2022 Legislative Update - Week 3

Posted By: Stephen Davis 2022 Legislative Updates ,

Schedule Set

In an unusual move, this week the House and Senate agreed to a schedule for the balance of the entire session.  In the past, it’s been common for the schedule to only forecast the next 5 or 6 legislative days.  Even in more recent sessions, it usually takes four or five adjournment resolutions to set the forty-day calendar.
 
This year, the General Assembly will have done it in two.  As prescribed, Crossover is scheduled for Tuesday, March 15, and the final day of session will be Monday, April 4.  There is nothing that prevents a schedule adjustment, particularly if budget benchmarks are not met on time.
 
April 4 is a later adjournment that many were expecting, given that 2022 is an election year and incumbents are barred from fundraising while the legislature is in session.  Senate Majority Leader Mike Dugan indicated the lengthier session, which allows for more breaks, is necessary because of staffing shortages within the General Assembly and support offices, like the Clerk of the House.

Landlord Tenant Legislation

Crime and Safety Notices to Tenants (HB 965)                            
Rep. Mesha Mainor, D-Atlanta

Assigned to the House Judiciary Cmte on Jan-25
Last year, Rep. Mainor introduced HB 138 to require landlords to provide crime reports to existing and prospective tenants every six months; failure to do so would be deemed a violation of fair housing laws.  While the bill was adopted by the House, it had been amended significantly and deviated substantially from the author’s original intent.
 
This year, the author has introduced a measure much like her original bill.  HB 965 requires the landlord or manager of any residential apartment complex with more than 50 units to provide tenants and prospective tenants a summary every 6 months of certain crimes that occurred on or in the property.  The list of crimes that must be reported includes murder, assault, battery, rape, peeping tom, gang-related crime, burglary, theft, and felony drug crimes.  The landlord must obtain this information from local law enforcement and maintain proof of notification.  Unlike 2021’s measure, failure to comply is deemed a violation of the Fair Business Practice Act.
 
Right to Cure (HB 408)                                                                      
Rep. Sharon Cooper, R-Marietta

Pending in the House Judiciary Cmte
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.  Association members and representatives have engaged with legislators to discuss the policy.
 
Fulton County Eviction Expungement.  The Fulton County Board of Commissioners supports the introduction of statewide legislation that would restrict public access to certain residential eviction records filed in the Courts of Fulton County and statewide.  To date, no legislation has been filed.
 
Evictions During the Pandemic (HB 894)                                 
Rep. William Boddie, D-East Point

Pending in the House Judiciary Cmte
HB 894 prohibits a prospective tenant from being refused a rental or lease agreement solely based upon a previous eviction during the COVID-19 public health emergency. 

Other Property Management Legislation

Elevator Inspections (HB 994)                                                       
Rep. Matthew Wilson, D-Atlanta

Assigned to the House Regulated Industries Cmte on Jan-26
HB 994 increases the civil penalty for failure to inspect elevators from $500 to $2500 per elevator, dumbwaiter, escalator, manlift, or moving walk not inspected.  Fine increase again, up to $5,000 per unit, if inspections are further delayed. 
 
Liability of Property Owners (HB 1091)                                     
Rep. Martin Momtahan, R-Dallas

Prefiled in the House on Jan-27
HB 1091 subjects property owners to liability for damages when they prohibit the lawful possession of firearms or weapons on their property and a person is injured.
 
Revise Applicability of Stalking (SB 197)                            
Sen. Kim Jackson, D-Stone Mountain

Heard in the Senate Judiciary Cmte on Jan-24
Georgia is reportedly one of the few states where a person cannot legally be stalked by someone they share a primary residence with.  SB 197 seeks to change this by revising the definition of “place or places” relative to the stalking criminal code to include the residence.  This has implications for the victim being able to seek a temporary protective order.
 
Tax Credit for Low-Income Renters (HB 979)                           
Rep. Derek Mallow, D-Savannah

Assigned to the House Ways & Means Cmte on Jan-25
HB 979 creates a tax credit for low-income individuals who lease certain dwellings.  Beginning January 1, 2023, taxpayers can claim a $60 income tax credit if they pay at least $800 per month for rental housing and meet the bill’s definition of “low-income” (for example: $27,000 annually for an individual).
 
