2024 Legislative Session Report Week 5
Februay 9, 2024
Photo Credits: House Media Services
The General Assembly convened for legislative days 15-18 this week, beginning on Tuesday, February 6th and concluding on Friday, February 9th. We are quickly approaching the halfway point of session and only have 10 more legislative days until Crossover, the day which all legislation must pass from its chamber of origin onto the next to remain eligible for the remainder of session. With this deadline looming ahead, movement on key pieces of legislation is imperative if we hope to see them reach the finish line this year.
On Wednesday, February 7th, Chief Justice Boggs presented the annual State of the Judiciary to a joint meeting of the General Assembly. The annual address is an update to legislators on a variety of topics, including efforts to address the need for improved judicial security, workforce development challenges facing the judicial system, the progress state trial courts are making to clear their case backlogs, and, most importantly, the commitment of judges and court staff throughout Georgia to upholding the rule of law and improving the administration of justice.
The General Assembly will return on Monday, February 12th, for legislative day 19. HR 978, the adjournment resolution that sets the calendar for the year, was amended last week. The General Assembly will convene for 4 legislative days next week to account for taking off this past Monday.
At the end of the 2023 legislative session, SB 115 passed expanding public trust doctrine to all navigable waters in Georgia. While the intent was to broaden and clarify public access for fishing, the avenue used created many concerns & unintended consequences for property owners & businesses. Historically, public trust only applied to tidal waters in Georgia. This expansion is a threat to the state, Georgia businesses, and erodes private property rights for landowners adjacent to navigable waters by opening the door and enhancing plaintiffs' standing against items such as withdrawal and use permits. During the fall of 2023, the House Study Committee on Fishing Access to Freshwater Resources met to further evaluate this topic and recommended the legislature "Maintain the underlying purpose of SB 115 while removing reference to the public trust doctrine..." In response to this recommendation Chairman James Burchett introduced HB 1172 this week.
By removing references to public trust doctrine, HB 1172 alleviates significant concern from the business community and helps put Georgia back in a more business friendly environment. We believe this bill is a more tailored attempt to achieve the underlying purpose of SB 115, yet still provides for public access to float, fish, and hunt on navigable waters.
We appreciate all our members that engaged with the study committee and continue advocating for a reasonable resolution to this issue. GFB is focused on ensuring private property rights are protected and safeguarding the ability of farmers to operate without the threat of baseless lawsuits.
The past few years Georgians across the state have experienced astronomical increases in property taxes. Legislators have continuously voiced their desire to help taxpayers address rising property taxes. There have been a few bills that we are monitoring to alleviate the burden on citizens. HB 1177, HB 1185, SB 349, and SB 366 all look to provide some variation of homestead tax exemption. We will continue to monitor all legislation dealing with homestead tax exemptions and report on which measures receive final passage at the end of the 2024 session.
Both the House and Senate Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Committees held meetings this week to move on legislation. The Senate committee passed out two pieces of legislation, SB 436 and SR 470. SB 436 is authored by Sen. Sam Watson (R-Moultrie) and amends the definition of Farm Use Vehicles. The purpose of this legislation is to ensure all farm equipment has the right of way when approaching on coming traffic. It expands the current definition to include any operator of farm equipment and include equipment primarily used for production agriculture, not exclusively. SR 470 is authored by Sen. Billy Hickman (R-Statesboro) and creates the Senate Study Committee on the Preservation of Georgia's Farmlands. Sen. Hickman's district in Southeast Georgia has experienced extraordinary growth and development in recent years. He hopes to find ways to maintain the strength of the agriculture industry in Georgia and maintain our productive agriculture land.
Friday morning the House committee met and heard three pieces of legislation: HB 1011, HB 1093, and HR 473. Both HB 1011 and HR 473 were heard by the committee last week. This week the two bills received a vote and passed out of committee. The committee held a hearing only of HB 1093 by Rep. David Clark (R-Buford). This bill seeks to prohibit the foreign ownership of agricultural land by any non-resident alien, government, or business from a country considered to be foreign adversary as determined by the US Secretary of Commerce. It would also restrict ownership by those individuals, governments, and businesses of any land that is within a 10 mile radius of critical infrastructure or a military facility. Any violator would be convicted of a felony with up to two years in prison or a $15,000 fine. Georgia Farm Bureau has been very supportive of this policy idea, and we believe it is important to protect our working lands from adversarial nations. However, we do have a few concerns with this iteration of the bill and look forward to working with the bill sponsor to craft a bill that can make it to through the process.
On Wednesday, House Appropriations Chairman Matt Hatchett (R-Dublin) presented their version of the Amended FY24 Budget, HB 915. Legislators were eager to take advantage of the roughly $5 billion available over the initial revenue projections that guided their initial budget last year. The proposal dedicates much of this to statewide priorities including $1.5 billion to DOT for roads, infrastructure, and freight and logistics projects; $81.2 million for University system receiving $81.2 million for building projects and $15.8 million for B-unit projects; and $100 million for OneGeorgia rural economic development projects.
