ACEC Georgia Capitol Update – Resumption of Session
 
The General Assembly resumed its 2020 legislative session last week, meeting Monday through Saturday (the first Saturday session since 2005). The adjournment resolution calls for the General Assembly to meet for legislative days 35-40 on Monday, June 22 through Friday, June 26, when they will adjourn Sine Die (the term used for the last day of a legislative session - Latin for "without a day" – meaning they adjourn with no date to return). 

Last week felt like a month, with the frenetic pace both chambers were operating under to move non-controversial legislation forward while also dealing with the budget and hate crimes legislation. Both Chambers voted to insist on their respective FY 2021 budget plans, and a conference committee of senators and representatives was appointed on Saturday to hash out the differences between the House and Senate versions of the budget. With a $2.6 billion cut from the previous year's budget, members are proposing several new income streams to fill the gap. These include raising the cigarette tax, sports betting, and home alcohol delivery.  
 
Private Plan Review and Inspection for Previously Exempted Structures
 
On Wednesday, June 17, we amended SB 377 by Sen. Burt Jones (R-Jackson) in committee. This bill originally dealt with elevator inspections by the Insurance Commissioner's Office but was amended at the request of ACEC Georgia and AGC Georgia to make the Governor's Executive Order allowing private plan review and inspections for all building types permanent, by deleting subsection 8-2-26(g)(17) of the Georgia Code in its entirety. The amended version of the bill passed in the House on June 18 and only awaits an agree vote in the Senate to be sent to the Governor's desk.  
 
Professional Engineer, Structural Engineer (PE, SE) License Bill
 
SB 310 - By Sen. Tyler Harper (R-Ocilla) passed unanimously out of the House Regulated Industries Committee on June 17 and passed the full House on Saturday, June 20. The bill is now on the Governor's desk awaiting his signature. We truly appreciate the efforts of Sen. Harper and our House sponsor Vance Smith (R-Pine Mountain), who worked to get this bill passed with no changes. 
 
Georgia Pandemic Business Immunity Act and Georgia Pandemic Business Protection Act
 
HB 216 - By Rep. Teri Anulewicz (D-Smyrna) started out as a bill to create a special license plate honoring the Georgia Tennis Association. It has now become the vehicle for the "Georgia Pandemic Business Immunity Act" to create safe harbor immunity from potential civil liability for businesses that reopen and attempt in good faith to comply with the guidelines issued by the Governor, the Georgia Department of Public Health, or Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The bill passed out of the Senate Public Safety Committee on June 17 and is awaiting further action by the full Senate. 
 
HB 167 – By Rep. Darlene Taylor (R-Thomasville) was originally a bill dealing with insurance adjusters in residential property claims. It has now become the vehicle for the "Georgia Pandemic Business Protection Act" to create safe harbor immunity from potential civil liability in relation to COVID-19 transmission, contraction, or exposure. The bill passed out of the Senate Insurance and Labor Committee on June 19 and is awaiting further action by the full Senate. 
 
While specific immunity language continues to be debated, ACEC Georgia supports much-needed legislation to provide businesses that follow the recommended safety protocols with reasonable immunity from COVID-19 related claims.   
   
Lien Law Fix
 
SB 315 - By Sen. Lindsey Tippins (R-Marietta) was introduced to address a Georgia Court of Appeals ruling that extinguished ALL rights (including contract rights) for failure to file an Affidavit of Non-Payment. This bill corrects the existing lien law language to allow contract rights to remain valid in the event of failure to file the lien or affidavit of non-payment. SB 315 passed the House on Friday, June 19, and now heads to the Governor. 
 
Dam Bill
 
SB 319 - By Sen. Frank Ginn (R-Danielsville) would allow habitable structures within the inundation zone below a Category II dam if an engineer of record certifies that the structure is fortified to such a degree to prevent the significant risk of loss of life, without the dam in question becoming classified as a Category I dam. The bill is pending in the House Natural Resources Committee. The Committee heard the bill on June 11 and again in the subcommittee on June 16 without taking action. No additional committee meetings have been posted for the bill, and it is unlikely to receive any further hearings or action.  
 
