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Session draws to end
Assembly last for Knox, Pearson
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Forsyth County News
The state legislature brought its 2010 session to a close at the stroke of midnight Thursday, somewhat fittingly since it was one of the longest sessions in recent history.

What's more, Forsyth County lawmakers said, it was also one of the most productive.

“We’re in such unprecedented times,” said District 23 state Rep. Mark Hamilton. “But the fact that session lasted several weeks longer, really, I think is insignificant to the fact that we were able to balance the budget, as well as pass several pieces of key legislation that we’ve been wanting to pass for a long time.

“I’m very pleased with the overall success of the session.”

Bills targeting tax reform, water conservation, regional transportation funding and education flexibility were among those passed this session.

The final day was bittersweet for District 24 state Rep. Tom Knox. Having qualified Wednesday to run for insurance and fire safety commissioner, Thursday marked the end of his 10th and final session.

“It was an honor that the people of Forsyth County elected me to five terms of service,” he said. “I like to think I met their expectations.”

It ended up also being the last session for state Sen. Chip Pearson, whose District 51 includes some of Forsyth County.

Pearson qualified earlier in the week, before announcing Friday he would not seek re-election.

Knox said he’ll miss being able to enact laws, but is pleased with some of the bills he’s authored during the past decade.

“I passed landmark legislation in the health care area, with a health savings accounts legislation that made more insurance options available for individuals and small businesses,” he said.

District 27 state Sen. Jack Murphy said this was his best session since being elected to the Senate in 2006, particularly because of his text messaging bill.

The bill would levy up to a $150 fine and one point against a person’s driver’s license if they’re caught texting while driving.

“They were kind of pushing for two points ... but I didn’t think we needed to make the bill so punitive, we just need to make it a law,” Murphy said. “It’s going to be more of an education process.”

Murphy’s controversial bill that would limit driver’s license tests to English did not pass this year. He was disappointed, but said he likely will tweak the measure and reintroduce it in 2011.

With the long session over, Murphy said he’s “ready for a little break.”

“Handling the budget issue was the toughest problem we’ve had to face and that caused us to have some problems initially,” he said.

“But the last two or three weeks of the session, we have really come forward and accomplished some great things.”