March 27, 2023  

End in Sight for 2023 Legislative Session

The Georgia General Assembly was in session Monday, Tuesday and Thursday last week completing Day 38 of its 40-Day Session. Wednesday was reserved as a committee work day to give legislators their last chance to get Committee action and floor votes on their priority bills. This is the time each session when committees often combine language from one or several bills together. That’s done for several reasons. Sometimes it’s to reduce the number of bills when there’s a short window of time left in a session. Sometimes it’s done to because a bill has gotten delayed in another committee. And sometimes it’s done to get around the tradition that a bill should pass one chamber by Crossover Day to be considered by the other chamber. We saw that happen a lot this week. One bill relating to insurance damages from windstorm events now designates the state’s official soap box derby. Another bill that would prevent local governments from overregulating gas-powered leaf blowers now contains language authorizing commercial property assessed clean energy loans. And another bill that was related to the state’s cyber command function was used to replace the current medical cannabis commission and move its function into the Department of Agriculture. There’s usually nothing nefarious about any of this; it’s just part of the process. The quick pace and all the moving parts can be head-spinning for those not used to following the goings on at the Capitol, and we appreciate our experienced advocacy team that keeps track of all this for us. This week, legislators will be in session Monday, have another work day on Tuesday and Sine Die, as the last day of the session is called, is scheduled for Wednesday, March 29.
Fears testifies

Senate Banking Committee Gets Stability Update

Considering recent events that caused banking to be in the headlines, Senate Banking and Financial Institutions Committee chairman Carden Summers (R-Cordele) called a hearing of the committee to get an industry stability update. Bo Fears, the Deputy Commissioner for Legal Affairs at the Georgia Department of Banking and Finance, assured the committee that overall, Georgia’s banking industry is strong, well-capitalized, liquid and most all borrowers were current on their loans. Fears noted that no Georgia-chartered banks had similar concentrations to venture capital backed firms or crypto currency as was evident with the banks in California and New York that FDIC has in receivership. As several members were new to the committee this year, Fears explained how the Department has detailed information on all the state-chartered banks it oversees. He also described the examination process and how regulators stay in regular contact with the banks and other state and federal regulators to monitor conditions at the regional and national level. A recording of his presentation may be accessed here.

Local Government Investment Option Bill to be Studied

Also at the Senate Banking and Financial Institutions Committee meeting, Chairman Summers announced he was appointing a subcommittee to study HB 531 by Rep. Carter Barrett (R-Cumming). The bill expands the types of investments available to local governments such that those investments would more closely track the kinds of instruments and products in which the State of Georgia may invest. More information is below about the subcommittee appointed to study the bill.
House Banking Committee Chair Noel Williams and the winning House team celebrates.

House Takes Championship Game

Being a member of the Georgia General Assembly is a tough job for our citizen legislators. They’re on the job 24/7, expected to know details about hundreds of bills crossing their desks each session, and be on call for constituents as they come to the Capitol and speak at community events. One of the nice things about our General Assembly is the many opportunities for legislators to spend time with one another outside the Capitol. They attend committee dinners, participate in study committees during the off season, or like many did recently, play in or support their chamber in the annual kickball game between the two Chambers. This week’s game was won by the House and that’s House Banks and Banking Committee chairman Noel Williams (R-Cordele) and House Majority Caucus Whip James Burchett (R-Waycross) leaving Georgia State University’s stadium with House Speaker Jon Burns (R-Newington) triumphantly hoisted upon their shoulders. When the General Assembly is getting underway each year, we often hear cynics say, “Let the fun and games begin.” Those cynics probably weren’t talking about this game, but it is a lot of fun for legislators, gives them a much-needed break from the pressures of the Capitol, and lets them get to know each other better.

