Yesterday in the Georgia Legislature – 02/18/21

This is an informal rundown of the legislative happenings. These bills are from the most recent legislative day – 2/17/21, or Day 18.

The House of Representatives passed the following measures, all of which now head to the Senate:

HB 90 – Rep. Bruce Williamson


  • Clarifies that harvested timber is covered a ‘business personal property’
  • Covered by uniform commercial code for title purposes
  • Georgia Bankers Assn approved, Georgia Forestry Association requested this bill

PASSED: 165-0

HB 130 – Rep. Joseph Gullett


  • Passed a different version last year (Rutledge)
  • creates a definition for ‘ ‘battery charged fence’
    • Would only apply to businesses or properties NOT in a residential area. 
    • defines it as an alarm system or electronic security system and its parts that are attached to a fence; and must 
      • only be attached to fence 
      • caps voltage at 12v of direct current
      • be surrounded by another fence that is not more than 2 feet higher than that fence OR no more than 10 feet tall
      • Be marked  WARNING-ELECTRIC FENCE.’
  • further prevents any county or municipality from prohibiting the use of battery-powered fences 
  • also prohibits the county for adding an additional permit fee beyond regular fence fee simply for battery powered fencing

CONCERN: None, other than it’s an odd thing for the legislature to take up. 
PASSED: 100-63 (mostly along party lines)

HB 154 – Rep. Bert Reeves


Again updates the adoption code

  • Sets out parameters for filing petitions if a person is from another state and that is not in our interstate compact for placement of children
  • Lowers the age of qualified persons to adopt from 25 to 21 (must also be 10 years older than child unless it’s a stepparent or relative)
  • Defines a person from another country as in compliance with the Compact for the code section on petitions for adoption
  • Same as above if the person is from a state that does not have an Interstate Compact
  • Both of these essentially clarify the code section so as not to exclude someone from adoption provisions simply because their state does not participate in the compact or they are a nonresident.
  • Amends OCGA 19-8-9 regarding parental rights termination to have a more defined and traceable notification process (registered mail) and requires notification to be served at an address already on file with the court/etc to make best effort for delivery
  • Adds clarification that if a mother has voluntarily surrendered rights or has had them revoked/terminated in another state, she cannot partake in the acknowledgement of paternity process.
  • Amends code section for terminating parental rights to require that a petition to terminate must have the evidence outlined in the petition.
    –Requires compliance with OCGA 19-8-11(a)(3) and (b)
    -(a)(3) deals with the circumstances  under which termination can be sought
    -(b) requires the parent to be served
  • Allows the appeal of an adoption to be anonymous to the extent that court docs use initials instead of the child’s full name as it does in traditional adoption paperwork and proceedings
  • Adds code section to ensure that the it is clear that the petitioner for termination of rights/adoption etc is responsible for requesting the court appoint an investigator to appoint and make recs to the court if the court does not preemptively or proactively do so.
  • Re: above, the petitioner can make recommendations on investigators if they so choose but are not required to do so
  • Allows non-residents to appear via teleconference/electronic means if the petition is uncontested
  • Makes it unlawful for a person to make a representation for adoption re: an unborn child when a pregnancy does not exist or if they don’t actually intend on placing the child up for adoption (in the code section for other similar offenses and makes it a felony up to 10 years in prison and $10,000 fine)
  • Makes it unlawful for a person who is not the parent or the expectant parent to serve as an intermediary for an adoption
  • Allows anyone who is ‘damaged’ by actions in the code section on criminality of adoption-related offenses is eligible to file a civil suit (because the matter IS a civil one)

CONCERN: Clause dealing with unlawfulness of misrepresenting a possible pregnancy – 1) how do you prove that? 2) It’s a civil matter
PASSED: 160-4 (NOs: Byrd, Gilligan, Prince, Michael Smith)

HB 282 – Rep. Steven Meeks


  • Gives property owners the ‘right’ to declare a tract of land ‘contiguous’ regardless of division by a county boundary, right of way, land lot line, railroad track, or other natural boundary
  • One-time opportunity at the time of the initial application when classified as timberland for ad valorem purposes
  • This only applies to timberland
  • 2018 – HB 85 enabling HR 51, constitutional amendment for qualified timber
    • Clarifying ‘legislative intent’
    • Maybe someone should have done it correctly before you changed the dang state constitution. 

