2017 Georgia Legislative Session

Katie Base RobertsReview of Legislative Days 29-35

By Katie Base Roberts
Director of Governmental Affairs
Fiveash Stanley, Inc.

Flow of Legislation Slowly Resumes

During Week 9, the General Assembly was in session Monday through Thursday.  Despite a busy committee meeting schedule, many bills were only given hearings.  Keeping a bill trapped in committee allows the committee chair to use it as leverage to nudge along priority legislation that has stalled in the opposite chamber.

This was no more evident than in the Rules Committees, where very few bills were placed on debate calendars, despite a growing list of eligible legislation.  The stalemate began to turn at the end of the week and the House and Senate will consider a combined 18 bills when they return on Monday.  With only five legislative days remaining, the pace will quicken as sine die approaches.

Workers’ Compensation Legislation

HB 146: Insurance Coverage for Fire Departments
Rep. Micah Gravley, R-Douglasville
Eligible for action by the Governor

HB 146 requires legally organized fire departments to purchase and maintain insurance coverage to pay claims for certain defined cancer diagnoses in all members of the fire department who have served at least 12 consecutive months.  The diagnosis must render the fire fighter unable to perform their duties.  The inability to perform is deemed a permanent physical disability and is conclusively presumed to have been incurred in the line of duty.

While in the Senate, the bill was amended to clarify the definitions of firefighter and volunteer firefighter and benefits allowed for firefighters serving in multiple departments.  The House agreed to those changes on March 16, sending the bill to the Governor’s desk.

Tax and Lien Legislation

HB 61: Tax Online Sales
Rep. Jay Powell, R-Camilla
Pending in the Senate Finance Committee

HB 61 requires delivery retailers to collect and remit sales taxes OR maintain sales tax data for each purchaser and remit that information to the purchaser and the Department of Revenue so the purchaser may pay owed taxes on their tax return.  These delivery retailers are defined as retailers who have a gross revenue exceeding $250,000 or conduct 200 or more separate transactions from the sale of property that is physically or electronically delivered in Georgia.

HB 247: Concrete Equipment Exemption
Rep. Dominic LaRiccia, R-Douglas
Favorably reported from the Senate Finance Committee on 3/15

This legislation creates a sales tax exemption for machinery used to mix or transport concrete, including mixer trucks and their engines, interior and exterior operational controls, hydraulics, and structural and safety components.  The bill clarifies that motor fuel used by concrete mixer trucks is not exempt from sales taxes.

HB 337: Tax Liens
Rep. Bruce Williamson, R-Monroe
Favorably reported from the Senate Finance Committee on 3/15

HB 337 is the Department of Revenue’s lien registry bill, which creates an electronic statewide lien registry for state tax executions and liens of state tax executions against real and personal property.  It also allows a taxpayer to appeal directly to the Georgia Tax Tribunal.

Building and Construction Industry Legislation

SB 2: The FAST Act
Sen. Mike Dugan, R-Carrollton
Hearing only in the House Small Business Development Committee on 3/15

SB 2 attempts to support Georgia’s businesses by creating efficiency and transparency in the permitting and licensing process at the state and local level.  The bill has been amended to require that an applicant initially only pay 50% of permitting or licensing fees, with the balance to be paid before the license, certificate or permit is issued.  The legislation requires state and local government agencies to establish a fee schedule that will include turnaround times.  If the agency fails to meet that schedule, the fee will be reduced by 10% for every ten days past the deadline.  In addition, agencies will be required to offer expedited processing, which can be no more than twice the original fee.

The bill also requires state agencies that engage in site visits to provide “reasonable notice” to the licensee of the date and time of the visit and when possible, conduct visits during non-peak hours.

HR 284: State and Local Construction Management
Rep. Dominic LaRiccia, R-Douglas
Favorably reported from the House Special Rules Committee on 3/15

HR 284 creates the House Study Committee on State and Local Construction management to determine the strengths and weaknesses of the construction management at risk model versus the design, bid, and build model.  Because this resolution only pertains to the House, it is exempt from the Crossover Day deadline.

General Business Legislation

HB 221: Power of Attorney
Rep. Chuck Efstration, R-Dacula
Favorably reported from the Senate Judiciary Committee on 3/16

HB 221 updates and conforms provisions relating to powers of attorney to align with the Uniform Law Commission.  This act provides a simple way for people to deal with their property by providing a power of attorney in case of future incapacity.  While chiefly a set of default rules, the act also contains safeguards for the protection of an incapacitated principal. Analysis provided by the Uniform Law Commission.

HB 192: Responsibilities of Directors
Rep. Beth Beskin, R-Atlanta
Favorably reported from the Senate Banking and Financial Institutions Committee on 3/15

HB 192 is the result of a 2014 Georgia Supreme Court ruling that permits members of a failed bank’s board of directors and other officers to be held personally responsible for losses if they were found to be negligent in their fiduciary responsibilities.  This bill enhances the liability protection for board members and only allows courts and juries to hold directors and officers personally liable in cases of gross negligence, fraud or bath faith.

HB 87: Multi-Year Registrations
Rep. Brad Raffensperger, R-Johns Creek
Favorably reported from the Senate Economic Development and Tourism Committee on 3/14

HB 87 allows for three-year registrations for most types of business organizations, including non-profits, partnerships, and limited liability companies.  Companies who choose to register their business for more than one year and need to update information during that time will continue to be assessed a change fee.  The Senate Economic Development Committee amended the bill to include provisions originally housed in SB 148, relating to jurisdictional changes for nonprofit corporations.