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State Rep. Ron Stephens: No state taxes for military retirees
Ron Stephens
State Rep. Ron Stephens

State Rep. Ron Stephens, Guest writer

After numerous years of many of us trying to move this along, I am extremely proud of the passage of House Bill 1064, the bill that would allow military retirees to eliminate most income taxation on military retirements.

 HB 1064 amends the computation of taxable net income, by adding an income tax exemption of up to $17,500 of military retirement income for individuals less than 62 years of age and an additional exemption of $17,500 for individuals less than 62 years of age who have at least $17,500 of earned income. This bill was unanimously passed by the House of Representatives.

This week, I introduced H.B. 1477, legislation requiring county coroners to meet or employ an individual who meets the qualifications of a medical examiner.

This is a very important piece of legislation, as we move into a more complex society and with higher expectations and results, coroners are going to need more medical specialists in their office.

Also in other legislative news, we also passed H.B. 960, legislation establishing an Office of the Inspector General. H.B. 960 establishes the Office of the Inspector General to investigate the management and operation of agencies. The office is assigned to the Office of the Governor for administrative purposes, but the inspector general would have jurisdiction over individuals or agencies in the executive branch. The inspector general would investigate complaints alleging fraud, waste, or corruption committed against or within an agency in the state. When investigating, the inspector general is authorized to issue subpoenas, enter upon the premises of any agency at any time without prior announcement, and employ peace officers to obtain, serve, and execute search warrants. This good government bill provides executive level investigatory powers over all state agencies and passed the House unanimously.

We also passed H.B. 1271, a bill that eliminates covenants which infringe upon owners’ right to display United States and Georgia flags. The bill would prohibit of the use of an attachment to the structure of a building that is used to display flags that are four and one-half feet by six feet or smaller. Also passed unanimously, this legislation, based on numerous complaints from citizens, would outlaw homeowner associations from prohibiting the flying of either the U.S. flag or the Georgia flag. In an effort to heighten insensitive sentiments by a few towards those of the Jewish faith, we also passed by a large majority, passed H.B. 1274, uses the definition adopted by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, which defines “antisemitism” as the harassment of a person of actual or perceived Jewish origin, ancestry, ethnicity, or faith. State departments and agencies shall consider antisemitism as evidence of discriminatory intent for any law that prohibits discrimination or under any hate crimes provision.

The bill does not diminish any rights protected under the First Amendment.

One other bill we passed unanimously is to put the vile child predator in greater peril when they target the same child of various sexual molestation attacks. H.B. 1188 revises the crimes of “child molestation” and “sexual exploitation of children” to specify that each individual violation of the crimes can be charged as its own count in a charging document.

I also introduced House Resolution 879, urging the 117th Congress and the Georgia congressional delegation to support two pieces of legislation, including, the United States Innovation and Competition Act and the America COMPETES Act of 2022.

Our current crisis of a shortage of semiconductors, and many industries in Georgia have been negatively impacted by the semiconductor shortage, including the financial, health care, and automotive sectors, congressional leaders and the Georgia Congressional delegation must heed this call. The United States Innovation and Competition Act will allocate federal funding to incentivize research, while the COMPETES ACT OF 2022 will enhance the manufacturing in our country’s semiconductor industry as this change will expand American supply chains especially in this era I urge 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.

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