Earlier today, State Senator Greg Dolezal (R-Cumming) filed SB 394 entitled “The Georgia Computer Data Privacy Act”. It is extremely notable that almost every Republican member of the Senate has signed on as a co-sponsor. We are still reviewing the details of the bill, but early indications are that it largely mirrors some of the more imposing proposals that have been seen in other states and includes a private right of action.
Much more to come as we analyze the bill and determine the potential impact on Georgia’s retail industry.
SB 332, the Georgia INFORM Act, was heard by the Senate Judiciary Committee this afternoon where it received a unanimous Do Pass recommendation. The bill was presented by the sponsor, Senator John Albers (R-Roswell). Sen. Albers explained the need for the bill and then gave the committee a section-by-section description of the legislation. Sen. Albers noted that the bill was “98% the same” as the bipartisan federal INFORM Act currently making its way through Congress.
Georgia Retailers lobbyist Stephen Loftin led off testimony by noting the importance of the Organized Retail Crime bill passed by the General Assembly last year, and how the INFORM Act will work alongside that law to provide investigators and prosecutors more tools to track the fencing of stolen goods through online marketplaces. He also noted the importance of the consumer protections included in the bill such as the requirement that high volume sellers of new products provide a way for the consumer to directly contact the online retailer through an app or other electronic method once the sale is complete.
Representatives from Home Depot, Walgreens, Walmart and the Georgia Food Industry Association also spoke in support of the bill and highlighted the work the industry is doing to deter retail theft in their stores and the risk to consumers, particularly when consumable goods are stolen and sold anonymously to unknowing consumers. Amazon and eBay asked for changes in the legislation to include doubling the amount of time for an online retailer to share its information, but no changes were adopted.
SB 332 now moves to the Senate Rules Committee which will determine when the bill receives a vote by the full State Senate. Following that, the legislation will go the House of Representatives.
SB 332 Scheduled for Judiciary Committee Debate Monday
SB 332, the INFORM Consumers Act, will get it’s first hearing on Monday, January 24th in the Senate Judiciary Committee. The Georgia Retailers will testify on the importance of passing this critical consumer protection legislation to combat organized retail crime.
The Committee will meet in Room 307 of the Coverdell Legislative Office Building at 2:00pm (ET) and the meeting will be broadcast online through the General Assembly’s website here.
There is currently an adjournment resolution that has the Legislature in Session Monday and Tuesday, however committee meetings are being scheduled through Friday.
The General Assembly kicked off its first week of the 2022 Session with a very quiet Monday as many of the legislators were headed to Indianapolis for the National Championship game between the University of Georgia and Alabama. A Dawgs victory had almost everyone in very high spirits the rest of this week as the Legislature started its work by inviting Governor Kemp to address a joint session of the House and Senate on Thursday.
Governor Kemp laid out his priorities for the year in his State of the State speech. Education, healthcare and public safety were the primary focus of the Governor’s agenda for 2022. Given the excellent fiscal health of the state, the Governor stated he would include both a tax cut for all Georgians ($250 for single filers and $500 for joint filers) as well as a significant raise for teachers and other state employees and eliminating all austerity cuts to the state K-12 education budget for the first time since the Great Recession in next year’s budget.
Other investments included funding for programs to increase the number of physicians serving in rural areas, expanding the number of nursing slots in public universities and providing the GA Bureau of Investigation with new equipment for the state crime lab.
Speaker David Ralston made his priorities clear during a speech at the annual GA Chamber Eggs and Issues Breakfast Wednesday morning. Chief among them will be a package to address shortcomings in the mental health system in Georgia.
Lt. Governor Duncan also addressed the Chamber breakfast and discussed his desire to hold a national conversation on restoring civility to the political discourse in America.
INFORM CONSUMERS ACT FILED
SB 332 by Sen. John Albers, the Inform Consumers Act, was filed this week. The act will require internet marketplaces to provide more information to consumers about who they are buying from when they make purchases online from high-volume sellers. It is based on the federal legislation that was introduced in Congress late last year. Co-sponsors of the bill include nearly every member of the Senate Majority and Minority leadership.
The bill has been assigned to the Senate Judiciary Committee for consideration.
Today is Day 4 of the 40 Day Session. Next week will have no legislative days as the House and Senate Appropriations’ Committees hold joint hearings on the Governor’s budget. The current schedule calls for Days 5-7 to be held Monday through Wednesday of the following week at which point a new adjournment resolution to set the calendar will need to be adopted.
Today, Georgia Retailers announced the addition of Stephen Loftin to its lobby team for the 2022 Legislative Session. Loftin has 26 years of experience successfully representing the business community in Georgia having served in government affairs capacities with organizations such as the Georgia Chamber of Commerce, the Regional Business Coalition, and the Georgia Cable Association before opening Loftin Public Affairs in 2019.
“I am excited for the opportunity to represent an organization that is as respected as Georgia Retailers,” said Loftin “I look forward to working with members and our partners to continue to protect and enhance Georgia’s retail industry.”
Loftin has championed numerous legislative and regulatory initiatives on behalf of clients which have resulted in cost savings and better operating environments for the business community. He will work alongside members and state officials to lead the association’s strategic initiatives and advocate for sound policy on behalf of Georgia’s retail industry.
Stephen Loftin began his career in 1994 as an aide to the Senate Minority Caucus and worked his way through the ranks amassing legislative victories on issues related to natural gas, telecommunications, tax policy, transportation and education.
For Stephen’s Bio click here.