2024 Legislative Session Recap

Walt Farrell

Published April 22, 2024

From the CEO

By Chris Clark, President & CEO, Georgia Chamber of Commerce

It’s no secret that during an election season, polarizing debates and partisan politics can often overshadow the work being done on behalf of all Georgians. As we reflect on the last two years and the issues that have been most important for the business community, I’m proud of the bipartisanship, civility and integrity displayed by our state’s elected leaders to solve problems and deliver solutions that move our state forward.

Over the course of the 2023-2024 Legislative Biennium, the Georgia Chamber team and our Government Affairs Council diligently tracked over 850 bills and budget items directly impacting the free enterprise system in our state. Our policy positions and initiatives are carefully crafted to develop new ideas and strategic solutions that drive innovation, ingenuity and real results for our members, communities, partners and the over 3 million represented employees in every county of the state.

The general assembly passed several pieces of key legislation improving Georgia’s infrastructure, workforce development and competitiveness. We’re also appreciative of the work accomplished in the legislature to protect the economic incentives and tools that have contributed greatly to our state’s record-breaking growth.

Led by the policy initiatives of Governor Kemp, Lt. Governor Burt Jones and Speaker Jon Burns, the general assembly made significant progress in reducing our state's income tax rate, aligning the corporate tax with the personal rate and increasing tax deductions for Georgia's families and homeowners. These policies provide relief for small businesses and hardworking Georgians as inflation and high interest rates continue to impact the national economic landscape.

Thanks to the work of our HUB Chamber Council representing our military communities, significant progress was made in improving our occupational licensing procedures with the passage of House Bill 880. Prior to the passage of this legislation, spouses of Georgia’s active-duty service members were burdened by excessive wait times for the transfer of their occupational licenses, often having to wait up to nine months for approval to work following a move from out of state. HB 880 ensures that qualified military spouses can obtain their occupational licenses within 30 days of application after receiving official orders of a permanent change of station. These updates strengthen Georgia’s robust military community and the greater economy by increasing access to employment in some of our highest-demand careers.

Georgia experienced a year of unprecedented economic growth in 2023 with over $24 billion in investments and 38,000 jobs created through 426 new or expanded project locations. These accomplishments are a result of strategic policy implementation and our world-class infrastructure network that consists of 125,508 miles of roadway, 3,288 miles of Class I rail, 1,012 miles of Class III rail, two deep-water ports, two inland ports with a third in development, five intermodal rail yards and nine commercial airports. We know that to keep up with the increased demand our freight and logistics system will face, we must make investments to strengthen and secure our critical infrastructure. We commend Gov. Brian Kemp for his historic $1.5 billion down payment on the future of Georgia’s infrastructure and the general assembly for their passage of HB 617 codifying the Georgia Freight 2050 Program.

Another important component of maintaining our economic competitiveness is ensuring that Georgians in every corner of the state have access to quality affordable healthcare. In our 2024 Executive Insights Survey, 63% of respondents cited access to healthcare as a top issue impacting our state’s future competitiveness. The general assembly passed legislation to expand the rural hospital tax credit, increasing access to healthcare in some of our state’s most vulnerable communities and fortifying our healthcare infrastructure to withstand our current and future growth by creating a new dental school at Georgia Southern University and a new medical college at the University of Georgia.

As Georgia faces significant opportunities to increase workforce participation and preparedness, the general assembly responded by passing legislation to bolster our education-to-workforce pipeline and expand opportunities for employment throughout the state. Legislation was passed to increase participation in some of Georgia’s highest-demand careers through k-12 education programs. We also commend the legislature for their expansion of policies to increase second chance hiring initiatives and literacy.

The business community fought hard to increase access to homeownership and affordable housing for Georgia’s workforce but for the second year, this vitally important issue has failed to advance. However, Governor Kemp’s Rural Workforce Housing Initiative to facilitate new housing developments in rural regions did pass and will help ease the burden for many Georgians.

Finally, we applaud the Georgia General Assembly for passing meaningful reforms to our civil justice system. Senate Bill 83 and Senate Bill 426 make significant changes to our state's legal environment and take steps to reduce skyrocketing insurance rates for Georgia’s businesses and citizens. We will continue to work alongside Gov. Kemp, Lt. Gov. Jones, Speaker Burns and Insurance Commissioner King to develop a long-term legal reform strategy.

'What’s good for business is good for Georgia’ drives the policy development and advocacy efforts of the Georgia Chamber and our members. We look forward to continuing our work alongside our elected officials to make our state the best place to live, work, pray and play.

Click here to learn more about the Georgia Chamber’s legislative priorities from the 2024 session.