March 13, 2020   

General Assembly Passes Milestone/Suspends Session

The General Assembly was in session Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday this week. Thursday was known as Crossover Day which is the day each session when bills are expected to have passed at least one body. Due to the coronavirus situation, the General Assembly is in recess for an undetermined amount of time and will return at some point in the future for the remaining 10 days of their 40-day session.

Several Bills We're Monitoring Received Floor Votes This Week

Committees are quickly completing work on bills moving through the process for the legislation to be scheduled for consideration by the full House or Senate. Several bills we’re monitoring received floor action this week:
Bank Data Match – State Tax Delinquencies. The House passed HB 452 by Rep. Steven Sainz (R-Woodbine). The bill was introduced at the request of the Department of Revenue (DOR) and would allow the department to create a data match registry to search, levy and seize deposits found of delinquent taxpayers. We understand DOR intends for the new registry will operate similarly to the existing child support data match registry. GBA’s Elizabeth Chandler testified before the House Judiciary Committee this week raising concerns about certain provisions in the bill. One helpful amendment was added and Rep. Sainz committed to continue to work on the bill as it moves through the Senate to address other concerns.
Cyberbreach Safe Harbor. The Senate passed SB 493 by Sen. Bruce Thompson (R- White). The bill establishes a safe harbor for litigation alleging the failure to implement reasonable cybersecurity controls that resulted in a data breach involving private information. The safe harbor is provided for certain entities that implement a cybersecurity program that substantially complies with requirements outlined in the bill. The safe harbor would also apply if the entity had implemented a cybersecurity program through the use of an appropriately credentialed independent security professional.
Income Tax - Hurricane Michael Relief. The House agreed to changes the Senate made to HB 105 by Rep. Sam Watson (R-Moultrie). The bill exempts certain federal disaster relief payments to victims of Hurricane Michael from state income taxes. The House action clears the bill for the Governor’s consideration.
Industrial Loan Act Supervision. The Senate passed SB 462 by Sen. John Kennedy (R-Macon) that moves the regulation of lenders operating under the industrial loan act from the Insurance Department to the Department of Banking and Finance.
Garnishment. The Senate passed SB 443 by Sen. Jesse Stone (R-Waynesboro). The bill is a substantial revision to the current garnishment statute with one of the more significant provisions being to extend Georgia’s continuing garnishments from six months to three years.
Probate Code. The House passed HB 865 by Rep. Mitchell Scoggins (R-Cartersville). The bill is a substantial rewrite of the Probate Code that was last revised in 1999.
Warranties. The House passed HB 968 by Rep. Chuck Efstration (R-Dacula), a bill that would overturn Court of Appeals decisions that ensure existing warranties in contracts would remain in effect. A similar bill, SB 451 by Sen. John Kennedy (R-Macon), passed the Senate.
Regional Development Authorities. HB 1073 by Rep. Sam Watson (R-Watson) creates regional development authorities, authorizes the One Georgia Authority to establish a grant program subject to available funding and authorize the new regional development authorities to apply for grants to support primary care health facilities.
Stored Value Cards. The House passed HB 488 by Rep. Martin Momtahan (R-Dallas), a bill that establishes a process intended to prevent the use of stored value cards to commit organized retail crime.
Factory Built Buildings and Residential Units. The House passed HB 1008 by Rep. Joe Campbell (R-Camilla). The bill removes the requirement that factory-built buildings be permanently attached to a metal chassis.
Infrastructure Financing. The Senate passed SR 793 by Sen. Brandon Beach (R-Alpharetta), a resolution that creates a joint House-Senate Study Committee on private financing of infrastructure projects.
Tort Reform. After hours of debate, the Senate failed to pass by a 1-vote margin SB 415 by Sen. Steve Gooch (R-Dahlonega). This is a comprehensive bill intended to streamline the process of litigation and reduce costs for Georgia's industries, small businesses and citizens. GBA was part of a broad coalition of businesses and associations such as the National Federal of Independent Businesses supporting the bill.

Legislation Introduced This Week

Two bills were introduced this week that we’ve added to our monitoring list. We update the State Issues Page on our website daily, so be sure to check that page to follow issues of interest to you. Here is more information about the bills we added this week:
HOA Fees. HB 1123 by Rep. Todd Jones (R-Cumming) provides that an owner's obligation for the payment of HOA assessments shall include reasonable attorney's fees actually incurred, the collection costs of an attorney, court costs and, in certain cases, the costs of a completed judicial foreclosure. The bill also removes an owner's obligation to pay the fair rental value of the property from the initiation of a judicial action until foreclosure or the judgment is otherwise satisfied;. The bill has been assigned to the House Judiciary Committee.
Wills, Trusts and Estates. HB 1124 By Rep. Todd Jones (R-Cumming) would require written disclosure and the consent of the heirs or beneficiaries before a personal representative of an estate may enter into certain contracts or referral arrangements of which the personal representative has an interest. The bill has been assigned to the House Judiciary Committee.

GBA’s Advocacy Team at the Capitol

Led by GBA’s Senior Vice President, Government Relations, Elizabeth Chandler, GBA will be at the Capitol every day advocating on behalf of our members. Also at the Capitol are GBA’s government relations consultant Steve Bridges and GBA President and CEO Joe Brannen. With questions about GBA legislation, other issues of interest, or anything related to the legislative process, contact Elizabeth at 404.420.2027, Steve at 404.420.2037 or Joe at 404.420.2026.