2024 Legislative Updates - Week 10

Posted By: Stephen Davis 2024 Legislative Updates,

2024 Legislative Session

Legislative Days 33 – 35                                                                                                                                                               March 15, 2024


Five Days Remain

As is typical following Crossover Day, this week saw limited action on the floor while committees were seemingly active around the clock to consider more than 150 bills and resolutions.  Those that come out of committee are eligible for a vote by the full chambers during the final stretch of this year’s General Assembly.


While the legislature considers thousands of measures each session, there is only one item that they are constitutionally required to act on – the state budget.  The $36.1 billion spending plan was drafted by the Governor’s administration and has already passed the House.  The Senate is making final amendments to their version and will formally adopt it next week.  Then both chambers will spend the final days in negotiations, all the while using budget items to leverage unrelated policy measures as the session wanes.



Squatter Reform Act (HB 1017)                                                                              

Rep. Devan Seabaugh, R-Marietta

Favorably reported from the Senate Judiciary Cmte on Mar-11

HB 1017 addresses the issue of squatters through the criminal trespass code.  This allows police to take action directly under certain conditions.  During a Mar-11 Senate Judiciary meeting, Sen. Ed Setzler attempted to amend the bill.  He offered language from SB 470, which allows owners to preemptively register their property as “vacant” with the superior court and enables law enforcement to enforce the notice of vacancy should anyone occupy the property.  Several groups expressed concern with this language, particularly about the creation of a property registry, whether the registry would be public information, and pitfalls if an owner fails to remove the property from the vacancy list following a lawful sale, lease, or other transfer.


Ultimately, language from SB 470 was not added and the underlying HB 1017 passed out of committee cleanly.  It is now eligible for a vote in the Senate.


Off-Duty Officers for Set Outs (HB 1203)                                                                       

Rep. Trey Kelly, R-Cedartown

Pending in the Senate Rules Cmte

HB 1203 authorizes landlords to use off-duty sheriffs, constables, marshals, and other POST-certified law enforcement officers to execute writs of possession if the marshal, sheriff, or constable does not execute within 14 days of the application.  Local law enforcement must maintain a list of authorized off-duty personnel and provide that information to the landlord upon request.  The landlord must provide written notice of the execution of the writ.


Safe at Home Act (HB 404)                                                                                       

Rep. Kasey Carpenter, D-Dalton

Pending in the Senate Rules Cmte

Introduced by a bipartisan group of lawmakers in 2023, the Safe at Home Act makes several changes throughout the landlord-tenant (described below).  The Senate Judiciary Cmte updated the effective date of the bill, a technical move that will require the House to agree to the change after it is adopted by the Senate.  The bill:

    • Requires leases to state explicitly that the dwelling is fit for human habitation,
    • Adds “cooling” to the list of utilities that the landlord must make available,
    • Limits security deposits to no more than two months’ rent, and
    • Creates a three-business day right to cure, posted on the door, and sent by terms agreed to in the lease.

Legal Reform       

Data Analysis for Tort Reform (HB 1114)                                                                     

Rep. Will Wade, R-Dawsonville

Favorably reported from the Senate Insurance and Labor Cmte on Mar-13

HB 1114 is the Governor’s data request bill to support future tort reform.  It authorizes the Insurance Commissioner to request data from insurers, licensed rating organizations, and state agencies regarding the impact of tort lawsuits and the assessment of tort-related risks.  Data is not subject to open record laws.


Premises Liability Reform (HB 1371)                                                                      

Rep. James Burchett, R-Millwood

Pending in the Senate Judiciary Cmte

In its current form, HB 1371 states that:

  • A landowner is not liable to a claimant for injuries arising from third-party criminal activity where the claimant came upon the premises to commit a felony.
  • The premises’ location in a high-crime area may be a factor concerning the reasonable foreseeability but simply being in a high-crime area is not, on its own, sufficient to establish a duty to keep the premises and approaches safe from criminal activity.


