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Enacted bills impact health care, education jobs

Legislative report

POSTED: April 13, 2017 7:00 p.m.
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Rep. Ron Stephens, R-Garden City, represents South Bryan.

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The 2017 session of the Georgia General Assembly adjourned during the early morning hours of March 31 and many bills have been sent to Governor Deal for his consideration.

The legislation that passed affects a wide variety of issues including education, healthcare, jobs and our state’s economy. The governor has 40 days after the final day of the session to decide whether he will sign a bill into law or veto it.

Several tax bills were introduced including House Bill 196 which added language that I offered to help the commercial property owner. It says that a business owner may voluntarily offer his income and expense if his income is so far off from that of the assessed income used in the income approach method. Other tax bills included HB 155 which would give tax credits to music production companies, and HB 125 which would give tax exemptions to yacht owners who get repairs in Georgia as opposed to going out of state. In particular, HB 125 would make living in the Savannah area, with its coastal waters and many boat owners, that much more attractive since it would create hundreds of jobs while allowing us to compete with South Carolina and Florida, our neighboring states that do not tax their citizens. It is my hope that the governor signs these bills into law.

Because opioid addiction has become so prevalent, HB 249 is beneficial legislation that is now on the governor’s desk awaiting signature. This bill would require medical providers to check the state drug registry before issuing prescription pain medication. This is to prevent addicts from going to more than one doctor to request pain medicine in an effort to curb abuse.

Regarding education, HB 338 passed which would put initiatives in an effort to assist Georgia’s lowest performing schools, including designating a "chief turnaround officer" who would address problem districts. All of our schools deserve an opportunity to be successful and to have the support to make necessary changes. This legislation is considered one of Governor Deal’s priorities and it is my hope that struggling schools will be revived for the benefit of our students.

Immigration has been a big topic in our national news and the General Assembly passed HB 37 which would ban any funding for a state college or university that declares itself as a sanctuary campus for undocumented students. This bill stresses the importance and relevance of our federal laws and also emphasizes that our tax dollars should be used for funding programs only within the confines of those regulations.

Safety is always a high priority including when it comes to entertainment. SB 141 unanimously passed both the House and the Senate and if it is signed by the governor, carnival operations will be required to submit to safety and engineering inspections. This is good legislation that will increase public safety throughout our state.

Thank you so much for putting your trust in me again this legislative session. Please continue to contact me with your questions or concerns at 404-656-5115 or ron.stephens@house.ga.gov.

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