Joint Senate and House Transportation meeting on Monday, June 22
 
The Senate and House Transportation Committees will meet Monday, June 22, to confirm Jannine Miller, Governor Kemp's nominee for GDOT State Planning Director. 
 
Additional Legislation ACEC Georgia is Following:
 
HB 105 – By Rep. Sam Watson (R-Moultrie) started out as a tax break bill for farmers who were impacted by Hurricane Michael. This bill was amended in the Senate Finance Committee to include a new rideshare flat fee of $.50 per ride or $.25 per shared ride for taxis, Uber & Lyft. Without the flat fee carve-out to the previously passed Marketplace Facilitators bill, ride shares would be subject to state and local sales taxes, which would greatly increase the cost of ride-sharing services to consumers. Under the House's amendment, the revenue generated by the new rideshare flat fee would be used to fund transit projects. There will also be a new 10% carve-out for transit from the revenue collected from existing heavy vehicle impact fees and $5 per night hotel/motel fees that were created by the Transportation Funding Act of 2015 (HB 170). STATUS: Revised version passed the Senate by a vote of 51-2 on March 4. The House amended the Senate's substitute, and it passed the House by a vote of 150-7. A revised version passed Senate on June 18 and awaits signature by the Governor.
 
HB 167 – By Rep. Darlene Taylor (R-Thomasville) was originally a bill dealing with insurance adjusters in residential property claims. It has now become the vehicle for the "Georgia Pandemic Business Protection Act" to create safe harbor immunity from potential civil liability in relation to COVID-19 transmission, contraction, or exposure. STATUS: Passed out of the Senate Insurance and Labor Committee on June 19 and is awaiting further action by the full Senate. 
 
HB 216 – By Rep. Teri Anulewicz (D-Smyrna) started out as a bill to create a special license plate honoring the Georgia Tennis Association. It has now become the vehicle for the "Georgia Pandemic Business Immunity Act" to create safe harbor immunity from potential civil liability for businesses that reopen and attempt in good faith to comply with the guidelines issued by the Governor, the Georgia Department of Public Health, or Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The bill passed out of the Senate Public Safety Committee on June 17 and is awaiting further action by the full Senate. While the language concerning the burden of proof may change, ACEC Georgia supports this much-needed legislation. STATUS: Passed out of the Senate Public Safety Committee on June 17 and is awaiting further action by the full Senate.   
    
HB 448 – By Rep. Matt Dollar (R-East Cobb) would expand the $5 per night hotel/motel fee established in The Transportation Funding Act of 2015 (HB 170) to include Airbnb rentals that generate $100,000 or more per year in revenue. STATUS: Passed House 105-48. Pending further action in the Senate.
 
HB 511 – By Rep. Kevin Tanner (R-Dawsonville) is back in a scaled-down version. This substitute has been vetted with GDOT, the ATL, Senators Gooch and Beach. The new version moves The ATL to GDOT and streamlines the elections procedures for the ATL Board. It requires all transit providers within the ATL region to use the ATL Brand within three years. It also extends the sunset on the use of the CPI index on motor fuel taxes to 2025. STATUS: Passed Senate Transportation on Thursday, March 5, awaiting action in Senate Rules.  
 
HB 777 – By Rep. John Corbett (R-Lake Park) directs the Department of Community Affairs to undertake a review of the tall mass timber provisions of the 2021 International Building Code, for the purpose of considering whether Georgia's building codes should be amended to include provisions for tall mass timber for construction types IV-A, IV-B, and IV-C. STATUS: Passed House Agriculture & Consumer Affairs Committee on February 18. Passed House on February 20. Passed Senate on June 16. 
 
HB 793 – By Speaker David Ralston (R-Blue Ridge) is the FY21 budget. STATUS: A conference committee has been appointed to work out the differences between the House and Senate. 
 
HB 820 – By Rep. Kevin Tanner (R-Dawsonville) would establish the Georgia Freight Railroad Program as a placeholder line Item in the GDOT budget for possible future funding for freight rail improvements, subject to the appropriations process. STATUS: Passed House 162-1 on Monday, February 24. Passed Senate June 17. Awaiting signature by the Governor. 

