2022 Legislative Update - Week 10

Posted By: Stephen Davis 2022 Legislative Updates,

Crossover Day Passes


Tuesday, March 15 was the critical Crossover Day milestone.  It was the final day for Senate Bills to pass the Senate and House Bills to pass the House.  The House worked until 11pm in an effort to consider as much legislation as possible.  While only bills that made Crossover remain active, entire contents of “dead” bills can be added to unrelated active legislation. 
Now that Crossover has passed, the focus shifts back to committees, which must vet legislation from the opposite chamber.  With only nine legislative days remaining, the pace of activity will continue to increase after a brief post-Crossover respite.

These measures remain active after Crossover Day. 
Bills that are lost are listed at the end will be removed in the next report.


Priority Legislation


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

Pending in the Senate Judiciary Cmte
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


Secondary Metals Recyclers (SB 591)                                                 
Sen. Bo Hatchett, R-Cornelia

Adopted by the Senate on Mar-15, assigned to the House Judiciary Non-Civil Cmte
A decade ago, Georgia passed legislation that significantly curtailed metal theft by prohibiting cash payouts.  This year’s effort makes it illegal to purchase, possess, obtain, or sell a used detached catalytic converter, utility wire, or communication copper.  While the bill allows for small cash payouts for other recyclable materials, these specific items remain on the no-cash list.  The House also adopted related legislation (HB 1528) that only pertains to catalytic converters.
Childhood Lead Exposure Control Act (HB 1355)                           
Rep. Katie Dempsey, R-Rome

Given a hearing in the Senate Health and Human Services Cmte on Mar-16
Based on recommendations made by a 2021 House Study Committee, HB 1355 addresses lead exposure and remediation, particularly in children.  It updates the state’s definition of “confirmed lead poisoning” to comport with nationally recognized guidelines; this lower threshold is likely to result in more properties requiring lead hazard abatement.  The House is providing additional funding to the Department of Public Health in anticipation of increased utilization as a result of the legislation.
Further, it expends the property owner’s 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. However, Senate Committee members have expressed concern that the regulatory authority provided in the bill may be too broad.
Eviction Diversion Program (HR 1041)                           
Rep. Karen Bennett, D-Stone Mountain

Assigned to the House Judiciary Cmte on Mar-18
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.  The resolution finds that “rapidly rising housing costs have exacerbated the precarious housing status of renter with low or moderate incomes” and that “eviction diversion programs have proven successful and benefit” tenants, landlords, court systems, and the community.  Because the legislation is limited to the House, it is exempt from Crossover Day restrictions.
Unsheltered Homelessness (SR 659)                                          
Sen. Carden Summers, R-Cordele

Pending in the Senate Rules Committee
After his initial legislation (SB 535) relating to encampment areas for homeless persons drew fierce criticism, the author will pursue SR 659 to create a study committee on the issue.  Because the study committee is limited to the Senate, it is exempt from Crossover Day restrictions.
Criminal Case Data Exchange Board (SB 441)                           
Sen. Bo Hatchett (R-Clarkesville)

Pending in the House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee
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.
Other active crime-related legislation includes SB 257, which allows for criminal history record information restrictions for persons cited with or convicted of certain criminal offenses, and HB 1134, which provides the attorney general with concurrent jurisdiction with prosecutors for certain criminal gang-related crimes across the state. 
DeKalb Country Eviction Fees.  Members of the DeKalb County delegation may pursue legislation that allows the State Court clerk to collect a fee for the removal of personal property and other unremunerated costs incurred by DeKalb County after an eviction. Specifically, they are seeking to charge up to $150 for the removal of personal property left for at least five business days after the execution of a writ of possession.  Local legislation is exempt from Crossover Day restrictions.


Property Taxation & Valuation Legislation


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

Assigned to the Senate Finance Cmte on Mar-15
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.
Appeals of Property Tax Assessments (SB 511)                      
Sen. Lee Anderson, R-Grovetown

Pending in the House Ways & Means Cmte
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.  Current law allows 180 days after receipt of the appeal notice; SB 511 allows 90.  Current law gives the board 15 days to set a hearing date; SB 511 requires the hearing to take place within 90 days.  If the hearing fails to take place within 180 days from the date of appeal, the taxpayer’s asserted value stands.  Similar changes are made to the timeline specific to appeals to hearing officers.


