Legislative Session Report Week 8

March 5, 2021




State News and Updates


Lawmakers were under the Gold Dome five days this week - three dedicated to legislative work and two to committee work - leaving us at day 27 of the session. With Crossover Day this coming Monday, March 8th, legislation continues to make its way to the House and Senate floors to be voted on and sent across the Capitol to the next chamber. The House and Senate Ag Committees both met this week taking up a number of bills that impact Georgia agriculture. Additionally, the FY22 budget passed out of the House on Friday afternoon. Please see below for a breakdown of the budget proposals made thus far.

Georgia Farm Bureau (GFB) staff has been present each day of the session to monitor the issues that affect our members and Georgia agriculture. To see bills introduced this session that impact our state's number one industry please see the Action This Week and Bills of Interest sections below.

Photo of Capitol


House Bill 81, the FY22 budget appropriations bill, was passed by the full House today after weeks of hearings and negotiations in the Appropriations Committee, led by Chairman Terry England (R-Auburn). This tedious process was much less tense compared to last year, when legislators applied deep reductions across all aspects of government spending in preparation for the unknown impacts of the pandemic.

Fortunately, the budget was littered with increases to restore appropriations cut last year. While much of the focus centers on public and mental health, education, and law enforcement, several inclusions are beneficial for rural Georgians. The House approved Governor Kemp’s proposed $40 million to the Rural Innovation Fund and $10 million for rural broadband expansion. Below are a few additional items important for rural Georgia the House included beyond the Governor’s initial budget proposal for FY22:

  • $307,460 for Georgia’s new hemp program
  • $333,350 for the Farmers & Consumers Market Bulletin to serve as the official regulatory and educational tool for the GATE program
  • $120,000 retained funds for state farmers' markets in Cordele, Thomasville, and Savannah
  • $100,000 to alleviate 2020 hardship for the Ag Expo Authority, Perry fairgrounds
  • $57,121 for new rural waters technician employee with Georgia Soil & Water Conservation Commission
  • $150,000 to OneGeorgia for rural broadband access mapping
  • $425,000 for five young farmer positions in Baldwin County, Fulton County, Pickens County, Ware County, and Worth County
  • $2,851,620 for operations at the UGA Ag Experiment Station
  • $2,699,010 for UGA Cooperative Extension operations
  • $162,000 for Veterinary Medicine Experiment Station



The Capitol was exceptionally busy this week, like pre-COVID days, as the window for bills to remain eligible for passage is quickly closing. Legislators and lobbyists alike rushed to introduce the last batch of bills and schedule committee hearings. Perhaps even more intensive were efforts of certain groups to stop the bills they oppose from reaching the critical Crossover Day checkpoint.

A few last-minute additions of ag legislation have joined the sprint. The Senate Ag Committee met Tuesday to pass SB 247, sponsored by Sen. Lee Anderson (R-Grovetown) which Georgia Farm Bureau (GFB) worked closely on to modernize the Commodity Promotion Act. The changes will allow for more efficient use of Commission dollars and allow for virtual notice and public hearings on marketing orders. The full Senate also passed SB 222 on Wednesday, authored by Sen. Carden Summers (R-Cordele), which would make the pecan the official state nut.

In the House, the Ag Committee met Wednesday and advanced two bills. HB 676, by Rep. Penny Houston (R-Nashville), would establish the Georgia Farmers' Market and Produce Terminal Authority and provide flexibility and oversight of our state’s farmers' markets to be more adaptive to current uses in an attempt to improve their operation. This move was debated last session, and even though the concept continues to take shape, the bill will continue moving forward as interested parties work together with the best intentions for the markets. Rep. Steven Meeks (R-Screven) introduced HB 693 in response to recent increases of roadway accidents involving vehicles and farm equipment. This bill will give the right-of-way to farm equipment when following protocol on the roadway, providing some protection when others don’t exercise common sense safety practices.



