LEGISLATIVE CALENDAR

This week the General Assembly convened on Monday, March 2 and worked through Thursday, March 5 to complete legislative day 25. The legislature will reconvene on Monday, March 9 for legislative day 26.  Thursday, March 12 will mark “crossover day” which is the last day bills can pass their chamber of origin in order to be further considered.  To view the latest adjournment resolution click here.

BUDGET UPDATE

On Wednesday, March 4 the Senate passed House Bill 792  need link to bill which is the Amended Fiscal year 2020 budget. The AFY 2020 budget covers appropriations from July 1, 2019 - June 30, 2020. HB 792 passed by substitute by a vote of 52-1 in the Senate.

ELECTIONS

The 2020 election cycle candidate qualifying for both partisan and nonpartisan races began this week on Monday, March 2 at 9:00am and came to a close on Friday, March 6 at 12:00 pm. To view the qualified candidates please visit the Secretary of State’s website here.

SPEAKER RALSTON ANNOUNCES SPECIAL COMMITTEE FOR CIVIL JUSTICE LEGISLATION

Wednesday House Speaker David Ralston announced the creation of a special committee on Access to the Civil Justice System.  The Georgia Chamber, along with dozens of other statewide organizations have identified lawsuit reform as a top priority for this legislative session. We commend Speaker Ralston for his focus on this important issue and look forward to working with the committee to further address legislation to level the playing field for businesses negatively impacted by frivolous lawsuits.

LEGISLATION OF INTEREST

Senate Bill 415: Lawsuit Reform 
Chamber Position: SUPPORT and SCORECARD
Bill Sponsor: Senator Steve Gooch (R-Dahlonega)
SB 415 is a comprehensive pro-business bill tackling several issues important to Georgia’s legal climate. The climate of lawsuit abuse in Georgia leads to higher insurance rates for all Georgians, higher costs for goods and services, and genuine concern from the business community about the unpredictability of liability management in Georgia.  This bill addresses many areas of concern including premises liability, trucking lawsuits, seat belt admissibility in civil cases, asbestos litigation, and truth in medical damages among others. SB 415 was passed out of the Senate Insurance and Labor Committee on Tuesday this week and is now eligible for a floor vote.

To gain a better understanding of the lawsuit abuse crisis Georgia is currently facing, please watch and share the “Meet Mary” video here.

Senate Bill 374: Offers and Acceptance of Settlement in Civil Cases
Chamber Position: SUPPORT and SCORECARD
Sponsor: Senator John Kennedy (R- Macon)
On Monday, SB 374 passed the Senate by a vote of XX.  SB 374 establishes reasonable parameters for settlement demand letters in civil cases. Currently, plaintiffs' lawyers can make settlement demands so complex that when an insurance company asks for clarification or cannot fulfill every request, it is seen as a rejection of the settlement offer and the insurance company is said to be acting in "bad faith." Claims of bad faith allow a plaintiffs' attorney to sue an insurer for more than the policy limits of the defendant. This bill requires that offers of settlement be reasonable, limited in scope, professional, and clear so that bad actors cannot continue to issue specious and purposely complex offers of settlement. SB 374 passed out of the Senate on Monday and has been assigned to the House Insurance Committee.

Senate Bill 306: Audiology and Speech Pathology
Chamber Position: SUPPORT
Sponsor: Senator Valencia Seay (D- Riverdale)
On Thursday, the Senate voted SB 306 out of the house with a vote of LINK VOTE HERE. SB 306 is a bill that allows audiologists and speech pathologists to obtain a license to practice in Georgia through an interstate compact agreement which would recognize other state licenses with similar requirements. By providing this type of licensure agreement for these specialties as the state has also done with physicians, nurses and physical therapists, we can increase access to critical health services throughout our state.

Senate Bill 493: Data Protection Act

Chamber Position: SUPPORT

Bill Sponsor: Senator Bruce Thompson (R-White)

Senate Bill 493 encourages businesses to conform to the highest standards of cybersecurity software which provides them with an affirmative defense against lawsuits due to a data breach.

Senate Bill 486: In-School SAT/ ACT Testing

Chamber Position: SUPPORT

Bill Sponsor: Senator P.K. Martin (R-Lawrenceville)

Senate Bill 486 would require that either the SAT or ACT be administered to all public school students in 11th grade. Districts choose the test their students take as well as their testing date. This bill applies to all public school students including students transitioning to and from the Department of Juvenile Justice. The implementation of SB 486 is contingent upon appropriations from the Georgia General Assembly.

 

ACTION ALERT: STATEWIDE BUSINESS COURT

Business Court Vote Fails - Issue Tabled Again!

On Thursday morning SB110, dealing with one-party consent for business court cases, was called up for a floor vote and failed. Immediately following the vote was a motion to reconsider which passed and the second vote on SB110 was tabled without rejection. This means that at any time the vote can be called again on SB110. Please thank those senators that voted yes on this legislation and reach out that voted no - the business community is fully committed and needs this change!

About Business Courts:

In 2019, the State-wide Business Court enabling legislation was passed and signed into law. The statete currently requires both parties to consent to the transfer of a case from superior or state court to the Business Court. This model has proved to be inefficient in the Atlanta-metro Business Court as well as in other states. So, there is a legislation to remove the two-party consent provision and allow one party to file a motion to transfer the case to the Business Court. This important change is needed to make the Business Court accessible and successful. To find your legislators, click here.

GEORGIA CHAMBER PUBLIC AFFAIRS STAFF

David Raynor
Senior Vice President, Public Affairs
404-223-2267 | draynor@gachamber.com

Cosby Johnson
Vice President, State & Political Affairs
404-223-2285 | cjohnson@gachamber.com

Daniela Perry 
Senior Director, Public Policy & Federal Affairs
404-223-2270 | dperry@gachamber.com

Nancy Palmer 
Director, Government Affairs
404-223-2489 | npalmer@gachamber.com

Allison Plummer
Manager, Government and Political Affairs
404-223-2295 | aplummer@gachamber.com

Jasmine King 
Manager, Government Affairs
404-223-2285 | jking@gachamber.com

Emily Pateuk 
Manager, Public Policy
404-223-2475 | epateuk@gachamber.com

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