Advocacy Update 2024 - Legislative Days 11-14

Advocacy Update,

Session Persists Despite Losses 

Georgia House Rules Committee Chair Richard Smith dies at age 78 |

It’s been a somber week at the Georgia State Capitol.  On Monday, a state trooper was killed in the line of duty.  The Pentagon announced three Georgia-based soldiers were killed in a drone strike on a US base in Jordan over the weekend.  On January 30, members of the General Assembly arrived at the Capitol to learn that House Rules Chairman Richard Smith (R-Columbus) passed away from complications of the flu.  He was first elected to the House 20 years ago and previously served as Chairman of the House Insurance Committee.  Vice Chair Mandi Ballinger (R-Canton) is expected to lead the committee in the interim. 

Despite the subdued spirit, the legislature had an active week, with floor debate and a full slate of committee meetings each day they were in session.  Next week will be an active four days in Chambers as lawmakers approach the midpoint of the session on Tuesday, February 13 and the critical Crossover Day milestone on Thursday, February 29. 

Active Measures  

Clearing Title to Coastal Marshland (HB 370) 
Rep. Jesse Petrea, R—Savannah  

Bill passed out of Judiciary Committee on Jan 31st 

The bill provides a procedure for clearing title to coastal marshlands.   


Reduce the Income Tax Rate (HB 1015) 
Rep. Lauren McDonald, R—Cumming   

Bill passed out of Ways & Means Committee on Feb 1st 

HB 1015 reduces the rate of state income tax from 5.49% to 5.39%.  This is one of the priorities of the Governor.  


Georgia Higher Education Assistance Corporation (HB 985) 
Rep. Chuck Martin, R-Alpharetta 

Bill was passed by the House with a vote of 166-0 on Feb 1st 

The bill abolishes the Georgia Higher Education Assistance Corporation.   

New and Carryover Legislation 

All legislation not enacted during the 2023 session remains available for consideration in 2024.  Legislators will also file hundreds of new measures throughout this year’s session.  While this weekly report will not include all carried-over measures of interest, rest assured your government affairs team is carefully tracking those items.  We aim is to keep this report focused on active, priority issues. 


Remote Online Notary (SB 425) 
Sen. Blake Tillery, R—Vidalia 

Bill assigned to the Judiciary Committee on Jan 30th  

The bill provides for the modernization of certain legal, notarial, and court services by electronic means.  It allows an attorney to conduct a real estate closing for property in this state using electronic means under certain conditions.  Attorneys in the financial institutions sector are currently reviewing the bill to determine if there are any major concerns with it as introduced.   


One change for some financial institutions is the requirement that any real estate loan must be closed by an attorney.  Some institutions have done HELOC and refinance closings at the institution with no attorney present.  If passed, the bill will require a change in procedures for these types of closings.   


The Remote Online Notary bill last was debated as HB 334 in 2022.  At that time, Sen. Blake Tillery opposed the legislation and SB 425 is his attempt at perfecting it.  Conceptually, CBA supports the use of a Remote Online Notary and remain hopeful that the parties can reach an agreement. 


Require Retail Stores to Accept Cash (HB 940) 
Rep. Todd Jones, R—South Forsyth 

Bill assigned to the Agriculture & Consumer Affairs Committee on Jan 22nd   

The bill requires retail stores to accept cash for purchases.  The author testified before the House Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Committee on January 31 and noted that cash states it is a “legal tender for all debts public and private”.  The author of the bill stated that the FDIC says 7.5% of the population is unbanked, which he estimates is up to a 1,000,000 people in Georgia.  If retails stores do not accept cash, then the unbanked are being left out of the economy.  


Charlie Curry Memorial Bridge (HR 919) 
Rep. Gerald Greene, R—Cuthbert 

Resolution assigned to the Transportation Committee on Jan 30th  

The resolution recognizes Mr. Charlie Curry, Sr. and dedicates a bridge in his memory.  The bridge on U.S. 82 East over the Little Ichawaynochaway Creek in Terrell County would be dedicated as the Charlie Curry Memorial Bridge.   In early 2018, the Georgia community banking industry lost a dear friend and passionate advocate, Mr. Charlie Curry of First State Bank of Randolph County, Cuthbert.  Charlie was actively involved with CBA as a former Chairman and Board member as well as an avid supporter of CBA’s Advocacy efforts.   


Central Bank Digital Currency (HB 1053) 
Rep. Carter Barrett, R—Cumming  

Bill assigned to the Banks & Banking Committee on Jan 29th  

The bill prohibits governmental agencies from using central bank digital currency as payment and from participating in testing the use of such currency.   


Georgia Eviction Records Restriction Act (HB 1055) 
Rep. Yasmin Neal, D—Jonesboro  

Bill assigned to the Judiciary Committee on Jan 29th  

The bill enacts the Georgia Eviction Records Restriction Act and provides that certain records of dispossessory actions during the COVID-19 public health emergency may be sealed from the public.  


Manufactured or Mobile Homes (HB 1076) 
Rep. Will Wade, R—Dawsonville 

Bill assigned to the Banks & Banking Committee on Jan 30th  

The bill provides for additional circumstances under which a manufactured or mobile home shall become real property.   


Limitation on Leased Property (HB 1052) 
Rep. Chas Cannon, R—Moultrie 

Bill assigned to the Ways & Means Committee on Jan 29th  

The bill relates to bona fide conservation use property, residential transitional property, application procedures, penalties for breach of covenant, classification on tax digest, and annual report.  It removes a limitation on leased property as to certain entities. 


Assessment on Standing Timber (HB 1069) 
Rep. Chas Cannon, R—Moultrie  

Bill assigned to the Ways & Means Committee on Jan 30th  

The bill relates to the assessment of standing timber, penalty for failure to timely report, effect of reduction of property tax digest, and supplemental assessment.  It authorizes the disclosure of records to the State Forestry Commission.   


Agriculture; Possessory Interest in Certain Land (HB 1093)
Rep. David Clark, R—Buford 

Bill assigned to the Agriculture & Consumer Affairs Committee on Jan 31st   

The bill relates to general provisions relative to agriculture and prohibits the acquisition of possessory interest in certain land by certain foreign persons and entities.  See also SB 420. 


Foreclosure Protection Fund (HB 1051)
Rep. Rhonda Burnough, D—Riverdale 

Bill assigned to the Agriculture & Consumer Affairs Committee on Jan 29th  

The bill requires the Department of Community Affairs to develop the State Home Foreclosure Prevention Project to protect seniors and disabled persons from foreclosure. 


Eviction Diversion Programs (HB 1059)
Rep. Sandra Scott, D—Rex  

Bill assigned to the Judiciary Committee on Jan 30th  

The bill provides for residential eviction diversion programs for disabled and low-income persons.