2022 Legislative Update - Final

Posted By: Stephen Davis 2022 Legislative Updates ,

Sine Die Done, Primary Elections Done

 

After a day full of debate, motions, votes, and emotional farewells, the House and Senate adjourned sine die in the early moments of April 5.  This was an active, and ultimately successful, year for the industry.
 
Measures approved by both chambers now head to the second floor of the Capitol for review by the Governor and his team.  Governor Kemp has already signed more than 280 items into law this year, most of them local bills necessitated by the 2020 census and resulting local redistricting.  He has forty days, until mid-May, to act on legislation from the 2022 General Assembly.
 
Legislators now return home and move to campaign mode.  Sixteen Senators and 48 Representatives face an opponent in the May 24 Primary.  A dozen others are seeking higher, statewide office.  They will spend the next 50 days engaging voters and raising funds.
 
The final days of the General Assembly are frenetic.  This report represents our best effort to accurately describe relevant legislation.  We will send notice should we discover an error or omission.  We will provide a final, comprehensive report following the Governor’s signing window.

 

Priority Legislation

 

Apportionment of Damages (HB 961)                                          
Rep. Chuck Efstration, R-Dacula

Eligible for Enactment by the Governor
In August 2021, the Georgia Supreme Court upended Georgia’s longstanding apportionment statute.  In the opinion, the court ruled that only named defendants could be apportioned fault.  This increases exposure and liability for “deep pocket” defendants.  HB 961 restores the statute by allowing apportionment of damages in single-defendant lawsuits.  The law would become effective for all cases filed after the signature of the Governor.

 

Property Management Legislation

 

Childhood Lead Exposure Control Act (HB 1355)                           
Rep. Katie Dempsey, R-Rome

Eligible for Enactment by the Governor
Based on recommendations made by a 2021 House Study Committee, HB 1355 addresses lead exposure and remediation, particularly in children.  It lowers the threshold needed to meet the state’s definition of “confirmed lead poisoning.”  This lower threshold will result in more properties requiring lead hazard abatement.  The General Assembly approved an additional $1.8 million in the Department of Public Health’s budget for additional lead inspectors and testing machines.
 
Specific to property owners, it extends responsibility to outdoor areas.  It increases, from 14 to 30 days, the time an owner or managing agent must submit an abatement plan.  In lieu of abatement, it allows the owner to attest that the property will be not used as a dwelling in the future. The National Apartment Association has reviewed the bill for concerns, indicating that this version is largely consistent with federal law. 
 
Criminal Gang Activity (HB 1134)                                                   
Rep. Chuck Efstration, R-Dacula

Eligible for Enactment by the Governor
HB 1134 provides the attorney general with concurrent jurisdiction with prosecutors for certain criminal gang-related crimes across the state.  It also allows the attorney general to employ peace officers for investigative purposes.  The FY23 budget contains $1.3 million to establish a gang prosecution unit within the Department of Law.
 
Criminal Case Data Exchange Board (SB 441)                             
Sen. Bo Hatchett, R-Clarkesville

Eligible for Enactment by the Governor
SB 441 reestablishes the Criminal Case Data Exchange Board, acknowledging that the state’s current system for sharing criminal case data is inadequate in providing interested parties – including housing providers – with criminal case data.  It has been co-signed by all 56 members of the Senate.
 
Regulation, Affordability, and Access to Housing (HR 1149)   
Rep. Dale Washburn, R-Macon

Authorized by the House
HR 1149 creates the House Study Committee on Regulation, Affordability, and Access to Housing.  According to the resolution, there is “an alarming and increasing shortage in both owner-occupied and rental housing” causing “an unprecedented rise in the cost of purchasing or renting a home.” Rep Washburn championed unsuccessful legislation on behalf of build-to-rent developers  (HB 1093).
 
Unsheltered Homelessness (SR 659)                                          
Sen. Carden Summers, R-Cordele

Authorized by the Senate
This resolution authorizes the creation of the Senate Study Committee on Unsheltered Homelessness.  The group will look specifically at street homelessness and homeless encampments, mental illness, substance use disorders, and public safety.  The author originally introduced SB 535, which would have allowed the Attorney General to take action against municipalities that do not address unauthorized homeless encampments.

 

Property Taxation & Valuation Legislation

 

Values in Disaster Areas (HR 594)                                                        
Rep. Lynn Smith, R-Newnan

Eligible for Enactment by the Governor
HB 978 allows the county board of tax assessors to provide temporary property tax relief to properties located in a declared federal disaster area.  The sponsor is from Newnan, which is still recovering from a March 2021 tornado.  According to her, this will allow tax relief for the balance of the taxable year of the natural disaster.  Without this change, property owners would be responsible for paying taxes on the property as it was valued on January 1 despite subsequent damage or destruction.
 