As currently written, the bill will not advance substantial tort reform, although it is improved over what was introduced.  The original version codified current case law resulting from the Georgia Supreme Court’s June 2023 decision in CVS v. Carmichael, locking in that anti-property owner decision.  Pro-reform advocates are actively working to enhance the bill to achieve meaningful reform in 2024.  While that effort continues, it has become more likely that substantive reform will have a better chance at success in another year.


Property Management and Property Rights

Prohibit Vehicle Booting (HB 119)                                                                              

Sen. Josh McLaurin, D-Atlanta

Favorably reported from the Senate Public Safety Cmte on Mar-13

As amended, HB 119 prohibits vehicle booting/immobilization except where expressly authorized by local governments.  It requires parking enforcement companies to be permitted by the Department of Public Safety.  According to Sen. Josh McLaurin, author of the substitute version, the legislation also prohibits “predatory” monitoring of parking facilities.  Rather than allowing parking enforcement vendors to monitor the premises, the property owner must identify the illegally parked vehicle and then report it to the vendor for immobilization or towing.  The legislation also aims to prevent the property owner from receiving kickbacks or inducements from parking vendors.


Affordable Housing and Homelessness (HR 1418 / HR 1433)                                                           

Rep. Phil Olaleye

Assigned to the House Governmental Affairs Cmte on Mar-13

A pair of House Democrats have proposed two separate study committees.  HR 1418 appears to create a statewide affordable housing assistance program funding through local fees.  HR 1433 creates a study committee to find a long-term solution to homelessness, noting that a lack of affordable housing is a leading factor in homelessness.  While study committees like this are exempt from Crossover Day restrictions, they must still receive a do-pass recommendation from the House Governmental Affairs Cmte and be approved by members of the House.


Rental Housing Affordability Study Committee (SR 709)                                           

Sen. Donzella James, D-Atlanta

Pending in the Senate Urban Affairs Cmte

SR 709 creates the Senate Study Committee on Rental Housing Affordability.  It finds that the state struggles “with a lack of affordable rental housing on a massive scale” and that a “study is needed to examine the lack of affordable rental housing” and its causes and possible solutions.  Sen. James, who chairs the Senate Urban Affairs Committee, has been a vocal proponent of rent control.


Property Taxation and Valuation

Property Tax Reform (SB 349)                                                                                                 

Sen. Chuck Hufstetler

Favorably reported from the House Ways and Means Cmte on Mar-14

As adopted by the House, HB 1031 made several changes to the ad valorem taxation system.  Most notably, it amended the applicability of so-called 299(c) locks.  Current law grants a three-year value freeze when the property value is unchanged, so long as the taxpayer takes the appeal to the board of equalization, hearing officer, arbitrator, or superior court.  Under the version of HB 1031 adopted by the House on Feb-29, the value freeze is now only applied when the property value is actually reduced as a result of the appeal. 


The Senate Finance Committee has not held a hearing on HB 1031 since it was assigned there on Mar-4.  In response, the House Ways and Means Committee stripped the original contents of SB 349 and replaced it with language from HB 1031 and another tax bill favored by the House (HB 1115).  In this amended version, the value freeze is permitted even when the value is unchanged as a result of the appeal, but the freeze is shortened to two years.


Should this version pass the House, it will return to the Senate for further debate and potentially other amendments.


Revise Low-Income Housing Tax Credits (HB 1182)                                                       

Rep. Clint Crowe, R-Jackson

Pending in the Senate Finance Cmte

Introduced as part of the larger tax credit reform package, HB 1182 rebrands the low-income housing tax credit to the Georgia affordable housing tax credit.  It allows credits to be leveraged for the development of affordable housing for seniors, veterans, and “targeted” areas, including rural locations.  It reduces the amount of credits for certain projects.


Code Enforcement, Land Use and Development

Development Impact Fees (SB 208 / SR 189)                                                             

Sen. Greg Dolezal, R-Alpharetta

Scheduled for consideration in the House Governmental Affairs Cmte on Mar-19

These measures authorize a local board of education in a high-growth county to impose, levy, and collect development impact fees and use the proceeds to pay for additional educational facilities.  It is currently drafted to apply only to Forsyth County.  The Association opposes expanding impact fees for education and granting school boards the authority to impose such fees.


