The General Assembly reconvened Monday, February 1 to start our fourth week of the 2016 legislative session. With a month of session behind us, we are hard at work studying, debating and voting on legislation that will have a positive impact for our citizens.

Higher Education – STEM Courses

Education remains a top priority for me and for the House Republican Caucus. This week, the House unanimously passed HB 801 which would change the GPA weighting system for HOPE Scholarship recipients who take certain science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) courses. For example, a student completing a class selected for extra weight would receive .5 added to his or her grade when calculating the HOPE scholarship GPA. This bill was passed to encourage students to take college classes in areas that prepare them for the job market, thereby strengthening Georgia’s workforce and reducing the job skills gap.

Internal Revenue Code Update

Last week, we also passed an important piece of legislation that will provide Georgia’s tax preparers and business community with more certainty when filing their tax returns. House Bill 742 is an annual Internal Revenue Code (IRC) update and makes changes to Georgia’s tax code to comply with the recently updated federal tax code. HB 742 would also make permanent the $500,000 deduction in section 179 and the Research Tax Credit. By streamlining this process and bringing Georgia’s policy in line with federal legislation, we are easing the tax process for individuals, farmers and business owners statewide.

Honoring Firefighters and First Responders

On Tuesday, the halls of the Capitol were filled with the melodious sound of bagpipes as the House and Senate paused to recognize the brave men and women who serve in our communities as firefighters and first responders.  I would like to extend my deepest appreciation for our firefighters – volunteer, part-time, and full-time, for being on call, prepared, and ready to sacrifice life and limb for friends and neighbors.

Live on Lawmakers

Also on Tuesday, I was honored to join the panel on Georgia Public Broadcasting’s Lawmakers.  I discussed the need to ensure affordable, accessible healthcare for hardworking Georgians and protect the constitutional rights and religious freedoms of those in our community of faith.

Georgia 4-H and Leadership Bulloch at the Capitol

The Georgia 4-H was well represented at the State Capitol by six students who paged for me on Tuesday. The students were able to meet the Speaker of the House, David Ralston and Governor Nathan Deal. Rebecca Velasquez, Adrianna Paulk, Chance Denny, Rose Moss, Marcelene Delcampo and Grace Keiffer did a great job assisting the legislators for a day! On Friday, Leadership Bulloch visited the Capitol and enjoyed touring the chambers and Capitol and meeting with the delegation.

As we work hard in the days ahead to strengthen Georgia families and businesses, please do not hesitate to call (404.656.5052), e-mail (Jon.Burns@House.Ga.Gov) or engage on Facebook (www.FB.com/JonBurnsGA) with your feedback.   It is an honor to represent you in the General Assembly and I look forward to seeing you soon.

Jon Burns represents District 159 in the Georgia General Assembly where he serves as the House Majority Leader.