The AFY24 Budget proposal also included several new additions beneficial to agriculture and rural communities, such as $2 million to the Georgia Farmland Conservation Fund. This has been a priority of Georgia Farm Bureau, who now have two appointees serving on the Board which will guide the program. Please see below for other pertinent changes included in the House proposal compared to the Governor's original recommendation reported on earlier this session.
Department of Agriculture
Department of Community Affairs
Capital Project Funds
On February 6th, a federal court in Arizona invalidated the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) 2020 approvals for dicamba-based products intended for over-the-top (OTT) application in soybeans or cotton. This decision effectively prohibits the use of XtendiMax (Bayer), Engenia (BASF), and Tavium (Syngenta) for OTT applications during the upcoming 2024 growing season until the EPA reevaluates the matter.
The court ruled that the EPA violated the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) when it reapproved dicamba in 2020. Despite recognizing the challenges growers may face in finding alternative herbicides to protect dicamba-tolerant crops, the court deemed the agency's failure to adequately assess risks and costs for non-users of OTT dicamba as a significant error, leading to the decision to invalidate the registrations. This marks the second time dicamba's EPA approval has been invalidated in court, following a previous ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. The EPA had reauthorized dicamba by the end of October 2020.
The ability of the EPA to swiftly reapprove dicamba for OTT use in the 2024 growing season is uncertain. Growers who rely on dicamba-tolerant soybeans or cotton may need to explore alternative options. Industry groups like the National Cotton Council and Georgia Farm Bureau are pressing the EPA to swiftly appeal the court's ruling or to grant a flexible existing stocks order, permitting the use of OTT dicamba with products already in circulation. GFB submitted a letter to EPA on February 8 stressing the significant repercussions this decision could have especially on the cotton sector, given dicamba-tolerant varieties make up more than 75% of U.S. cotton acreage, and urging a flexible existing stocks order.
The latest decision by the Biden administration regarding Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) ignited controversy and raised concerns about potential federal overreach within the agriculture sector. Following the ruling, various groups swiftly mobilized to either mitigate its impacts or prevent its enforcement altogether. One notable effort involved the deployment of the Congressional Review Act (CRA), a rarely utilized legislative tool enabling Congress to formally disapprove of executive agency actions, thereby nullifying the newly implemented rule. Although the joint resolution of disapproval successfully passed both the House and Senate, it was swiftly met with a presidential veto, lacking the necessary numbers for overturning it. Consequently, farmers and property owners found themselves subject to environmental standards established by an ambiguous and inconsistent "significant nexus test."
Despite clear opposition from Congress, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Army Corps of Engineers persisted in implementing the rule, even amidst the ongoing Supreme Court case of Sackett v. EPA, which contested the constitutionality of the significant nexus test. In a unanimous decision on May 25th, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Sackett, deeming the significant nexus test unlawful and unreasonable in asserting federal authority. This test aimed to expand federal jurisdiction beyond bodies of water to include dry lands situated miles away from any navigable waterway.
In response to these developments, the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers will host virtual listening sessions to gather public feedback on the challenges and concerns surrounding the implementation of the new WOTUS rule. Multiple sessions will be held, with an agricultural stakeholder meeting scheduled for February 27th from 1:00 PM to 3:30 PM EST. It is imperative for agriculture stakeholders to participate in these sessions to ensure their voices are heard. Please use this link to register.
We are excited to see you next week for Georgia Farm Bureau Day at the Capitol on February 13! This event is one of our most impactful days, bringing approximately 600 GFB members from across the state together to advocate for agriculture. Attendees can look forward to an impressive slate of speakers including the House and Senate Ag Chairmen during Orientation, as well as Governor Kemp, Lt. Governor Jones, Commissioner Harper, and Speaker Burns during the luncheon.
Orientation begins at 9:30am in the Blue Room at the Georgia Freight Depot located on Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive, one block northwest of the Capitol at Underground Atlanta. After orientation, we encourage you to visit with your legislators at the Capitol and return with them to the complimentary luncheon at the Depot beginning at noon. Lunch invitations have been sent to all legislators, but a personal invitation from you would be especially helpful and effective.
For attendees staying at the Courtland Grand Hotel, you may leave your vehicle parked at the hotel during the day and utilize the provided shuttle transportation to and from the Depot between 8:00am and 3:00pm.
For attendees driving in that day, complimentary parking is provided at the Georgia State University Blue Lot (formerly Turner Field) located at 76 Fulton St. SW, and a shuttle bus service will run from 8:00am until 3:00pm. The lot is located off I-75 N or S by taking Exit 246 and driving East on Fulton St. SW. Please CLICK HERE for directions, as some maps may vary.
If you have any questions, please contact Reneé Jones at email@example.com or (478) 474-0679, ext. 5130.
Reps. Corbett, Meeks, Pirkle, Dickey, and Williams
This bill would establish the State Board of Registration for Foresters as an independent agency attached to the State Forestry Commission for administrative purposes. Currently the Board is under the professional licensing boards division of the Secretary of State's office.
