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Rep. Ron Stephens' update from State Capitol (week of March 18)
Rep Ron Stephens
State Rep. Stephens, R-Savannah, represents a portion of Bryan County in the Georgia house. - photo by File photo

The Georgia General Assembly has only five legislative days remaining, and we have been very productive, considering legislation passed by the Senate. This week many bills passed the House regarding a wide variety of issues.

Senate Bill 177 provides requirements for local bills which revise or create districts for county boards of commissioners, county boards of education, independent boards of education, or municipal governing authorities. A plan to create or revise districts must be drawn or certified by the staff of the Legislative and Congressional Reapportionment Office of the General Assembly. When the local government entity wishes to have districts drawn, they must contact a member of the General Assembly who represents the area and request a letter of sponsorship. If a member of the General Assembly proceeds with a local bill containing a district plan that was not drawn or certified by the Legislative and Congressional Reapportionment Office, a letter from the office will be attached to the bill stating that the district plan has not been certified. This bill is necessary for the creation of new cities and is timely as several islands consider incorporation.

The rise of opioid addiction is an urgent concern within our state and across the nation. SB 121 lengthens the data retention time of the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program Data Base from two years to five years. In addition, the bill adds the attorney general's Medicaid Fraud Control Unit to the list of entities that can have access to the data through the issuance of an administrative subpoena. As a pharmacist, I believe this is sound legislation as we do all that we can to battle the prescription drug addiction that is plaguing our communities.

SB 67 allows school systems damaged by fire or natural disaster to immediately qualify for regular state capital outlay funds, regular advance capital outlay funds, and low-wealth capital outlay funds. In addition, these funds may be used for a portion of the building that was not damaged, if the building is 20-years old or older. The bill also adds criteria for school systems to qualify for low-wealth capital outlay grants. School systems that are consolidating educational facilities according to their local facilities plan and where five years of SPLOST revenue does not generate enough for the local required match will qualify for low-wealth capital outlay grants. This is good legislation that passed unanimously and will undoubtedly help school systems in need.

SB 170 designates the Honor and Remember flag as the state's emblem of remembrance for military serviced men and women who have given their lives in the line of duty. Designated areas where the flag may be displayed for visibility to the public is also included in the bill. Local governments may display the flag at any local government building and any department or agency may adopt guidelines as necessary.

As we approach the last several days 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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