On Wednesday afternoon, Governor Kemp announced the addition of five new state-run mass vaccination sites. Last month, the state opened four sites, each with the capacity to administer vaccinations to 1,100 people per day. Opening on March 17, the new sites are expected to provide an additional 20,000 first doses per week. Mass vaccination sites include:

Open now:

  • BIBB COUNTY: Macon Farmers Market, 2055 Eisenhower Parkway, Macon, GA 31206
  • DOUGHERTY COUNTY: Albany, Georgia Forestry Site, 2910 Newton Road, Albany, GA 31701
  • FULTON COUNTY: Delta Air Museum, 1220 Woolman Place SW, Hapeville, GA 30354
  • HABERSHAM COUNTY: Habersham County Fairgrounds, 4235 Toccoa Highway Clarkesville, GA 30523

Opening March 17: 

  • BARTOW COUNTY: LakePoint Sports Complex, 261 Stars Way, Emerson, GA 30121
  • CHATHAM COUNTY: Gulfstream Aerospace, 500 Gulfstream Rd, Savannah, GA 31408
  • MUSCOGEE COUNTY: Columbus Civic Center, 400 4th St, Columbus, GA 31901
  • WARE COUNTY: Waycross Mall, 2209 Memorial Dr, Waycross, GA 31501 
  • WASHINGTON COUNTY: Sandersville Word of Life Church, 1209 S Harris St, Sandersville, GA 31082

Georgia is in Phase 1A, allowing those over the age of 65, those in healthcare and law enforcement, and those in extended care facilities, along with their caregivers, to be eligible. Beginning this Monday, March 8th, Pre-K through 12 educators and staff, adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their caregivers, and parents of children with complex medical conditions will also be eligible for vaccinations.

As of Wednesday's announcement, at least one dose has been administered to more than 860,000 Georgians over the age of 65, the age group that has accounted for 77% of the state's total COVID-19 deaths. Nearly 60% of Georgia's elderly population has received at least one dose of the vaccine to date.

If you are interested in receiving the vaccine and fall under current eligibility requirements, you can visit Georgia's virtual vaccine hub at For more information on the vaccine, its safety, and its efficacy, visit the UGA Extension COVID-19 resource page here.



Last week, Senate Bill 100 was approved by the Georgia State Senate by a vote of 46-7. This bill would require the state to observe standard time year-round. The bill is now in the House and has been assigned to the State Planning and Community Affairs Committee where it continues to move towards the Governor's desk.

When clocks "fall back" in November, they switch from daylight savings to standard time, allowing for brighter mornings and darker evenings. When clocks "spring forward" in March, they go from standard to daylight savings, allowing for longer periods of daylight in the evenings. A number of arguments can be made for both standard and daylight savings time, but many in Georgia's agricultural, natural resources, and recreational industries prefer daylight savings time as it allows for longer periods of daylight in the evening. Additional daylight hours in the evening provide more time for farmers and their families to work outside in the fields providing services such as u-pick and agritourism operations. These activities positively impact the mental and physical wellbeing of Georgians all while boosting local economies.

Neither Georgia Farm Bureau or the American Farm Bureau Federation have current policy regarding the issue but understand that many of our members prefer longer, brighter evenings to make more efficient use of their time on the farm, among other things. As we continue to monitor Senate Bill 100, we encourage you to voice your opinion on this important bill to your legislators by using the Take Action button below.

Take Action



Hosted by John Holcomb, Jay Stone, and Katie Duvall, "Growing On" is a podcast produced by Georgia Farm Bureau, covering agricultural issues and topics to help promote and advocate for Georgia agriculture as well as educate consumers about the production of food and modern farming practices.

The most recent episode features an in-depth look from State Affairs Coordinator Alex Bradford at the 2021 legislative session and what things look like at the Capitol in the these unprecedented times. Additionally, John Holcomb highlights one of the more contentious issues of this year's session - time change - and speaks to the sponsor of House Bill 44, Rep. Wes Cantrell (R-Augusta). If the debate over daylight savings vs. standard time leaves you scratching your head, Rep. Cantrell's interview provides valuable insight into the science and history behind the changing of the clocks.