Passed House Natural Resources and Environment Committee by Substitute 2/8/2024
Reps. Smith, Kelley, Williamson, Stephens, and Blackmon
This legislation would establish the Solar Technology Trust Fund and impose a fee of $15 per kilowatt of capacity on retail sales of solar equipment in Georgia. The fees collected would be used by the trust fund for remediation, decommissioning, and disposal of solar equipment, such as solar panels.
Passed House Energy, Utilities & Telecommunication Committee by Substitute 2/7/2024
Reps. Gambill, Dubnik, Erwin, Martin, Hong, and others
This bill establishes the State Workforce Development Board. This board will be responsible for publishing the High-Demand Career List for be used as guidance for supporting workforce development.
Passed House 2/8/2024
Reps. McDonald, Blackmon, Jones, Hong, Wade, and others
This is a priority bill of Governor Kemp and seeks to reduce the state income tax. The income tax would be reduced by 10 basis points from 5.49% to 5.39%.
Passed House 2/8/2024
Reps. Reeves, Burns, Blackmon, Jones, Knight, and others
This bill is a priority of House Leadership. It increases the maximum for statewide homestead exemption from ad valorem tax from $2,000 to $4,000.
Passed House 2/8/2024
Reps. Daniel, Burns, Blackmon, Williamson, Silcox, and others
This bill is a priority of House Leadership. It increases the personal exemption for each dependent claimed by a taxpayer from $3,000 to $4,000.
Passed House 2/8/2024
Reps. Blackmon, Knight, Martin, and Crowe
This bill requires all parcels to be reappraised in 2025. After 2025, every parcel must be reappraised every three years.
Passed House Ways & Means Committee by Substitute 2/8/2024
Reps. Carpenter, Huddleston, Cameron, Hilton, and Vance
This bill designates cornbread as the official Georgia state bread.
Passed the full House on 2/9/2024
Reps. Wade, Gambill, Hong, McDonald, Jones, and others
This bill is known as the Data Analysis for Tort Reform Act. It is a priority of Governor Kemp and will help his administration gather information to help prepare for future tort reform efforts.
Assigned to House Insurance Committee 2/6/2024
Reps. Pirkle, Corbett, Rhodes, and Lott
This bill is brought by the Department of Agriculture to help enforce and regulate hemp products in Georgia. This bill will require certain labeling and prohibit the sale of consumable hemp products to individuals under the age of 21 years.
Assigned to House Agriculture & Consumer Affairs 2/7/2024
Reps. Camp, Carson, Powell, Persinger, Gullet, and others
This bill is known as The Georgia Homegrown Solar Act of 2024. It gives private solar producers the ability to aggregate demand and sell excess energy to large scale utilities.
Assigned to House Energy, Utilities, & Telecommunications Committee 2/8/2024
Reps. Townsend, Smith, DeLoach, Vance, Reeves, and others
This bill requires the Environmental Protection Division to consider regulatory and criminal history of any applicant, including out-of-state history, seeking a permit from the Division.
Assigned to House Natural Resources & Environment Committee 2/8/2024
Reps. Burchett, Rhodes, Leverett, Smith, and Williams
This bill comes from the Chairman of the House Study Committee on Fishing Access to Freshwater Resources. This bill is a priority of GFB this session. It fixes unintended consequences of SB 115 (2023) and removes the reference to public trust doctrine as it relates to navigable waters.
Assigned to House Judiciary Committee 2/8/2024
Reps. Ridley, Rhodes, Ridley, Cannon, and Corbett
This bill allows for bow fishing of channel and flathead catfish state wide.
Assigned to House Game, Fish, & Parks Committee 2/8/2024
Sens. Tillery, Setzler, Burns, Walker, Albers, and others
This bill is a part of Senate leaderships efforts to address the legal climate in Georgia and provide relief to businesses and insurance companies. This bill is commonly known as direct action and prevents a plaintiff from suing only an insurance company in the case of an accident. Direct action directly benefits large commercial fleets and their insurers, but we are still excited to see the Senate begin to tackle this issue.
Passed Senate Judiciary Committee 2/7/2024
Sens. Watson, Goodman, Anderson, Walker, Ginn, and others
This bill addresses farm use vehicles as it relates to right-of-way on the road. It changes the definition of "Implement of husbandry" requiring the main use to be primarily for agricultural operations, not exclusively.
Passed Senate Agriculture & Consumer Affairs Committee 2/8/2024
Sens. Hickman, Goodman, Watson, Anderson, and Gooch
This resolution creates the Senate Study Committee on the Preservation of Georgia's Farmlands.
Passed Senate Agriculture & Consumer Affairs Committee on 1/26/2024
Reps. Camp, Mathiak, Lim, Au, and Cameron
This bill would establish the State Board of Veterinary Medicine as an independent agency attached to the Department of Agriculture for administrative purposes. The State Board of Veterinary Medicine serves as the licensing board for veterinarians in the state of Georgia. Currently, this board is administratively attached to the Secretary of State and is under the professional licensing boards division.