HB 914 – By Rep. Heath Clark (R-Warner Robbins) is a reciprocal licensure bill for the spouses of military service members or transitioning service members. The applicable PLB Board will now grant expedited reciprocity for military spouses if the person holds a current license to practice such occupation or profession issued by another state for which the training, experience, and testing are substantially similar in qualifications and scope to the requirements under this state to obtain a license. Rep. Clark also removed the section that would have exempted military spouses from having to sit for a Georgia specific test. STATUS: Passed House 165-0 on Monday, March 2, Passed Senate Veterans, Military Committee on June 18, and is pending further action the Senate Rules Committee.
 
HB 1098 – By Rep. Kasey Carpenter (R-Dalton) is the annual GDOT "Housekeeping Bill." It aligns the statewide strategic plan with the federal strategic plan, resulting in cost savings for GDOT. It also includes the extension of the use of the CPI index on motor fuel excise taxes to 2025. STATUS: Passed House 167-0. Passed Senate Transportation by substitute on June 19. It awaits action in Senate Rules.
 
SB 310 – By Sen. Tyler Harper (R-Ocillia) would establish a new "PE, SE" license for structural engineers. This bill would alleviate the competitive disadvantage Georgia structural engineers face when competing for bids against individuals from states that have already established some sort of SE license. STATUS: Passed the Senate Monday, February 24 46-8. Passed House Regulated Industries on June 17 and passed the House on June 20. It is awaiting signature by the Governor. 
 
SB 315 – By Sen. Lindsey Tippins (R-Marietta) was introduced to address a Georgia Court of Appeals ruling that extinguished ALL rights (including contract rights) for failure to file an Affidavit of Non-Payment. STATUS: Passed the Senate unanimously on February 21. Passed House Regulated Industries on June 17 and passed the House on June 19. It is awaiting signature by the Governor. 
 
SB 316 – By Sen. Bruce Thompson (R-White) is Reciprocal Licensure for Military Spouses. An amended version of the bill passed out of Committee on Friday, February 21. The amended version corrected several of the issues that we had with the bill. The applicable PLB Board will now grant expedited reciprocity for military spouses if the person holds a current license to practice such occupation or profession issued by another state for which the training, experience, and testing are substantially similar in qualifications and scope to the requirements under this state to obtain a license. Sen. Thompson also removed the section that would have exempted military spouses from having to sit for a Georgia specific test. STATUS: Passed Senate unanimously on February 27, Passed House Government Affairs on June 16. Was placed on the House calendar but was later withdrawn on June 19. 
 
SB 319 – By Sen. Frank Ginn (R-Danielsville) would allow habitable structures within the inundation zone below a Category II dam if an engineer of record certifies that the structure is fortified to such a degree to prevent the significant risk of loss of life, without the dam in question becoming classified as a Category I dam. STATUS: Passed the Senate on Monday, February 24, by a vote of 47-6. Bill is pending in the House Natural Resources Committee. After two hearings with no action taken, the bill is not likely to receive any further action.
 
SB 371 – By Sen. Steve Gooch (R- Dahlonega) is companion legislation to HB 820, creating the Georgia Freight Railroad Program within GDOT, and now includes language requested by GDOT that would allow maximum flexibility to allocate funding. STATUS: Passed unanimously on Friday, February 28, Passed House Transportation on June 18 and awaits action in House Rules Committee.
 
SR 793 – By Sen. Brandon Beach (R-Alpharetta) would create the Joint Private Financing of Infrastructure Study Committee. This is in response to the Freight & Logistics Commission's findings last year of the need for $4 Billion per year for the next 30 years to accommodate the increase in freight coming from the Port of Savannah. STATUS: Passed Senate on March 10 and Passed House Government Affairs June 19. It awaits action in House Rules. 
 
SR 885 – By Sen. Tyler Harper (R-Ocilla) is a constitutional amendment that would allow the state to finance General Obligation Bonds for local community airport construction. STATUS: Passed Senate 55-0. Assigned to House Appropriations on June 15.