2024 Legislative Updates - Week 11

Posted By: Stephen Davis 2024 Legislative Updates,

2024 Legislative Session

Legislative Days 36-38                                                                                                                                                                 March 22, 2024


Mischief and Mayhem

With the 2024 edition of the Georgia General Assembly nearing an end, activity under the Gold Dome is busier than ever.  The legislature worked well into the evening each day this week; the Senate Judiciary Committee considered bills until midnight on Wednesday.  As is always the case this time of year, several legislators saw their bills hi-jacked, gutted, and loaded with new language to resurrect otherwise lifeless legislation before the clock runs out.


Your Government Affairs Team works especially diligently during this period to manage the mischief.  In some instances, the chaos creates an opportunity to advance an item where none existed before.  More often, however, previously defeated language resurfaces and must be tamped down again.


Next week, lawmakers will meet Tuesday for day 39 and Thursday for day 40, the last day of session.  The mischief and mayhem are sure to persist until the last bell of the 2024 session rings at midnight on March 28.



Off-Duty Officers for Set Outs (HB 1203)                                                                       

Rep. Trey Kelly, R-Cedartown

Adopted by the Senate on Mar-21  |  Needs agreement

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. 


The Senate Judiciary Committee amended the bill to become effective upon the signature of the Governor.  The minor change requires HB 1203 to return to the House for agreement before moving to the Governor.


Safe at Home Act (HB 404)                                                                                       

Rep. Kasey Carpenter, D-Dalton

Adopted by the Senate on Mar-21  |  Needs agreement

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.


The Georgia Association of Realtors floated a last-minute amendment that would have upended this carefully crafted final version.  The effort was rejected, and the bill passed without material change.


Squatter Reform Act (HB 1017)                                                                              

Rep. Devan Seabaugh, R-Marietta

Pending in the Senate Rules Cmte

HB 1017 addresses the issue of squatters through the criminal trespass code.  This allows police to take action directly under certain conditions.

Legal Reform       

Data Analysis for Tort Reform (HB 1114)                                                                     

Rep. Will Wade, R-Dawsonville

Reconsidered by the Senate on Mar-21

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.


The bill failed to receive a majority of votes in the Senate on Mar-20 after Democrats voted against it and several GOP legislators were off the floor for other matters.  Procedural maneuvering kept the bill alive.  The expectation is that it will be adopted, sending it to the Governor for enactment.


Premises Liability Reform (HB 1371)                                                                      

Rep. James Burchett, R-Millwood

Favorably reported from the Senate Judiciary Cmte on Mar-20

As adopted by the House, 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.


The Senate Judiciary Committee considered a substitute version on Mar-20.  It included very weak language on the apportionment of fault in premises liability cases.  The Committee debated the measure for two hours, narrowly arriving at a do-pass recommendation at 11:30pm.  It now rests in the Senate Rules Committee.


At this point of the legislative session, landowners and the business community oppose this version of HB 1371 as reported from the Senate Judiciary Committee.  The bill codifies bad case law and otherwise does not provide anything of value.


Property Management and Property Rights

Affordable Housing Study Committee (HR 1418)                                                            

Rep. Phil Olaleye, D-Atlanta

Favorably reported from the House Governmental Affairs Cmte on Mar-30

HR 1418 creates a study committee to determine if there are existing local fees that can be leveraged to develop statewide affordable housing.  In discussing the measure, the author pointed to development impact fees for affordable housing as an example, noting that they cannot be waived without being backfilled by the local government.


Prohibit Vehicle Booting (HB 119)                                                                              

Sen. Josh McLaurin, D-Atlanta

Pending in the Senate Rules Cmte

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.


Rental Housing Affordability Study Committee (SR 709)                                           

Sen. Donzella James, D-Atlanta

Lost, failed to report from 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.  While the measure cannot advance at this point in the session, Sen. James may use her authority as Chair of the Senate Urban Affairs Committee to convene hearings on housing affordability and rent control over the interim.


Property Taxation and Valuation

Property Tax Reform (SB 349)                                                                                                 

Sen. Chuck Hufstetler

Favorably reported from the House Ways and Means Cmte on Mar-20

After several rounds of revisions, SB 349 has become an omnibus local government tax bill, encompassing language from HB 1031, HB 1185, and HB 1115.  Most notably, the bill incorporates a statewide floating homestead cap for owner-occupied properties.  Rather than tie the limits to a percentage, the bill authorizes the Department of Revenue to establish an inflationary index for such purposes.   The bill also makes changes to the 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 this measure, the value freeze is now only applied when the property value is actually reduced as a result of the appeal.


