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Rep. Ron Stephens' update from State Capitol (week of March 11)
Rep Ron Stephens
Rep. Ron Stephens

It was another productive week under the gold dome as we considered bills from the Senate that crossed over to the House of Representatives. And although we were busy in committee meetings and on the House floor deliberating these important bills, on Monday, March 11, the Chatham Delegation was pleased to welcome the Savannah St. Patrick’s Day Parade Committee to commend them for their hard work planning the 93rd annual parade. This week, our entire community celebrated the Irish heritage and our beautiful city hosted another great event.

Back in the General Assembly, the House and Senate passed HB 316, updating our voting system with new voting machines recommended by the Secure, Accessible & Fair Elections (SAFE) Commission that have touchscreens and printers. Once a ballot is cast, it will be printed out then fed into a bin that can only be opened by a poll worker and is a permanent, physical record in the event of a re-count. Both chambers carefully considered this alternative and it has received overwhelming support as it will safeguard votes and maintain secure and fair elections. The bill is on Governor Kemp’s desk and he is expected to sign it into law.

Regarding healthcare, Senate Bill 18 passed, known as the Direct Primary Care Act. Direct primary care is a relatively new solution to rising healthcare costs where patients pay a flat membership fee and can choose their doctor. Proponents say this is a more cost-effective and personalized alternative to receiving healthcare. This bill provides that a direct primary care agreement, a periodic fee paid by the patient to the doctor, is not insurance and is not subject to state insurance laws. SB 18 requires a physician offering a direct primary care agreement to maintain a current license to practice medicine in Georgia. This bill passed overwhelmingly, and I believe it is a good alternative to receive quality, affordable healthcare. The bill is on the governor’s desk for his signature.

Another bill regarding healthcare, Senate Bill 16, passed which would allow physicians to become licensed in multiple states and creates another pathway for licensure that does not otherwise change a state’s existing Medical Practice Board. Additionally, the bill adopts the prevailing standard for licensure and affirms that the physician must be under the jurisdiction of the state medical board where the patient is located. Our state is experiencing a shortage of physicians, particularly in rural areas, and this is good legislation that will provide necessary healthcare in many areas that currently have no physicians in residence.

As we approach the last several weeks of the legislative session, your input continues to be valuable to me as I represent you at the capitol and consider legislation that could affect your family, job and future. Please know that I’m available to you at 404-656-5115 or at

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