Passed House Agriculture & Consumer Affairs Committee 2/22/2023
Reps. Gullett, Parsons, Thomas, Anderson, Meeks, and others
This bill deals with ensuring transparency between buyers and sellers of distributed energy generation systems, including solar energy procurement, and provides access to educational information surrounding contracts and agreements for such systems. It specifically looks to address deceptive business practices seen throughout the state by certain companies selling rooftop solar systems.
Passed House on 2/22/2023 & Assigned to Senate Regulated Industries and Utilities on 3/1/2023
Reps. Jackson, Hawkins, Cooper, Williams, Beverly, and others
This bill would eliminate the current tax credit available for rural physicians and replace it with a new tax credit of up to $5,000 for each taxable year. The new tax credit would be available to a wider array of health care professionals including dentists, nurse practitioners, physical assistants and more. It also imposes certain restrictions such as a cap on the number of years it can be claimed (5 years) and restrictions on those who are already working in a rural area.
Passed House on 3/6/2023 & Passed Senate Finance Committee 1/30/2024
Reps. Momtahan, Parsons, Dickey, Tarvin, Pirkle, and others
This bill would prohibit the foreign ownership of certain types of land or properties, including farms and agricultural land, by Chinese, Russian, Iranian, or North Korean governments, citizens, or companies. It would both prohibit direct ownership but also ownership through majority stock or other specified intertest.
Assigned to House Judiciary Committee 2/7/2023
Reps. Schofield, Drenner, Kennard, Evans and Hutchinson
This bill would require the Public Service Commission to adopt regulations to gradually reduce the carbon dioxide emissions from every electric utility in Georgia, regardless of fuel type. It would require that by 2050 all electricity provided by an electric utility in Georgia be generated from energy sources that produce zero greenhouse gasses.
Assigned to House Energy, Utilities & Telecommunications Committee 2/7/2023
Reps. Lewis-Ward, Beverly, Jackson, and Gilliard
This bill would establish the Office of Equity in Agriculture to support current members of socially disadvantaged groups and to encourage the growth of socially disadvantaged groups into the field of agriculture.
Assigned to House Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Committee 2/7/2023
Reps. Thomas, Schofield, and Marin
This bill would establish the ability to set up and operate a Microenterprise home kitchen. This would be a noncommercial kitchen facility located in a private home or on a farm where ready-to-eat food is handled, stored, prepared, or offered for sale for consumption off the premises. The kitchen must meet the criteria to be a microenterprise as established by the Department of Economic Development. This bill would exclude food sales establishments, any food production which requires a license by the Dept. of Agriculture, and more.
Heard House Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Committee 2/14/2023
Reps. Dickey, Houston, Gilliard, and Carpenter
Over the past few years there has been discussion over how to address issues with our state's Farmers Markets, some of which are in need of substantial capital repairs and improvements. Several of the markets have also suffered from profitability issues, leading to the temporary closing of certain markets. This bill seeks to establish the Georgia Farmers Market Authority, allowing the state's markets to be run more like a business by retaining the income it generates and using it to operate and improve the markets.
Recommitted to House Agriculture & Consumer Affairs Committee 3/1/2023
Reps. Scott, Schofield, and Davis
Under this proposal, the Department of Human Services could establish the Healthy Food Development Program, to establish, support, facilitate, and expand access to healthy foods in eligible underserved areas, in coordination with Departments of Economic Development, Agriculture, and Natural Resources on an approved application basis.
Assigned to House Agriculture & Consumer Affairs Committee on 2/9/2023
Reps. LaHood, Parrish, Williams, Jackson, Burchett and others.
This bill seeks to amend the tax credit limit for rural hospital contributions and redefines a rural hospital organization. It would increase the tax credit limit for contributions by corporate donors and increase the aggregate limit for tax credits for contributions to rural hospital organizations. This bill includes a sunset date of December 31, 2023.
Passed House Ways and Means Committee 2/1/2024
Reps. Yearta, Corbett, Cannon, Jasperse, and Franklin
This bill would make it unlawful for anyone other than a secondary metal recycler to sell, purchase, possess, or transport a catalytic convertor. The individual would be charged on a separate offense for every individual catalytic convertor. This, along with other similar pieces of proposed legislation, are in response to increasing frequency of catalytic converter theft in recent years.
Assigned to House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee 2/13/2023
Reps. Williams, Meeks, Rhodes, Dickey, Blackmon, and others
This bill seeks to grant a second round of funding to the Georgia Agribusiness and Rural Jobs program. This bill would also increase the application fee and provide an annual maintenance fee.
Passed House Ways and Means Committee 3/2/2023
Reps. Anderson, Williamson, Parsons, Frazier, Jones and others
This bill says no governmental entity of this state shall adopt any policy that restricts or prohibits, or has the effect of restricting or prohibiting, the type or source of energy or fuel to be delivered to a home or the appliance to be used.
