2024 Legislative Updates - Week 9

Posted By: Stephen Davis 2024 Legislative Updates,

2024 Legislative Session

Legislative Days 29-32                                                                                                                                                      March 8, 2024


Budget Process and Delays

Oldtimers at the Gold Dome will remember when Crossover Day was set for the 35th legislative day.  It was then moved to the 30th day, and more recently, to the 28th legislative day.  These incremental shifts to earlier in the session were intended to give both chambers sufficient time to adequately review the deluge of bills it receives after Crossover.


Despite the good intentions, one critical measure operates outside the Crossover Day restrictions: the budget.  The House approved the FY2025 budget on March 7, sending it to the Senate on the 31st legislative day.  In protest of this delay, the Senate did not consider any House measures on the floor until March 8.  The Senate Appropriations subcommittees began work on the budget on March 5, days before it was technically eligible for consideration in the upper chamber.


Political posturing is expected this time of year.  With any luck, the budget will soothe flaring tempers – at least until the next snub creates another deadlock.  While Sine Die and March 29 feel distant, just eight legislative days remain this year.



Off-Duty Officers for Set Outs (HB 1203)                                                                       

Rep. Trey Kelly, R-Cedartown

Favorably reported from the Senate Judiciary Cmte on Mar-7

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.


Squatter Reform Act (HB 1017)                                                                              

Rep. Devan Seabaugh, R-Marietta

Assigned to the Senate Judiciary Cmte on Mar-4

HB 1017 addresses the issue of squatters through the criminal trespass code.  This allows police to take action directly under certain conditions.  It was one of the first bills adopted by the House on Crossover Day.


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 act including:

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


Tenant advocates stood down on their effort to amend the bill with additional pro-tenant measures in the Feb-12 meeting but signaled their ongoing efforts to reform Georgia’s landlord-tenant statute.  The Committee 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.


Legal Reform       

Premises Liability Reform (HB 1371)                                                                      

Rep. James Burchett, R-Millwood

Assigned to the Senate Judiciary Cmte on Mar-4

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.


The bill does 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.  The bill is now pending in the Senate Judiciary Committee where it has not yet been called for a hearing.


Data Analysis for Tort Reform (HB 1114)                                                                     

Rep. Will Wade, R-Dawsonville

Pending in the Senate Insurance and Labor Cmte

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.


Property Management and Property Rights

Elevator and Boiler Updates (SB 417)                                                                             

Sen. John Albers, R-Roswell

Favorably reported from a House Public Safety Subcmte on Mar-7

SB 417 deals with accidents involving elevators, dumbwaiters, escalators, manlifts, and moving sidewalks.  It requires the owner or lessee to report the accident by the end of the next business day.  It allows the Commissioner of Insurance to approve deputies to inspect boilers and pressure vessels.  It increases the frequency of pressure vessel inspections to once every two years.  It updates state law dealing with hazardous chemical protection and allows material safety data sheets to be provided to employees in a written or electronic format.


Rental Housing Affordability Study Committee (SR 709)                                           

Sen. Donzella James, D-Atlanta

Assigned to the Senate Urban Affairs Cmte on Mar-5

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

Mandatory Reappraisal and Roll-Back Information (HB 1031)                                     

Rep. Dale Washburn, R-Macon

Assigned to the Senate Finance Cmte on Mar-4

As introduced, HB 1031 requires the chief appraiser to reappraise every parcel in 2025 and every three years thereafter.  It requires estimated roll-back rate information to be included in the annual assessment notice.  During a subcommittee hearing on Feb-7, it was amended to include language that only grants a post-appeal value freeze when the value is actually reduced as a result of the appeal.


Floating Homestead Exemption (HB 1185)                                                                     

Rep. Beth Camp, R-Concord

Pending in the Senate Finance Cmte

HB 1185 allows local governments to choose to implement a floating homestead exemption without additional action by the General Assembly.  It allows for an annual inflationary increase in the base year-assessed value of the property.  Implementation of HB 1185 requires a constitutional amendment (found in HR 1022), which would appear on the November 2024 ballot if adopted by the General Assembly.  Similar provisions are also active in SB 349.


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

Assigned to the House Governmental Affairs Cmte on Mar-4

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

Consumer Privacy Protection Act (SB 473)                                                                     

Sen. John Albers, R-Roswell

Pending in the House Technology Infrastructure and Innovation Cmte

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.


Remote Online Notary (SB 425)                                                                                      

Sen. Blake Tillery, R-Vidalia

Assigned to the House Judiciary Cmte on Mar-4

SB 425 allows for the electronic execution of certain legal, notarial, and court services.  It allows electronic real estate closings in certain situations.  This issue was last debated in 2022 as HB 334.


Reduce the Income Tax Rate (HB 1015)                                                              

Rep. Lauren McDonald, R-Cumming

Pending in the Senate Finance Cmte

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.


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 Field is Set

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.  While qualifying is still open through the end of March 8, preliminary analysis points to a quieter political season than in recent years.  Compared to the last Presidential Election year cycle (2020), the number of unopposed incumbents in the House and Senate is up by 50%.  Those with a challenger in the Primary or General Election are reduced by about 25%.


On March 12, Georgia voters will head to the polls to cast their ballot in the Presidential Preference Primary.  The regular Primary Election is set for May 21, with the General Election on November 5.