GBAN Legislative Update- June 26, 2020

Legislative Calendar

The Georgia General Assembly convened on Saturday to complete legislative day 35 and reconvened on Monday, June 22 to complete legislative day 36 working through Friday, June 26 to complete legislative day 40, the final day of the session.

Governor Brian Kemp will have 40 calendar days to consider legislation passed by the General Assembly.

The Georgia Chamber tracked approximately 427 bills during the 2019-2020 legislative biennium. As of yesterday, any bill that has not received final legislative approval will no longer be considered until the legislature reconvenes in 2021.

Budget Update

This week the Georgia House and Senate adopted a compromise on the state budget.  House Bill 793 includes an 11% reduction from the FY 2020 base.

The conference committee report on HB 793 was adopted by a vote of (40-13) in the Senate and (104-62) in the House.

To see the as passed budget document a click here.

Business and Industry

House Bill 426: Hate Crimes

Chamber Position: SUPPORT

Bill Sponsor in the House: Chuck Efstration (Dacula)
Bill Sponsor in the Senate: Bill Cowsert (Athens)

HB 426 would create a hate crimes law in Georgia which would provide for enhanced penalties for anyone who is proven beyond a reasonable doubt to have intentionally selected a victim or group of victims based on perceived race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender, mental disability or physical disability. As we work toward a better Georgia, passing a hate crimes law that reflects the values of our state remains a priority. HB 426 was voted out of the Senate (47-6) and passed out of the House (127-38). The Governor signed the bill on Friday, June 26, and the law will go into effect on July 1.

House Bill 879: Alcohol Delivery

Chamber Position: SUPPORT

Bill Sponsor in House: Brett Harrell (Snellville)
Bill Sponsor in the Senate: Bill Cowsert (Athens)

HB 879 would allow certain retailers to market, receive, process and deliver orders for alcoholic beverages. Under this proposal, the delivery of beer and wine and liquor would be allowed under strict regulations to ensure the process will be effectively handled by the packaged goods retailer, employee or third party, and has undergone a background check. Upon delivery, a verification process will occur to ensure the consumer is of age with legal documentation. Our organization believes this bill will provide an innovative method for retailers to provide these products to their consumers in a more efficient way. This bill passed out of the Senate by substitute (42-9) and the House agreed to the substitute giving it final passage by a vote of (114-45).

House Bill 914: Military Spouses Licensure

Chamber Position: SUPPORT

Bill Sponsor in the House: Heath Clark (Warner Robins)
Bill Sponsor in the Senate: Bruce Thompson (White)

HB 914 would provide reciprocity to military and National Guard spouses who are licensed in other states. It would allow spouses who practice certain professions and occupations to obtain a license by endorsement to continue practicing in our state. As we work to strengthen job creation and economic development within our state, increasing access to employees to address the workforce shortage remains a priority for the Chamber. HB 914 presents a reciprocal licensing process similar to other states and circumvents obstacles to military spouses, and HB 914 will help these families to begin working upon relocation. This bill passed out of the House (165-0). The Senate  by a (41-10) vote.


Economic Development and Taxation

House Bill 276Sales Tax for Online Marketplace

Chamber Position: SUPPORT

Bill Sponsor in the House: Brett Harrell (Snellville)
Bill Sponsor in the Senate: Chuck Hufstetler (Rome)

HB 276 was adopted by the General Assembly and signed into law by Governor Kemp which aims to bring parity between online and brick and mortar retailers. This bill seeks to collect sales tax from online and third-party platforms selling retail products, thus leveling the playing field for Georgia-based retailers and increasing revenue for the state. The bill was signed by Governor Kemp and went into effect on April 1, 2020.

Health and Wellness 

Senate Bill 306Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology Interstate Compact

Chamber Position: SUPPORT 

Bill Sponsor in the Senate: Valencia Seay (Riverdale)
Bill Sponsor in the House: Dave Belton (Buckhead)

Senate Bill 306 allows audiologists and speech pathologists to maintain their license to practice in Georgia through an interstate compact which would recognize other member state licenses. The licensing process should not be an impediment to the growth and development of an industry and SB 306 will help capture many specialists in the healthcare industry so they can begin work upon relocation. Most importantly, this bill seeks to implement commonsense provisions to ensure licensing requirements would be safe to the public’s health. This bill passed out of the Senate (46-0) and passed out of the House (138-0) and it is on its way to the Governor.