Lots of Bills GBA is Monitoring Received Action This Week

Following are bills GBA is monitoring that were subject to committee hearings or received floor votes this week. Several bills were substantially amended adding provisions often unrelated to the underlying bill. However, none of those amendments adversely affected the industry’s position.
Administrative Hearing Officers. HB 563 by Rep. Rob Leverett (R-Elberton) amends the Fair Employment Practices Act making several changes with the process of appointing administrative hearing officers who appear before the administrative law judges. The bill passed the House, was reported by the Senate Judiciary Committee and is pending in the Senate Rules Committee. The Senate sponsor is Sen. Jason Anavitarte (R-Dallas). GBA is monitoring.
Computer Software - Sales Tax Exemption. HB 170 by Rep. Kasey Carpenter (R-Dalton) provides a sales tax exemption for certain digital products and pre-written software. The bill passed the House and was reported from the Senate Finance Committee, which added language from Carpenter’s HB 397 relating to the delivery of alcoholic beverages for personal use. The bill is pending in the Senate Rules Committee. The Senate sponsor is Sen. John Albers (R-Roswell). GBA is monitoring.
Rob Leverett
Jason Anavitarte
Kasey Carpenter
John Albers
Conservation Easements. SB 220 by Sen. Russ Goodman (R-Cogdell) enacts the Georgia Farmland Conservation Act allowing the creation of an agricultural conservation easement, a non-possessory interest in real property that runs with the land and is of perpetual duration. The bill passed the Senate, amended and passed by the House and is awaiting further action by the Senate. The House sponsor is Rep. Robert Dickey (R-Musella). GBA is monitoring.
C-PACE. SB 145 by Rep. Shawn Still (R-Norcross) prohibits local regulations that create differing standards for or distinguish gasoline-powered leaf blowers from similar equipment. The bill passed the Senate and was amended by the House Governmental Affairs Committee to add the text of HB 206 by Rep. Steven Sainz (R-St. Marys) authorizing the creation of Commercial Property Assessed Conservation, Energy, and Resiliency Development Authorities in counties and municipalities that have adopted implementing ordinances. Additional amendments authorized de-annexation of certain areas of municipalities. The bill is pending in the House Rules Committee. The House sponsor is Rep. Joseph Gullett (R-Dallas). GBA is monitoring.
Depositions. HB 530 by Rep. James Burchett (R-Waycross) seeks, among other things, to prohibit high ranking officers of corporations from having to give depositions in lawsuits when that officer has no direct knowledge of the issues in a lawsuit. The bill passed the House and has been scheduled for a floor vote by the Senate Rules Committee. Sen. Bill Cowsert (R-Athens) is the Senate sponsor. GBA is monitoring.
Russ Goodman
Robert Dickey
Shawn Still
Steven Sainz
Joseph Gullett
James Burchett
Bil Cowsert
Development Authorities – Governance. SB 26 by Sen. Greg Dolezal (R-Cumming) authorizes meetings and public hearings of development authorities and community improvement districts to be held by teleconference. The House amended and passed the Senate-passed bill, and it is awaiting further action in the Senate. The House sponsor was Rep. Todd Jones (R-South Forsyth). GBA supports.
Fair Business Practices Act – Brokerage Engagements / Commercial Financial Transaction Disclosures. HB 471 by Rep. Clint Crowe (R-Jackson) adds an example of an unfair or deceptive practice regarding brokerage engagements and options to enter into brokerage engagements to the "Fair Business Practices Act", and relating to telephone solicitations to residential, mobile, or wireless subscribers, requires the Public Service Commission to establish and maintain a list of certain subscribers and develop a schedule of fees. The bill was reported by the House Agriculture & Consumer Affairs Committee and is pending in the House Rules Committee. Text of the bill was added to SB 90 by Sen. Clint Dixon (R-Buford) related to commercial financial transaction disclosures. The House passed the amended bill and the Senate agreed to the House changes thereby clearing the bill for the Governor’s signature. Rep. Crowe sponsored the amended SB 90 in the House. GBA monitored.
Greg Dolezal
Todd Jones
Clint Crowe
Clint Dixon
Foreclosure. SB 13 by Sen. John Albers (R-Roswell) authorizes online public sales under tax levies and executions. The bill passed the Senate and was reported by the House Judiciary Committee. The bill is pending in the House Rules Committee. The House sponsor is Rep. Tyler Paul Smith (R-Bremen). GBA is monitoring.
Hemp. HB 458 by Rep. Clay Pirkle (R-Ashburn) relates to offenses against public health and morals to prohibit the purchase of, sale of, and the offering of samples of hemp products by or to any individual under the age of 21 years old. The bill passed the House and a series of hearings were held in the Senate Regulated Industries and Utilities Committee where the bill is pending. GBA is monitoring.
Higher Education Savings Plan; ABLE. HB 122 by Rep. Lee Hawkins (R-Gainesville) relates to the state’s higher education savings plan and Georgia Achieving A Better Life Experience (ABLE), respectively, to provide for the governance of the Georgia ABLE program by the board of directors of the Georgia Higher Education Savings Plan and among other things, removes the maximum amount of contributions currently allowed per beneficiary. The bill passed the House, reported by the Senate Higher Education Committee, and is pending in the Senate Rules Committee. The Senate sponsor is Sen. Jason Anavitarte (R-Dallas). GBA is monitoring.
Tyler Paul Smith
