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May 21—State Rep. Steve Tarvin, R-Chickamauga, said he has a simple message for the voters of Northwest Georgia.
"If you like what I have been doing in Atlanta, you'll like what I do if you send me back down there," he said. "If you don't like what I've been doing, you probably won't like what I do."
Tarvin, a retired businessman, is seeking reelection in District 2 for the state House of Representatives in the Tuesday Republican Party primary. District 2 includes parts of western and southern Whitfield County. Tarvin faces Jim Coles, a registered nurse from Ringgold, and Todd Noblitt, an insurance agent from Chickamauga. No Democrat qualified. The term is for two years.
Tarvin said one of the things he is most proud of is that the legislature has been able to cut the state income tax. Lawmakers voted in 2018 to reduce the top state income tax rate from 6% to 5.75%. This year, the legislature passed a measure that will create a flat tax rate of 5.25% in 2024, which will fall to 4.9% over several years. The 2022 law also raised the standard exemption for single filers from $2,700 to $12,000, and from $7,400 to $24,000 for married couples filing jointly.
"I'm also very proud we were able to pass the 'Heartbeat Bill,' protecting unborn infants," Tarvin said.
That bill, passed by lawmakers in 2019, bans most abortions after a fetal heartbeat can be detected, which is typically around six weeks.
"The 'Constitutional Carry Bill' was something I personally worked on," he said. "I've been trying to get that passed ever since I've been down there."
That bill, passed this year, allows Georgia adults, excluding convicted felons, to carry a concealed weapon in public without a permit. It did not change the locations where guns are prohibited such as schools and courthouses.
"This was a big year for us," Tarvin said of the number of bills passed by lawmakers.
Tarvin won the District 2 seat during a special election in 2014 to fill the unexpired term of Jay Neal, who stepped down after being appointed by then-Gov. Nathan Deal as executive director of the Governor's Office of Transition, Support and Re-entry. Tarvin won a full term later that year, and is seeking his fifth full term this year.
Tarvin was born, raised and lives in Chickamauga. He attended Gordon Lee High School. He has long been involved in Republican Party politics and served on the Chickamauga Board of Education and the Chickamauga City Council.
Tarvin said if he's reelected one of his goals is to get rid of civil asset forfeiture.
"That's where (law enforcement) can take your property before you are convicted or sometimes even charged," he said.
He said he'd also like for lawmakers to look at no knock warrants, which allow law enforcement to enter a property without announcing themselves first.
"I think law enforcement has gotten better about using them," he said. "But I just think that being able to knock down somebody's door and then announce you are the police is totally against the state constitution."
He said lawmakers will also have to keep a close watch on the retirement funds for state workers and for teachers. The decline in the stock market is reducing the assets of those and other pension funds.
"We need to make sure those pension plans are funded the way they need to be," he said.