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Rep. Ron Stephens' update from State Capitol (week of Feb. 11)
Rep Ron Stephens
Rep. Ron Stephens - photo by File photo

The Georgia General Assembly had another productive week, considering a wide range of legislative issues that could help Georgia become an even better place to work, raise a family, and visit. 

As we look for ways to remain economically competitive and help our state move forward with technological advancements, I was pleased with the passing of HB 23. This bill allows electric membership corporations (EMCs) to provide broadband services, while prohibiting the cross-subsidization between various affiliate services within an EMC, such as electric, broadband or gas. I believe this creates common sense protections that ensure consumer protection and fair competition.

 Rural Georgia has been without broadband access for far too long, limiting educational and job opportunities as well as access to healthcare. Our state EMCs provide another important option to Georgia communities that must have this essential service.

The House overwhelmingly passed HB 184, the Streamlining Wireless Facilities and Antennas Act which restructures the deployment of wireless broadband in public rights-of-way by directing the location of new equipment on existing infrastructure. Within an historic district, poles may be placed only with a permit with regard to aesthetic and structural requirements. I believe this is sound legislation that supports technological advancements while still maintaining the integrity of Georgia’s many historical communities.

As Chairman of the House Economic Development & Tourism Committee, I was pleased the House passed HB 25, a bill that came out of our committee with strong support. This bill allows our active duty military service members who are relocated to terminate a contract with their provider of television, video, and audio programming services, internet access services, or health spa or gym services when the they’re ordered to a location that does not support identical contractual services from that provider for a period of at least 90 days. I was pleased that my colleagues agreed this legislation is supportive of the men and women who valiantly serve our great nation.

Regarding healthcare, the House Insurance Committee passed House Bill 63. This bill addresses “step therapy”, which means that a patient is required to try one or more medications, typically less expensive ones, before an insurer will provide the drug that was originally prescribed by their physician. This bill establishes that health benefit plans use certain clinical review criteria to establish step-therapy protocols and provides for a determination process for patients and their doctors to petition for an override of these protocols. I’m interested in this bill not only as a legislator, but as a pharmacist, and will track its progress with the firm belief that patients should get the medicine they need.

The state legislature will continue to debate important legislation that could affect your livelihood. Your input is valuable to me as I represent you at the capitol and I appreciate hearing from you. Please know that I’m available to you at 404-656-5115 or at Thank you for allowing me to represent you!

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