Yesterday in the Georgia Legislature – 02/27/24

This is an informal rundown of what happened in the Georgia House on Day 26 – 02/26/24.

HB 481 – Rep. John Carson
LINK: https://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/64559 
WHAT IT DOES:

  • Creates OCGA 47-20-88 to add a ‘fiduciary’ to any retirement system administration process (state retirement systems only)
  • Then subsequently limits what fiduciary duties an individual has, to include what the purpose of any actions must be. Those things are limited to
    • Investments in the interests of the beneficiaries
    • For providing benefits to the beneficiaries 
    • Any action in accordance with law
  • Requires that the fiduciary be diligent, skillful, careful etc. when making investments and not subordinate the interests of those it seeks to act on behalf of
  • They’re allowed to delegate duties but are still liable for any action taken by delegates
  • Allows until 11/1/2024 for all retirement systems in Georgia to be compliant

CONCERN: Essentially assigns a fiduciary duty to these systems so as to outline what the interest actions must be. 
Passed: 114-51

HB 808 – Rep. Mike Cheokas
LINK: https://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/65535 
WHAT IT DOES:

  • Increases the tangible personal property tax exemption from $7,500 to $20,000

CONCERN: Make it unlimited 🙂
Passed: 125-42

HB 825 – Rep. Barry Fleming & Rep. Rob Leverett
LINK: https://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/65681 
WHAT IT DOES:

  • Requires a county to supplement district attorney retirement benefits if:
    • It is a single-county judicial circuits where the ‘county site’ has a location in unincorporated area of the county and there is a permanent satellite location constructed by the government 
  • Sets the retirement based on “multiplying the benefit percentage at retirement together with the  aggregate county salary supplement being paid to the active district attorney on the date the retiree begins receiving a retirement benefit or the supplement paid to the retiring  district attorney upon his or her last day of service as district attorney, whichever is greater.

CONCERN: Basically seeks to ensure that retirement is based on the added local county supplement, and not just the state salary. But this is an unfunded mandate for the local level. 
It is at least an improvement from the original bill Fleming introduced, which would have included superior court judges, which ironically he is now one.
Passed: 160-0

HB 827 – Rep. Tyler Paul Smith 
LINK: https://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/65683
WHAT IT DOES:

  • Increase the penalty of stealing livestock
  • Currently it’s a felony with a 1-10 year sentence and a $1,000 fine.
  • This bill moves it to 2-15 years and a $10,000 fine
  • UNLESS the livestock is valued at under $100, then it is a misdemeanor of high and aggravated nature

CONCERN: This is not necessary. It is already a crime and this doesn’t even make a victim ‘whole’ as the $10,000 goes to the state. Additionally, if death penalty doesn’t deter murder, this won’t further deter livestock thieves since it’s already a felony.
Passed: 156-12

HB 927 – Rep. Leesa Hagan
LINK: https://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/66039 
WHAT IT DOES:

  • Allows acceptable hunting gear to be fluorescent pink in addition to fluorescent orange 

CONCERN: our Founders are rolling over in their graves over the fact that the General Assembly is ALLOWING the public to do this. 
Passed: 166-1

HB 957 – Rep. Jesse Petrea 
LINK: https://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/66113 
WHAT IT DOES:

  • Amends Georgia law on ‘abandoned vessels’
  • Require notice of all this new legalese to be included with the registration of a boat
  • Adds language to define ‘public waters’
  • Creates OCGA 52-7-70.1 to authorize DNR law enforcement officials to perform unattended vessel checks upon discovery, unless there is a card displayed indicating a check has already been performed
    • Unattended vessel check means ‘actions that are reasonably necessary to determine that the vessel does not contain an injured or incapacitated person’ and that there is no threat to public safety
    • If a check is performed, a card must be attached to the vessel 
    • Makes it unlawful for anyone other than a DNR officer or other LEO authorized by DNR to attach a card or a card that looks like the unattended vessel card
    • Within 24 hours of conducting a check, it must be checked to see if the vessel has been entered into the database. 
    • When vessels are removed, if they can determine who it is registered to or titled to, they must make an attempt to identify the owner. 
    • Vessels removed with the unattended cards must contact law enforcement no more than 1 day after the removal
      •  Law enforcement shall then notify the person who filed a stolen report
  • Allows DNR to charge a fee of no more than $2.00 for any information related to this code section
  • DNR must provide information of owner within 5 days from date received (by agency or vessel removers)
  • Outlines advertisement process in newspapers for abandoned vessels 