Clay Pirkle
Lee Hawkins
Housing Zoning and Permitting. HB 514 by Rep. Dale Washburn (R-Macon) relates to zoning procedures to provide for the length and renewal of moratoriums related to zoning decisions, procedures for the levy, collection, use, and waiver of fees related to zoning decisions and related permits, and revise notice and hearing requirements for certain zoning decisions. The bill passed the House, amended and reported by the Senate Economic Development and Tourism Committee and the Senate Rules Committee has scheduled a floor vote. Sen. Mike Dugan (R-Carrollton) is the Senate sponsor. GBA is monitoring.
Insurance Discount – Windstorm Events. HB 279 by Rep. Matthew Gambill (R-Cartersville) provides for an insurance premium discount or rate reduction for property owners who build a new residential or commercial property or who retrofit an existing residential or commercial property that better resists tornado, hurricane, or other catastrophic windstorm events. The House passed the bill, reported by the Senate Insurance and Labor Committee, and is and the Senate Rules Committee has scheduled a floor vote. The Senate sponsor is Sen. Randy Robertson (R-Cataula). GBA is monitoring.
Dale Washburn
Mike Dugan
Matthew Gambill
Randy Robertson
Land Ownership. SB 132 by Sen. Brandon Beach (R-Alpharetta) prohibits the acquisition of possessory interest in certain land by nonresident aliens from a country designated as a “Country of Particular Concern” by the U. S. Secretary of State. The bill was amended, passed by the Senate, further amended and reported by the House Agriculture & Consumer Affairs Committee, and is pending in the House Rules Committee. The House sponsor is Rep. David Clark (R-Buford). GBA is monitoring.
Landlord Tenant. HB 404 by Rep. Kasey Carpenter (R-Dalton) provides for a duty of habitability for certain rental agreements, notice, maximum security deposit amounts, and expedited evictions for certain criminal activity. The bill passed the House, was reported by the Senate Judiciary Committee and scheduled for a floor vote by the Senate Rules Committee. The Senate sponsor is Sen. Chuck Hufstetler (R-Rome) GBA is monitoring.
Brandon Beach
David Clark
Chuck Hufstetler
Loans to Political Candidate / Committee. HB 572 by Rep. Matt Reeves (R-Duluth) removes a provision related to maximum contributions to a political candidate or committee to remove a provision regarding the repayment of a loan exceeding $250,000. The bill passed the House and Senate and is awaiting the Governor’s signature. The Senate sponsor was Sen. Rick Williams (R-Milledgeville). GBA monitored.
Local Government Investment Policies. HB 531 by Rep. Carter Barrett (R-Cumming) expands the types of investments available to local governments such that those investments would more closely track the kinds of instruments and products in which the State of Georgia may invest. The bill also requires local governments that take advantage of the new authority to adopt an investment policy which outlines the authorized investments and contains other operational requirements. The bill passed the House and is pending in the Senate Banking and Financial Institutions Committee. Committee Chairman Carden Summers (R-Cordele) appointed a subcommittee to study the bill between now and next session. The subcommittee will be chaired by Sen. John Kennedy (R-Macon), with members being Sen. Sonya Halpern (D-Atlanta) and Sen. Mike Hodges (R-Brunswick). GBA is monitoring.
Matt Reeves
Rick Williams
Carter Barrett
Carden Summers
John Kennedy
Sonya Halpern
Mike Hodges
Manufactured Housing. SB 213 by Sen. Max Burns (R-Sylvania) prohibits local governments from preventing the continuance of lawful nonconforming use of property when a preexisting manufactured home or mobile home is replaced with another. The bill passed the Senate and House clearing the legislation for the Governor’s signature. The House sponsor was Rep. Dale Washburn (R-Macon). GBA monitored.
Medical Cannabis (formerly Cyber Command). SB 97 by Sen. Jason Anavitarte (R-Dallas) originally created the Georgia Cyber Command Division under the Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency to handle the duties formerly held by the Georgia Technology Authority regarding cyber security for the state and state agencies. The bill passed the Senate and the House Public Safety and Homeland Security committee deleted the original language and inserted new language abolishing the state’s cannabis commission, moved its duties to the Department of Agriculture, and restructured the oversight committee. Additional licensees were authorized, and the State-wide Business Court was named as the only court authorized to resolve disputes. This bill is pending in the House Rules Committee. The House sponsor is Rep. Alan Powell (R-Hartwell). GBA is monitoring.
Probate. HB 91 by Rep. Will Wade (R-Dawsonville) requires personal representatives to send notices to beneficiaries regarding the issuance of letters testamentary or letters of administration. The bill includes GBA-requested language to revise a definition to include financial institutions within the Uniform Transfer on Death Security Registration. The bill passed the House, reported by the Senate Judiciary Committee and has been scheduled for a floor vote. The Senate sponsor is Sen. Bo Hatchett (R-Cornelia). GBA supports.
Max Burns
Alan Powell
Will Wade
Bo Hatchett
Property Owners’ Associations. HB 220 by Rep. Rob Leverett (R-Elberton) provides for means of enforcement of condominium and property owners' association instruments, rules, and regulations and for compliance with, and means of enforcement of, covenants and instruments for certain planned subdivisions. The bill passed the House, reported by the Senate Judiciary Committee and has been scheduled for a floor vote by the Senate Rules Committee. Sen. Brian Strickland (R-McDonough) is the Senate sponsor. GBA is monitoring.