Rehabilitation of Historic Structures (HB 469)                          
Rep. Ron Stephens, R-Savannah

Eligible for Enactment by the Governor
HB 469 revises state income tax credits for the rehabilitation of historic structures.  For calendar years 2023 and 2024, historic homes are allowed $5 million in aggregate per year.  For certified structures other than homes, the credit is $30 million in aggregate per year.  It sunsets the income tax credit after 2024.
 

 

Land Use & Development Legislation

 

Utility Facility Protection Act (HB 1372)                              
Rep. Vance Smith, R-Pine Mountain

Eligible for Enactment by the Governor
HB 1372 makes changes to the Georgia Utility Protection Act; reportedly the statute has not been updated since 1990.  An effort to update the Act failed last year over concerns about how underground traffic signal facilities are treated.  Specific to development, it adds a new obligation that requires emergency services to be contacted if an excavator damages a gas or hazardous liquid pipeline.
 
Professional Engineers and Land Surveyors Act (HB 476)        
Rep. Dale Washburn, R-Macon

Eligible for Enactment by the Governor
HB 476 makes the Professional Engineers and Land Surveyors Board an independent state agency with a separate budget and dedicated staff.  The legislation was modeled on the Georgia Real Estate Commission.
 
Annexation Dispute Resolution (HB 1461)                               
Rep. Victor Anderson, R-Cornelia

Eligible for Enactment by the Governor
HB 1461 revises provisions relating to dispute resolution.  It extends the period of a zoning freeze following arbitration and revises notices municipalities must provide counties regarding annexation applications.  It requires arbitration findings to be sent to the Department of Community Affairs.  The original version gave impacted school systems standing in the dispute resolution process, but that language has been removed.  The substitute version passed by the Senate Judiciary Committee now contains language from SB 354 dealing with written notice to property owners in an area subject to annexation.
 
Zoning Procedures Law (HB 1405)                                         
Rep. Shea Roberts, D-Sandy Springs

Eligible for Enactment by the Governor
HB 1405 revises provisions related to the judicial review of zoning decisions.  The Senate Judiciary Committee added language to clarify components of the de novo review by the superior court.  The measure was amended on the Senate Floor to include language from HB 1406, which requires additional notices and hearing provisions for changes to zoning ordinances that revise single-family residential to multifamily residential.  This does not apply when the rezoning is initiated by the owner or authorized agent of the owner of the property.
 
Municipal Incorporations.  There are several active bills to incorporate new cities, including these already signed into law by the Governor: HB 826 (City of Lost Mountain), HB 840 (City of Vinings), and HB 841 (City of East Cobb).  Enactment does not create new cities automatically but rather allows voters to make that decision later this year.  HB 839 to incorporate the City of Mableton is also eligible for the Governor’s signature.
 

 

Lost Legislation

 

Eviction Diversion Program (HR 1041).  Urges the Georgia Supreme Court to establish rules and best practices for the creation of eviction diversion programs to be implemented by courts throughout the state.
 
DeKalb County Eviction Fees (HB 1577).  Allows the State Court clerk to collect a fee of up to $150 for the removal of personal property and other unremunerated costs incurred by DeKalb County after an eviction.

Secondary Metals Recyclers (SB 591).  Makes it illegal to purchase, possess, obtain, or sell a used detached catalytic converter and certain wiring.
 
Appeals of Property Tax Assessments (SB 511).  Reduces the time a county board of equalization must notify the taxpayer of corrections or changes to the assessment after reviewing the appeal.  Was amended to include additional funding for the Georgia Agribusiness and Rural Jobs Act (HB 500 / HB 504) and tangible personal property appeals to a hearing officer (HB 1224).

Local Regulatory Fees  (HB 302).  Requires local governments to approximate the actual cost of regulatory services they provide and use the fees exclusively for that regulatory activity.

Discount for Tornado-Resistant Property (HB 1297).  Requires insurers to offer a premium discount or reduction for home or commercial property owners who build or retrofit a home or commercial property that better resists tornado, hurricane, or other catastrophic windstorm events.

Eminent Domain for Blighted Properties (SB 227). Provides an alternative process in superior court for a county, municipality, or consolidated government to identify and subsequently condemn certain blighted properties.  The legislation is aimed at revitalizing “dead” malls.

Remote Online Notarizations (HB 334).  Makes remote online notarizations (RONs) legal, as has been allowed by Executive Order during the pandemic.