Legislative Update - Week 8

Posted By: Stephen Davis Past Legislative Updates,

Crossover Day Passes

Monday, March 8 was the critical Crossover Day milestone.  It was the final day for Senate Bills to pass the Senate and House Bills to pass the House.  The House worked until after 11pm in an effort to consider as much legislation as possible.  While only bills that made Crossover remain active, entire contents of “dead” bills can be added to unrelated active legislation. 
Now that Crossover has passed, the focus shifts back to committees, which must vet legislation from the opposite chamber.  With only nine legislative days remaining, the pace of activity will continue to increase after a brief post-Crossover respite.

These measures remain active after Crossover Day. 
Bills that are lost are listed at the end will be removed in the next report.

Landlord-Tenant Legislation

Lease Termination for Stalking Victims (SB 75)         
Sen. Jackson, D-Stone Mtn

Scheduled for consideration in the House Judiciary Cmte on Mar-15
SB 75 provides for lease termination for victims of stalking.  Members of the Association met with the sponsor to discuss her initiative on February 4.  Working with the sponsor and Senate Judiciary Chairman, the Association testified that the industry does not object to the substitute version of the bill, which tracks current language related to victims of domestic violence.  Click here for additional information.

Other Property Management Legislation

Crime and Safety Notices to Tenants (HB 138)                 Rep. Mainor, D-Atlanta
Adopted by the House on Mar-8
As originally introduced, HB 138 required landlords to obtain and provide notice to existing and prospective tenants regarding crimes occurring on the premises.  On February 9, the Association testified in opposition to the measure before a House Judiciary Subcommittee.  Subcommittee members were generally concerned about the availability of crime information specific to individual properties.

In response to those concerns, the Committee amended the legislation. It now places the onus of compiling crime information specific to apartment properties on local law enforcement. Given that the legislation is no longer centered around the landlord-tenant statute, it was assigned to the Senate Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Committee. Click here for additional information.

“Family Violence” Expansion (HB 231)                              
Rep. Gaines, R-Athens

Adopted by the House on Mar-8
HB 231 expands the applicability of protective orders involving victims of stalking to include certain acts between persons who have or are dating or conceived a child.  This would impact the circumstances under which a tenant can terminate their lease.
COVID Liability Extension (HB 112)                             
Rep. Kelley, R-Cedartown

Favorably reported from the Senate Judiciary Cmte on Mar-10
HB 112 extends last year's legislation to provide certain immunities from liability claims regarding COVID-19 by one year, until July 14, 2022.
Wavier of Liens (SB 143)                                                    
Sen. Tippins, R-Marietta

Scheduled for consideration in the House Judiciary Cmte on Mar-15
In a 2019 court case, the Georgia Court of Appeals determined that when a contractor signs a lien waiver, it waives claims for “all purposes,” not only for the preservation of lien rights, unless the contractor files an affidavit of nonpayment or a claim of lien within 60 days. 
In 2020, the legislature adopted legislation to update the lien law and preserve the ability to pursue breach of contract claims or other rights and remedies available under the law.  SB 143 corrects a scrivener’s error in the mandated notice.

Property Taxation and Valuation Legislation

Rehabilitation of Historic Structures (HB 469)          
Rep. Stephens, R-Savannah

Adopted by the House on Mar-8
HB 469 relates to the state tax credit for the rehabilitation of historic structures administered by the Department of Community Affairs.  It extends the sunset for the existing program through December 31, 2022, which allows for a tax credit equal to 25% of qualified rehabilitation expenditures for certified structures.  Effective January 1, 2023, the credit reverts to the parameters that existed in 2015.  This still allows a credit of 25% but caps it at $300,000 for a 10-year period.
Excise Tax on AirBNB (HB 317)                                   
Rep. Stephens, R-Savannah

Adopted by the House on Mar-8
HB 317 expands the state levy of a nightly $5 excise tax to all rooms, lodgings, and accommodations, including those furnished by "marketplace facilitators" like AirBNB.
Continuing Ed for Board of Equalization (HB 292)      
Rep. Williams, R-Cordele

Favorably reported from the Senate Finance Cmte on Mar-10
HB 292 removes certain continuing education requirements for members of county boards of equalization following their initial training for their first term.
Special Council on Tax Reform (SB 148)                         
Sen. Hufstetler, R-Rome

Pending in the House Budget & Fiscal Affairs Oversight Cmte
SB 148 creates the 2021 Special Council on Tax Reform and Fairness for Georgians and the Special Joint Committee on Georgia Revenue Structure.  The goal of these groups will be to launch a comprehensive review of the state’s revenue structure, including tax incentives, later this year and implement recommended reforms in 2022.  The bill has been co-signed by 38 of the Senate’s 56 members.

