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COLUMNISTS

Jan. 9 - COLMUNIST: Rep. Ron Stephens "What's Ahead in the 2016 Legislative Session"

Category: Columnists

By Rep. Ron Stephens

 

January 9, 2016 - The year 2015 held many challenges and changes for the state of Georgia, as well as for our nation. The New Year promises more of the same, and I am looking forward to working with my colleagues for the betterment of our state as we begin a new legislative session on January 11 at the state capitol.

Each week, I will keep you informed with updates about hot topics, legislation that is being considered, and issues that could affect your life and your family.  I will be keeping an eye on the report from the Georgia Department of Transportation, with particular interest in the funding methods for the vital repairs of our roads, interstates, and bridges. One measure that I hope will be changed is the $5 hotel/motel tax, a fee that will be tacked on per night and one that I believe will unfairly affect our county. It is understandable that the improvements for our infrastructure will be costly yet are nonetheless a priority, but I believe we can find and support funding that will not ultimately hurt our vital tourism industry. I will work hard to see that this tax will be revisited and ultimately another funding source be used so that our county’s thriving tourism industry will not suffer.

This legislative session will see some debate about new ways to finance the HOPE Scholarship fund, including possible gambling venues in Atlanta and Savannah being some of the considered locations. HOPE has allowed countless young adults further their education but the lottery is not able to fully fund it. I support this additional funding source because I believe that the HOPE Scholarship should be available indefinitely and a gambling venue on Hutchison Island would bring in tax revenues and continue to make Savannah a top tourist destination.

Many of you know that I am an ardent supporter of our military men and women. I admire their sacrifice and willingness to put themselves in harm’s way to defend our freedoms, to protect us from terrorists, and to answer the call to duty. This session, my colleague, Rep. Jesse Petrea, will introduce legislation that would make retired military service men and women’s retirement pay tax exempt from state income taxes. I wholeheartedly support this legislation and will work to help get it passed.

Other topics that will most likely get attention this session are education reform, healthcare issues, and religious freedom.  As we consider and debate the issues, I hope you will contact me with your input and concerns. Your opinions are valuable to me and I always look forward to talking over the issues that affect each of us. Please contact me at 404-656-5115 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Thank you for allowing me to represent you!

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