State Rep. Ron Stephens, Guest writer.
We had a busy week as we debated many bills in an effort to get bills moving to the Senate for consideration.
With Thursday’s adjournment signifying the end of our 18th legislative day, we are quickly approaching the halfway point of the 2022 Legislative Session. With the constitutionally allowed forty days of legislative sessions that the General Assembly can use to take care of the business of the State, it is important with the rule that “crossover day,” the last day a House bill can be sent to the Senate for debate and passage and vice versa, is rapidly coming. That day is Day 28 and is scheduled for March 15, 2022.
One of the roles that the General Assembly plays is the approval of local legislation on the changes to district lines for municipalities, counties, and school boards. This week, the Governor signed into law, the new lines for the Bryan County Board of Commissioners and the county Board of Education. These two bills that were signed include House Bill 1073 which covers the new lines for the county commission and H.B. 1074 which deals with the school board.
As the Chairman of the House Committee, Economic Development and Tourism, I am happy we passed a bill to enhance economic development throughout the state. H.B. 1044 would allow for the creation of regional development authorities by a group of three to five contiguous counties. The bill stipulates that at least half of the members of the governing body are from each county and those board members complete a basic economic development training course certified by the Department of Community Affairs. Each regional development authority is an active authority with a board of directors that meets quarterly, develops an operational business plan, owns property lying within one or more of the participating counties, and maintains an active agreement for sharing expenses and proceeds. In addition, a county cannot belong to more than one regional development authority. The bill provides a tax credit for each new quality job in qualifying investment properties for the lowest tier participating county within the regional development authority. This bill passed unanimously. This is especially important for our area that allows us to join forces with Chatham, Bryan and Bulloch counties in providing labor for new business ventures.
I have also been busy to enhance the knowledge of our local government boards to provide them more knowledge as they make decisions for us, the citizens. House Bill 1382 would require training on development and redevelopment programs and to do yearly continuing education. It would make such continuing education a prerequisite for One-Georgia Authority funding. After July 1, 2023, directors or members would be required to complete certain additional training and attend and complete at least four hours of continuing training. I also introduced H.B. 1381, which is essentially the same as the economic development bill, but this one would pertain to members of a local water authority or sewer authority and would require every 12 months, a board member satisfactorily completes four hours of continuing training courses.
I also introduced local legislation, H.B. 1374, which would allow for the creation of one or more community improvement districts within the City of Bloomingdale, including the areas of: 1. Street and road construction and maintenance, including curbs, sidewalks, streetlights, and devices to control the flow of traffic on streets and roads; 2. Parks and recreational areas and facilities; 3. Stormwater and sewage collection and disposal systems; 4. Development, storage, treatment, purification, and distribution of water; 5. Public transportation; or 6. Terminal and dock facilities and parking facilities.
This legislation was requested by the new administration in Bloomingdale.
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 email@example.com.
I look forward to continuing this session and serving all of you.