Reprinted with the permission of the Atlanta Journal and the Atlanta Constitution.

CAPITOL INSIDER: House holds up Terrell's Law, Senate Judy OKs Juvenile Judges grants
Peter Mantius and Ron Martz - Staff
Tuesday • March 14

Not even the Terrell Peterson bill is immune to Gold Dome politicking. Named for the 5-year-old Atlanta boy who died despite repeated reports to the state that he and his siblings had been abused or neglected, the bill would allow doctors to take temporary custody of children who are suspected to be victims of abuse. But after easily passing in the Senate, the legislation was temporarily held up in the House Rules Committee, apparently until the Senate Health and Human Services Committee released several House bills. Among the members of Health and Human Services committee is Sen. Nadine Thomas (D-Ellenwood), sponsor of the Peterson bill. The logjam was broken Monday afternoon and the bill is scheduled for a vote today in the House. Backers of the measure see no problems in getting it through the House. But it will have to come back to the Senate for approval of some minor amendments.

A bill that its supporters say would provide the foundation for a statewide juvenile court system won unanimous approval from the Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday. House Bill 182 offers to judicial circuits $72,000 to hire juvenile judges if they do not have them. Rep. Jim Martin (D-Atlanta), the bill's author, said if each of the circuits took the money, it would cost about $4 million a year. Counties in each circuit would pay operating expenses, such as office space and clerical help. According to the state Council of Juvenile Court Judges, there are 47 full-time and 61-part-time juvenile judges in the state. The bulk of juvenile cases throughout the state are handled by Superior Court judges, many of whom backed the bill because of their growing caseload of adult and juvenile crime.

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