Subscribe and download "Growing On" on Apple Podcasts here or on Spotify by clicking here.



National Peanut Month kicked off on Monday when the Georgia Peanut Commission hosted their annual Peanut Butter and Jelly Day at the Capitol. While COVID-19 restrictions kept the event from taking place in the Capitol building, the group was still able to serve their famous grilled peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to members and staff in an adjoining building. Additionally, Armond Morris, Chairman of the Georgia Peanut Commission, presented Ben Burgess of the Atlanta Community Food Bank with their annual donation of peanut butter.

Georgia Farm Bureau staff were on hand to visit with legislators and showcase Georgia's peanut industry in Atlanta.

PPD Celebrates PBJ Day at Capitol



Friday morning, Gov. Brian Kemp, PSC Commissioner Tim Echols, and Tri-County EMC (Gray, GA) announced the formation of a new broadband provider in Middle Georgia. It will provide high-speed internet service to 22,000 homes and businesses in Baldwin, Bibb, Jasper, Jones, Morgan, Putnam, Twiggs, and Wilkinson Counties.

The project will include a capital investment of more than $47 million by Tri-County EMC to build a fiber network that will provide enhanced reliability and operational services for its electric customers while providing excess fiber capacity that will be leased to the cooperative’s broadband affiliate, Tri-CoGo, which will provide the broadband service.

Tri-County EMC is constructing the network with the assistance of Conexon, a rural fiber engineering consultant. Conexon works exclusively with electric cooperatives and is considered one of the pioneers in the electric cooperative broadband movement. Fiber construction is expected to begin by May 2021 and service to the first zone of customers will begin by late summer. Construction of the fiber network will be complete in two years, and all Tri-County EMC members should have access to internet services with Tri-CoGo within four years, as service drops are constructed. Available services will include 100 Mbps, Gigabit and Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) telephone service for residential and commercial customers.

Tri-County EMC members interested in internet or phone service are encouraged to visit the newly created subsidiary’s website at Members can search by address to get detailed information about buildout schedules, simple and competitive pricing plans and preregister for service.



To find more on a specific bill, visit the Georgia General Assembly website and use the "Search Legislation" tool at the top right.


HB 44:
Reps. Cantrell, Greene, Barr, Werkheiser, Gambill, and Williams

This bill would require Georgia to observe Daylight Savings Time year-round. This will only become effective if Congress authorizes states to observe daylight savings time year-round.
House Passed/Adopted on 3/5/2021.


HB 290:
Reps. Setzler, Newton, Hatchett, Rich, Jackson, and Bentley

House Bill 290, or the "Right to Visit" Bill, would require Georgia's hospitals and nursing home facilities to allow patients to visit with family members for a minimum of two hours per day - even during a public health emergency such as the Covid-19 pandemic - following proper safety and health protocols including as negative testing.
House Human Relations and Aging Committee Favorably Reported by Substitute on 3/3/2021.


HB 336:
Reps. Corbett, Dickey, Pirkle, Jasperse, and Watson

Following two years of extensive legislation establishing Georgia's new hemp industry, HB 336 is a cleanup bill seeking to align Georgia's hemp laws to match federal standards.
House Passed/Adopted on 2/26/2021. Assigned to Senate Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Committee on 3/1/2021.


HB 498:
Reps. Watson, Dickey, LaHood, England, and Pirkle

Tax programs and business models have increased the prevalence of family farm mergers. This bill modernizes the ad valorem tax exemption of farm equipment and products to these merged entities, so long as they would qualify for the exemption individually.
House Ways and Means Committee Favorably Reported on 3/3/2021.


HR 185:
Reps. Ralston, Watson, Jasperse, England, Dickey

House Resolution 185 would reauthorize the House Rural Development Council. The Council was created to study the issues facing rural parts of Georgia and recommend any action or legislation necessary to the continued economic success of Georgia, especially in rural areas.
House Passed/Adopted on 3/3/2021.


SB 222:
Sens. Summers, Walker III, Sims, Harper, Goodman

SB 222 would designate the pecan as the official state nut of Georgia.
Senate Passed/Adopted on 3/3/2021.


