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State Rep. Jasperse previews legislative session



with Representative Rick Jasperse

The Legislative session will be underway when you read this. I thought you might like to see the top issues and the variety of issues that will or could be addressed this year. 


It would be easy to say to expect fireworks at the Capitol.


This session may see a new fireworks bill. Last year, the legislature expanded fireworks sales in Georgia. We all enjoyed the freedom to buy and celebrate, but some areas of the State don't appreciate it as much as others. Don't expect a drastic change, but a little more local control is in the works.


But the most fireworks may be around the religious freedom bill – a concept that has packed Capitol committee rooms for two years. Backers say it would protect individuals from being compelled to violate their own religious beliefs. Critics say it's an anti-gay bill – that would hinder Georgia's effort to lure new businesses here.


We expect conservative presidential and congressional politics to shape some of the debate. Georgia's March 1 Presidential primary will fall midway into the legislative session, and there will be an open congressional seat folks will be working hard to get.  


Other bills will sound like a replay of last year. Backers of medical marijuana oil want the state to allow limited cultivation and production in Georgia. Law enforcement and Gov. Deal are opposed. There will be a lot of debate around this, and by the time it gets to the end will look different than it does now.


Craft brewers – and many legislators  – say they need to revisit a bill that passed last year – because the State Revenue Department won't let craft brewers do what they thought last year’s bill allowed. Brewers wanted to be able to sell take-home cans and bottles at the brewery. This area of the economy has created a lot of jobs and tourism all across the state.


Some legislative leaders have also hinted at another pass at transportation on the heels of 2014's landmark bill to fund transportation projects. There may be changes to HB170.

House Speaker David Ralston is among the Republican leaders who have made comments that suggest a potential thaw in the State's icy relationship with regional transportation provider MARTA.

There is also proposed Pastor Protection legislation that would allow clergy members to refuse to perform marriages for gay and lesbian couples if against their beliefs. Probate judges would still have to do it.

There will be 2nd Amendment bills that will restore rights that were lost in the past.  Campus Carry by license holders and reducing the number of gun free zones in the state will be looked at carefully.

Teacher Merit Pay and School Funding and other recommendations that Governor Deal’s study committee have developed over the past year will get me the most emails and calls. My daughter, Elizabeth, an English teacher, has been communicating with me at length about this. We haven’t seen any bills from the governor, so it is hard to comment on what will be debated.

The Budget is always an issue that is complex and competitive between the House and the Senate; we will spend the entire session working on it.  Going into this session, there will be a surplus of funds due to our improving economy, and it is highly likely the bulk of that amount will again be pumped into K-12 education funding. Medicaid and necessary spending will take up most of the funds. Looking forward to see what Governor Deal is proposing next week.

Tax Reform will be looked at in the form of the “Take Home More Pay” bill. This would rearrange taxes so that the State income tax would decrease. But the tax dollars will have to come from somewhere…..State sales tax?, maybe on food?, And others?

Drivers and cell phones and drunk driving are still an issue. We all know it. One out of 4 who are killed on our roads are due to drunk driving. The trend is up for more wrecks, many due to cell phone use. I have heard of stiffer penalties being looked at to curb this.

Some are working to include University employees who act as Lobbyists to register and to having them report spending and gifts to legislators.  

The Governor’s election is looming two years from now, and there will be people making moves to be a statewide presence so they will be a front runner for the job in a few years. Unusual bills and speeches will be given for consideration.

Immigrant resettlement will be discussed and debated as the Federal power over the State is going over what most Georgians want. Solutions will be sought to push back the over-reach of the Federal government in this area.

Casino gambling: There will be a very high-profile debate in Georgia this year about amending the State Constitution to allow limited casino gaming in the state, likely to help support the HOPE scholarship. Key issue is that the Board of Regents must be held in check on tuition increases, as they will adsorb all money raised in this.

College Affordability: The national debate on tuition increases and student loans is beginning to echo in Georgia. I anticipate more vigorous debate over the subject than has been seen in years past.


Tobacco: Legislation has been pre-filed to increase taxes on tobacco products, putting this perennial topic on the legislature’s radar once again. The extra money could be used for tax relief for some and for funding health care for others.


I was recently appointed to be a Committee Chairman. As Chairman of the Special Rules committee, I will join the Leadership group in the House. It is quite an honor to be there.


When I listed this group of possible bills, I didn't do them in any order or priority. As the session gets going, know that any Legislator can create and drop a bill for consideration no matter what it is about. Georgia is a very diverse state with lots of ideas and passions. Not all bills will pass if introduced. Last year about 1600 bills were introduced and 312 passed both the House and the Senate and were signed by the Governor.