Passed House Energy, Utilities & Telecommunication Committee 2/22/2023
Reps. Houston, Meeks, Dickey, Pirkle
This bill would establish the Farmer's Market Trust Fund allowing for the state farmers markets to retain fees and utilize them to repair and maintain those farmers markets and for marketing and promotion of Georgia agricultural goods.
Assigned to House Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Committee 2/16/2023
Reps. Knight, Corbett, Rhodes, Cannon, and Pirkle
This bill would do away with an exemption provided in the Conservation Use Value Assessment (CUVA) program that allows for the installation of solar panels on land within a CUVA covenant, so long as that portion of the land is removed from the covenant and the specified breach penalty is paid. That penalty in current law is less than what must be paid for a normal breach on a property that is subject to a covenant. Under this proposal, installing solar panels on land enrolled in CUVA would constitute a breach of the covenant, and the full penalty would have to be paid.
Passed House Ways and Means Committee 3/3/2023
Reps. Pirkle, Jasperse, Meeks, Rhodes, Knight, and others
This bill would prohibit the foreign ownership of agricultural land by any non-resident alien, government, or business from a country considered to be foreign adversary as determined by the US Secretary of Commerce. It would also restrict ownership by those individuals, governments, and businesses of any land that is within a 25 mile radius of a military facility. The bill does allow for possession in certain special circumstances such as through an inheritance or for the collection of debts, but the land must be dispersed after a specified period of time.
Passed House Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Committee 2/28/2023
Reps. Pirkle, Corbett, Williams, and Rhodes
This bill seeks to make changes to the current hemp law to ensure the safety of the products being sold and marketed here in Georgia by requiring certain labeling and testing requirements for all consumable hemp products. It defines hemp products, consumable hemp products, and industrial hemp products to distinguish between the different usages of hemp plants. It seeks make changes to the licensing and registration process and fee structure for growers, processors, and retailers. This bill also requires a person to be 21 years old to purchase consumable hemp products, be the target of certain marketing, or receive samples of consumable hemp products in stores.
Passed House 3/6/2023 & Assigned to Senate Regulated Industries and Utilities Committee 3/7/2023
Reps. Leverett, Petrea, Prince, and Jackson
This bill seeks to address issues with bad actors improperly applying soil amendments through increased notification requirements and delegation of enforcement authority to certain local governments. GFB is actively monitoring this bill and has been in discussions with the sponsor to work towards an appropriate and balanced solution to the issue.
Assigned to House Natural Resources and Environment Committee 2/21/2023
Reps. Drenner, Carter, Evans, Davis, and Thomas
This bill creates a definition for what is an overburdened community and seeks to establish a special permitting process and environmental justice considerations that must be followed for an individual or entity to build or expand certain types of facilities in an overburdened community.
Assigned to House Natural Resources and Environment Committee 2/22/2023
Reps. Drenner, Carter, Evans, Davis, and Thomas
This bill is titled Georgia Environmental Justice Act of 2023. It establishes the Environmental Justice Commission to oversee the permitting of certain projects in low-income and minority neighborhoods.
Assigned to House Natural Resources and Environment Committee 2/22/2023
Reps. Barnes, Beverly, Clark, Au, Oliver, and others.
This bill seeks to provide free school meals to all public-school students who qualify for the reduced-price meals under federal and state guidelines. It encourages the use of Georgia Grown products in school breakfast and lunch programs to promote Georgia agriculture and healthy eating.
Assigned to House Education Committee 2/22/2023
Reps. Washburn, Bazemore, Reeves, Lim, Ridley, and others.
This bill is known as the "Housing Regulation Transparency Act." It seeks to limit the duration of time that a local government may enact a temporary housing moratorium on properties being developed for residential purposes to 180 days. It also requires that a local government must wait another 180 days before enacting any new temporary housing moratorium once the initial 180-day moratorium is expired. The bill allows for exemptions under certain circumstances including a declared state of emergency, when safety is of concern, a court order, or while a studied is being conducted investigating future development. This bill also grants local governments the power to collect fees associated with their zoning powers and issuance of permits. This is to create an equitable program for governments to finance the development and creation of local planning, land use, and zoning ordinances for orderly growth.
Assigned to Conference Committee 3/29/2023
Reps. Gilliard, Stephens, Willis, and Thomas
This bill, titled the "Georgia Hemp Industry Growth and Business Partnership Tax Credit Act," provides for a tax credit for costs of doing business with Georgia Grown hemp owners and suppliers.
Assigned to House Ways & Means Committee 2/23/2023
Reps. Lewis-Ward, Beverly, Bentley, Jackson, and Schofield
This bill would require the Department of Agriculture to spend no less than 5% of the entire marketing and promotion budget on minority or women owned agricultural enterprises.
Assigned to House Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Committee 2/27/2023
Reps. Cheokas, Collins, Hitchens, Yearta, and Washburn
This bill would allow a county to establish a trespass enforcement program to provide any participating owner or rightful occupant of property with a method for designating any peace officer with the local law enforcement agency as his or her authorized representative for purposes of enforcing criminal trespass.
