By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Rep. Ron Stephens' update from State Capitol (week of March 25-29)
Rep Ron Stephens
Rep. Ron Stephens, R-Garden City, represents South Bryan. - photo by File photo

The last full week of the legislative session was industrious, with many bills passing both the House and Senate and now on the governor’s desk for his consideration. Adjournment is scheduled for Tuesday, April 2 and we fulfilled our state constitutional mandate by passing a balanced FY 2020 General Budget before the session comes to a close.

The budget, House Bill 31, is set by a revenue estimate of $27.5 billion, with K-12 education earmarked to receive 63% of the new revenue. This amount includes a $3,000 pay raise beginning July 1 for Georgia’s teachers and other certified school personnel, including counselors and librarians. State employees, Board of Regents faculty and employees, and non-certified school personnel will also receive a 2% increase. In addition, 22% has been budgeted for health and human services agencies, 8% for public safety activities and the remaining 15% for economic development and general government agencies. I believe that the budget is fiscally responsible while providing for the needs of Georgians.

Sex trafficking is a horrendous crime that has become widespread in our nation, and pervasive in our state. SB 158 is the 'Anti-Human Trafficking Protective Response Act' that authorizes the Division of Family and Children Services (DFCS) to provide emergency care and supervision of any child who is the victim of human trafficking for labor or sexual servitude without a court order or the consent of the parents or legal guardian. Moreover, SB 158 directs DFCS and law enforcement to take the child to an available victim services organization, which is certified by the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council, to provide comprehensive trauma-informed services. The bill also limits the prosecution of prostitution to individuals who are 18 years of age or older. It’s essential that we protect Georgia’s children from the atrociousness of sex trafficking and my colleagues agreed by passing this bill unanimously.

Similarly, SB 9 prohibits sexual extortion. The bill outlaws the conduct of intentionally coercing orally, in writing, or electronically another individual, more than 18 years of age, to distribute any photograph, video, or image that depicts any individual in a state of nudity or engaged in sexually-explicit conduct.

SB 131 amends the requirement for the Georgia Department of Transportation to provide a 10-year strategic plan to the House and Senate Transportation committees by requiring that the Department include an accounting of the hotel/motel fees and the highway impact fees collected for use by the Department. With the accounting of the fees from the previous fiscal years, the Department is also responsible for reporting the proposed uses for the fee revenues including identifying specific projects, with priority given to construction of new highways, maintenance of existing infrastructure, bridge repairs and replacement, safety enhancements, and administrative expenses.

As we approach the adjournment of this legislative session, your input continues to be valuable to me. Please know that I’m available to you at 404-656-5115 or at ron.stephens@house.ga.gov.

Sign up for our E-Newsletters