In the run up to November’s Midterm Election, the Bryan County News will be spotlighting several down ballot elections to inform voters of traditionally less-covered races.
We reached out to the candidates running for Georgia House District 164 to learn more about their positions on the issues. Alicia Scott is challenging incumbent representative Ron Stephens. Responses are below.
1. If elected, which legislative initiatives would you prioritize in the General Assembly?
Scott: Government transparency and ethics reform in Georgia are one of my top legislative priorities. We need to reform the states ethics laws to create real punishments for elected officials who violate them. I want to create legislation that will require all local and state governments to:
• Have an independent ethics and accountability commission.
• Hold at least 50 percent of their public meetings after daytime working hours in a location that has free parking and is fully accessible for the disabled.
• Create penalties far harsher than monetary fines for elected officials who willfully violate ethics laws.
Stephens: I will continue our pursuit of the income tax; $600 million next year on the way to another $600 million the next to a rate of 5.5 percent to fully fund again QBE for kindergarten through 12th grade education.
I want to find more ways to protect teacher and state employee retirement. I will continue to make Georgia friendly to business for job creation.
I will do my best to save the HOPE scholarship and prekindergarten funding.
2. Georgia’s unique position and natural resources create opportunities for energy cultivation. What energy initiatives would you pursue from the state house?
Scott: Georgia is home to 30 percent of the salt marshes on the eastern seaboard. We need more environmentally conscious voices in the Georgia General Assembly to protect coastal Georgia from destructive and irresponsible over-development. I am avidly opposed to offshore oil drilling and any further destruction of our beautiful salt marshes.
Additionally, I will work hard to protect the communities around the Conasauga Shale from the harmful effects that fracking may bring. My goal is not to suppress industry growth, so I will sponsor or support legislation to create greater incentives for clean and renewable energy production. Our 100 miles of coastline are ideal for tidal energy, wind and solar energy. Georgia has access to a myriad of natural resources, but fossil fuels and shale deposits are not a “winwin” source for people and industry. I aim to put the people first and foremost.
Stephens: I cosponsored legislation to allow solar farms on CUVA tax protected property which exempted those farms from tax penalty. I will continue to work to eliminate barriers to the expansion of solar energy throughout the state.
3. What would you need to accomplish to consider your term in the 2019-20 Georgia House a success?
Scott: A full reform of Georgia’s ethics laws including:
• Passing new Georgia voter access laws requiring elections boards to be more transparent and informative for voters. Additionally, ensuring the states voting system is fully updated to protect our democratic rights.
• Reforming Georgia’s corporate tax credits programs to ensure the economic benefits are actually benefitting the local economies which are ultimately subsidizing these incentives.
• Passing a Hate Crime Bill.
Stephens: As chairman of economic development and tourism subcommittee as well as chairman of the subcommittee on Ways and Means for tax reform and policy. I’m in a very unique position to steer good legislation for the taxpayers of our community and our state. I will continue to do my best to do just that as we continue to be the best state in the country in which to do business.
Learn more about Alicia Scott at https://aliciascottforward.com/
Learn more about Ron Stephens at http://www.house.ga.gov/representatives/en-US/member.aspx?Member=219&Session=23.