Briefs on happenings at the State Capitol this week.
Briefs on happenings at the State Capitol this week.

Feb. 2, 2024  

General Assembly One-Third Through 2024 Session

State legislators were in session Monday through Thursday this week, completing Day 14 of their 40-day session. They will return on Tuesday and be in session each day through Friday of next week. The General Assembly is on track to adjourn this year’s session on March 28.

RIP, Mr. Chairman

The House was devasted by the news that Rules Committee chairman Richard Smith (R-Columbus) died Tuesday from complications related to the flu. Speaker Jon Burns (R-Newington) and Gov. Brian Kemp spoke to the House that morning, sharing fond memories of the 10-term legislator. They were followed by Smith’s colleagues from the Columbus delegation, who spoke from the well about the steadfast way he approached his role, listening to all regardless of party, and of his love of his family, community and state. Here at the GBA, we’ve worked with Chairman Smith since he was elected to the House. He sponsored legislation at our request, was helpful in amending legislation, scheduling priority legislation for floor votes and was always available for a conversation. “There aren’t enough positive words to adequately describe Chairman Smith. It didn’t matter who you were; if he could help you, he did. Our hearts are broken, and we extend our condolences to his wife, Clara, their three children and grandchildren,” said GBA President and CEO Joe Brannen. Smith’s background served him well as he rose to become one of the state’s most influential legislators. Born in Wrightsville, his family moved to Madison where he quarterbacked the Morgan County High School’s state championship football team. He graduated from Louisiana State University and earned his master's degree from the University of Florida. He was a county extension agent in Statesboro, Cedartown and Columbus, and was an adjunct professor at UGA’s Fanning Leadership Center. He served as interim manager for the Columbus Consolidated Government, served on the city council, was a founding board member of the Chattahoochee Valley Community Foundation, and was elected to the General Assembly in 2022.

Action on Legislation GBA is Tracking

A number of bills we’re monitoring this session were considered this week. Below is more information about the bills and what happened.
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. In the 2023 session, the bill passed the Senate; it was amended and passed by the House but not further considered by the Senate. This week, the bill was tabled in the Senate. The House sponsor is Rep. Todd Jones (R-South Forsyth). GBA monitoring.
Tax Credits – Rural Physician. HB 82 by Rep. Mack Jackson (D-Sandersville) limits eligibility for the existing rural physician tax credit to persons qualifying as a rural physician on or before Dec. 31, 2023. The bill creates a new tax credit for rural physicians, dentists, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants. The bill was reported by substitute by the Senate Finance Committee and is pending in the Senate Rules Committee. The Senate sponsor is Sen. Max Burns (R-Sylvania). GBA monitoring.
Sen. Greg Dolezal
Rep. Todd Jones
Rep. Mack Jackson
Sen. Max Burns
Business and Occupation Tax – Regulatory Fees. HB 461 by Rep. Brad Thomas (R-Holly Springs) relates to general provisions regarding specific, business, and occupation taxes to require that the proceeds of local government regulatory fees be used to pay for regulatory activity and not general operations and removes certain provisions authorizing calculation of regulatory fees for renovation and other construction projects and provides for refunds in certain circumstances. The bill was reported by substitute by the House Ways & Means Committee and is pending in the House Rules Committee. GBA monitoring.
Development Impact Fees. HB 585 by Rep. Todd Jones (R-South Forsyth) provides for development impact fees for education. The bill was reported this week by the House Governmental Affairs Committee and is pending in the House Rules Committee. GBA monitoring.
Cash Acceptance. HB 940 by Rep. Todd Jones (R-South Forsyth) requires retail stores to accept cash for purchases. The bill was heard this week in the House Agriculture & Consumer Affairs Committee and is expected to be heard again for possible action next week. GBA is monitoring.
Georgia Higher Education Assistance Corporation. HB 985 by Rep. Chuck Martin (R-Alpharetta) aims to abolish the Georgia Higher Education Assistance Corporation. The bill passed the House last session as HB 319 and would return money back to the state for other higher education purposes. The bill was scheduled to be heard in the House Rules Committee this week but was postponed. GBA is monitoring.
Homestead Exemption. HB 1019 by Rep. Matt Reeves (R-Duluth) would double the state homestead exemption from $2,000 to $4,000. The bill was reported by the House Ways & Means Committee and is pending in the House Rules Committee. GBA is monitoring.
Rep. Brad Thomas
Rep. Chuck Martin
Rep. Matt Reeves