Rural Economic Development. HR 488 by Rep. Steven Meeks (R-Screven) reauthorizes the rural development council. The bill was reported by the House Economic Development & Tourism Committee and is pending in the House Rules Committee. GBA is monitoring.
Soap Box Derby – formerly Insurance Discount – Windstorm Events. SB 158 by Sen. Randy Robertson (R-Cataula) originally provided for an insurance premium discount or rate reduction for property owners who build a new residential or commercial property or who retrofit an existing residential or commercial property that better resists tornado, hurricane, or other catastrophic windstorm events. The bill passed the Senate, and the House Rules Committee removed the insurance language replacing it with language designating the Southeast Georgia Soap Box Derby as the official soap box derby of the State of Georgia. The original House sponsor was Rep. Matthew Gambill (R-Cartersville) who was replaced by Rep. Leesa Hagan (R-Lyons) as it was her original soap box legislation, HB 237, that was used by supporters in the Senate to try and pass a sports betting bill. Rep. Gambill has a similar insurance bill, HB 279, awaiting final action by the Senate. GBA monitored.
Solicitation. SB 149 by Sen. John Albers (R-Roswell) relates to commercial sales to enact the "Georgia Door-to-Door Sales Act." The Act will require sellers to furnish to buyers receipts and copies of any contracts and will require sellers to provide notice of how to cancel a sale. Some common door-to-door sales calls such as in-home or in-office brokerage calls, are potentially captured by the Act. The bill passed the Senate, reported by the House Agriculture & Consumer Affairs Committee with a GBA-requested amendment exempting banks and bank holding companies, passed by the House and the Senate agreed to the House amendments clearing the bill for the Governor’s signature. The House sponsor was Rep. Robert Dickey (R-Musella). GBA monitored with concerns that were addressed.
Tax Code. HB 454 by Rep. Shaw Blackmon (R-Bonaire) incorporates changes to the state tax code from federal tax code changes passed in prior years becoming effective in the current year and adds a pandemic definition to the current force majeure clauses affecting construction of large-scale projects. The bill passed the House, was amended and reported by the Senate Finance Committee. The bill was further amended by the Senate Rules Committee and is scheduled for a floor vote. Sen. Chuck Hufstetler (R-Rome) is the Senate sponsor. GBA is monitoring.
Brian Strickland
Steven Meeks
Shaw Blackmon
Telephone Solicitations. SB 73 by Sen. Blake Tillery (R-Vidalia) provides for class action suits and for damages against certain persons for violating provisions relating to telephone solicitations. The bill passed the Senate and was reported this week from the full House Energies, Utilities, & Telecommunications Committee. The committee removed the text of HB 92 by Rep. Houston Gaines (R-Athens) which modifies the percentage limitation as to the amount of the investments an electric membership corporation may make and maintain in a gas affiliate. The House passed the bill that contained additional amendments included by the House Rules Committee. The House sponsor is Rep. Tyler Paul Smith (R-Bremen). The bill is awaiting further action in the Senate. GBA is monitoring.
Tort – Hospitals & Nursing Homes/Chiropractic Practice. SB 168 by Sen. Rick Williams (R-Milledgeville) relates to liens of hospitals and nursing homes, to allow a chiropractic practice to have a lien on a cause of action accruing to an injured person for the costs of care and treatment of injuries arising out of the cause of action. The bill passed the Senate, reported by the House Judiciary Committee, and is pending in the House Rules Committee. The House sponsor is Rep. Rob Leverett (R-Elberton). GBA is monitoring.
Unclaimed Property. SB 103 by Sen. Russ Goodman (R-Cogdel) relates to unclaimed property and sets requirements for wills found in safety deposit boxes that are turned over to the state. Among other things, the Revenue Commissioner is required to develop a searchable data base of unclaimed property and sets certain requirements for individuals serving as another party’s representative in claiming unclaimed property. A substitute version of the bill passed the Senate, amended and passed by the House, and is awaiting further action by the Senate. Rep. Vance Smith (R-Pine Mountain) sponsored the bill in the House. GBA is monitoring.
Unsworn Declarations. HB 80 by Rep. Rob Leverett (R-Elberton) creates the Uniform Unsworn Declarations Act and provides that unsworn declarations shall have the same effect as sworn declarations in certain circumstances. The House passed an amended version, the Senate further amended and passed the bill, and it is awaiting action by the House. The Senate sponsor is Sen. John Kennedy (R-Macon). GBA is monitoring.
Venue - Money Laundering/Theft of Money. HB 219 by Rep. Scott Hilton (R-Johns Creek) relates to records and reports of currency transactions to provide for venue for the offense of money laundering. The legislation also relates to theft to provide for venue for the offense of theft of money held in a financial institution. The venue would be the county or counties of the victim. The bill passed the House, was reported by the Senate Judiciary Committee and has been scheduled for a floor vote by the Senate Rules Committee. Sen. John Albers (R-Roswell) is the Senate sponsor. GBA is monitoring.
Blake Tillery
Houston Gaines
Vance Smith
Scott Hilton
Sally Harrell

