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Session produces mixed bag
Hitchens Bill
State Rep. Bill Hitchens

The legislative session was historic as we welcomed a new governor and it was also industrious as we considered a multitude of bills. Each session brings successes and disappointments as we work toward bettering our great state.  

In my view, some of our successes include The Crocker Bill, which prohibits parents from withdrawing children from public school to avoid compliance with existing laws; the updated voting equipment to secure our elections; Margie’s Law, which will require physicians to disclose breast density during a mammogram; and Georgia’s Hope Act, allowing the growth of low THC marijuana under strict guidelines.

There were a couple of bills I was disappointed didn’t pass, especially the Exclude Military Retirement Pay from State Income Tax bill. As another Base Realignment and Closure Commission (BRAC) considers military bases, Georgia is viewed in the military hierarchy as not being military friendly because of this issue. 

Our neighboring states already provide this benefit to military retirees and, as we enter another BRAC, this would give Georgia parity.  ,After losing four bases in the most recent BRAC, we want to be as pro-military as possible since the military contributes $26 billion a year to Georgia’s economy, the equivalent of this year’s state budget. 

I was also disappointed that SB 56 didn’t pass. If it had become law, this bill would require full disclosure of insurance acceptance by medical personnel when providing medical care for surgery or other serious procedures. Most patients know their physician and hospital accept their health insurance upon admittance. However, many times patients get a surprise bill from anesthesiologists or radiologists for thousands of dollars because these specialists didn’t disclose that their services weren’t covered by the patient’s insurance.

In the next session, I’m looking forward to returning to Atlanta and working diligently for our community. One of my priorities will be getting a bill passed excluding military retirement pay from state income tax, especially with the governor’s support.

I appreciated the support I received this session and our community was at the forefront of my mind with each decision I made.