CONCERN: The communication between agencies will never happen. They don’t even work together for missing persons right now. 
Passed: 170-0

HB 1028 – Rep. John LaHood
LINK: https://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/66304 
WHAT IT DOES:

  • Has nothing to do with scoliosis as outlined in the bill title
  • Amends code section to outline what the term sexually transmitted diseases are – syphilis, gonorrhea, chlamydia and ‘anything DPH deems’
  • Gives Commissioner of Health the authority to issue a standing order on opioid antagonists AND post-exposure drugs for when individuals are exposed to HIV
  • Removes inspection requirement for jails where DPH is required to inspect them every 3 months

CONCERN: Does not make sense, given jail conditions, to limit the amount of interaction DPH has in jails for health inspections. If anything, it should be more. Also – super disingenuous to completely gut a bill from its initial purpose and replace with other language. 
Passed: 167-0

HB 1040 – Rep. Scott Hilton 
LINK: https://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/66333
WHAT IT DOES:

  • Creates OCGA 7-1-1013.1 which addresses licenses of mortgage brokers and mortgage lenders
  • defines mortgage trigger lead as “a consumer report obtained pursuant to Section 604(c)(1)(B) of the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act,15 U.S.C. Section 1681b,” where the issuance of the report is triggered by an inquiry made with a consumer reporting agency in response to an application for credit.”
    1. Does not include the initial credit pulls or when there is existing credit already
  • Prohibits instances of unfair or deceptive acts when a company relies on  a mortgage trigger lead to solicit a consumer who has applied for a loan  with another mortgage lender or broker by
    1. Failing to state in the initial solicitation that the person is not affiliated with the  mortgage lender or broker with which the consumer initially applied
    2. Fail in the initial solicitation to conform to state and federal law relating to  prescreened solicitations using consumer reports, including the requirement to make a  firm offer of credit to the consumer
    3. Use information regarding consumers who have opted out of the prescreened offers  of credit or who have placed their contact information on the federal do-not-call registry;
    4. offer rates and terms knowing they are no good for the consume

CONCERN: 1 and 2 of what makes something deceptive absolve consumers of any need to be proactive or independent. A person should know who they initially applied for a loan with and if another person can come in and swoop them away because they can’t keep up with the company data with whom they applied, that’s not the fault of the company soliciting their business. 
Passed:169-1

HB 1078 – Rep. Jesse Petrea
LINK: https://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/66510 
WHAT IT DOES:

  • Codifies Georgia Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) by creating new code section
  • OCGA 49-6-100
    • ‘Establish additional opportunities with GA’s medicaid program for acute and long-term healthcare’ for those who require skilled nursing cares so they can keep living in their community
  • OCGA 49-6-101
    • Allows the state to develop a PACE program in compliance with federal regulations and Social Security Act 
  • Further allows a PACE organization to be exempt from the requirement for them to obtain a certificate of authority as a health maintenance organization 

CONCERN: Making it inequitable if one organization doesn’t have to play by all of the other rules while everyone else does.
Passed: 165-1

HB 1090 – Rep. Mark Newton
LINK: https://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/66523 
WHAT IT DOES:

  • Expands foster care tax credit for foster child support organizations and amends criteria to be:
    • Changes from 16-18 to those who were in foster care for at least 6 months after reaching the age of 14 and who have not been reunited with family before turning 18
    • Adds for those who were adopted after reaching age 14
    • In foster care for at least 6 months after reaching age 14 but were also in the definition of ‘homeless children and youths’ and simultaneously qualify for SNAP
    • Justice involved youths
      • Those in DJJ by court order or are/were in nonsecure facility 
  • Mentorship compensation increased from $500 annual to $1200 annually for justice involved youth (compensation adjusted for purposes of tax credit for the organization paying the mentor)
  • Increases the limit on direct cash payments from $150 to $200
  • Allows business enterprises to collect these tax credits for providing the services outlined – such as mentorship, wraparound services, etc. and then outlines the forms they must complete to verify 

CONCERN:
Passed: 168-1

HB 1100 – Rep. Kimberley New
LINK: https://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/66557 
WHAT IT DOES:

  • Allows Department of Revenue to utilize electronic communication with owners of vehicles IF owner opts and the department sends notifications 30, 20 and 10 days prior to revocation of registration due to lapse in motor vehicle insurance coverage 