SB 247:
Sens. Anderson, Walker, Miller, Goodman, and Summers

SB 247 modernizes the Agricultural Commodities Promotion Act regarding marketing orders to allow for online publication of notices and announcements, online public comment periods, and clarity to the voting process to create new or major amendments to marketing orders.
Senate Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Committee Adopted by Substitute on 3/3/2021.



To find more on a specific bill, visit the Georgia General Assembly website and use the "Search Legislation" tool at the top right.


HB 90: 
Reps. Williamson, Burns, Dickey, Hatchett, Morris, and Watson

HB 90 seeks to address an issue that the existing 1939 statute does not appropriately cover modern forestry practices with in regards to mill purchases of cut timber and the chain of liability that follows such transactions. The legislation is supported by both the Georgia Bankers Association and the Georgia Forestry Association.
House Passed/Adopted by Substitute on 2/17/2021. Assigned to Senate Banking and Financial Institutions Committee on 2/18/2021.


HB 139:
Reps. Mainor, Dukes, McClain, Mallow, and Thomas

This bill would prohibit trains from blocking any traffic crossing for longer than 15 minutes (with exceptions for safety reasons), and also require signage at crossings providing a telephone number to report such instances.
Assigned to House Transportation Committee on 1/28/2021.


HB 150:
Reps. Williamson, Hatchett, Kelley, Frazier, Parsons, and Smith

In a concerning trend, some state and local authorities in the U.S. have adopted measures banning the connection of certain fuels (propane and natural gas) in new construction in an effort to reach their “carbon free” goals. HB 150 would prohibit government entities in Georgia from banning the connection of any utility service based on the type or source of fuel. GFB supports this bill, as many agricultural producers rely on these resources.
House Passed/Adopted by Substitute on 2/22/2021. Assigned to Senate Regulated Industries and Utilities on 2/23/2021.


HB 265:
Reps. Knight, Williamson, and Blackmon

House Bill 265 aims to clean up the state's revenue code, a large portion of the bill relating to tax-relief measures stemming from federal Covid-19 relief legislation. Included in the bill is a measure which would make certain Payroll Protection Program (PPP) loans tax exempt. Under SB 265, businesses eligible for PPP loan forgiveness would not be required to pay state taxes on the loans, even though they count as income. The measure also lets those business owners claim tax deductions on the loans.
House Passed/Adopted on 2/9/2021. Senate Passed/Adopted on 2/24/2021.


HB 282:
Reps. Meeks, England, Hatchett, Watson, and Dickey

This bill provides clarity to the ad valorem taxation of qualified timberland property by defining parameters for “contiguous” property, specifying how the appraised value of timberland property is calculated, and clarifies the required documentation landowners must submit to the Commissioner of Revenue for certification.
House Passed/Adopted by Committee Substitute on 2/17/2021. Assigned to Senate Finance Committee on 2/18/2021.


HB 482:
Reps. Lim and Holcomb

This bill would provide a preferential tax rate program that seeks to promote urban agriculture as well as provide for urban agricultural incentive zones that would be located in areas with a 15% or greater poverty rate. The program includes restrictions for properties that enter a contract such as being at least .10 acres but not more than 5 acres and for an initial term of at least 5 years. This bill is the enabling legislation for HR 164 that would put this change on the ballot in 2022 as a constitutional amendment.
Assigned to House Ways and Means Committee on 2/17/2021.


HB 496:
Reps. Burchett, Burns, Rhodes, Ridley, and Williams

This bill seeks to create a $1,000 Annual Forest Product Permit, issuable by the Department of Transportation, allowing vehicles hauling timber up to a gross weight of 95,000, up to 10 feet wide, and no more than 100 feet long.
Assigned to House Transportation Committee on 2/18/2021.


HB 500:
Reps. Burchett, Blackmon, Dickey, Rhodes, and Watson

The Georgia Agribusiness and Rural Jobs Act, established in 2017, provides a system of non-traditional loans for rural businesses to encourage economic growth and jobs. This legislation would provide the second round of funding, in the amount of $100 million, to replenish the program.
Assigned to House Ways and Means Committee on 2/18/2021.