CONCERN: Not equitable under the law as it does not pertain to all property, only timberland properties and would not be the case if timber wasn’t the number one industry in the state.
PASSED: 163-0

HB 287 – Rep. Bonnie Rich


  • Adds ‘tobacco and vapor products’ to the curriculum for mandatory content every year from kindergarten to 12th grade
  • Including how to analyze advertisements about tobacco and vape products
  • Gives a deadline for creation of the program by 12.31.21

CONCERN: Thank Heavens for this bill. I’m sure it will put an immediate stop to the use of vaping products by youth. Only getting a green because most schools are probably already doing this.
PASSED: 156-0

The Senate passed the following measures, all of which now head to the House of Representatives.

SB 81 – Sen. Jeff Mullis


  • Updates code section to reflect ‘College & Career ACADEMIES’ versus College & Career TRANSITIONS and changes name of oversight agency to Office of College & Career ACADEMIES
  • Adds ‘technical skill development’ to the purposes of the academies
  • Adds code section to require Technical College System of Georgia to work with Workforce Development Board and Georgia Dept. of Econ. Development to assist in recruitment for new and unmet industries and to work to ensure high school grads from these academies are prepared to be hired upon graduation

PASSED: 51-0

SB 52 – Sen. Bruce Thompson


  • Establishes a legal safe harbor of cybersecurity matters (for tort or any regulatory action brought by state/subdivision of state) for failure to implement reasonable cybersecurity controls, resulting in a data breach of private information so long as they meet other standards and requirements set forth in this same code section (though not required, only voluntary)
  • “intended to incentivize and encourage businesses to achieve a higher level of cybersecurity through voluntary action”
  • Does not apply to public information or otherwise public records
  • Cybersecurity protections should include: protections for confidentiality, protection against threats/hazards, and protect against unauthorized acquisition of personal information
  • Cybersecurity measures should take into account: the size of the company, scope of the activities, sensitivity of the information they should protect, cost of available tools to help prevent, and other resources available to the company/entity .
  • Statute considers company/entity in compliance if they assign one or more employees to cybersecurity, identifies risks, assess safeguards in place, trains/manages employees on cybersecurity matters, uses capable service providers for cybersecurity matters, and adjusts the program when circumstances change
  • Also considers compliance to be sound when, in the last 12 months, company/entity has “undergone a data security assessment by an independent security assessment firm using appropriately credentialed security professionals and received a certification of adherence to a widely recognized information security standard issued by an authoritative cybersecurity standards body.”

ISSUES: It appears that the legislature is trying to incentivize companies and government entities to purchase more services from IT/cyber security experts, and to do so more frequently.
PASSED: 31-18

SB 88 – Sen. Russ Goodman


  • Requires that the Georgia Teacher of the Year serve as ‘advisor ex officio’ to the State Board of Education
  • All costs incurred to travel to the meeting are reimbursable like other members of the board

ISSUES: Another one with 41 our of 56 sponsors.
PASSED: 50-0

Jessica Szilagyi

Jessica Szilagyi is Publisher of TGV News She focuses primarily on state and local politics as well as issues in law enforcement and corrections. She has a background in Political Science with a focus in local government and has a Master of Public Administration from the University of Georgia.

Jessica is a "Like It Or Not" contributor for Fox5 in Atlanta and a commentator on the 'Let Me Tell You Why You're Wrong Podcast.'

Sign up for her weekly newsletter:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Previous Story

Georgia Vaccine Distribution Now Stands at 1.5 Million

Next Story

Honeybee Habitat, Pollination Garden to Be Funded by Grant

Sign Up For Our  Newsletter
Get the latest headlines and stories - and even exclusive content!- sent right to your inbox.
Stay Updated
Give it a try, you can unsubscribe anytime.
Sign Up For Our  Newsletter
Get the latest headlines and stories - and even exclusive content!- sent right to your inbox.
Stay Updated
Give it a try, you can unsubscribe anytime.
Sign Up For Our  Newsletter
Get the latest headlines and stories - and even exclusive content!- sent right to your inbox.
Stay Updated
Give it a try, you can unsubscribe anytime.

The Latest News Straight to Your Inbox

Get the latest headlines and stories - and even exclusive content!- sent right to your inbox.
Click Me