The current version also:

  • Adjusts sales ratio studies required by the Department of Audit and Accounts
  • Allows for an opt-out (versus an opt-in) regarding a floating homestead exemption (from HB 1185)
  • Creates an estimated roll-back rate to appear on the notice of assessment (from HB 1031)
  • Requires property to be reappraised at least every three years (from HB 1031)
  • Requires temporary payment at 100% versus 85% of the amount due if the taxpayer does not attend the appeal hearing (from HB 1031)
  • Revises the local sales tax cap and allows additional taxes to be used for property tax relief (from HB 1115)


The Georgia Constitution must be amended to allow for the statewide floating homestead cap.  That proposal is active as HR 1022, which will likely move alongside SB 349 for the remainder of the session.


Revise Low-Income Housing Tax Credits (HB 1182)                                                       

Rep. Clint Crowe, R-Jackson

Favorably reported from the Senate Finance Cmte on Mar-20

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 to 50% of the federal housing tax credit for affordable projects.


Code Enforcement, Land Use and Development

Development Impact Fees (SB 208 / SR 189)                                                             

Sen. Greg Dolezal, R-Alpharetta

Eligible for a vote in the House on Mar-26

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.


The pair of measures enjoyed widespread support in the House Government Affairs Cmte on Mar-19.  Several legislators indicated that if the Constitution is amended to allow this new fee, they will bring legislation in subsequent years to authorize it in their county as well.


Both items were placed on a Mar-21 supplemental debate calendar in the House but were not called for a vote before adjournment.  SB 208 and SR 189 will roll forward to the next legislative day.  Because SR 189 amends the Constitution, it requires a two-thirds majority for passage.


Rezoning Moratorium (HB 514)                                                                                  

Rep. Dale Washburn, R-Macon

Needs agreement in the House and Senate

HB 514 codifies the authority of local government to impose zoning moratoriums.  The bill limits the duration of a zoning moratorium to no more than 180 days, although several exceptions are included.  The newly authorized moratoriums could be extended for an additional 180 days if at least one of several easily met conditions exist.


The Association has worked to ensure that all residential property types are protected from zoning moratoriums, not just single-family.  The House committee removed apartments from the bill; the Senate restored apartments.  After volleying between both chambers at the close of the 2023 session, the bill now rests in a conference committee.  The current version includes multifamily residential over the objections of others in the residential real estate industry; both the Georgia Association of Realtors and the Home Builders Association of Georgia are urging conferees to remove multi-family residential from the bill.  They believe it will fail if multi-family remains.


Taxation and General Business Legislation

New PSC Election Dates (HB 1312)                                                                           

Sen. John Kennedy, R-Macon

Eligible for enactment by the Governor

HB 1312 resets the election calendar for Public Service Commissioners, given recent election cancellations and delays caused by ongoing litigation.  Passage of the measure signals “legislative intent” to the courts regarding Georgia’s strong preference to maintain staggered election dates for the Commission.  The court could prescribe its own election schedule as part of the resolution of the ongoing litigation.


Revised election dates and terms are as follows:


  • District 1 (South GA) is elected in 2028 and serves 2029-2034 (six years)


  • District 2 (East / Central GA) is selected in a special election in 2025 and serves 2026-2030 (five-year term, then would revert to a six-year term following the next election cycle)


  • District 3 (Atlanta) is selected in a special election in 2025 and serves Jan-Dec 2026 (one-year term, then would revert to a six-year term following the next election cycle)


  • District 4 (North / Northeast GA) is elected in 2028 and serves 2029-2034 (six years)


  • District 5 (North / Northwest GA) is elected in 2026 and serves 2027-2032 (six years)


Consumer Privacy Protection Act (SB 473)                                                                     

Sen. John Albers, R-Roswell

Favorably reported from the House Technology and Infrastructure Innovation Cmte on Mar-20

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 lined up against the bill after it was heavily amended prior to passage in the Senate in late February.  Changes made in the House alleviate concerns for many businesses and trade associations, but the overall reception remains lukewarm.


The House Technology and Infrastructure Innovation Committee thoroughly considered SB 473, holding two hearings, and allowing for robust public testimony and amendments.  Despite this, just hours after the bill received a do-pass recommendation, Sen. Albers stripped an unrelated measure (HB 498) and inserted data privacy provisions into that bill as well.  Both items remain active and eligible for the home stretch.