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State Rep. Ron Stephens: Halfway point in the Georgia House
Ron Stephens
Rep. Ron Stephens

State Rep. Ron Stephens, Guest writer.

Your Georgia General Assembly has officially hit the halfway point of the 2022 Legislative Session as we have completed 20 legislative days. By state constitution, we are allowed no more than forty legislative days for the General Assembly to meet, except for special sessions that may be called by the Governor. 

One piece of local legislation for the town of Bloomingdale that passed the House was my bill, HB 1374 City of Bloomingdale Community Improvement Districts Act. This bill, if passed by the Senate and signed by the Governor, will provide for the creation of one or more community improvement districts in the city of Bloomingdale. This will allow Bloomingdale to better manage their growth and prosperity as the greater Savannah area continues to grow and prosper.

 In an effort to protect students from illicit and improper content on websites, the House of Representatives easily passed House Bill 1217, the Student Technology Protection Act. The Student Technology Protection Act amends the ‘Quality Basic Education Act’ by that by October 1, 2022, each local board of education and charter school governing body will adopt an acceptable-use policy with the purposes of preventing and prohibiting any computer or network from accessing obscene materials. The bill would require that each school system will take necessary steps to implement and enforce the acceptable-use policy.

Another bill that easily passed to assist in education of our children, H.B. 1215 would allow students to withdraw from a local school in the school system in which a student resides and enroll in a charter school with available classroom space without penalty. Each local board of education will adopt a universal, streamlined transfer process. H.B.1215 also addresses funding of local charter schools by noting the calculation of allocation of local revenue is adjusted at least semi-annually based on collected local revenues.

On the medical front, the House passed H.B. 1086, legislation that updates the age at which hospitals will offer an inpatient the influenza vaccine prior to discharge by reducing it from 65 to 50 years of age. This is especially important as the flu is one of the leading causes of death for many of our older citizens. We also made it easier for those suffering from AIDS, we passed H.B. 1192. This bill would allow the Department of Community Health to submit a waiver request to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services of the United States Health Department of Health and Human Services for the purpose of providing Medicaid coverage for HIV treatment services. Eligible individuals must have an HIV diagnosis, an income of less than 138 percent of the federal poverty level, and no health insurance.

One of the privileges as a state representative that I can do and that makes this job truly enjoyable is recognizing certain people by passing a House Resolution honoring their local achievements. House Resolution 837 commended Jerry Konter, who was recently named 2022 Chairman of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB). Many of us have known Jerry and his family as they have been pillars of the Coastal Empire in their great houses they build. Konter Homes has created 20 communities and building more than 2,200 homes and 700 apartments throughout the local metro area. Jerry has also been president of the Jewish Educational Alliance, was a board member of the Savannah Jewish Federation, and serves as a trustee of the Savannah Jewish Foundation as well as a member of the Savannah-Chatham Metropolitan Planning Commission.

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 226-A of the State Capitol. My office phone number is (404) 656-5115 and my email is ron.stephens@house. I look forward to continuing this session and serving all of you.

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