New Bills Being Tracked

Be sure and set a web browser bookmark for the State Issues page on the GBA website to track details about specific bills during the session. This week, we added the following:
Personal Privacy. SB 414 by Sen. John Kennedy (R-Macon) prohibits nonprofit organizations from releasing personal information to public agencies. The bill has been assigned to the Senate Judiciary Committee. GBA is monitoring. Similarly, HB 1113 by Rep. Matt Reeves prohibits nonprofit organizations from releasing personal information to public agencies. The bill is in the House Hopper pending first reading. GBA is monitoring.
Farmland Sales. SB420 by Sen. Jason Anavitarte (R-Dallas) prohibits certain nonresident aliens from buying agricultural land within 25 miles of a military base. The bill has been assigned to the Senate Regulated Industries Committee. HB 1093 by Rep. David Clark (R-Buford) prohibits certain nonresident aliens from buying agricultural land within 10 miles of a military base. The bill has been assigned to the House Agriculture & Consumer Affairs Committee. GBA is monitoring.
Notaries Public. SB 425 by Sen. Blake Tillery (R-Vidalia) provides for electronic notarization of certain notarial acts using real time audio-video communication technology for some notarial acts. The bill requires an ink signature instead of an electronic signature, which would be more helpful. There are also provisions we are concerned with that fall under the Unauthorized Practice of Law rules on real estate closings. The bill has been assigned to the Senate Judiciary Committee. GBA is monitoring.
Tort - Motor Vehicles. SB 426 by Sen. Blake Tillery (R-Vidalia) revises the circumstances in which a motor carrier and insurance carrier can be joined in the same lawsuit action following an accident. The bill has been assigned to the Senate Judiciary Committee. GBA is monitoring.
Small Business. SB 429 by Sen. Greg Dolezal (R-Cumming) allows for the Governor, Lieutenant Governor or any member of the legislature to request a small business impact analysis from the Office of Planning and Budget and the Department of Audits for any bill introduced during a legislative session. The bill has been assigned to the Senate Regulated Industries and Utilities Committee. GBA is monitoring.
Covid Liability. SB 430 by Sen. Greg Dolezal (R-Cumming) is a repeal of Covid liability warnings for businesses. The bill has been assigned to the Senate Economic Development and Tourism Committee. GBA is monitoring.
Sen. John Kennedy
Sen. Jason Anavitarte
Rep. David Clark
Sen. Blake Tillery
Veteran’s Benefits. SB 451 by Sen. Nabilah Islam-Parkes (D-Duluth) creates a voluntary low-interest loan program for Georgia-based banks and credit unions to assist veterans. The Georgia Department of Banking & Finance would be required to certify participating financial institutions. The bill is in the House Hopper pending first reading. GBA is monitoring.
Artificial Intelligence. SR 476 by Sen. John Albers (R-Roswell) creates a study committee on Artificial Intelligence and its utilization in fields such as financial services, healthcare, education, housing and transportation. The resolution has been assigned to the Senate Science and Technology Committee. GBA is monitoring.
Community Development Districts. SR 533 by Sen. Frank Ginn (R-Danielsville) calls for a constitutional amendment allowing the creation of community development districts. SB 435 is the enabling legislation. The resolution and enabling legislation have been assigned to the Senate Regulated Industries and Utilities Committee. GBA is monitoring.
Charlie Curry Memorial Bridge. HR 919 by Rep. Gerald Greene (R-Cuthbert) designates a bridge in Terrell County to the memory of Charlie Curry, Sr. Curry, who died in 2018, was the former president and CEO at First State Bank of Randolph County, a past GBA director and past chairman of GBA’s Agriculture Committee. The resolution has been assigned to the House Transportation Committee. GBA supports.
Sen. Nabilah Islam-Parkes
Sen. John Albers
Sen. Frank Ginn
Rep. Gerald Greene
Criminal Trespass. HB 922 by Rep. Ken Vance (R-Milledgeville) provides that entrance upon the property of another without consent shall be an offense of criminal trespass. The bill has been assigned to the House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee. GBA is monitoring.
Foreclosure Protection Fund. HB 1051 by Rep. Rhonda Burnough (D-Riverdale) would provide for a senior and disabled persons foreclosure protection fund to be managed and maintained by the Georgia Department of Community Affairs. The bill has been assigned to the House Agriculture & Consumer Affairs Committee. GBA is monitoring.
