Yesterday In The Georgia Legislature – 03/22/21

This is an informal rundown of the legislative happenings. These bills are from the most recent legislative day – 3/18/21, or Day 35.

The following bills were voted on in the House on 3/18/21:

SB 34- Sen. Clint Dixon (Rep. Josh Bonner)

Passed the Senate: 50-0
LINK: https://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/59058
WHAT THE BILL DOES:

  • allows a victim of human trafficking to change their name under sealed records 
  • Currently only applies to victims of family violence

Passed the House: 162-0

SB 66- Sen. Jason Anavitarte (Rep. Matthew Gambill)

Passed the Senate: 51-2
LINK: https://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/59215
WHAT THE BILL DOES:

  • Makes amendments to the Georgia Foundation for Public Education
  • Amends board member count from ‘5 to 15’ to ‘at least 5’
  • Changes references to ‘creation’ of the foundation to ‘incorporation’
  • Dictates that should a Foundation be dissolved (via the state DOE to which it is attached) funds and assets go to the DOE for DOE purposes and…adds certain schools that may also be eligible to benefit from the dissolution
  • Currently prohibits use of donations to for direct employee costs but this amends it to a total of 10% of donations 
  • Adds code section to, effective 1/1/22, allow donations to nonprofit corporations within the Foundation for the purpose of awarding grants to public schools for ‘innovation’
  • Priority is awarded to schools in the lowest 5% (per current statewide accountability/achievement system)
  • Outlines reporting requirements to the Georgia Department of Revenue regarding donations,use, etc and requires the DOR to post it on their website
  • Allows members of the current Public Education  Innovation Fund Foundation to serve on the Foundation/Board if so desired

Passed the House: 159-2

SB 143- Sen. Lindsey Tippins (Rep. Todd Jones)

Passed the Senate: 53-0
LINK: https://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/59537
WHAT THE BILL DOES:

  • Streamlines what is already in place for mechanics and materialmen for affidavits as listed in OCGA 44-14-366

Passed the House: 156-0

SB 148- Sen. Chuck Hufstetler

Passed the Senate: 54-0
LINK: https://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/59556
WHAT THE BILL DOES:

  • Creates the “2021 Special Council on Tax Reform and Fairness for Georgians and the Special Joint Committee on Georgia Revenue Structure”
  • The legislature believes that it has been ‘many years’ since there was a study on the state tax structure and there may be more efficient ways to structure everything.
  • Requires that the Council study the state’s revenue structure and make a report of its findings and recommendations for legislation to the Speaker and Lt. Gov by January 10, 2022
  • Requires the House of Representatives to draft a resolution in 2022 with the recommendations of the committee and those considered bills would go directly to the Joint Committee for approval or not. Without additional committee action, if given the green light from the joint committee, they would go straight to the House floor for a vote with no amendments permitted and would up/down vote only (same process for Senate)
  • Since it entirely circumvents the traditional process for bills, these would be read 3x

Members of the Council (who would study) would be as follows:

  • Three economists to be appointed one each by the Gov, Lt Governor, and the Speaker of the House;
  • Governor Brian Kemp;
  • A nonpartisan fiscal expert jointly agreed to by the minority leaders of the House of Representatives and the Senate;
  • The 2021 chairperson of the Georgia Chamber of Commerce and the 2021 Georgia state director for the National Federation of Independent Business;
  • Two members appointed by the Lieutenant Governor and two members appointed by the Speaker of the House of Representatives;
  • The president of the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce, and
  • The commissioner of the Department of Economic Development

Committee members in the legislature would be:

  • The President Pro Tem of the Senate and the Speaker Pro Tem of the House;  
  • The majority leader of the Senate and the majority leader of the House;  
  • The minority leader of the Senate and the minority leader of the House;  
  • The chairpersons of the Senate Finance Committee and the House Committee on Ways and Means;  
  • Two members of the Senate to be appointed by the President of the Senate, one from  the majority party and one from the minority party; and  
  • Two members of the House to be appointed by the Speaker, one from the majority party and one from the minority party

Vote: 20-139 This measure did not pass.

