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COLUMNISTS

Jan. 11 - COLUMNIST Rep. Bill Hitchins: "New Legislative Session Gets Underway"

Category: Columnists

January 11, 2016 – By Rep. Bill Hitchens

The Georgia General Assembly begins the 2016 session on January 11 and it is my great privilege to continue to represent you. It is my hope that this year our community and our state will experience blessings, peace, and prosperity and I look forward to working with my colleagues toward a better Georgia. There’s always much work to be done, and already there are several issues that have come to our attention that will undoubtedly be the topic of deliberation and debate in the State House.

Last year, legislation that received high priority was the passage of the Transportation Bill. Anyone who has driven down one of our roads, bridges, or interstates can clearly see that our infrastructure is in poor shape. The passage of this bill was a positive first step and next comes the process of moving forward with a plan for improvements. When the legislature commences, the Department of Transportation will present their 10 year plan for repairs, and just as importantly, funding mechanisms for this vast project. I look forward to hearing the report and will give you updates on this, as well as all other important business at the capitol.

Education is always an important consideration each year, and this is no exception. HOPE Scholarship funding is an item that was studied in the fall and there is some concern that the state-run lottery will not be enough to continue entirely funding the program. Major gambling interests hope to convince the legislature to add a referendum to the 2016 general election ballot and give voters the opportunity to approve casinos in Georgia to help fund HOPE. While we may need to find additional funding sources to this valuable program that has allowed thousands of students get a college education, I am opposed to bringing gambling to our state.

Healthcare will certainly be another topic of great interest and there may be some discussion about the possible expansion of Medicaid eligibility. Governor Deal has previously opposed the expansion of Medicaid coverage but he is under pressure from doctors and hospitals to change his stance. If this comes up for consideration, it will be a one that I will research closely. We will have to consider necessity, other possible solutions, cost to the state and the overall benefit for Georgians. Of course we want to care for Georgians in need, but we also want to remain fiscally responsible. I look forward to hearing more about whether or not this issue will move forward and will report back to you.

On the topic of sports, many football fans in our state like to play fantasy football. The Georgia Lottery Commission has placed the two largest fantasy sports websites, DraftKings and FanDuel, on alert questioning the legality of operations within the state. We fully expect these two companies to pursue legislation clarifying the legality of their business. 

As always, your concerns, questions, and input are very important to me and invaluable as I strive to represent you to the best of my ability. Please contact me with your thoughts at 404-657-1803 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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