Thursday, November 16, 2006

Georgia: going off the deep end again

After the headaches caused by their zoning law, you'd think Georgia's state legislators would stop for a minute and consider what they're doing. But not Eric Johnson (R):

GOP bills target illegal immigrants, sex offenders

ATLANTA - Georgia Republicans are again taking aim at illegal immigrants and sex offenders, both popular targets in the last legislative session.

Eric Johnson, the state Senate's top Republican, introduced a bill Thursday to make it a crime for sex offenders to photograph anyone under age 18. State Sen. John Douglas, R-Covington, put forward legislation making property owned by a person in the country illegally ineligible for tax exemptions.

Both bills were filed in advance of the 2007 legislative session set to begin Jan. 8. Lawmakers were able to begin "pre-filing" legislation Wednesday.

Laws cracking down in illegal immigrants and sex offenders were centerpieces of the GOP agenda in the 2006 session.

Portions of Georgia's tough new law cracking down on where sex offenders can live, work and loiter have been challenged in the courts. A judge has blocked part of the law banning sex offenders from living within 1,000 feet of bus stops.

Sara Totonchi, public policy director of the Atlanta-based Southern Center for Human Rights, said the plaintiff in that lawsuit is the perfect example of why the new law is not needed. Wendy Whitaker was convicted of sodomy for having consensual sex with a 15-year-old boy when she was 17.

"To think that someone like Wendy Whitaker could face prosecution for photographing her niece at a family picnic illustrates how absurd the debate on sex offenders has become in Georgia," Totonchi said. ...

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