2024 Legislative Updates - Week 3
Activity Ramps Up
While the House and Senate did not officially gavel in last week, lawmakers were busy working to draft and finalize legislation. Legislators returning to Atlanta on Monday found a full committee hearing schedule and the launch of real action on policy matters. More than 200 bills and resolutions were introduced over the five-day workweek.
Next week begins the second quarter of the 2024 session and signals the beginning of the race to Crossover Day and later, Sine Die. This is a critical phase of the session, as bills that look innocuous can quickly become consequential. Other initiatives that start troublesome are improved or slowed. The pressure is on to make the most of the remaining thirty days of the session.
Squatter Reform Act (HB 1017)
Rep. Devan Seabaugh, R-Marietta
Assigned to the House Judiciary Cmte on Jan-25
HB 1017 amends the definition of criminal trespass to include when a person enters a land or premises for purposes of residing on such land or premises. It provides for the submission of a property affidavit in magistrate court.
Georgia Eviction Records Restriction Act allows for certain records of dispossessory actions taken during the COVID-19 public health emergency to be sealed from the public. This would apply to actions occurring from March 13, 2020 to May 11, 2023. The legislation has not yet been filed but a draft is available here.
Rent Increase Limits for Certain Seniors (HB 938)
Rep. Imani Barnes, D-Tucker
Assigned to the House Judiciary Cmte on Jan-22
HB 938 limits rent increases for citizens over the age of 62 whose primary source of income is from social security, supplemental security income benefits, and disability income benefits. The rental increase cannot exceed 10% of the June 30, 2024 rate through December 31, 2026.
60-Days Rent Increase Notice (HB 965)
Rep. Sandra Scott, D-Rex
Assigned to the House Judiciary Cmte on Jan-23
HB 965 amends the landlord-tenant act to require the landlord provide written notice of intent to increase rent at least 60 days prior to the rent increase.
Rent Control (HB 852)
Rep. Eric Bell, D-Jonesboro
Pending in the House Hopper
HB 852 repeals the statewide ban on local government controlling rental prices for privately owned, single-family, or multi-unit residential rental property. Similar measures (HB 534, HB 627, HB 719) were filed last year but did not advance. Separately, the Senate Urban Affairs Committee convened a meeting on rent control on January 25. The Association previously testified that artificially depressing rents reduces the quantity and quality of available housing.
Safe at Home Act (HB 404)
Rep. Kasey Carpenter, D-Dalton
Pending in the Senate Judiciary Cmte
Introduced by a bipartisan group of lawmakers, 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
- Creating a three-business day right to cure, posted on the door, and sent by terms agreed to in the lease.
While HB 404 was placed on the Senate’s final debate calendar last year, it was not called for a vote. It now returns to the Senate Judiciary Committee where it can again receive a “do pass” recommendation or undergo further revisions. Tenant advocates continue to press for changes to the legislation, which the industry deems unacceptable.
Premises Liability Reform. The House is expected to lead on premises liability reform with support from Speaker Jon Burns. The hope is that legislation will be introduced in the coming weeks.
Magistrate Court Claims (HB 967)
Rep. Martin Momtahan, R-Dallas
Assigned to the House Judiciary Cmte on Jan-24
Magistrate Courts (sometimes called small claims court) have authority over tort and contract claims under $15,000. HB 967 increases the threshold to $50,000.
Property Management and Property Rights
County Services Not Impacted by Private Debts. Rep. Yasmin Neal (D-Morrow) will introduce legislation that prohibits Clayton County from denying county services to a resident based on private debts. The Association met with Rep. Neal on January 24 to discuss this specific issue and her legislative remedy. For a preliminary copy of the bill, click here.
Property Taxation and Valuation
Property Tax Reform (SB 349)
Sen. Chuck Hufstetler, R-Rome
Heard in the Senate Finance Cmte on Jan-22
SB 349 makes several substantive changes to the state’s property taxation and appeal process. Notably, it limits so-called 299(c) property value freezes to instances where the value is actually reduced as a result of the appeal. Current law allows a freeze even if the value is unchanged. It also aims to cap property tax increases on homesteaded property statewide to no more than 3% annually via a floating homestead exemption.