Code Enforcement, Land Use and Development Legislation

City Housing Authorities (SB 144)                                    
Sen. Tippins, R-Marietta

Adopted by the Senate on Mar-8
SB 144 limits the ability of city housing authorities to operate outside municipal boundaries without authorization.
Professional Engineers Act (HB 476)                             
Rep. Washburn, R-Macon

Favorably reported from the Senate Regulated Industries & Utilities Cmte on Mar-11
HB 476 removes Professional Engineers and Land Surveyors from the Professional Licensing Board at the Secretary of State’s Office.  It creates a new independent state agency to license and regulate those professions.
Priority Lien for Interior Designers (HB 480)                
Rep. Washburn, R-Macon

Pending in the Senate Regulated Industries & Utilities Cmte
HB 480 provides for the creation, declaration, amendment, notice, and priority of liens for labor, services, or materials performed or furnished by registered interior designers.
Alternative Plan Review (SB 49)                                            
Sen. Dixon, R-Buford

Pending in the House Agriculture & Consumer Affairs Cmte
SB 49 allows for alternative plan review, permitting, and inspection by private professional providers, allowing applicants to select this option at the onset of the process, rather than waiting 30 days for the local government.  The applicant is still required to pay the local government 50% of their regulatory fee if they opt for a private provider.

General Business Legislation

Uniform Mediation Act (SB 234)                                       
Sen. Kennedy, R-Macon

Adopted by the Senate on Mar-8
Created by the Uniform Law Commission and the American Bar Association, the Uniform Mediation Act is intended to keep mediation communications confidential and promote alternative dispute resolution.  For more information, click here.
S-Corp Income Tax (HB 149)                                       
Rep. Williamson, R-Monroe

Favorably reported from the Senate Ways & Means Cmte on Mar-10
HB 149 allows registered S-Corporations to deduct state and local taxes on their federal tax return, as was allowed before recent federal tax reform.
Remote Online Notarizations (HB 334)                                
Rep. Gullett, R-Dallas

Pending in the Senate Judiciary Cmte
HB 334 allows for remote online notarizations.  This has been allowed by Executive Order during the pandemic; this legislation seeks to make the allowance permanent.
Remote Shareholders’ Meetings (HB 306)                    
Rep. Gunter, R-Blairsville

Pending in the Senate Judiciary Cmte
HB 306 provides that a corporation may hold annual shareholders' meetings and special shareholders' meetings by means of remote communication and provides requirements for such meetings by remote communication.  This has been allowed by Executive Order during the pandemic; this legislation seeks to make the allowance permanent.
Cybersecurity Standards (SB 52)                                     
Sen. Thompson, R-White

Pending in the House Judiciary Cmte
SB 52 provides standards for cybersecurity programs to protect businesses from liability.

Legislative Index and Additional Information

HB 138: Crime and Safety Notices to Tenants                 
Rep. Mainor, D-Atlanta

The amended version of HB 138 requires local law enforcement to compile and post monthly “a summary or listing of all crimes involving the commission or attempted commission of murder, assault, battery, aggravated assault, aggravated battery, rape, peeping tom, gang-related crimes, or felony drug crimes for which a person was charged with the crime or arrested by [the local law enforcement agency] that occurred on or in property which is used as an apartment building or apartment complex … that consists of ten or mental rental units.”
The legislation further requires the law enforcement agency to maintain the reports on its website for at least two years and make paper copies available to the public.  The legislation exempts local law enforcement agencies with less than ten certified peace officers.
The original version of the measure required landlords to provide crime notices to existing and prospective tenants every six months and maintain records of the notification.  Failure to do would be deemed an unlawful practice in renting dwellings under state fair housing law, OCGA 8-3-4, subject to up to $50,000 as well as punitive and actual civil damages.
SB 75: Lease Termination for Stalking Victims          
Sen. Jackson, D-Stone Mtn

In 2018, the Association worked with advocates and legislative leaders to enact HB 835, allowing victims of family violence to terminate their lease when a civil or criminal family violence order had been issued protecting the tenant or their minor child.
This year’s SB 75 expands the definition of “criminal family violence family order” to include stalking as defined at OCGA 16-5-90.  In keeping with the 2018 language, the tenant may terminate their residential lease agreement effective 30 days after providing the landlord with written notice of termination when the tenant is a documented victim of stalking.  The notice to the landlord must be accompanied by a copy of the applicable civil family violence order or criminal family violence order and a copy of the police report if the order was an ex parte temporary protective order.

