This week, the Georgia General Assembly was in full swing, but we took time to remember the loss of three U.S. Army soldiers who paid the ultimate price, in an attack on their base in Jordan, by Iranian-backed terrorists. Among them was Specialist Breonna Alexsondria Moffett, a selfless Georgian from Savannah, who succumbed to injuries in the unmanned drone attack on their base. My thoughts and prayers go out to the families of Specialist Moffett, Sergeant William Jerome Rivers from Carrollton, and Specialist Kennedy Ladon Sanders from Waycross.
These attacks remind us that our world is a dangerous place for our military service members who fight for our freedom.
I was happy to see Governor Brian Kemp signed the recently passed legislation defining antisemitism and incorporating it into Georgia’s hate crimes law.
The legislation codifies in state law the definition of antisemitism used by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance; an intergovernmental organization founded by Sweden’s prime minister in 1998. It allows prosecutors to seek enhanced penalties when crimes have been committed because the victim is Jewish.
The House of Representatives was especially engaged in the state’s two budgets. These include the FY 2023 amended budget that allows us to incorporate any funding shortfalls that we hadn’t anticipated in the last session, and the “big budget,” which incorporates our spending to fund education, health care and other government agencies for FY 2024-25. As a reminder, all budget legislation must start in the House of Representatives.
One bill in the House I am working for is providing property tax relief on the state’s escalating property tax burden, especially those on limited and fixed incomes.
Because of the escalating price of homes and the limited inventory, property values are soaring in Georgia and that in turn, raises the property tax assessed to one’s property. that would cap the assessed value on a homeowner’s primary residence at no more than a 3% per year increase. This is similar to the effort of the Stephens-Day tax relief legislation I authored that was passed over twenty years ago in Chatham County.
Sometimes, legislation isn’t drafted perfectly and brings into play the proverbial law of unintended consequences. In previous legislation passed years ago, Georgia certifies peace officers had to be citizens of the 50 states or one of its territories. However, they inadvertently forgot to include American Samoa.
Surprisingly, there are five police officers in the state of Georgia, including one in Pooler, would possibly lose their credentials because of this unintended loophole. I am supportive of legislation to close this error by legislation recently introduced and will support H.B. 1117 to do this and trust this will be passed shortly and sent to the Senate to keep these upstanding community servants working for us.
I will continue to be your voice in dealing with problems or questions about your state government. I encourage you to contact me with your input and thoughts on proposed legislation or current events that may impact our community. I am in 226A of the State Capitol. My office phone number is (404) 656-5115 and my email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
I look forward to continuing this session and serving all of you.
Rep. Ron Stephens (R-Savannah) is a member of the Georgia House of Representatives.