I hope by now you know you can call me and talk with me about your issues and problem that we address. The best way to reach me during the next 3 months is at the Capitol at 404 656-7857. If you come to the Capitol, be sure to give my office a call, and come by my new office in the Capitol, Room 401. You can also send me an email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Please be sure to give me your name and address, as the folks for our district get answers first. Some days we get 500+ emails from not only Georgia, but across the USA.

Please say a prayer for all of us in the Legislature as we travel across the state going to the Capitol for the next few months.  Pray for our families and our State and Country.

Thank you for allowing me to be your Representative.



Truly Saddened
+6 #1 Truly Saddened 2016-01-13 09:54
This guy is a clown, he wants less restrictions on things that hurt people, more restrictions on stopping gays from enjoying their lives, and wants to destroy any kind of health care options for the citizens who voted for him.

Medical Marijuana is proven to be effective in seizure patients, and this tool is against it. Not because it is Marijuana, but because they don't know the difference between cbd's and thc. The oil people want and need have very little THC and it is known CBD's don't get you "High" they are natural healing agents. I wish these politicians would read something other than right wing agenda reports and news stories.

Allowing College kids who are just becoming adults and are at college not only to learn but to experiment and party having guns is an idiotic idea. Imagine a jealous boyfriend who is drinking and armed at a college campus.

He has also forgotten the First Amendment while fighting for the second, and I quote here. "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances." So he needs to keep his religious bigotry out of politics.
+2 #2 Michael 2016-01-15 13:32
I pray that those who don't have eyes that see or ears that hear will continue to be truly saddened until they finally know and accept the truth. Only that truth will make them truly joyful.
GOP Shiller
+5 #3 GOP Shiller 2016-01-15 17:36
Is our "state rep" too afraid to say where he stands on any of these possible bills? He seems to have hoarded almost $80,000 of his campaign contributions…t hat's public record. ballotpedia, folllowthemoney...

How can an adult possibly think that allowing young people to have guns on college campuses make anybody safer? Guns around schools, really?

Why deny health care to over 650,000 Georgians--when the costs would be paid for by our federal tax dollars? This would create a LOT OF JOBS and keep access t rural healthcare.

We know how Obamacare works by now, and it works best in the states that have fully implemented it. Just because you and the GOP can't yet accept an intelligent President ('cause he's black, and smart?) doesn't mean you gold dome boys have to shill for the insurance companies while denying an expansion of Medicare to help those most in need--elderly, children,and the disabled.

Ralston's religion bill--not needed but for grandstanding, as preacher's rights to not have to do services (funerals, marriage, political endorsements…) are covered by the Constitution. Men of God aren't a business, wel most aren't--Frankli n Graham and the TV preachers are money hounds... McKoon's equality hatred bill makes Georgia to to be a legislature of bigots and throwbacks. YOU didn't say where you stand on that bit of bigotry and hate. Legalizing discrimination, are we? Too much federal control?

I guess your efforts at wasting our legislative time with the bill to honor the confederate Wirz was to seek favor with the neo-confederate s and militias, but, really, why not work for the people's interests? In your district, the people aren't the rich and the back room deal brokers. We're working people, and we deserve health care, good schools, and an honest government.

PS Why hasn't Ralston been disbarred, yet? He's dragged that out for years…on his third hearing judge..caught stealing client money. Even appointed his law partner Mercier to the Appellate court now. What a crowd of leaders you are horned to serve.
Big Frank
+3 #4 Big Frank 2016-01-16 08:16
Those first two guys are a little too harsh on ol Rick. He does a good job.
Guns on campus -- idiotic. As my old Russian literature used to say, throw a loaded into a frat party in the first scene, someone is getting shot in the second.
Religious rights, pastor protection -- holy rollers diverting from the real issues. Come on Man, do some real work down there.
Teachers pay -- Bullshit. Private employees aren't getting a 3 percent raise because they snuggled up to the governor. Quite coddling those whiny bunch of schoolmarms. Or at least at in some merit base.
Truly Saddened
+1 #5 Truly Saddened 2016-01-19 14:11
Michael I'm just wondering, "What are you talking about?" If that was a jibe in my direction you are sorely confused. I'm not saddened by life I am saddened by the despicable practices these politicians use to stay in office. I am saddened by the total misrepresentati on of the people by that clown. I am saddened by the lack of respect he gives his constituents. Let me ask you has that glorious moron done anything to help our county? Has he done anything to help his constituents at all? What he proposes only helps weapons manufacturers and the lobbyists that bought and paid for him. Not one single college kid asked for guns to be permitted on campuses. That was all lobbyists, not one single parent wants guns on college campuses right wing or left wing yet here we go again. So yes I am truly saddened, and you make it worse because you only look at the initial behind their name instead of thinking of your neighbors.

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