New Bill Added to our Tracking List

Bills introduced this late in the session are usually intended to create study committees that will meet between sessions and report findings in the 2024 session. Other bills are introduced to put those affected on alert the bill could be considered in the 2024 session. The bill below was added to our tracking list this week.
Civil Rights. SB 319 by Sen. Sally Harrell (D-Atlanta) provides for a state civil rights law protecting individuals from discrimination in housing, public accommodations, and employment. The bill is pending in the Senate Judiciary Committee. The bill is similar to HB 108 introduced by Rep. Sandra Scott (D-Rex) earlier in the session. GBA is monitoring.

Two Ways to Track Key Legislation

We’re geared up to help you keep track of all the news and key bills during this year’s legislative session. The Legislative Update will arrive in your inbox on Fridays. Also make sure to set a web browser bookmark for our State Issues page on the GBA website to track details about specific bills during the session. Check in frequently as we add bills as they are introduced. Any bills that fail to pass this session will carry over to the 2024 session.

GBA’s Advocacy Team at the Capitol

Led by GBA’s Executive Vice President for Government Relations & Advocacy Elizabeth Chandler, GBA is at the Capitol advocating on behalf of our members. Also, on the advocacy team are GBA’s government relations consultant Steve Bridges, GBA Senior Vice President, Member Services & Advocacy Bo Brannen, GBA Insurance Trust President and CEO Tripp Cofield 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, Bo at 404.420.2014, Tripp at 404.420.2016, or Joe at 404.420.2026.