Assigned to House Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee 2/27/2023
Reps. Cameron, Camp, Campbell, Hagan, and Huddleston
This bill is tilted the Healthy Food Development Program Act. It allows for the Department of Human Services to coordinate with the Department of Economic Development to create the Healthy Food Development Program. They could provide grants, loans, state tax credits, equipment, other financial assistance or technical assistance to grocery stores, corner stores, farmers' markets, or other retailers.
Assigned to House Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Committee 2/27/2023
Reps. Hagan, Gaines, Camp, and Clark
This bill creates the cottage food operator license for a person who produces homemade food items at a residential property for sale to a consumer. They will be permitted to only sell non-potentially hazardous foods - foods that do not require temperature control for safety. A license must be obtained through the Department of Agriculture for $100 per year to obtain this license. This bill exempts cottage food operators from inspection but grants the Department the power to conduct an inspection upon complaint.
Assigned to House Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Committee 2/27/2023
Reps. Cheokas, Yearta, Mathiak, Ridley, Powell, and others
This bill would increase a statewide ad valorem tax exemption limit for tangible personal property from $7,500 to $50,000. It also provides for a statewide referendum and a question to be placed on the ballot for the voters of Georgia to decide on making this change.
Assigned to House Ways and Means Committee 3/23/2023
Reps. Smith, Dickey, Pirkle, Leverett, Hagan, and others
This bill increases the punishment for livestock theft by increasing both the penalty fines and the years of imprisonment.
Assigned to House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee 3/29/2023
Reps. Taylor, Lumsden, Collins, Hitchens, and Dunahoo
This bill would allow any law enforcement to enforce excess vehicle weight limitations using automated vehicle weight detection system. This would allow the use of weight detecting technology and cameras capable of determining the gross vehicle weight and individual axle weights of a passing motor vehicle and producing recorded images of such vehicle located outside of a fixed scales facility. The technology could be implemented by third party agents.
Assigned to House Motor Vehicles Committee 1/09/2024
Reps. Washburn, Au, Stephens, Anulewicz, Hitchens, and others
This bill would exempt Georgia from the advancement of standard time, known as daylight savings upon the exemption from daylight savings by North and South Carolina and the portions of Florida and Tennessee that observe eastern standard time.
Assigned to House State Planning & Community Affairs Committee 1/10/2024
This bill would provide for a state-wide homestead exemption from ad valorem taxes for the full value of a homestead used for agricultural purposes under certain parameters. The farmer must be engaged in production agriculture for no more than 5 years and operate on no more than 5 acres.
Assigned to House Ways & Means Committee 1/10/2024
Reps. Ridley, Ridley, Jasperse, Fleming, Persinger, and others
This bill would require all food service establishments in the state that serve food products containing cell cultured meat or plant-based meat alternatives to display on their menus, or on placards visible to the public, disclosures stating that such food products contain cell cultured meat or plant based meat alternatives.
Assigned to House Agriculture & Consumer Affairs Committee 1/11/2024
Reps. Anderson, Rhodes, Burchett, Smith, Williams, and others
This bill defines a multipurpose off-highway vehicle and ensures no multipurpose off-highway vehicle shall be returned for or subject to ad valorem taxation.
Passed House Ways & Means Committee 2/1/2024
Reps. Vance, Tarvin, Lumsden, Collins, and Hitchens
This bill would add to what is considered criminal trespass and make entrance upon property of another without consent shall be an offense of criminal trespass.
Assigned to House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee 1/12/2024
Reps. Todd, Williams, Cannon, Horner, and Barrett
This bill requires all retail stores to accept cash for purchases.
Assigned to House Agriculture & Consumer Affairs Committee 1/22/2024
Reps. Burchett, Cannon, Dickey, Meeks, and Rhodes
This bill would exempt all qualified producers from paying county or municipal permit fees greater than $500 on agricultural structures.
Assigned to House Agriculture & Consumer Affairs Committee 1/23/2024
Reps. Seabaugh, Reeves, Burhcett, Crowe, Silcox, and others
This bill is known as the Georgia Squatter Reform Act. It seeks to strengthen the definition of criminal trespass to address issues with squatters. Squatters occupy an abandoned or unoccupied property without consent from the owner.
Assigned to House Judiciary Committee 1/25/2024
Reps. Williamson, Blackmon, Crowe, Silcox, Hilton, and others
This bill decreases the corporate income tax rate. It matches the corporate income tax rate to the individual income tax rate applicable to all taxable years beginning January 1, 2024.
Assigned to House Ways & Means Committee 1/25/2024
Reps. Blackmon, Williamson, Wade, Hong, Meeks, and others
This bill eliminates the Revenue Shortfall Reserve limit. Currently, the state can only hold 15% of the previous year's net revenue in the reserve. This bill would eliminate that limitation.