Land Use & Development Legislation


Annexation Dispute Resolution (HB 1461)                               
Rep. Victor Anderson, R-Cornelia

Adopted by the House on Mar-15, Assigned to the Senate Judiciary Cmte
HB 1461 allows school systems to participate in the dispute resolution process.  It extends the period of a zoning freeze following an arbitration and revises notices municipalities must provide counties regarding annexation applications.  It requires arbitration findings to be sent to the Department of Community Affairs.  A substitute version removed language that would grant school systems standing in such disputes and passed out of committee on Mar-9.
Eminent Domain for Blighted Properties (SB 227)                        
Sen. Harold Jones, D-Augusta

Adopted by the Senate on Mar-15, Assigned to the House Governmental Affairs Cmte
SB 531 provides an alternative process in superior court for a county, municipality, or consolidated government to identify and subsequently condemn certain blighted properties.  It defines a “blighted property” as one that is at least 375,000 square feet, was built prior to 2000, and has been vacant for 10 years or less than 30% occupied for 20 years.  The legislation is aimed at revitalizing “dead” malls.
Zoning Procedures Law (HB 1405)                                         
Rep. Shea Roberts, D-Sandy Springs

Adopted by the House on Mar-15, Assigned to the Senate Judiciary Cmte
HB 1405 revises provisions related to the judicial review of zoning decisions.
Utility Facility Protection Act (HB 1372)                              
Rep. Vance Smith, R-Pine Mountain

Given a hearing in the Senate Regulated Industries and Utilities Cmte on Mar-17
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 be contacted if an excavator damages a gas or hazardous liquid pipeline.  Similar legislation (HB 1307) is also active.
Multifamily Zoning (HB 1406)                                                       
Rep. Chuck Martin, R-Alpharetta

Pending in the Senate State and Local Governmental Operations Cmte
HB 1406 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.
Local Regulatory Fees (HB 302)                                                    
Rep. Martin Momtahan, R-Dallas

Pending in the Senate Finance Cmte
HB 302 requires local governments to approximate the actual cost of regulatory services they provide.  The measure then mandates the local government use those fees exclusively for that regulatory activity and not general operations.
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 was adopted by the House on Mar-11.


Legislation that Failed to Crossover 


Dead as stand-alone measures

“LEAF” Act (HB 1301).  Prohibits local governments from banning gasoline-powered leaf blowers or other landscape maintenance equipment.
Board of Education Impact Fees (HR 666).  Asks voters to amend the constitution to allow for development impact fees for education in “high growth” school systems.
Contractor Clean-Up (SB 561).  Cleans up the statute regarding electrical contracts, plumbers, conditioned air contractors, low voltage contractors, and utility contracts.
C-PACER Program (HB 1413).  Authorizes local governments to establish and adopt commercial property assessed clean energy and storm resiliency (C-PACER) programs.
Credit Repair Services Organization (SB 371).  Allows for-profit credit repair services.
Crime and Safety Notices to Tenants (HB 965).  Requires the landlord with more than 50 units to provide tenants and prospective tenants a summary every six months of certain crimes that occurred on or in the property.  Failure to comply is a violation of the Fair Business Practice Act.
Duty of Owner Specific to Firearms (HB 1091).  Revises the duty of an owner or occupier of land to an invitee when the owner or occupier prohibits the carrying or possession of weapons.
Elevator Inspections (HB 994).  Increases the civil penalty for failure to inspect elevators from $500 to $2,500 per elevator, dumbwaiter, escalator, manlift, or moving walk not inspected.  Fine increase again, up to $5,000 per unit, if inspections are further delayed.
Eviction Records Restriction Act (HB 1149).  Seals eviction records (a) from nonpayment during a public health emergency, and (b) when the plaintiff does not prevail, when the parties reach a settlement, or when three years have lapsed since dispossession caused by nonpayment.
Evictions During the Pandemic (HB 894).  Prohibits a prospective tenant from being refused a rental agreement based upon a previous eviction during the COVID-19 public health emergency.
Exempt Evictions from Tolling Provisions (HB 1393).  Exempts dispossessory proceedings from tolling provisions in the event of a judicial emergency.
Income Tax Deduction for Rental Charges (HB 1305).  Creates a state income tax deduction of 20% of primary resident rental charges.  This is similar to HB 979, which creates a tax credit for low-income individuals who lease certain dwellings.
Low Income Housing Tax Credits (HR 756).  Proposes an amendment to the Constitution to provide that qualified low-income building projects may be classified as a separate class of property for ad valorem tax purposes, and different rates, methods, and assessments dates may be provided for such building projects. Legislation likely stalled for the year.
Prohibit Deannexation (SB 348).  Prohibits the deannexation of territory from an existing municipal corporation to a newly incorporated municipality.
Property Owners in Dispossessory Proceedings (SB 439).  Allows agent representation in dispossessory proceedings before a magistrate court when the property is owned by an individual.

Reducing Street Homelessness Act (SB 535).  Allows municipalities to create sanctioned encampment areas for homeless persons, subject to approval by the Department of Community Affairs.
Restrictions on Residential Dwellings (SB 494 / HB 1093).  Prohibits local governments from enacting or enforcing any restrictions on land or dwellings that will be subject to a long-term residential rental agreement.
Revise Applicability of Stalking (SB 197).  Allows a person to seek a temporary proactive order against someone they share a primary residence with.
Right to Cure (HB 408).  Makes changes to the procedures required to initiate a dispossession, including a demand by the owner and a tenant’s opportunity to cure.
Source of Income (HB 1458).  Adds “source of income” to the classes protected by the state’s fair housing laws.  This would obligate landlords to accept voucher payments.