CONCERN:
Passed: 99-68

HB 1165 – Rep. Meisha Mainor
LINK: https://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/66748 
WHAT IT DOES:

  • Addresses the membership of the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council
  • Swaps the “chairperson of the Governor’s Office for Children and Families” for the “commissioner of the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities”

CONCERN:
Passed: 167-1

HB 1172 – Rep. James Burchett
LINK: https://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/66762 
WHAT IT DOES:

  • This amends OCGA 44-8-5
  • Changes language to delete references to the public trust doctrine
  • Adds language to give explicit/inherent ‘right of use’ for hunting and fishing in navigable streams from low-water mark to low-water mark.
    • Also adds language to make it clear that passage is the only ‘right of use’
  • Bars using privately owned land to access navigable streams. 

CONCERN:
Passed: 107-60

HB 1218 – Rep. Rob Leverett
LINK: https://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/66885 
WHAT IT DOES:

  • Amends OCGA 53-5-8 to strike language for beneficiaries and personal representatives in a trust
  • Requires that a personal representative of a testate estate notify beneficiaries of the estate within 6 months unless notification has been waived or the beneficiary is the personal representative

CONCERN:
Passed: 168-0

HB 1237 – Rep. Chas Cannon
LINK: https://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/66930 
WHAT IT DOES:

  • Removes the definition for Agriculture Commodity Commission on Citrus Fruits

CONCERN:
Passed: 166-0

HB 1240 – Rep. Matt Reeves 
LINK: https://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/66939 
WHAT IT DOES:

  • Amends the the Uniform Commercial Code in the Uniform Commercial Code Modernization Act of 2024
  • This bill is 116 pages
  • Bill language explicitly says it is not intended to be endorsement/support/etc of national digital currency
  • Specific amendments include “controllable electronic records” (CERs) (otherwise known as virtual currencies)
    • Defines as a record stored in an electronic medium that  can be subjected to control under OCGA 11-12-105 ( a code section that is also created with this legislation)
    • Defines when a person has control of a record and when that CER control is exclusive
  • Adds language to provide protections for people who accept CERs in good faith
  • Takes effect July 1, 2o24 but grants until July 1, 2025 for current code to be grandfathered in. After that, any security interests must be in compliance with this version of the code in order to be enforceable
  • Passed: 163-1

HB 1247 – Rep. Rob Leverett
LINK: https://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/66957 
WHAT IT DOES:

  • Creates OCGA 44-17-1 to address interest in real estate and joint owners
  • Creates OCGA 44-17-2 address transfer of ownership upon death for real estate
    • Adds that signature/consent/agreement is not required for transfer 
    • Adds that an affidavit verifying the record owner’s death, marital status, and a legal description of the property shall suffice (death certificate of owner must be attached to the affidavit)
      • Beginning July 1, 2024
      • Gives clerks 9 months to record the documents with the deed
      • Anyone who wants to update deed for a death before July 1, 2024 is not subject to 9 month requirement for filing by clerk – can be any time.
  • Creates OCGA 44-17-3 to outline the text of a Transfer on Death Deed
  • Creates OCGA 44-17-4 to outline the process for revocation of a grantee beneficiary prior to death by recording it in the Superior Court Clerk’s office 

CONCERN:
Passed:171-0

HB 1264 – Rep. Ron Stephens 
LINK: https://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/67007 
WHAT IT DOES:

  • Address a program fer healthcare professionals who are impaired – meaning the inability to practice with reasonable skill ans safety due to alcohol, drugs, narcotics, chemicals, etc.
  • Defines professional health program as the program to monitor and rehab impaired healthcare professionals
  • Allows state board to authorize this kind of program and enter into contracts for the purpose of operating the program 
  • In formation can be exchanged between the board (on the healthcare professional) and professionals contracted with
  • Otherwise information is privileged and confidential 
  • Impaired individual is responsible for all costs to participate 

CONCERN: A similar, more expansive bill, passed before. 
Passed: 171-0

HR 1113 – Rep. Emory Dunahoo
LINK: https://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/67012 
WHAT IT DOES:

  • Annual easement bill for state 

CONCERN: None
Passed: 165-0

HR 1116 – Rep. Clay Pirkle
LINK: https://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/67039 
WHAT IT DOES:

  • Annual property conveyance bill 

CONCERN: None
Passed: 166-0

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: http://eepurl.com/gzYAZT

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