH THE GOP NOMINEE.
BECAUSE PRES OBAMA HAS ALMOST A BILLION TO SPEND, HE DOES NOT NEED THE PLATFORM OF A DEBATE. THEREFORE, DEBATE SKILLS WILL NOT REALLY COME INTO PLAY IN THE GENERAL ELECTION.
I PERSONALLY BELIEVE THAT RICK SANTORUM HAS THE CHARACTER, THE STRENGTH OF CONVICTION, AND THE EXPERIENCE TO BEAT PRESIDENT OBAMA.
SINCE THURSDAY...WE'VE HAD SUPPORTERS OF NEWT GINGRICH.... RON PAUL... MITT ROMNEY AND NOW RICK SANTORUM... TELL US WHY YOU SHOULD VOTE FOR THEIR MAN ON SUPER TUESDAY.
YOU CAN SEE ALL FOUR ON OUR POLITICS PAGE...AT 13WMAZ-DOT-COM.

PARTS OF GEORGIA COULD SEE SOME SEVERE WEATHER LATER THIS WEEK.
KATELYN HECK AND METEOROLOGIST JOHN BOYER SHOW YOU A FEW THINGS TO HAVE CLOSE BY WHEN STORMS STRIKE.
FOR MORE TIPS... YOU CAN LOOK FOR THIS STORY ON OUR WEBSITE... AT 13WMAZ-DOT-COM.

IT'S GREAT HANG UP DAY ON EYEWITNESS NEWS.
AN ESTIMATED 3.5 MILLION PEOPLE IN THE U-S DRIVE COMMERCIAL TRUCKS... ACCORDING TO THE WEBSITE TRUCKING-INFO-DOT-NET.
A RECENT LAW THAT TOOK AFFECT... CHANGED THE WAY MANY OPERATED BEHIND THE WHEEL.
IN THIS MONTH'S GREAT HANG UP REPORT... BRITTINY BARBER TAKES A LOOK AT THE FEDERAL LAW BANNING HAND-HELD CELL PHONE USE FOR TRUCK DRIVERS.
LELAND MINNIX SAYS IN 36 YEARS ON THE OPEN ROAD.... HE'S SEEN THE BUSINESS TRANSFORM...
42:24 From vehicles to laws to highways you name it. its all changed.
THE NEWEST REGULATION TO ROLL IN FOR TRUCKERS... A FEDERAL BAN ON HAND-HELD CELL PHONE USE....
THE LAW TOOK EFFECT JANUARY FIRST.. BUT MINNIX SAYS MANY DRIVERS... ALREADY MADE THE TRANSITION...
45:21 i don't think its changed a whole lot because most of your drivers were using headsets anyway
Brittiny barber: "If a commercial driver is caught using a cell phone, they can face up to a 27-hundred dollar fine. and can even be disqualified from operating a motor vehicle if caught multiple times.
Rebecca Waltz: 36:37: I thought it was a wonderful idea. Hopefully it will make the roads safer.
IN ALMOST TWO DECADES BEHIND THE WHEEL.. REBECCA WALTZ SAYS SHE'S SEEN MORE AND MORE DRIVERS OF ALL KINDS USING THEIR PHONES... AND OTHER DRIVERS AGREE THAT CAN CAUSE PROBLEMS...
Marcus Reeves: Milledgeville: 38:29 to hold a cell phone and drive and shift gears, it's a mess.
FOR MARCUS REEVES.. GOING HANDS-FREE MAKES TALKING AND DRIVING SAFER..
Reeves: 'i can have my hands on the wheel. I'm focusing I'm looking around I'm not trying to fumble with the phone.
WALTZ SAYS HER COMPANY TOOK THE HAND-HELD BAN A STEP FURTHER...
37:37 we can't even use bluetooth. If we find it necessary to use to use the phone to pull off the road and go to a safe location.
AND SOME DRIVERS BELIEVE... A BROADER BAN COULD MAKE THE ROADS EVEN SAFER...
44:04 It shouLD be across the board. Why just pick on us when it's cars and pick ups. They're doing the same thing
BUT RESEARCH FROM THE FEDERAL MOTOR CARRIER SAFETY ADMINISTRATION SHOWS COMMERCIAL DRIVERS REACHING FOR AN OBJECT LIKE A PHONE... ARE THREE TIMES MORE LIKELY TO HAVE AN ACCIDENT...
BRITTINY BARBER 13WMAZ EYEWITNESS NEWS