Leased Property. HB 1052 by Rep. Chas Cannon (R-Moultrie) revises the eligibility requirements for conservation use valuation assessments. The bill has been assigned to the House Ways & Means Committee. GBA is monitoring.
Central Bank Digital Currency. HB 1053 by Rep. Carter Barrett (R-Cumming) prohibits government agencies from using central bank digital currency as payment. The bill has been assigned to the House Banks & Banking Committee. GBA is monitoring.
Rep. Ken Vance
Rep. Rhonda Burnough
Rep. Chas Cannon
Rep. Carter Barrett
Eviction Records. HB1055 by Rep. Yasmin Neal (D-Jonesboro) relates to sealing eviction records that happened during Covid. The bill has been assigned to the House Judiciary Committee. GBA is monitoring.
Evictions. HB 1059 by Rep. Sandra Scott (D-Rex) provides for residential eviction diversion programs for disabled and low-income persons. The bill has been assigned to the House Judiciary Committee. GBA is monitoring.
Notaries Public. HB 1075 by Rep. Scott Hilton (R-Peachtree Corners) provides that state agencies shall accept notary acts, including electronic notarizations, performed in other states when the manner of notarization is authorized in that state. The bill has been assigned to the House Judiciary Committee. GBA is monitoring.
Manufactured and Mobile Homes. HB 1076 by Rep. Will Wade (R-Dawsonville) provides circumstances under which a manufactured or mobile home shall become real property. The bill has been assigned to the House Banks & Banking Committee. GBA is monitoring.
Rep. Yasmin Neal
Rep. Sandra Scott
Rep. Scott Hilton
Rep. Will Wade
Cash Payments. HB 1101 by Rep. Mesha Mainor (R-Atlanta) amends the Fair Business Practices Act to, with limited exceptions, require merchants to provide store credit to a customer paying with cash when they are unable to provide exact change. The bill has been assigned to the House Agriculture & Consumer Affairs Committee GBA is monitoring.
Housing Authorities. HB 1108 by Rep. Spencer Frye (D-Athens) would amend the law creating housing authorities to make a housing authority a political subdivision of this state. The bill has been assigned to the House Judiciary Committee. GBA is monitoring.
Certificate of Title. HB 1100 by Rep. Kimberly New (R-Villa Rica) authorizes the use of electronic notifications and communications by the Department of Revenue to motor vehicle owners relative to motor vehicle registration and certificates of title upon consent. The bill has been assigned to the House Motor Vehicles Committee. GBA is monitoring.
Rep. Mesha Mainor
Rep. Spencer Frye
Rep. Kimberly New
Torts. HB 1114 by Rep. Will Wade (R-Dawsonville) authorizes the collection of data by the Office of Commissioner of Insurance and Safety Fire for the purposes of future tort reform legislation. The bill is in the House Hopper pending first reading. GBA is monitoring.
Historic Home Tax Credit. HB 1116 by Rep. Debbie Buckner (D-Junction City) extends the sunset date to 2035 for the historic home portion of the tax credits for the rehabilitation of historic structures. The bill is in the House Hopper pending first reading. GBA is monitoring. HB 1134 by Rep. Ron Stephens (R-Savannah) extends the sunset date to 2029 for the tax credits for the rehabilitation of historic structures, expands the criteria for historic homes to qualify for such credits, increases the aggregate caps for credits related to historic structures other than historic homes and provides for a five-year carry-forward period for credits for historic structures other than historic homes. The bill is in the House Hopper pending first reading. GBA is monitoring.
Short-Term Rentals. HB1121 by Rep. Bethany Ballard (R-Warner Robbins) prohibits local governments from suspending or prohibiting the continued use of property as a short-term rental unit by a property owner under certain circumstances. The bill is in the House Hopper pending first reading. GBA is monitoring.
Consumer Reports. HB 1132 by Rep. Mesha Mainor (R-Atlanta) prohibits the misuse of consumer reports for housing, employment, and insurance purposes. The bill is in the House Hopper pending first reading. GBA is monitoring.
Rep. Debbie Buckner
Rep. Ron Stephens
Rep. Bethany Ballard

GBA Represented at the Capitol

The association’s advocacy team is already hard at work representing the interests of banking at the State Capitol. Reach out to any of them if you need information about a bill, contact information for your representatives, or tips on where to park if you’re coming for a visit. Here’s their contact information:
We will publish future editions of the Legislative Update after the General Assembly adjourns each week. Please let us know if you have questions or comments on issues of interest to you.