SB 163- Sen. Brian Strickland (Rep. Stan Gunter)

Passed the Senate: 46-2
LINK: https://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/59630
WHAT THE BILL DOES:

  • Would allow state and superior court judges in Georgia to suspend the speedy trial statute and all accompanying deadlines for filings, schedules and trials during and after a judicial emergency without it impacting the legitimacy of the case (meaning the case could not be appealed on those grounds)
  • All the judge has to do when determining the circumstances are impractical is certify it based on his/her own discretion and that of the other judges in the circuit
  • Gives up to 8 months of relief for each grant of relief/certification, but that can be renewed, per the chief justice of the circuit
  • Allows the Chief Justice of the Georgia Supreme Court to reinstate the speedy trial statute at his discretion
  • Stays in effect through June 30, 2023 and prohibits an order by a circuit/state/superior court judge after that date (unless, of course, you all amend the law again)
  • The backlog many judicial circuits are facing have been in function for years..and COVID the grant of relief for poorly run systems 

Passed the House: 157-6

SB 168- Sen. Larry Walker

Passed the Senate: 51-0
LINK: https://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/59673
WHAT THE BILL DOES:

  • Gives corporate boards of directors the ability to hold meetings for shareholders on a 100% remote basis
  • Unless the bylaws specifically prohibit that action
  • When there are remote meetings, proxies of shareholders and shareholders are still counted present, can vote, and can participate in the meeting as if the meeting was in person
  • Requires that remote meeting votes and actions must be maintained on the reco
  • Same as HB 306 in the House.

Passed the House: 161-0

SB 169- Sen.Larry Walker
Passed the Senate: 51-0
LINK: https://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/59674
WHAT THE BILL DOES:
  • Amends the provision for surety bonds
  • allow public procurement officers to accept surety bonds with electronic signatures and electronic corporate seals
  • Must still be in compliance with the ‘Uniform Electronic Transactions Act’ and Code Section 33-24-14

Passed the House: 162-0

SB 210- Sen. Randy Robertson (Rep. Martin Momtahan)

Passed the Senate: 30-16
LINK: https://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/59858
WHAT THE BILL DOES:

  • Provides a code section for digital license plates
  • Creates application process for DLP that must be transferred by the county office to the DLP provider and give the driver a 45-day temp tag until a digital license plate is received by the driver from the provider
  • Annual renewal like regular ‘old school’ license plates
  • DLP must terminate data transmission if a license plate is canceled or otherwise revoked and the DLP provider is notified by the county tag office or the tax commissioner etc.
  • The digital license plate must be renewed annually. 
  • Gives the DOR Commissioner the authority to dictate what records a DLP must maintain (regulatory agencies given too much discretion is what we complain about at the federal level)
  • Doesn’t permit the issuance of all of these until mid-2022 
  • DOR must provide a report by 2024 on these plates, use, implementation, etc for revision 
  • It does make it unlawful for a DLP to be sold or provider by a person outside of the new code section but that isn’t really any different from our current license plate system

Passed the House: 113-47

SB 221- Sen. Jeff Mullis  (Rep. Trey Kelley)

Passed the Senate: 30-21
LINK: https://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/59920
WHAT THE BILL DOES:

  • Changes campaign contribution rules/ethics for political action groups and political parties morphed into this new thing that isn’t really a new thing called ‘leadership committees’
  • Creates OCGA 21-5-34.2 
  • Defines leadership committee as a committee, corp, or organization that is chaired by the gov, LT gov, or a nominee from the respective party for gov or Lt gov
    • and up to two PACS (discretion of majority and minority caucasus in House & Senate) 
  • Permits these leadership committee to receive contributions for:
    • Impacting an election
    • Advocating for or against a candidate
    • Campaign expense reimbursement of the candidate/candidate’s campaign
    • “paying for expenses in connection with a public officer’s fulfillment or retention of such office”
  • If a leadership committee receives more than $500, it must register with the state ethics commission/file reports, etc like other campaigns, organizations
  • There are no campaign finance limits and no limits on the contribution
  • Does require the standard ‘paid for by…’ disclaimer on paper, audio, video communication 
  • If someone isn’t eligible to be the chair of the leadership committee (sitting gov, lt gov, nominee, etc) they have 60 days to transfer assets to the new eligible person or ditch them like other campaign finance provisions under OCGA 21-5-33

