- Rural broadband and tax relief tops the 16th district’s priority list over the next 40 days.
As the New Year kicks off this week, so does the preparation for the opening of the second half of the legislative term under the Gold Dome in Atlanta.
The 40 days kick off on Jan. 8, leaving State Rep. Trey Kelley busy once again preparing to tackle a slate of issues meant to help improve opportunities for rural Georgia.
Chief among the 16th district’s top priorities for the year: bringing high speed internet to the furthest corners of the state.
Kelley said during the off-season, he and other representatives spent “a lot of time and attention” in their focus on improving lives in rural communities with the House Rural Development Council.
“I think Polk County will be a big benefactor of this study and the conversations we’ve had across the state,” Kelley said. “One of those goals is to improve high speed internet access for our rural communities, and bring it into all corners of the state, specifically the 16th district.”
It is one of the many complicated problems Kelley said the state will be dealing with in the year to come, mainly due to the amount of infrastructure required to pull it off.
Telecommunications companies with current methods haven’t made the investment of high speed fiber access into the more spacious parts of Georgia due to the amount of distance their wires must travel between houses and the equipment powering everything, requiring a lot of time and money to reach only a small amount of potential customers overall.
In his view, the solution is a combined approach of the state providing incentives for investment by companies already in the business of stringing the wires and building cell towers. He also wants to get power companies and electric cooperatives
involved in the effort, and sees the opportunity as well for the state to help communities create investment pools to entice
companies to develop high speed internet projects as well.
Where he and many also see a potential solution is through small cell technology.
Ultimately, Kelley sees it as one of the top priorities at the state Capitol this year.
“I and many others now see it (high speed internet) as critical infrastructure, and just the same way electricity turned the corner in America, high speed internet is in that place now,” Kelley said.
One of his other initiatives remains one he has pushed for since he was first voted into office for his first term in 2012: tax reform.
Kelley said he was a co-sponsor on a bill in 2017 that went to the state Senate for consideration, but didn’t make it to the floor where the legislation calling for a cut in state’s maximum income tax levels. He hopes that with another 40 days ahead, they’ll bring it back up.
Especially after Federal lawmakers in the U.S. House and Senate sent tax cuts signed by President Donald Trump before he left Washington, D.C. for the holidays.
“I’m a huge proponent for tax relief for all Georgians, and I think citizens in Polk County and across the 16th district agree, they want to see something done on taxes,” Kelley said.
One piece of legislation he helped get through the house and senate he is still hoping to see the long term effect of play out involve a push to allow autonomous vehicle testing move forward on Georgia roadways.
He said his goals at the time and still remain for drivers across the state to start having options of acting as a testing ground for vehicles he hopes will one day save lives. Especially if can cut down on the number of distracted drivers getting involved in automobile accidents, and cut down on the number of roadway deaths happening across the state this year. During the holidays, roadway deaths were above 1,400 for the year.
“This is a way not only for us to help save lives, but to help make transportation more efficient, and help with relief on insurance rates,” he said. “Unfortunately for many consumers in Georgia, auto insurance premiums continue to rise.”