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House hears tax, health bills
Ron Stephens
Rep. Ron Stephens

The General Assembly is more than halfway through the legislative session, and this week we addressed a wide range of issues from tax cuts to health related matters.

Regarding our military, HB 840 passed the House, which gives military members serving in a combat zone an exemption from penalties for any unpaid taxes if they pay their taxes within 60 days upon returning home.

When our military men and women protect our freedoms in dangerous parts of the world, they may not have access to technology to prepare and pay for their taxes. At times, deadlines are missed at no fault of their own and this legislation is a fair solution when this occurs. It is my hope that HB 840 is signed into law.

HR 1076 was passed overwhelmingly, urging the federal government to provide their funding allocation earmarked for the Port of Savannah harbor deepening project so this undertaking can be completed in a timely manner.

This project is being acknowledged as one of the most important civil works projects in the country because of its impact on jobs and commerce throughout the nation, with a total economic impact at $67 billion.

Gov. Nathan Deal made an announcement this week to cut more than $5 billion in state taxes during the next five years by reducing the state income tax rate for individuals and businesses from 6 percent to 5.75 percent and by doubling the standard deduction.

The governor presented the tax cut plan with two pieces of legislation, HB 821 and HB 918. He said he felt the need to address this issue because much has been written about the federal tax cut and that some states may experience a windfall and keep part of taxpayers refunds as state taxes.

Deal’s plan cuts Georgia income taxes rates and raises the standard deduction. Between these two legislative initiatives, Georgia taxes will be cut over two years by approximately $5 billion dollars.

Taxation was also addressed with a bill that I co-sponsored, HB 327, which amends the tax code relating to the ad valorem tax on motor vehicles. The bill cuts the motor vehicle title fee from 7 percent to 6.75 percent without the possibility of an increase in the future.

This will be a huge tax break for Georgians, and I have always worked diligently toward legislation that lowers taxes because I believe this is in the best interest of our citizens and can be done while still maintaining a fiscally responsible state budget. I will keep you updated as HB 918 and HB 327continue through the legislative process.

Like the rest of the country, Georgians love watching students participate in sports. It’s a social gathering that brings the community together.

The House passed HB 743 which creates the Jeremy Nelson and Nick Blakely Sudden Cardiac Arrest Prevention Act so that hopefully no sporting activity will result in another cardiac incident.

This bill requires students and parents to sign a form at the beginning of the school year stating they have received and reviewed cardiac arrest symptoms and warning signs material.

If a student shows any signs of cardiac arrest, the athlete will be removed immediately and not allowed to continue to play without written release by a healthcare provider.

Coaches are also required to review the guidelines and materials each school year and will not be allowed to coach until requirements of the act are completed.

The bill is named for two student athletes who died of heart complications while participating in school sports. It is my hope that this legislation becomes law and prevents another one of our Georgia athletes from dying while playing a sport they love.

There’s still much work to be done this legislative session, and I appreciate your input as we continue. I’m available to you at 404-656-5115 or Thank you for allowing me to represent you.

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