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Rep. Ron Stephens' update from State Capitol (week of March 8)
Rep Ron Stephens
Rep. Ron Stephens, R-Garden City, represents South Bryan. - photo by File photo

The House maintained a busy and productive schedule as we reached Crossover Day on March 7. The bills that passed the House are now in the Senate for consideration and the House is now tasked with deliberating Senate bills that passed.

After much debate with strong opinions on both sides of the aisle, the House passed HB 481, the “Living Infants Fairness and Equality (LIFE) Act”. This bill would ban abortion once the unborn child’s heartbeat is detected, with the exception if the mother’s life is at risk or in the instance of rape or incest. To clearly validate that an unborn child is a valuable life, this bill states that an unborn child at any stage of development, would be included in state population-based determinations and recognizes the unborn child for state income tax deductions. In addition, in the case of a medically-futile exception, abortion will not be authorized after the first trimester unless the abortion is performed in a licensed hospital or health facility. I’m pleased with the passage of this bill as I believe every life is valuable, including that of an unborn child.

I sponsored HB 483 which is the annual narcotics and drug update regarding controlled substances to capture new synthetic opiates and synthetic marijuana, commonly known as bath salts. It’s my hope that this legislation will decrease the number of drugs that plague our communities.

I also sponsored HB 525 which changes the name of the Georgia International Maritime Trade Center to the Savannah Convention Center and creating the Savannah-Georgia Convention Center Authority to operate the center. The Convention Center draws thousands of organizations to the Savannah area each year, fueling our economy and serving as an ambassador to our great city. I was pleased with the passage of this bill which will serve to further the success of the convention center.

In support of retail businesses, I sponsored HB 76, which allows counties and municipalities to regulate alcohol licenses and ease the distance restrictions previously specified by the state. I believe this is sound legislation and was appreciated the support my colleagues showed with its passage.

Living in coastal Georgia, many of us enjoy boating. As a protection of our beautiful and thriving environment, HB 201 prohibits live-aboard vessels from discharging sewage into estuarine areas of the state. To ensure this protection, individuals operating or floating live-aboard vessels with marine toilets must create and maintain records for at least one year containing the names and locations of pump-out facilities used. Pump-out facilities are to create and maintain records for at least one year that indicate the name and vessel.

Your input is 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 ron.stephens@house.ga.gov.

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