Rezoning Moratorium (HB 514)                                                                                  

Rep. Dale Washburn, R-Macon

Needs Agreement in the House and Senate

As introduced, HB 514 limits zoning moratoriums to no more than 180 days.  In 2023, the Association worked to amend the measure to protect all residential property from zoning moratoriums, not just single-family.  The bill was sent to a conference committee in the final days of the 2023 session; protections for apartments were removed.  On Feb-20, conferees met, and the Association was again able to persuade them to amend the measure to include multifamily residential over the objection of others in the residential real estate industry.  Conferees adopted the committee report and now both chambers must agree to the provisions for final passage. 


Taxation and General Business Legislation

New PSC Election Dates (HB 1312)                                                                               

Sen. John Kennedy, R-Macon

Favorably reported from the Senate Regulated Industries and Utilities Cmte on Mar-14

The Senate Regulated Industries and Utilities Committee stripped the original contents of HB 1312 on Mar-14 and replaced it with language resetting Public Service Commission Election dates.  The election method for PSC Commissioners and the District 2 race specifically are entangled in the judicial system and reelections for Districts 2, 3, and 5 have been delayed.  As a result, Sen. John Kennedy has proposed resetting election dates for all districts to be as follows:



Next Election

Current Incumbent

2 – East / Central GA


Tim Echols

3 – Atlanta


Fitz Johnson

5 – North / Northwest GA


Tricia Pridemore

1 – South GA


Jason Shaw

4 – Noth / Northeast GA


Bubba McDonald


Remote Online Notary (SB 425)                                                                                      

Sen. Blake Tillery, R-Vidalia

Favorably reported from the House Judiciary Cmte on Mar-12

SB 425 allows for the electronic execution of certain legal, notarial, and court services.  It allows electronic real estate closings in certain situations.  Meanwhile, HB 1075 requires state agencies to accept notarial acts performed in other states.


Reduce the Income Tax Rate (HB 1015)                                                              

Rep. Lauren McDonald, R-Cumming

Favorably reported from the Senate Finance Cmte on Mar-13

HB 1015 reduces the rate of state income tax from 5.49% to 5.39%.  This is one of the priorities of the Governor.  Separately, HB 1023 clarifies that the tax rate imposed on corporations tracks with the rate set for individuals and was adopted by the House on Feb-29.


Consumer Privacy Protection Act (SB 473)                                                                     

Sen. John Albers, R-Roswell

Considered by the House Technology Infrastructure and Innovation Cmte on Mar-13

SB 473 protects the privacy of consumer personal data, defined as information that is linked or reasonably linkable to an identified or identifiable individual.  A broad coalition of business interests have lined up against the bill after the Senate Science and Technology Committee heavily amended it prior to passage in the Senate on Feb-27.  While the bill has not yet been formally considered in the House, the author has reportedly agreed to changes that alleviate a top-line concern for many businesses and trade associations, although other concerns remain unaddressed.


Lost Measures

Legislation that fails to meet the Crossover Day deadline is lost as a standalone measure this year.  However, the entire contents of “dead” bills can be added to unrelated active legislation.  This is an especially fraught time of the session, where each amendment and committee substitute must be carefully reviewed to ensure nothing slips through unnoticed.


The 2024 Election

All 236 members of the Georgia General Assembly stand for election later this year, as does Georgia’s US Congressional delegation, and several members of the state’s Supreme Court and Court of Appeals.


With races for the state’s top posts still two years away, there have not been significant vacancies created by incumbents seeking higher office.  This is sure to be the case in 2026, when Governor Brian Kemp is term-limited and several other constitutional officers are already indicating they intend to run. 


There have been high-profile retirements, including the top Democrats in both the House and Senate, Rep. James Beverly, and Sen. Gloria Butler, respectively.  The House is also losing two Appropriations subcommittee chairs, Rep. Penny Houston, and Rep. Clay Pirkle.