Lost Legislation

These measures failed to meet the Crossover Day requirement and are ineligible for additional action this year.  They may be offered as amendments to other active legislation or given additional consideration in the 2022 session.
Landlord-Tenant Issues

  • Disregard COVID Evictions (SB 206), prohibiting a landlord from refusing to enter into a rental or lease agreement based solely on the prospective tenant being previously evicted during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Eviction Notices to Tenants (HB 301), adding additional notice requirements for the termination of tenancies.
  • Landlord Consent for Home Business (HB 467), prohibiting certain counties from requiring proof of a landlord's consent to the operation of a home business when collecting occupation taxes or regulatory fees.
  • Right to Cure (HB 408), changing the procedures required to initiate a dispossession, including a demand by the owner and a tenant’s opportunity to cure.
  • Tenants’ Bill of Rights (HB 524), requiring landlords to provide residential tenants with a notice of tenants' rights and responsibilities prior to the commencement of any residential rental or lease agreement.
  • Warranty of Title (HB 344), stating that a general warranty of title does not limit or encumber rights arising from the relationship of landlord and tenant.

Other Property Management Issues

  • Asbestos and Silica Claims (HB 687), revising filing requirements for asbestos claims and silica claims.
  • Blighted Properties (SB 227), creating a new condemnation process aimed specifically at buildings over 500,000 square feet built prior to 1995 that have been unoccupied for ten consecutive years.
  • Childhood Lead Exposure Study Committee (HR 52)
  • Coal Tar Sealant Products (SB 262), prohibiting the application and sale of coal tar sealant products frequently applied to driveways and asphalt parking lots.
  • Credit Reporting Moratorium (HR 72), urging the US Congress to enact legislation placing a moratorium on negative credit reporting during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Description of Rental Property (HB 184), prohibiting the false representation of a residential rental dwelling.
  • Expanded Definition of Stalking (SB 197), amending the definition of “place” relative to stalking to include the residence.
  • Funding Database (HB 180), requiring state and local governments to maintain databases of sources of funding available to the public, including rental assistance and other housing-related programs.
  • Hairstyle Discrimination (SB 61), prohibiting discrimination based on natural hair.
  • Military Fair Housing Act (HB 299), enacting the "Military Fair Housing Act" to add veteran or military status to the protected classes.
  • Trial Bifurcation (SB 189), allowing for civil trials to be separated into two parts – one to determine liability, and if liability is found, a second to determine damages. 
  • Vehicle Booting (HB 400), prohibiting the use of boots or other vehicle immobilization devices statewide unless first explicitly authorized by a local government, including vehicles illegally parked on private property.
  • Victims of Sexual Assault (HB 489), providing for a protective order for victims against persons who have committed acts of sexual assault.

Property Taxation & Valuation Issues

  • Exemption for Public Property (HB 151), terminating an exemption from ad valorem taxation for public property owned by a political subdivision outside of its territorial limits.
  • Taxation of Condemned Property (HB 137), clarifying that otherwise taxable income resulting from compensation to a taxpayer for the governmental condemnation of the taxpayer's real property is not subject to state income tax.

Code Enforcement, Land Use, and Development Issues

  • Education Members to Planning Commission (HB 221), allowing local boards of education to appoint members to local planning commissions.
  • Environmental Impact Reports (HB 279), requiring local governments to post contents of environmental effects reports on their official websites.
  • Environmental Justice Commission (HB 431, HB 432), creating the Environmental Justice Commission to consider the disproportionate effect of environmental hazards on low-income communities.
  • Housing Tax Credits (HB 311), amending the state’s housing tax credit to no more than 50% of the federal housing tax credit allowed.
  • Local Ordinances and Codes Clearinghouse (HB 187), requiring local governing authorities to compile all local ordinances, property maintenance codes, codes of technical regulations, and associated fines and penalties.
  • Tax Credits and Bonds (HB 66), providing that local school systems, counties, and municipal governing authorities can become parties to bond validation hearings.
  • Zoning Procedures Clearinghouse (HB 186), requiring local governments to compile all zoning decisions and post them on the local government's website.