House Bill 752: National Background Checks to Practice as a Physical Therapist or Physical Therapist Assistant

Chamber Position: SUPPORT

Bill Sponsor in the House: Dave Belton (Buckhead)
Bill Sponsor in the Senate: Bruce Thompson (White)

House Bill 752 provides national background checks by way of fingerprints to the FBI through the Georgia Crime Information Center for a license to practice physical therapy or to be a physical therapist assistant. This bill provided corrections to be in line with FBI regulations. HB 752 was passed by the Senate with a (52-0) vote and the House passed the measure by a vote of (143-0).

Law and Judiciary 

House Bill 230 Benefit Corporations 

Chamber Position: SUPPORT

Bill Sponsor in the House:  Scott Holcomb (Atlanta)
Bill Sponsor in the Senate: Jesse Stone (Waynesboro)

HB 230 provides for the creation of “Benefit Corporations” as an option for corporate structure in Georgia. Currently, 34 states have similar corporate structures, all geared towards accommodating businesses that welcome the dual role of creating shareholder profit and creating a positive social impact. HB 230 passed the House of Representatives (165-2) and the Senate (32-19) and is now available for signature by the Governor.

Senate Bill 315General Contractor Lien and Contract Legislation 

Chamber Position: SUPPORT

Bill Sponsor in the Senate:  Lindsey Tippins (Marietta)
Bill Sponsor in the House: Dale Washburn (Macon)

This bill clarifies existing state law to allow tradesmen to sue for breach of contract in payment disputes without deference to a waiver of lien.  The Georgia Chamber joined the Associated General Contractors of Georgia and over 15 other statewide organizations in support of the bill. SB 315 passed the Senate (53-0) and the House of Representatives (147-0) and is now available for the Governor’s signature.

Senate Bill 373Business Judgement Rule Extension 

Chamber Position: SUPPORT and SCORECARD

Bill Sponsor in the Senate: John Kennedy (Macon)
Bill Sponsor in the House: Bonnie Rich (Suwanee)

This bill establishes gross negligence as the standard of care for officers and directors of Georgia non-profits, foundations, and cooperatives.  In 2017, the General Assembly set this standard for for-profit corporations, and this bill now provides consistency for the organizing statutes not included in the initial legislation. This cleanup legislation will correct a discrepancy between for-profit and non-profits. SB 373 passed the Senate (53-0) and the House of Representatives (145-11) and is available to be signed by the Governor.

Senate Bill 442: Rental Property Owners Protection
Chamber Position: SUPPORT

Bill Sponsor in the Senate: William Ligon (Brunswick)
Bill Sponsor in the House: Dale Washburn (Macon)

SB 442 balances the needs of Property Owners Associations with the needs of rental property owners. If an owner purchases a property and rents it to a long-term tenant in accordance with Property Owners Association rules, such property can remain a grandfathered rental property though the POA may change the rules in the future. The Georgia Chamber supports a predictable environment for real estate owners and investors. SB 442 was passed by the Senate (33-20), was amended in the House and passed by the House (123-27), and then agreed to in the Senate (36-14). The bill is now available for the Govenor’s signature.

Recovery and Resiliency 

House Bill 167COVID-19 Liability Protections

Chamber Position: SUPPORT and SCORECARD

Bill Sponsor in the Senate: Senator John Kennedy (Macon)

On Thursday, the Senate Insurance and Labor Committee passed a substitute to HB 167, which is a comprehensive pro-business bill necessary to aid in Georgia’s recovery from the COVID-19 crisis. To ensure economic recovery, businesses need the assurance that when giving their best efforts to protect employees and the general public, they in turn will be protected from frivolous lawsuits.  Our public health officials are learning more about COVID-19 every day and recommendations are ever-changing in response. As businesses adapt to this new economy, they require the support of the legislature to provide a consistent and predictable legal environment. This legislation is narrowly tailored to provide targeted relief against frivolous lawsuits regarding the transmission of COVID-19. The Senate passed HB 167 (31-19).

