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House backs local sports commissions
Hitchens Bill
Rep. Bill Hitchens

As I left us off last week, we were still in session waiting to conclude day 30 or “crossover day.” For the most part this week, we focused on a few Senate bills and some House resolutions. The real work was in the committees as we started to review the Senate bills that crossed over.

One of the bills considered last Friday included passing House Bill 510 by a margin of 147-21. This bill establishes the ability for local governments to register a sports commission for the purpose of luring or winning professional or amateur sporting events. This bill allows the registered sports commission to spend money in pursuit of sporting events, especially since many of these events enhance our local communities through greater visitor traffic.

This bill also includes the ability of the commission to accept money from federal, state or local governments or other governmental bodies in an effort to enhance the sporting program which, in turn, enhances tourism and economic development. This is one of our great success stories as Georgia continues to be the popular site for many regional and national sporting championships.

Whether a UGA fan or not, many Georgians felt disappointed that Georgia’s star running back, Todd Gurley, accepted cash for autographs from an autograph dealer. HB 3 is intended to protect our young men and women from the unscrupulous ways of some of these sports paraphernalia dealers whose only interest is making money. This bill states that no person will enter into or solicit directly or through an agent a transaction with a student-athlete if such person has knowledge that the transaction would likely be cause for the student-athlete to permanently or temporarily lose athletic scholarship eligibility, the ability to participate on an intercollegiate athletic team, or the ability to participate in one or more intercollegiate sporting competitions.

While I will state that some of these student-athletes should know better, I will also agree that the amount of money paid to these athletes and the amount of money made by the dealer should err on the athlete and punish the dealer who should definitely know better on the profit scheme he is enticing the student.

Regarding families, HB 452 passed unanimously and allows Georgia to be a refuge from an abusive spouse or abusive parents who reside in another state. Unfortunately, abuse is a travesty that touches people of all backgrounds and it is good legislation for our state to be a safe harbor for persons in this devastating situation.

Since most of Georgia is rural, we passed HB 209 by a margin of 168-4. For those of us who reside in southwest Georgia, we know that feral hogs are a real nuisance. HB 475, which passed 168-4, will now permit the hunting or trapping of feral hogs, except during the season prescribed for hunting deer. A wildlife control permit will be required and will expire five years after the issuing date.

Your concerns and thoughts are important to me. I can be reached at (404) 656-0178 or at Thank you for allowing me to serve as your state representative!