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Emergency interrupts opening week of session
Hitchens Bill
Rep. Bill Hitchens

As the beginning of the Georgia General Assembly’s 156th Legislative Session, my plans were dramatically disrupted by life as my son was inflicted with an emergency appendectomy that put him in the hospital as the appendix had been discovered to be ruptured. I was sworn in Jan. 11and then rushed back to be my son’s side during the recovery process in the hospital.

I am happy to report that my son is expected to make a full recovery. I thank the many well wishes and prayers from many of you, that were directed to my son’s wellbeing.

Meanwhile, the General Assembly finished the first four of no more than 40 days of the 2021 legislative session. As with all new sessions, the committee assignments, office swaps and assignments, and electing the House leadership consumed this past week. As of today, new committee assignments and office assignments have not been completed.

Safety of the new session with rumored riots at state capitals and the COVID-19 virus continuing its toll, we have implemented many new safeguards. First, all members of the General Assembly and staff are tested twice weekly as a step to prevent a spread of the virus. In addition, masking and social distancing of the members during a session or committee meetings requires more room. 

Also, we are taking seriously the threats to state capitals after the Jan. 6 riots at our nation’s capital. The governor, legislators, and other capital employees are given regular safety briefings and we have seen many upgrades and improvements to maintain the security of all who enter our government institutions.

One issue I will quickly co-sponsor is the removal of the income tax on military retirees’ income. With all the surrounding states around Georgia not taxing the retirements of some of our nations best and brightest, we are losing this talented working pool to our neighbors. This type of legislation has seen several efforts over the years but this year, with the governor’s support and revenues stronger, I fully expect us to pass some form of the removal of state income taxation on military incomes.

In conclusion, I am honored to be elected again by the voters of District 161 to serve as their representative to the House of the Georgia General Assembly. I encourage you to let me know of issues that are important to you in Effingham County and Chatham County. I am in 401-D of the State Capitol. My office phone number is (404) 656-7855 and my email is bill.hitchens@house.ga.gov. 

I look forward to this session and serving all of you.