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2010 session almost done
Legislative update
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The 2010 legislative session of the Georgia General Assembly is nearing an end after months of hard work and dedication. Major milestones were completed this week and now with day 38 completed, the marathon is almost finished and the finish line is in sight. With two days left, this week legislators met some of our goals for the session. The General Assembly has now balanced the budget for the state, passed a transportation funding bill, and passed ethics reform.
The Georgia 2020 Transportation Act passed the House and the Senate on Wednesday and will now go to Gov. Sonny Perdue for his signature. After years of working on a solution and thorough discussions, the members of the House and Senate worked together in finding a solution for transportation funding. Georgians will now have the opportunity to approve a Regional Transportation Sales Tax. It has been one of our goals as legislators to work on the transportation needs for the state and to come up with a bipartisan solution. This session we were able to work out a compromise that fulfills the transportation needs throughout the state. To work out the differences in transportation funding between the House and the Senate, the conference conference committee has been working diligently on House Bill 277 for the last several weeks. The negotiations came to an end on Wednesday when it passed the House by a vote of 141-29. The voters of our state will make the final decisions on whether they want to fund transportation projects in their areas.
Transportation is an issue that affects everyone statewide, from the rural areas to the metro, and improving our transportation needs throughout the state has been a priority to lawmakers for years. This transportation solution will allow voters, by ballot in 2012, to vote on levying a 1-cent sales tax to raise funds for highway and transit projects in their areas. The tax districts for transportation will be divided into twelve regions along the current Regional Commissions for Georgia. Within each of the districts, a Regional Transportation Roundtable will be assembled and this will allow local government officials to have input on transportation needs within their areas. A project and investment list will be approved through the Roundtable, and those in the district will then vote on the project list. If voters approve the referendum, a sales tax will be implemented to pay for those projects. In addition to regional transportation projects, this bill will allow for a portion of the revenues to be spent on transit capital expenses, maintenance, and operations. The goal of this is to relieve traffic congestion within the state. This plan has been developed over the years and includes a solution for transportation concerns statewide.
Ethics reform was also one of our priorities this year. As lawmakers of the state, we want to continue to ensure the voters that will always uphold our ethical and moral obligations. This session we substantially revised some of our ethics and campaign disclosure laws. With the passage of Senate Bill 17, several changes were made, including: making it a felony for any state official or employee to ask for money in return for an agreement or vote; requiring lobbyists to file disclosure reports twice a month during session which must include a description of all expenditures; decreasing the minimum to $5,000 for which a disclosure by public officials must be filed; increasing the penalties for late filing of disclosure reports; and allowing the commission to issue and publish written advisory opinions on how the ethics law applies to political candidates and elected officials. All of these changes will create more transparency within our state government. I will continue to keep all of you informed on our progress during the 2010 legislative session. We are quickly approaching the end of session; however, please feel free to contact me at any time should you have any questions, ideas, or concerns.
Please do not hesitate to let me know your position or thoughts on issues that concern you. If you would like to reach me, please call me at (404) 656-5099 or write me at: State Rep. Ron Stephens ,228 CAP, State Capitol, Atlanta, GA 30334 or e-mail me at

Stephens  (R-Garden City) represents South Bryan and portions of Chatham and Liberty counties.
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