2017 Georgia Legislative Session

Katie Base RobertsReview of Legislative Days 36-40

By Katie Base Roberts
Director of Governmental Affairs
Fiveash Stanley, Inc.

Early in the morning of March 31, the General Assembly concluded the 2017 session.  The House and Senate again worked past midnight of the last legislative day, dismissing the tradition that the day should not span multiple calendar days.  The General Assembly finally adjourned sine die just before 1 a.m.

Governor Nathan Deal now has forty days to review and act on the bills that passed the legislature.  Those that did not make it to the Governor remain eligible for consideration again in the 2018 General Assembly.

Tax and Lien Legislation

HB 247: Concrete Equipment Exemption
Rep. Dominic LaRiccia, R-Douglas
Eligible for action by the Governor.

This legislation creates a sales tax exemption for machinery used to mix or transport concrete, including mixer trucks and their engines, interior and exterior operational controls, hydraulics, and structural and safety components.  The bill clarifies that motor fuel used by concrete mixer trucks is not exempt from sales taxes.

HB 337: Tax Liens
Rep. Bruce Williamson, R-Monroe
Eligible for action by the Governor.

HB 337 is the Department of Revenue’s lien registry bill, which creates an electronic statewide lien registry for state tax executions and liens of state tax executions against real and personal property.  It also allows a taxpayer to appeal directly to the Georgia Tax Tribunal.

HB 329: Tax Online Sales
Rep. Jay Powell, R-Camilla
Lost, failed to gain final agreement

As originally introduced, HB 329 lowered the top income tax rate from 6 to 5.4 percent.  After Chairman Powell’s HB 61 relating to delivery retailers failed to report from the Senate Finance Committee, he attached those provisions to HB 329 while it was in his Ways and Means Committee.  The House and Senate appointed a conference committee late yesterday, but the measure ultimately failed to gain the necessary agreement.

Building and Construction Industry Legislation

HR 284: State and Local Construction Management
Rep. Dominic LaRiccia, R-Douglas
Authorized by the House on 3/30

HR 284 creates the House Study Committee on State and Local Construction management to determine the strengths and weaknesses of the construction management at risk model versus the design, bid, and build model.

SB 2: The FAST Act
Sen. Mike Dugan, R-Carrollton
Lost, failed to be called for a vote in the House

SB 2 attempts to support Georgia’s businesses by creating efficiency and transparency in the permitting and licensing process at the state and local level.  While the bill was a priority of the Senate leadership, it ultimately collapsed under its own weight.  It will likely be refined during the interim and reconsidered next year.

HB 758: Local Building Permits
Rep. David Clark, R-Buford
Lost, failed to report from the House Small Business Development Committee

This measure creates a House Study Committee on local building permits to review numerous aspects of building permit issuance, including permit costs, inspection scheduling, unlicensed contractors, technology utilization and notification procedures.  While the study committee was not authorized this year, the House may consider it again in 2018.

Workers’ Compensation Legislation

HB 146: Insurance Coverage for Fire Departments
Rep. Micah Gravley, R-Douglasville
Eligible for action by the Governor

HB 146 requires legally organized fire departments to purchase and maintain insurance coverage to pay claims for certain defined cancer diagnoses in all members of the fire department who have served at least 12 consecutive months.  The diagnosis must render the fire fighter unable to perform their duties.  The inability to perform is deemed a permanent physical disability and is conclusively presumed to have been incurred in the line of duty.

While in the Senate, the bill was amended to clarify the definitions of firefighter and volunteer firefighter and benefits allowed for firefighters serving in multiple departments.  The House agreed to those changes on March 16, sending the bill to the Governor’s desk.

General Business Legislation

SB 201: Sick Leave for Care of Family Member
Sen. Butch Miller, R-Gainesville
Eligible for action by the Governor

SB 201 requires employers who offer sick leave to allow employees to use up to five days of earned sick leave annually for the care of immediate family members.  Revisions made in the House clarify the bill does not apply to employers with under 25 employees or those that offer an employee stock ownership plan.

HB 192: Responsibilities of Directors
Rep. Beth Beskin, R-Atlanta
Eligible for action by the Governor

HB 192 is the result of a 2014 Georgia Supreme Court ruling that permits members of a failed bank’s board of directors and other officers to be held personally responsible for losses if they were found to be negligent in their fiduciary responsibilities.  This bill enhances the liability protection for board members and only allows courts and juries to hold directors and officers personally liable in cases of gross negligence, fraud or bad faith.

HB 87: Multi-Year Registrations
Rep. Brad Raffensperger, R-Johns Creek
Eligible for action by the Governor

HB 87 allows for three-year registrations for most types of business organizations, including non-profits, partnerships, and limited liability companies.  Companies who choose to register their business for more than one year and need to update information during that time will continue to be assessed a change fee.  The Senate Economic Development Committee amended the bill to include provisions originally housed in SB 148, relating to jurisdictional changes for nonprofit corporations.

Due to the frenetic nature of the final days of the General Assembly, it is common for dead legislation to find new life within other active bills.  This report represents our best effort to accurately report on relevant legislation.