HB 504:
Reps. Williamson, Reeves, Burns, Knight, Blackmon, and Lott

Similar to HB 500, this legislation provides a second round of funding for the Georgia Agribusiness and Rural Jobs Act in the amount of $100 million. However, the bill goes on to create a new NAICS code and tax program for medical equipment and supplies manufacturers. Additionally, this bill goes on to address other tax credit programs dealing with high-impact aerospace defense projects, Georgia ports, and railroads.
Assigned to House Ways and Means Committee on 2/18/2021.


HB 575:
Reps. Dickey, Watson, Pirkle, Holmes

In an effort to provide new market opportunities to farmers, this bill seeks to make the sale of products grown on the farm or value-added products to be a qualifying conservation use under CUVA. It would also provide a path for expanded marketing and sale of agricultural products not produced on a specific farm, by allowing the portion of property to be removed from the CUVA covenant without penalty.
Assigned to House Ways and Means Committee on 2/24/2021.


HB 608:
Reps. Wiedower, Burns, Smyre, Parsons, and Kelley

In an effort to enhance the expansion of broadband to unserved areas, this legislation authorizes the use of OneGeorgia funds to award contracts to qualified providers under the Georgia Broadband Deployment Initiative.
Assigned to House Governmental Affairs Committee on 2/24/2021.


HR 164:
Reps. Lim and Holcomb

HR 164 would allow for a constitutional amendment to be on the ballot in 2022 should HB 482 pass. See above for additional information on HB 482.
Assigned to House Ways and Means Committee on 2/17/2021.


SB 30:
Sens. Beach and Harbison

Senate Bill 30 would provide for pari-mutuel horse racing in the state at a limited number of licensed equestrian centers, create the Georgia Horse Racing Commission, and provide for the comprehensive regulation of pari-mutuel horse racing and related activities.
Referred to Senate Regulated Industries and Utilities Committee on 1/28/2021.


SB 65:
Sens. Gooch, Miller, Cowsert, Tillery, Harper, and Hatchett

In a continued effort to expand broadband access to rural and un-served communities, this legislation allows the Public Service Commission and Department of Community Affairs to utilize a portion of the Universal Access Fund for such services.
Assigned to Senate Regulated Industries and Utilities Committee on 2/2/2021.


SB 100:
Sens. Watson, Dugan, Kennedy, Miller, Au, and Burke

This bill would require Georgia to observe Standard Time year-round until Congress authorizes states to observe Daylight Savings Time, at which point Georgia would observe Daylight Savings Time year-round.
Senate Passed/Adopted by Substitute on 2/24/2021. Assigned to House State Planning and Community Affairs Committee on 2/25/2021.


SB 118:
Sens. Harper, Burke, Tillery, Goodman, Anderson, and Kennedy

SB 118 would increase truck weights for 6-axle timber haulers up to 100,000 lbs.
Assigned to Senate Transportation Committee on 2/10/2021.


SB 119:
Sens. Harper, Goodman, Burke, Mullis, Anderson, and Walker

Under Senate Bill 119, you would not have to obtain a burn permit to burn leaf piles, yard debris, or hand-piled natural vegetation, given that you meet guidelines regarding time, location, and others.
Senate Passed/Adopted by Substitute on 2/24/2021. Assigned to House Natural Resources and Environment Committee on 2/25/2021.


SB 148:
Sens. Hufstetler, Miller, Butler, Dugan, Parent, and Mullis

Senate Bill 148 calls for the systematic study of the state's revenue structure through the creation of the Special Council on Tax Reform and Fairness for Georgians and the Special Joint Committee on Georgia Revenue Structure. The committee would report its findings and make recommendations to the Speaker of the House and the Lieutenant Governor by January 10, 2022. 
Senate Passed/Adopted by Substitute on 2/24/2021. Assigned to House Budget and Financial Oversight Committee on 2/25/2021.


