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Legislator: General Assembly will be friendly to business

NORCROSS - In 2006, legislators will continue their push to create a friendly business environment, House Majority Leader Jerry Keen told corporate and civic leaders Wednesday.

Keen, R-St. Simons Island, spoke at the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce's annual legislative luncheon about moves to create more jobs in Georgia.

"We want to send a message around the country that Georgia is open for business," Keen said. "We want to make sure Georgia is business friendly."

Last month, he said, the leadership at the Georgia Chamber of Commerce described the 2005 legislative sessions as one of the most helpful for businesses, and Keen said he hopes to continue that.

While a year ago legislators tackled tort reform, this legislative session will also likely include a focus on health care costs for state employees and Medicaid users, he said.

For the first time in three years, the state is "in good shape fiscally," Keen said. But instead of beefing up spending, though, he said he wanted to put money back into the rainy day fund.

Keen also took an opportunity Wednesday to pitch one of his proposals for 2006, a bill to change Georgia's sex offender laws. The bill includes lengthier sentences for those convicted and electronic monitoring after the offenders are released.