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Car fees, water issues take center stage
Legislative update
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The Georgia General Assembly saw the completion of the 18th day of the 2013 legislative session last week as we were in session Monday through Thursday.
Bills covering a variety of topics passed the House last week, including updates and changes to the car title/fee legislation we passed last year, a resolution urging Tennessee to recognize the original boundary with Georgia that would give Georgia access to the Tennessee River, and various other pieces of legislation.  
I sponsored House Resolution 296 to recognize Thursday, Feb. 14, as Pharmacy Day at the Capitol.  This resolution commended the Georgia Pharmacy Association and its members for 138 years of service to the patients of Georgia.  
House Bill 80 passed the House on Thursday, 159-4. This legislation makes changes to the monthly fee on car leases in Georgia. Last year, the Legislature passed a bill that was signed into law by Gov. Nathan Deal to eliminate the “birthday tax” on vehicles, which will be phased out over several years. This law also affects car leases in Georgia. HB 80 seeks to remove the monthly use tax paid on monthly lease payments in Georgia, addresses valuation issues on some vehicles and clarifies other parts of the original bill.   
Every year, water conservation and ensuring the long-term water-supply needs for Georgia citizens is a focus. With droughts in previous years, many restrictions were placed on water regulations in certain parts of our state, such as only watering yards and plants on certain days of the week.
Last week, we passed HR 4, which would urge Tennessee to accept an agreement on the boundary lines between Georgia and Tennessee and allow Georgia access to water in the Tennessee River. The point was made that many of the creeks and streams in North Georgia feed into the river, and that this dispute between Georgia and Tennessee regarding boundary lines has been ongoing since 1818.   
HB 198, which passed, 154-16, provides that health-insurance navigators be licensed, trained and qualified. This bill is the result of the Affordable Care Act, which states that if a health-care exchange is required by our federal government, our state is ensuring that these individuals be qualified, licensed and approved by Georgia’s commissioner of insurance.
HB 50, which passed Wednesday, 152-16, relates to requirements by those in the nursing profession to report to the nursing board if they suspect or know of a nurse violating certain code sections, including violations such as: practicing without a current license, with an illegal license or diploma, with a suspended or revoked license; or convicted of any felony. Examples were given of nurses with known drug problems who were dismissed but were able to move from job to job because appropriate notice was not given. HB 194, which passed unanimously, would apply the same standard to gas utilities as electric companies and allow action to be taken in that specified county against a gas utility, should a tort or breach of contract exist.  
Please contact me with your ideas and opinions or if I can be of service to you in anyway.  It is your input and ideas that develop into the best legislation and potentially become the laws of our state.  Please call me at 404-656-5099; write me at State Rep. Ron Stephens, 226 CAP, State Capitol, Atlanta, GA 30334; or email

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