SB 195:
Sen. Mullis

In another minute clarification to Georgia’s new hemp industry, this legislation states that the drying and curing of hemp plants does not qualify as “processing.”
Assigned to Senate Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Committee on 2/17/2021.




A special election was held last month for Georgia State House District 90, previously held by Pam Stephenson (D-Lithonia). Stephenson resigned from her position and candidacy in September. 

There were six candidates, all democrats, vying for the seat. As no candidate received more than 50% of the roughly 3,000 votes cast, the top two contenders - Stan Watson and Angela Moore - will move on to a runoff election next Tuesday, March 9.

House District 90 is based in DeKalb County. To check your district and voter registration status, click here.



We have received a number of questions regarding election laws within the state over the past few months, and an assortment of bills regarding the subject have been filed in both the House and the Senate during the 2021 legislative session. Below you will find a list of many of the bills of interest surrounding elections and elected officials both in Georgia and Washington, D.C. 


HB 59:
Reps. Cantrell, Clark, Rich, and Evans

House Bill 59 would provide special absentee ballots for, as well as authorize the use of instant runoff voting for, those overseas citizens and military personnel who cannot vote in person. Rather than wait until after a runoff election is called to submit a ballot, voters would have the opportunity to submit a special runoff ballot with their general election ballot, to be opened and counted only if a runoff election is required.
Assigned to the Special Committee on Election Integrity on 1/12/2021.


HB 62:
Reps. Gullett, Powell, Momtahan, Williams, Gambill, and Singleton

This bill would ban third-party organizations from funding local election operations.
Assigned to the Special Committee on Election Integrity on 1/13/2021.


HB 270:
Reps. Fleming, Jones, DeLoach, Williams, Powell, and Blackmon

House Bill 270 would require all absentee by mail ballot applications to be received by the board of registrars or absentee ballot clerk by no later than 5:00 pm on the second Friday before the primary, election, or runoff and also requires that election officials get absentee ballots in the mail within three business days of receipt. Additionally, no ballots may be issued or mailed following the close of business on the Wednesday prior to the primary, election, or runoff.
Special Committee on Election Integrity Favorably Reported by Substitute on 2/10/2021.


HB 461:
Reps. Fleming, Jones, Rich, Williams, and DeLoach

This bill would allow for all returned absentee ballots to be securely opened and counted ahead of Election Day.
Assigned to the Special Committee on Election Integrity on 2/16/2021.


HB 531:
Reps Fleming, Jones, Powell, Blackmon, Smith and Williams

House Bill 531 is an omnibus bill that aims to provide uniformity to Georgia's voting process. It would require all counties to hold early voting from 9am to 5pm Monday through Friday for the three weeks leading up to the election in addition to the second Saturday prior to the election and it would prohibit any Sunday voting. Additionally, the bill contains photo ID requirements for absentee ballots and limits the amount of time that absentee ballots can be requested and returned. It also restricts drop boxes to early voting sites, only allowing for their usage during early voting hours.
House Passed/Adopted by Substitute on 3/1/2021. Assigned to Senate Ethics Committee on 3/3/2021.


SB 29:
Sen. Anavitarte

This bill would require those wishing to vote in a Georgia election by absentee ballot to include a photocopy of their driver's license, voter ID card, U.S. passport, government employee ID, military ID card, or tribal identification card both when applying for an absentee ballot application and when returning it. Members of the military and overseas voters would be exempt from this requirement.
Referred to Senate Ethics Committee on 1/28/2021.


SB 67:
Sens. Walker, Miller, Mullis, Kennedy, Gooch, and Anavitarte

SB 67 would require Georgia's voters to provide a copy of a valid driver's license, voter ID card, or state ID number when requesting an absentee ballot. It would also allow the Secretary of State's office to establish a web portal in which a voter may submit a request for an absentee ballot by providing proper identification, following which the Secretary of State's office would forward the information to the voter's county of residence for issuance of an absentee ballot.
Senate Passed/Adopted on 2/23/2021. Assigned to House Special Committee on Election Integrity on 2/25/2021.