During a January 22 Senate Finance Committee meeting, lawmakers noted media reports that estimate commercial and multifamily properties are severely undervalued, particularly in Fulton and surrounding counties. Other lawmakers noted that capping property tax increases on homesteaded property leads to increased taxes on non-homesteaded residential, commercial, and industrial parcels.
Statewide Ad Valorem Property Tax Limit (SB 364)
Sen. John Albers, R-Roswell
Assigned to the Senate Finance Cmte on Jan-23
SB 364 provides for a statewide homestead exemption from ad valorem taxes in an amount equal to any amount by which the current year assessed value of a homestead exceeds the lesser of 3% or the inflation rate from the adjusted base year value of such homestead.
Mandatory Reappraisal of Parcels (HB 1031)
Rep. Shaw Blackmon, R-Bonaire
Assigned to the House Ways and Means Cmte on Jan-25
HB 1031 mandates the reappraisal of every parcel in the county in 2025 and every three years thereafter. It requires the current year's estimated roll-back rate to be included on the uniform assessment notice.
Code Enforcement, Land Use & Development
Sen. Greg Dolezal, R-Alpharetta
Favorably reported from the Senate Education and Youth Cmte on Jan-23
SR 189 proposes an amendment to the Constitution to authorize local boards of education to impose, levy, and collect development impact fees and use the proceeds to pay for additional educational facilities. SB 208 is the enabling legislation. Across the Capitol, the House Governmental Affairs Committee was also poised on act on impact fee legislation (HR 303 / HB 585) but postponed with the author, Rep. Todd Jones, was busy chairing another committee.
Local Regulatory Fees (HB 461)
Rep. Brad Thomas (R-Holly Springs)
Heard in a House Ways and Means Subcmte on Jan-23
HB 461 requires local governments to approximate the actual cost of regulatory services they provide and use the fees exclusively for that regulatory activity. The legislation prohibits local governments from charging a regulatory fee that is calculated as a percentage of project costs. In 2022, local governments fiercely opposed a similar bill (HB 302), claiming it would restrict their ability to determine building inspection fees.
Preservation of Georgia’s Farmland (SR 470)
Sen. Billy Hickman, R-Statesboro
Assigned to the Senate Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Cmte on Jan-25
SR 470 creates a Senate Study Committee to evaluate farmland protection measures implemented in other states and seek the advice of experts in agricultural economics, tax policy, land management, economic development, environmental law and policy, and other disciplines in considering additional measures that may be necessary and appropriate for Georgia.
Rezoning Moratorium (HB 514)
Rep. Dale Washburn, R-Macon
Pending in Conference Committee
As introduced, HB 514 limits zoning moratoriums to no more than 180 days. The Association worked to amend the measure to protect all residential property from zoning moratoriums, not just single-family. On the final day of the 2023 session, it was amended to include language from SB 136, which allows local governments to waive development impact fees on workforce housing projects without backfilling the fee.
Indoor Air Quality (HB 26)
Rep. Mandisha Thomas, D-Atlanta
Pending in the House Public Health Cmte
HB 26 requires the Department of Community Affairs to include certain indoor air quality provisions in applicable state minimum standard codes. Separately, legislation (HB 969) has been introduced to require indoor air quality assessments of all city, county, and state buildings.
Taxation & General Business Legislation
Reduce the Income Tax Rate (HB 1015)
Rep. Lauren McDonald, R-Cumming
Assigned to the House Ways and Means Cmte on Jan-25
HB 1015 reduces the rate of state income tax from 5.49% to 5.39%. This is one of the priorities of the Governor.
The Georgia Consumer Privacy Act will be filed in the coming weeks with the aim of protecting the privacy of consumer personal data. Specific language is still being finalized.
Artificial Intelligence is a leading topic of conversation among lawmakers this year. Already, legislation (HB 887) has been filed to prohibit the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in making health insurance decisions, discrimination (HB 890), and AI usage by state agencies (HB 988). This week lawmakers considered legislation to prohibit “deep fake” campaign advertisements (HB 986). While there are likely to be several more bills introduced, lawmakers may opt to study the issue (via SR 476) before advancing legislation.