Savannah Convention Center expansion a top priority for Rep. Stephens

Savannah Convention Center expansion a top priority for Rep. Stephens

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - The first week of the new legislative session in Georgia is in the books.

Lawmakers will reconvene after next week, and locally, members of the Chatham County delegation will have a number of priorities they’ll be pursuing before the session ends.

Representative Ron Stephens says securing a second round of funding to expand the Savannah Convention Center will be a top priority as the state works through the new budget.

“That second installment is a big deal to keep things on track so they can open whenever they need to open,” said Rep. Stephens.

Representative Stephens says the completion of the multi-million dollar expansion will be crucial to serve the needs of a rebounding convention and event industry as the COVID vaccine is more widely distributed.

Another priority Stephens says he’s getting a lot of calls about is adding additional layers of security to the absentee mail-in voting process.

“If you vote in person, you’re required to have an ID. The very same should apply to a mail-in ballot. That’s the very least we can do if we do nothing else. So I think that’s on the top priority for the chairman of the governmental affairs committee.”

According to Stephens, sports betting in the Peach State will also be a priority for lawmakers this session.

“The courts have said you can sports bet all you like in Georgia, it’s just we can’t collect revenue off of it. So that will be put in, and I suspect that’ll be relatively easy to pass, and we’ll be like Tennessee, our neighbor to the north.”

WTOC asked Representative Stephens about security at the state capital, and he says he’s seen an increased police presence, and that he doesn’t anticipate that there will be any issues of violence there in the coming days.

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