SB 68:
Sens. Mullis, Miller, Gooch, Walker, Albers, and Hickman

This bill would eliminate absentee ballot drop boxes and require all absentee ballots to be either mailed or hand-delivered to the appropriate county election registrar or clerk.
Assigned to Senate Ethics Committee on 2/2/2021.


SB 69:
Sens. Mullis, Miller, Gooch, Walker, Hickman, and McNeill

Senate Bill 69 would prohibit automatic voter registration when driver's licenses are attained; instead, residents would have to explicitly indicate the desire to register to vote and subsequently sign a voter registration application.
Assigned to Senate Ethics Committee on 2/2/2021.


SB 70:
Sens. Mullis, Miller, Gooch, Walker, Albers, and Hickman

This bill would prohibit new residents of Georgia from voting in runoff elections in the same election cycle.
Assigned to Senate Ethics Committee on 2/2/2021.


SB 71:
Sens. Mullis, Miller, Hickman, McNeill, Beach, and Burns

Senate Bill 71 would end "no excuse" absentee voting and limit absentee voting to residents over the age of 75, those with disabilities, or those required to be absent from their voting precinct.
Assigned to Senate Ethics Committee on 2/2/2021.


SB 73:
Sens. Mullis, Miller, Gooch, Walker, Albers, and Hickman

SB 73 would prohibit all persons and organizations other than the Secretary of State, an election superintendent, a board of registrars, or a candidate or candidate's campaign committee to distribute absentee ballot request forms.
Assigned to Senate Ethics Committee on 2/2/2021.


SB 89:
Sens. Miller, Albers, Gooch, Kennedy, Anavitarte, and Brass

Senate Bill 89 would create within the Secretary of State's office a "Chief Elections Assistance" officer to work under the supervision of the director of the Elections Division. The Chief Elections Assistance officer shall be appointed by the State Election Board. The officer would be responsible for overseeing and training county election superintendents, establishing a list of third-party vendors to perform routine audits and evaluations of election management practices, and provide support to those lowest-performing election superintendents in need of assistance.
Senate Passed/Adopted by Committee Substitute on 2/24/2021. Assigned to House Special Committee on Election Integrity on 2/25/2021.


SB 93:
Sens. Robertson, Anderson, Mullis, Harbin, Thompson, and Anavitarte

This bill would allow for the usage of mobile voting precincts only when existing polling places are deemed unsafe for human occupation or has suffered loss of water and/or electricity. Any other usage of mobile voting precincts would be banned.
Senate Ethics Committee Favorably Reported on 2/23/2021.


SB 141:
Sens. Anavitarte, McNeill, Thompson, Robertson, Hickman, and Gooch

SB 141 would require immediate counting and tabulation of ballots following the closure of polls until counting and tabulation is completed.
Senate Ethics Committee Favorably Reported by Substitute on 2/23/2021.


SB 241:
Sens. Dugan, Miller, Gooch, Kennedy, Cowsert, and Anderson

Similar to HB 531, SB 241 is an omnibus bill that covers a variety of issues including requiring state-issued ID with absentee ballots, under oath submission of absentee ballots, elimination of no-excuse absentee ballots, limited usage of mobile voting units, succinct ballot-counting guidelines, and creation of a voter intimidation and illegal election activity hotline run by the Attorney General's office, among other things.
Assigned to Senate Ethics Committee on 2/24/2021.


SR 83:
Sens. Miller, Gooch, Walker, Burke, and Albers

This resolution proposes an amendment to the Constitution that would allow members of the House of Representatives to serve four-year terms of office and the Senate to serve six-year terms. 
Assigned to Senate Government Oversight Committee on 2/10/2021.


Federal News and Updates


Earlier this week, Georgia Representative Sanford Bishop (D) rejoined the House Agriculture Committee. 

“I am very pleased to rejoin the House Agriculture Committee. When I first came to Congress, I started out on this committee but eventually moved to the appropriations side," Bishop said. "Now, as the Chairman of the Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee, I will bring my experience back to the Agriculture Committee to continue working on behalf of my constituents and the nation to keep American agriculture the best in the world.”

