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General Assembly has busy, productive week
Hitchens Bill
State Rep. Bill Hitchens

 Our state’s capital was busier than usual with thousands of football fans arriving for a week of activities before the big game. Atlanta was more than ready with safety procedures in place, a wide range of events from concerts to fireworks, and a large dose of Southern hospitality.

The General Assembly had a productive week with bills and resolutions filling our docket. I was pleased to co-sponsor House Bill 7, which would make retirement income received from military service not subject to state income tax, including any survivor benefits. You undoubtedly know by now that I am a military veteran and proud military supporter. I believe this bill is a benefit that our veterans deserve as a small token of appreciation for serving our country, often in dangerous situations.

I also co-sponsored House Bill 118, which would make it an offense to unlawfully request emergency service assistance, such as in the case of a false public alarm. These incidents can be a nuisance but, more importantly, a risk to public safety. In addition, our Emergency Medical Services personnel are trained professionals in a high-stress job with a large workload. It’s important that we protect them from going to false alarms so that they can focus on legitimate needs throughout our state.

I joined some of my colleagues in co-sponsoring HB 1, which would change the name of the “Georgia Special Needs Scholarship Act” to the “Sen. Eric Johnson Scholarship Act.” The Georgia Special Needs Scholarship (GSNS) Program is available for special needs students attending Georgia public schools under an Individualized Education Plan (IEP). Sen. Eric Johnson served as president pro tempore from 2003-2010 and was a strong supporter of providing Georgia’s special needs students with educational opportunities.

A resolution that I co-sponsored, HR 50, will create a House Study Committee on a Nancy Hanks Passenger Rail Line from Savannah to Atlanta. The Nancy Hanks was a popular railway passenger train in Georgia running between Atlanta and Savannah. We are in dire need of transit options for improving travel times throughout the state and without improvements Georgia is at an economic and business recruiting disadvantage to neighboring states. In addition, if Atlanta and Savannah was connected by a modern-day, high-speed train traveling an average of 200 mph, the coast would be within a 75-minute ride from Atlanta. Such a route could change the complexion of Georgia from having two different economies to a state with transportation infrastructure serving as “the logistics hub of the Western Hemisphere” in the 21st century.

Another resolution that I co-sponsored, HR 103, commends Rachael Jackson for her outstanding public service as a Manna House Ministries volunteer for 30 years and for her energy toward the betterment of her community and state. She is a woman of deep personal commitment, abiding faith, and superlative leadership.

It was great to see old friends and make new ones during Effingham County Day at the capitol late in the week. We must continue to share ideas and concerns as the legislative session continues. Please contact me at or at 404.656.0152. Thank you for allowing me to represent you!