Passed the House: 96-69


The Senate voted on the following bills:

HB 362 – Rep. Trey Rhodes

LINK → https://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/59462 
WHAT THE BILL DOES:

  • Updates date of effectiveness for rules and regulations enacted by the Board of Natural Resources (from 2016 to 2021)
  • changes the definition of “bass” 
    • strikes smallmouth bass, spotted bass, redeye bass, shoal bass, and Suwannee bass. 
    • replaces largemouth bass with “members of the genus micropterus, or the black bass, and their hybrids”
    • adds hybrids to the definitions of trout and mountain trout. 
  • Changes muzzleloading firearms allowed during primitive weapons seasons
    • Applies to deer and bear
    • Changes to .30 caliber or larger instead of .44 caliber or larger 
  • Allows DNR to create a ‘deer management assistance program’’
    • Including fees and limits (fees and limits are counterproductive to a management assistance program if the state is in need of help regarding population)
  • Updates what’s prohibited with a fishing license for non-game fish to include minnow traps in addition to minnow seines (currently on the books) and makes it illegal to use the minnow traps for game fish and eels
    • <– minnow trap
  • Gives the department further authority to regulate seasons for capture, seasonal limits, limits on tools, and everything else.


PASSED: 158-2 (NOs = Singleton & Gilligan)
PASSED THE SENATE: 49-0

HB 511 – Rep. Bert Reeves

LINK→ https://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/59805 
WHAT THE BILL DOES:

  • Creates special funds for dedicated fees by segregating them off with interest – done by Office of the Treasurer
  • For 10 years beginning FY 2023
  • Then budget offices will receive reports on collections for each fund + interest 
  • Appropriates the funds collected to their respective fund by state law, beginning in the next budget
  • Would apply to:
    • Georgia Outdoor Stewardship Trust Fund and the Wildlife Endowment Trust Fund, under the Department of Natural Resources; 
    • Solid Waste Trust Fund and Hazardous Waste Trust Fund, under the Environmental Protection Division; 
    • State Children’s Trust Fund, under the Division of Family and Children Services; 
    • Trauma Care Network Trust Fund, under the Georgia Trauma Care Network Commission; 
    • Transportation Trust Fund and Georgia Transit Trust Fund, under the Department of Transportation; 
    • Georgia Agricultural Trust Fund, under the commissioner of the Department of Agriculture; and Fireworks Trust Fund, under the Department of Revenue. 
  • Adds a process for fiscal note processes if there are additional funds in the future for fee dedications (via new legislation) Requires it to be provided by Fiscal Office and State auditor alongside the bill by the 20th day of the legislative session. If it doesn’t pass in first year of session, must have a new fiscal analysis (to ensure things don’t change) 
  • PASSED THE HOUSE: 168-0
  • PASSED THE SENATE: 51-0
HB 114 – Rep.Bert Reeves

LINK→ https://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/58961 
WHAT THE BILL DOES:

  • Revising the income tax credit for adoption of foster children 
  • Increases from $2,000 to $6,000 per qualified foster child for 5 years beginning in the taxable year in which the adoption is final
  • Then reverts back to $2,000 per child per year after that

PASSED THE HOUSE: 158-0
PASSED THE SENATE: 53-0

HB 336 – Rep. John Corbett

LINK→ https://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/59402 
WHAT THE BILL DOES:

  • Amends to Georgia’s Hemp laws…again
  • Makes minor changes to be in compliance with changes made to federal law/regulations
  • Those who apply to be growers or processors must submit fingerprints to the Dept of Ag, and ultimately the FBI
  • Definition changes:
    • Background check is changed to ‘history report’ 
    • Destroy is changed to ‘dispose of’
  • The annual permit fee stays at $25,000 instead of scaling up
  • Processors and growers are no longer required to sign an affidavit 
  • The processing party’s surety bond triples to $300,000


PASSED THE HOUSE: 153-12
PASSED THE SENATE: 45-7

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.'

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