Assigned to House Appropriations Committee 1/25/2024
Reps. Franklin, Corbett, Hagan, Dickey, and Parrish
This bill would establish the fourth Friday in November as National Sugarcane Day.
Passed House Special Rules Committee 1/31/2024
Reps. Cannon, Dickey, Huddleston, McCollum, Meeks, and others
This bill would allow a non-eligible entity to lease property in a CUVA covenant as long as the ownership includes at least one citizen of the United States and the primary purpose of the land is production agriculture. GFB policy supports this bill.
Assigned to House Ways & Means Committee 1/29/2024
Reps. Cannon, Pirkle, Corbett, Rhodes, Williams, and others
This bill authorizes the State Forestry Commission to access tax accessors reports on the assessment of standing timber.
Assigned to House Ways & Means Committee 1/30/2024
Reps. Clark, Pirkle, Blackmon, Corbett, Bonner, and others
This bill would prohibit the foreign ownership of agricultural land by any non-resident alien, government, or business from a country considered to be foreign adversary as determined by the US Secretary of Commerce. It would also restrict ownership by those individuals, governments, and businesses of any land that is within a 10 mile radius of critical infrastructure or a military facility. Any violator would be convicted of a felony with up to two years in prison or a $15,000 fine.
Assigned to House Agriculture & Consumer Affairs Committee 1/31/2024
Reps. Huddleston, Burchett, Cannon, Camp, Rhodes, and others
This bill is known as the "Purple Paint Law." It allows landowners to mark their property boundaries with purple paint marks on trees or post in place of typical signage.
Assigned to House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee 2/1/2024
Reps. Williams, Petrea, Dickey, Corbett, Rhodes, and others
This resolution proposes an amendment to the state constitution that would reduce the rate of ad-valorem tax assessment on timber at the time of sale or harvest. The proposal would require that the state appropriate funds annually to each county or municipality to compensate for any loss in revenue.
Passed House 3/2/2023 & Assigned to Senate Finance Committee 3/6/2023
Reps. Bennett, Jenkins, Dempsey, Lewis-Ward, Newton, and others
This resolution establishes the House Healthy Food Retail Study Committee to investigate the lack of access to healthy foods in both rural and urban areas.
Assigned to House Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Committee 2/15/2023
Reps. Drenner and Thomas
This is a resolution creating the House Study Committee on Environmental Justice. This committee will study the impact of pollution and hazardous materials on low-income neighborhoods or neighborhoods consisting primarily of minorities.
Assigned to House Natural Resources and Environment Committee 2/22/2023
Reps. Mathiak, Gunter, Hatchett
This resolution would create the House Study Committee on Rural Medical Personnel Recruitment. This study would look to raise awareness of the challenges rural hospitals face to recruit personnel and retain surgical support personnel.
Recommitted to House Special Rules Committee 3/29/2023
Sens. Kirkpatrick, Robertson, Hufstetler, Payne, Butler, and others
This bill seeks to address licensing, testing, and retail sales of consumable hemp products. It puts in place certain testing requirements for consumable hemp products, establishes a licensing structure with the associated fees, and addresses certain issues surrounding the offering of hemp samples to anyone under 21 years of age. The bill also puts in place specific labeling requirements for retail consumable hemp products.
Recommitted to Senate Rules Committee 2/22/2023
Sens. Jackson, Goodman, Summers and Butler
This bill, called the "Georgia Hemp Farming Act," would change the limitations for individuals seeking a license or permit to grow hemp. It would change current law to allow individuals who are convicted of a misdemeanor involving the sale of a controlled substance, to apply for and be given a license or permit to grow industrial hemp. It would also allow someone convicted of a felony to apply for and receive a license or permit after 10 years has passed from said felony.
Recommitted to Senate Agriculture & Consumer Affairs Committee 2/28/2023
Sens. Beach, Dolezal, Goodman, Summers, Anderson, and others
This bill would prohibit the purchase of agricultural land by a non-resident foreign alien who is subject to a government that is considered a foreign adversary as defined by the U.S. Secretary of Commerce. It would also restrict the purchase of agricultural land by any government of, or business domiciled in a country subject to a government that is considered a foreign adversary. There are provisions within the bill that would also limit the foreign ownership of land near certain military instillations.
Passed Senate 3/2/2023 & Recommitted to House Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Committee 3/29/2023
Sens. Anderson, Brass, Burns, Anavitarte, Robertson and others
This bill changes the definition of what is considered a dangerous or vicious dog. This bill revises the definition to include the following: a dog who is unprovoked barking, growling, or snarling, aggressively running along fence lines, or escaping confinement when people are present. It requires the owner of a dangerous dog as defined by the bill to maintain a $500,000 insurance policy covering any damage or bodily harm caused by the dog.