BUS DRIVERS ALSO FALL UNDER THE NEW LAW BANNING CELL PHONE USE WHILE DRIVING...
AND SINCE IT'S THE LAST TUESDAY OF THE MONTH.. WE REMIND THAT YOU CAN ALSO PLEDGE TO PUT DOWN THE PHONE WHILE DRIVING.
JUST VISIT 13WMAZ DOT COM... AND LOOK FOR THE BANNER ACROSS THE TOP OF THE HOMEPAGE.
YOU'LL FIND THE LINK TO SIGN THE PLEDGE ON THE RIGHT SIDE OF THE PAGE.
AFTER YOU SIGN WE WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU.
WE'RE ALWAYS LOOKING TO SHARE YOUR STORIES DURING OUR GREAT HANG UP DAY ON THE LAST TUESDAY OF EACH MONTH.
JUST SEND AN EMAIL TO THE-GREAT-HANG-UP AT 13WMAZ DOT COM TO LET US KNOW YOU'RE INTERESTED IN SHARING YOUR EXPERIENCE.

THURSDAY EVENING... BIBB COUNTY SCHOOLS WILL HOLD ANOTHER PUBLIC HEARING ON SUPERINTENDENT ROMAIN DALLEMAND'S STRATEGIC PLAN.
IT WILL BE HELD AT CENTRAL HIGH SCHOOL AT 6 P.M.
IF YOU WANT TO ADDRESS THE BOARD... YOU NEED TO ARRIVE EARLY AND FILL OUT A FORM.
BOARD PRESIDENT TOMMY BARNES SAID THEY HAVEN'T SCHEDULED A VOTE FOR THIS THURSDAY... BUT HE SAYS.... THEY'RE CONSIDERING ANOTHER MEETING NEXT WEEK...WHEN THEY MAY TAKE A VOTE.

NATIONAL PANCAKE DAY IS IN FULL SWING.
UNTIL 10 P-M TONIGHT... YOU CAN STOP IN TO ANY IHOP AND GRAB A FREE SHORT STACK OF PANCAKES.
INSTEAD OF PAYING FOR THEM.. THEY'LL ASK YOU TO MAKE A DONATION TO THE CHILDREN'S MIRACLE NETWORK.
KATHY TOLBERT WITH THE CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL AT THE MEDICAL CENTER OF CENTRAL GEORGIA SAYS LAST YEAR.. CENTRAL GEORGIA I-HOPS RAISED OVER 5-THOUSAND DOLLARS.
THEY ENCOURAGE EVERYONE TO COME OUT TO ENJOY THE FLAPJACKS.. AND HELP RAISE MONEY FOR THE CHILDREN'S HOSPTIAL.
Tolbert:" it's a great way to get the community involved come out for a good cause have some famliy time., come eat a short stack of pancakes over dinner with your family."
Davis: "As college students we really like free stuff and we're always looking for a deal so we were excited to come ot ihoptoday and get some free pancakes but it measn even more when we can do it for a good cause."
NATIONWIDE I-HOP HOPES TO RAISE ABOUT 2-POINT-7 MILLION DOLLARS THROUGH THE FUNDRAISER.

THANKS FOR JOINING US.... WE'LL BE BACK TONIGHT AT 11.
BUT REMEMBER...THE NEWS IS ALWAYS ON AT 13WMAZ.COM !
THE EVENING NEWS IS UP NEXT.
HAVE A SAFE NIGHT EVERYONE.

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