Credit Repair Services Organization (SB 371)                                       
Sen. Larry Walker, R-Perry

Assigned to the Senate Agriculture & Consumer Affairs Cmte on Jan-26
Existing Georgia law only allows credit repair services offered by lenders, banks insured by the FDIC, and nonprofit organizations.  SB 371 opens Georgia’s credit repair industry by authorizing for-profit credit repair services.  One of the main players in this space – the Lexington Law Firm – contracted with a high-profile lobbying group in December to promote the issue.
 
Constitutional Carry (SB 319)                                                           
Sen. Jason Anavitarte, R-Dallas

Pending in the Senate Judiciary Cmte
SB 319 implements “constitutional carry” whereby gun owners are allowed to lawfully carry firearms without a permit.  As is the case with existing law, the legislation preserves the right of private property owners in legal control of property through a lease, rental agreement, licensing agreement, contract, or any other agreement to exclude or eject a person in possession of a weapon or firearm.

Legal Reform Legislation

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

Favorably reported from the House Judiciary Cmte on Jan-25
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. Similar legislation (SB 329) is pending in the Senate but has a less attractive effective date than HB 961.

Property Taxation & Valuation Legislation

Values in Disaster Areas (HB 978 / HR 594)                                       
Rep. Lynn Smith, R-Newnan

Assigned to the House Ways & Means Cmte on Jan-25
These bills require the county board of tax assessors to conduct a full appraisal of all properties located in any declared federal disaster area to determine if the appraised value still reflected the fair market value after the disaster.  The sponsor represents Newnan, which is still recovering from an EF-4 tornado in March 2021.
 
Electronic Filings (HB 974)                                                                     
Rep. Joseph Gullett, R-Dallas

Assigned to the House Judiciary Cmte on Jan-25
HB 974 requires deeds, mortgages, liens, maps or plats, and state tax executions to be filed electronically with the clerk of the superior court.
 
Residential Homesteaded Property (HB 887 / HR 571)          
Rep. Ron Stephens, R-Savannah

Pending in the House Ways & Means Cmte
HR 571 asks voters to amend the Georgia Constitution to allow for a cap on property taxes used for education for homesteaded property owned by senior citizens.  Specifically, it would allow voters, via local referendum, to limit assessments to 20 percent of fair market value regarding local school district taxes for educational purposes.  HB 887 is the enabling legislation that must accompany the Constitutional Amendment.

Land Use & Development Legislation

Restrictions on Residential Dwellings (HB 1093)                        
Rep. Dale Washburn, R-Macon

Prefiled in the House on Jan-17
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.  The legislation comes at the request of build-to-rent developers.
 
Annexation and Residential Tenants (SB 354)                            
Sen. Michael Rhett, D-Marietta

Assigned to the Senate Judiciary Cmte on Jan-25
SB 354 requires all residential tenants occupying the to-be-annexed property to be notified of impending annexation.  The notification requirement is the responsibility of the property owner and must be sent via certified mail or statutory overnight delivery.  The owner must retain proof of notification.
 
Annexation Reform (HB 924)                                             
Rep. Mary Margaret Oliver, D-Decatur

Assigned to the House Governmental Affairs Committee on Jan-24
HB 924 makes several changes to the annexation process:

  • Allows local governments financially impacted by financial incentives offered or granted in connection with an annexation to participate in the annexation dispute resolution process,
  • Provides additional grounds to object to proposed annexations,
  • Provides additional remedies in the dispute resolution process,
  • Requires development authorities and local governments to provide notice of proposed financial incentives to other affected local governments, and
  • Allows local school systems, counties, and municipal governing authorities to become parties to bond validation hearings.

Prohibit Deannexation (SB 348)                                                               
Sen. Jen Jordan, D-Atlanta
Assigned to the Senate State and Local Governmental Operations Cmte on Jan-24
SB 348 prohibits the deannexation of territory from an existing municipal corporation so as to incorporate a new municipal corporation.  Current state law is moot on this issue.  The legislation is aimed at the Buckhead City movement.
 
Municipal Incorporations.  The following incorporation bills are currently active.  The City of East Cobb measure was adopted by the House on Jan-27.

  • HB 826 - City of Lost Mountain, Cobb County
  • HB 839 - City of Mableton, Cobb County
  • HB 840 - City of Vinings, Cobb County
  • HB 841 - City of East Cobb, Cobb County
  • HB 854 - City of Buckhead, Fulton County
  • SB 324 - City of Buckhead, Fulton County