Late on the last day of the legislative session, the House of Representatives offered a similar bill, SB 359, sponsored by Representative Trey Kelley. This bill was passed by the House of Representatives (104-56) and agreed to by the Senate (34-16).

House Bill 105: Hurricane Michael Relief/Rideshare Per-Ride Fee

Chamber Position: SUPPORT

Bill Sponsor in the House: Sam Watson (Moultrie)
Bill Sponsor in the Senate: Steve Gooch (Dahlonega)

House Bill 105 is on its way to Governor Kemp for signature after receiving final passage on Thursday, June 18 in the Georgia Senate by a vote of 41-3.

HB 105 excludes federal disaster relief aid from a state income tax following Hurricane Michael and its economic impact on the agriculture industry in southwest Georgia. The Senate amended the original bill in committee to include a $.50 per ride fee on ride share services in Georgia ($.25 for shared), addressing previous inequities from the marketplace facilitator legislation passed earlier this year. This legislation was acted upon by the House 150-7 on March 12, 202after adding language to direct the fees to transit along with “up to” 10% of hotel motel fees.

Transportation

House Bill 1098: Georgia Department of Transportation  Legislation

Chamber Position: SUPPORT 

Bill Sponsor in the House: Kasey Carpenter (Dalton)
Bill Sponsor in the Senate: Steve Gooch (Dahlonega)

House Bill 1098 passed the Georgia Senate on Tuesday, June 23 by a vote of 51-0, after passing the House on March 12 by a vote of 167-0.

HB 1098 is the Georgia Department of Transportation’s housekeeping legislation and critically includes postponing the sunset on the Consumer Price Index (CPI) of the motor fuel tax.

House Resolution 935: Georgia Commission on Freight and Logistics 

Chamber Position: SUPPORT 

Bill Sponsor in the House: Kevin Tanner (Dawsonville) 
Bill Sponsor in the Senate: Brandon Beach (Alpharetta) 

On Monday, June 15, the Georgia Senate gave final passage to House Resolution 935 by a vote of 51-0, after passing the House on February 5 by a vote of 169-0.

HR 935 reauthorizes the Freight and Logistics Commission for another year. The commission met four times across the state in 2019 to study Georgia’s future freight growth and its impacts on our economic future. The Georgia Chamber looks forward to partnering with the general assembly in their continued work on the Freight and Logistics Commission to provide transportation solutions to all Georgians.

House Bill 820: Georgia Department of Transportation Freight Rail Program

Chamber Position: SUPPORT 

Bill Sponsor in the House: Kevin Tanner (Dawsonville) 
Bill Sponsor in the Senate: Steve Gooch (Dahlonega)

On Wednesday, June 17, the Georgia Senate gave final passage to House Bill 820 by a vote of 54-0, after passing the House on February 24 by a vote of 162-1.

HB 820 creates a line item in the Georgia Department of Transportation budget to allocate funds, as needed, directly to freight rail. Georgia has the fastest growing port in the country. By 2028, port volume is projected to increase from 4 million to over 8 million containers annually. Over 80% of that cargo will travel by truck on Georgia’s highway system. In order to be prepared for this growth, investment in freight and logistics infrastructure should be a top priority as we look for solutions to the increasing truck traffic on our roads. HB 820 allows for direct state investment specifically in railways and railroad as the amount of freight moving through our state continues to grow. SB 371 is the companion bill.

 
Senate Bill 371: Georgia Department of Transportation Freight Rail Program

Chamber Position: SUPPORT 

Bill Sponsor in the Senate: Steve Gooch (Dahlonega)
Bill Sponsor in the House: Kevin Tanner (Dawsonville) 

On Wednesday, June 24, the Georgia House of Representatives gave final passage to Senate Bill 371 by a vote of 154-1, after passing the Senate on February 28 by a vote of 50-0. SB 371 is the companion bill to HB 820.

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