Assigned to Senate Insurance and Labor Committee 2/13/2023
Sens. Still, Dolezal, Robertson, Anavitarte, Payne, and others
This bill which at one time would have only prohibited local regulations that create differing standards for gasoline-powered leaf blowers from similar equipment, now includes an additional 33 pages of language that addr
Sens. Dolezal, Still, Gooch, Kennedy, Watson and others
This legislation deals with premises liability action and seeks to make changes to tort law provisions that are significant to landowners. It states no landowner shall be liable in a premises liability action to anyone who is injured on the landowner's property as the result of the willful, wanton, or intentionally tortious conduct of any third party who is not a director, officer, employee, or agent of the landowner unless the invitee can prove specific items as laid out by the legislation.
Senate Tabled 3/6/2023
Sens. Jones, Harbison, Rahman, Merrit, Butler and others
This bill is entitled the Right to Repair Act. It seeks to require manufactures of digital and electronic products to provide diagnostic and repair information, parts, and tools to independent repair providers.
Assigned to Senate Science and Technology Committee 2/27/2023
Sens. Anavitarte, Gooch, Anderson, Summers, Cowsert and others.
This resolution will form the Senate Study Committee on the Benefits of Solar Energy in Georgia. It will report on the pros and cons of solar generated energy in the state of Georgia.
Passed Senate Rules Committee on 3/23/2023
Sens. Kirkpatrick, Hufstetler, Payne, Echols, Dugan, and others.
This bill is known as the Outdoor Dog Protection Act. It would make it unlawful to leave a dog outdoors or unattended for more than 24 hours under the defined circumstances within the bill. It provides an exemption for livestock herding dogs, dogs sued within production agriculture, and hunting or field training dogs.
Assigned to Senate Public Safety Committee 3/27/2023
Sens. Hufstetler, Albers, Esteves, Echols, Anavitarte, and others.
This bill is an omnibus tax bill. It deals with ad valorem taxation of property. It revises the limitations on setting mileage rates and provides a statewide homestead tax exemption from ad valorem taxes if the current year assessed value of a homestead is more than 3 percent from the adjusted base year value.
Assigned to Senate Finance Committee 1/11/2024
Sens. Anderson, Albers, Robertson, Williams, Payne, and others
This bill prohibits any motor vehicle from operating on any highway whose suspension has been elevated or lowered six inches above or below the manufacturer's recommendation for such vehicle. No motor vehicle may operate on any highway whose front frame is more than four inches above the rear of the vehicle.
Passed Senate Senate and Assigned to House Motor Vehicles Committee 2/1/2024
Sens. Robertson, Burns, Williams, Anavitarte, and Dolezal
This bill prohibits the use of rank choice voting in any elections in the state of Georgia.
Passed Senate and Assigned to House Governmental Affairs Committee 1/29/2024
Sens. Hufstetler, Tillery, Dolzeal, Albers, Still, and others
This bill is known as the Tax Expenditures Act of 2024. This bill creates the Joint Committee on Taxation and Economic Development to meet every other year evaluating the tax climate in Georgia. It also provides measures to ensure greater transparency through the appropriations process.
Passed Senate Finance and Assigned to House Ways & Means Committee 1/31/2024
Sens. Echols, Albers, Walker, Esteves, Hickman, and others
This bill seeks to encourage greater collaboration between the Technical College System of Georgia and the University System of Georgia. It would require both systems to set up course with transferable credits and list all courses for students.
Assigned to Senate Higher Education Committee 1/26/2024
Sens. Kirkpatrick, Walker, Robertson, Payne, Anavitarte, and others
This bill would grant a temporary license for out-of-state veterinarians to preform sterilization services. The goal is to help provide more resources to address overpopulation and the high demand for sterilization services.
Passed Senate Regulated Industries & Utilities Committee by Substitute 1/31/2024
Sens. Anavitarte, Goodman, Beach, Cowsert, Gooch, and others
This bill would prohibit the foreign ownership of agricultural land by any non-resident alien, government, or business from a country considered to be foreign adversary as determined by the US Secretary of Commerce. It would also restrict ownership by those individuals, governments, and businesses of any land that is within a 25 mile radius of a military installation. Any violator would be convicted of a felony with up to two years in prison or a $15,000 fine.
Assigned to Senate Regulated Industries & Utilities Committee 1/30/2024
Sens. Robertson, Kirkpatrick, Watson, Strickland, and Sims
This bill relates to the regulation and enforcement of hemp products in Georgia by the Department of Agriculture. This bill requires for particular labeling, signage, and sets the legal age of consumable hemp products at 21 years old.
Assigned to Senate Regulated Industries & Utilities 2/1/2024
Sens. Walker, Goodman, Ginn, Watson, Hickman, and others
This resolution recognizes February 14, 2024, as 4-H Day at the Capitol.
Read and Adopted 1/25/2024
February 13 - GFB Day at the Capitol
February 14 - 4-H Day at the Capitol
February 27 - GA Citrus Association Annual Conference
February 29 - GCA Steak Biscuit Day at the Capitol
March 5 - PB&J Day at the Capitol
March 13-15 - GA Cattlemen's Association Annual Convention
March 15 - FFA 17th Annual Blue & Gold Gala