Bishop joins fellow Georgians and friends of agriculture Rep. Rick Allen (R), Rep. Austin Scott (R), and Chairman David Scott (D), on the committee.

Sanford Bishop



The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is extending the deadline from March 5 to April 9 for agricultural producers to apply for the Quality Loss Adjustment (QLA) Program because of recent winter storms and some clarifications to program rules. This program assists producers who suffered crop quality losses due to qualifying 2018 and 2019 natural disasters.

The QLA program assists producers whose eligible crops suffered quality losses due to qualifying drought, excessive moisture, flooding, hurricanes, snowstorms, tornadoes, typhoons, volcanic activity, or wildfires.

Eligible crops include those for which federal crop insurance or Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP) coverage is available, except for grazed crops and value loss crops, such as honey, maple sap, aquaculture, floriculture, mushrooms, ginseng root, ornamental nursery, Christmas trees, and turfgrass sod. Additionally, crops that were sold or fed to livestock or that are in storage may be eligible.

Assistance is available in counties that received a Presidential Emergency Disaster Declaration or Secretarial Disaster Designation, or for drought, a county rated by the U.S. Drought monitor as having a D3 (extreme drought) or higher. Producers in counties that did not receive a qualifying declaration or designation may still apply but must also provide supporting documentation.

FSA will issue payments once the application period ends. If the total amount of calculated QLA payments exceeds available program funding, payments will be prorated.

To apply, contact your local USDA Service Center. Additional information is also available at Producers can also obtain one-on-one support with applications by calling 877-508-8364.


Agricultural producers who have not yet enrolled in the Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) or Price Loss Coverage (PLC) programs for 2021 must do so by March 15. Producers who have not yet signed a 2021 enrollment contract or who want to make an election change should contact their local USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) office to make an appointment. Program enrollment for 2021 is required in order to participate in the programs, but elections for the 2021 crop year are optional and otherwise remain the same as elections made for 2020.

Producers who do not complete enrollment by close of business local time on Monday, March 15 will not be enrolled in ARC or PLC for the 2021 crop year and will be ineligible to receive a payment should one trigger for an eligible crop.

ARC and PLC contracts can be emailed, faxed or physically signed and mailed back to FSA. For more information on ARC and PLC including web-based decision tools, visit



On January 15, USDA announced additional assistance through the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP). Since that announcement, the Biden administration has halted processing and payments pending review. The review is ongoing and it is anticipated that a decision will be made in the coming weeks. The previously set application deadline of February 26 has been eliminated and local FSA offices will continue to accept applications while the administration evaluates the program. Interested applicants will have at least an additional 30 days to sign up after a decision is reached.

American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) President Zippy Duvall recently thanked the administration for the extension, which followed a letter from AFBF to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack requesting an extension.

“AFBF applauds Secretary Vilsack for his swift response to our call for an extension to the CFAP application deadline. Coronavirus aid is a lifeline for farmers and ranchers who are suffering from losses due to the pandemic. Recent severe weather and the suspension of CFAP payments led to challenges and confusion surrounding the application process. The extra time will help ensure America’s farmers have the opportunity to apply for help. We encourage USDA to quickly complete its review of CFAP so resources can be distributed to the people who are working to feed families across the country.”

Once reinstated, this new assistance will include expanded eligibility for certain commodities and producers established in the recently passed relief package, as well as updated payments for producers who were eligible under previous iterations of the program. For more information, click here.



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Public Policy Department Staff

Jeffrey Harvey, Director
Joe McManus, Assistant Director
Alex Bradford, State Affairs Coordinator
Raynor Churchwell, Agricultural Programs Specialist
Tripp Cofield, National Policy Counsel
Katie Duvall, Advocacy and Policy Development Coordinator
Renee Jones, Office Coordinator
Jake Matthews, Governmental Affairs Specialist
Jeremy Taylor, Agricultural Programs Specialist