Stover anxious to start 2014 legislative session
by Sarah Fay Campbell
State Representative David Stover, R-Palmetto, is gearing up for his first full session as a member of the Georgia General Assembly.
The Coweta Republican was elected in early 2013 in a special election, after State Rep.-elect Robert Stokely resigned to take a judgeship. Stover wasn't able to take office until mid-March, two months after the 2013 session started.
It's exciting to be getting ready for the first full session, Stover said in an e-mail interview.
"The steepest learning curve has been in the bill writing process. I have several initiatives that I am interested in and have been working to introduce during my first full session," Stover said.
"I am looking forward to a full session and a session where I can work on bills to promote less government, less taxes, and more freedoms. I am also looking for laws to repeal. We have too many on the books."
Since the previous session ended, Stover has met with officials from Coweta County and the city of Newnan, and he's attended several events around the community in both Coweta and Fayette counties. Stover's District 71 covers most of the eastern half of Coweta, except the Senoia and Haralson areas, as well as a portion of Peachtree City in Fayette County, north of Hwy. 34 East.
To get ready for the session, Stover said he has been meeting with and having phone conferences with House and Senate colleagues on upcoming initiatives, and he attended two Small Business Development Committee meetings, including one as part of the Red Tape Watch Initiative.
"We have also had several caucus meetings discussing upcoming legislation and the shortened session that we are expected to have," he said.
There are several new bills that Stover plans to be involved with, either as the primary sponsor or as a co-sponsor.
One is particularly timely, in light of the recent denial of a "certificate of need" for a planned behavioral hospital in Newnan.
"We will be working to reduce or eliminate the Certificate of Need process," Stover said. "It is an abysmal failure by the state of Georgia, and the Department of Community Health, to deny a Certificate of Need for a behavioral health facility in Newnan. There are no competing facilities in the area, and had there been a competing facility, the hospital should still be able to open.
"There should be free market health care and competition. Competition drives down costs," Stover said. Tanner Health System opposed the CON for the Newnan hospital because of competition with its Willowbrooke facility in Villa Rica. "The members of our community who need help should not have to travel to Villa Rica in order to receive care for their family members.”
Stover is also a primary author and sponsor of another health care related bill, House Bill 707, the Georgia Health Care Freedom and ACA Non-Compliance Act.
HB 707 will prohibit state and local agencies from taking actions to help implement the federal Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare.
"So far, the Unaffordable Care Act has cost the tax-paying citizen of Georgia $26 million for Fiscal Year 2014 in Georgia taxes," Stover said. "For FY 2015, the request has blossomed to $101 million in direct ACA compliance costs," he said. "Our bill will eliminate $61 million of FY 2015 increased budget costs." The remaining $40 million will have to be spent on increased Medicaid costs, Stover said.
"The Unaffordable Care Act does nothing to address the costs of care," Stover said. "The uninsured are not lost on us … we understand that people with pre-existing conditions need health care and health insurance just as everyone else does," Stover said. "It seems to me that we should be addressing the underlying problems with the health care system instead of just trying to place everyone on some type of insurance."
Stover is working with Sen. Bill Ligon, R-Brunswick, to draft a House companion bill to withdraw Georgia from the Common Core educational standards. Stover will be the primary sponsor of the bill in the House.
"Common Core was never tested anywhere in the country before it was launched on our state, and I expect it will do the same to our education system as a whole as the Integrated Math Curriculum did to our high school students with regards to their math skills and understanding," Stover said. "Common Core is Integrated Math on steroids. When a system is more focused on the methods than the outcome, then the system is broken before it even starts."
Stover also plans on sponsoring a bill to repeal the state law allowing impact fees; a repeal of the Transportation Investment Act, which set up the framework for a Transportation Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax; and the State Employee Double Dip Act, which would prohibit state employees from retiring from the state and then returning in the same or similar position as an independent contractor.
Other big issues will include a gun bill that would allow "campus carry" for college students over the age of 21; and carry of guns in churches, unless the church chooses to prohibit guns. Third, it would allow parents to have weapons in their vehicles while they are dropping children off at school. "Parents are already doing this but they are breaking the law when they drive onto school grounds with their gun in the car," Stover said.
House Bill 1, introduced last year, deals with civil forfeiture reform. It's seen a good bit of attention over the past year, Stover said. "The Georgia Sheriff's Association is against it and the district attorneys are against it as well," he said. "This has sparked a lot of debate throughout Georgia with regards to our civil forfeiture laws. The debate will continue this session and I expect the bill will come up for a vote."
Other bills likely to come up, he said, include a bill that would change the office of local school superintendents from an appointed position to an elected one, and one that would allow for Special Purpose Local Option Sales Taxes of less than a full cent.