News Releases

Friday, 18 March 2022 13:40

2022 Legislative Session: Week Ten

Week ten began with a bang as Crossover Day took place on Tuesday. Both the Senate and the House worked late into the night with multiple controversial issues providing plenty of fireworks and lots of “oohs and ahhs” by the lobbyists watching the screens outside the chambers as vote counts were displayed. After the dust had settled, a better picture of which legislation is still alive and which bills will have to wait a year (or longer) has emerged. 

Wednesday through Friday, on the other hand, was a time for the General Assembly to collect its breath and restart the process of committee hearings with bills from the other chamber. 

One final word of warning…as everyone familiar with this process knows, legislation is never really dead at the Georgia State Capitol. Language from bills that are considered “dead” can be amended into bills that are considered “germane.” Typically, bills are germane when they are located in the same code section as the original bill or if the subject matter is the same. These bills are also known as “vehicles” and identifying vehicles is a big part of what the lobbying team will be doing over the next few weeks to ensure that no nasty surprises slip though the chaos which defines the final days of a Session.

“Must Accept Cash” Bill Held on Crossover Day
HB 1152, requiring retailers to accept cash for purchases, was not brought to the House floor for a vote on Tuesday and so will be ineligible for further consideration. As noted above, language from the bill could be added to other legislation that is still moving. Considering the second signer on the bill is the Chairman of the Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Committee, it will be important to monitor that committee for any legislation that could serve as a vehicle.

Georgia Inform Consumers Act Receives First Hearing in House; Substitute Language Being Considered
The House Judiciary Committee held a hearing Thursday afternoon on SB 332, the Georgia Inform Consumers Act. Chairman Chuck Efstration, (R – Dacula) brought a substitute with language sought by Amazon that allows them to monitor the chat function of the merchants that use their platform. 

Two representatives from the online marketplace companies spoke against the bill and asked for it to be held. Neither seemed to have much impact with the committee. Georgia Retailers spoke for the legislation along with representatives from members companies Walmart, CVS, Walgreens and The Home Depot. The Georgia Food Industry Association also spoke in support of the legislation.

While the committee did not take a vote in this hearing, the Chairman indicated that a vote would be taken at the next meeting which is likely to be held early next week.

Legislative Schedule
The General Assembly has now completed 31 Legislative Days of the 40 Day Session.
Next week’s schedule is as follows:

  • Monday (3/21) – Legislative Day 32
  • Tuesday (3/22) – Legislative Day 33
  • Wednesday (3/23) – Legislative Day 34
  • Thursday (3/24) – Committee Day 
  • Friday (3/25)– Legislative Day 35

Friday, 11 March 2022 19:35

2022 Legislative Session: Week Nine

Qualifying week is over and the election field has taken shape in Georgia. While most of the media focus is on the big national races for US Senate and the Governor’s office, the impact on the General Assembly is significant as well. Over 70% of the House and Senate seats will be involved in competitive races. Some of those will be open seats where the incumbent has retired or is running for another office. However, most of the races will include an incumbent running for re-election against challengers. We’ll have a more complete review of the legislative and state-wide races following the Session.

With Qualifying over, the pressure will be on the General Assembly to finish its business in early April so that the members can start raising money and campaigning. 

Legislation Requiring Retailers to Accept Cash Moves to Rules Committee
HB 1152, requiring retailers to accept cash for purchases, passed the House Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Committee this week. The bill would require stores that do not keep cash for change to give the customer store credit if they cannot make change for a customer transaction. The bill does exempt online purchases but is unclear whether a delivery service would fall under the new rules. If the bill moves forward, amendments are being prepared to clarify that a business would be in compliance as long as the store had one location such as a register or a customer service counter that accepted cash and to clarify that the bill would not apply to delivery services.

Legislative Schedule
The General Assembly has now completed 27 Legislative Days of the 40 Day Session.
Next week’s schedule is as follows:

  • Monday (3/14)– Out of Session
  • Tuesday (3/15)– Legislative Day 28 (Crossover Day)
  • Wednesday (3/16)– Legislative Day 29
  • Thursday (3/17)– Legislative Day 30
  • Friday (3/18) – Legislative Day 31

Friday, 04 March 2022 16:09

2022 Legislative Session: Week Eight

The Session is past the half-way point and we are closing in on Crossover Day which is scheduled for March 15th. House and Senate Committees are winding up their work on the bills that have been introduced in those respective chambers, and floor debates are lasting longer (and getting more heated) as the issues get more contentious. Most committees will have one or two more committee meetings prior to Crossover Day but that doesn’t leave much time for issues that are struggling to gain traction.

Over 30 bills that would have negatively impacted labor and employment practices such as raising the minimum wage, making changes to the Family and Medical Leave Act and other issues have been filed this Session. While these bills have not received a hearing and are not likely to get one prior to the 15th thanks to Georgia’s pro-business political climate, they demonstrate that the retail industry cannot take its eye off the ball during Session. It also points to the importance of the industry continuing to support legislators from both parties who are willing to listen to the retailers’ point of view.

SB 331 by Sen. John Albers (R – Roswell) prohibits local governments from passing ordinances which would place restrictions on an employer’s ability to set an employee’s schedule as best meets the needs of the business. Local governments will retain the ability to set operating hours for businesses inside its limits. The bill has passed the Senate and is currently in the House Insurance and Labor Committee. 

HB 961 by Rep, Chuck Efstration (R – Dacula) authorizes the apportionment of damages in single-defendant lawsuits for injury to person or property and allows evidence of the fault of nonparties in a case to be presented in those cases. Apportionment is available in current law in cases with multiple defendants, but single-party cases where another party may bear partial responsibility were being treated as if the defendant held all of the responsibility for the injury. Providing this evidence during trial may help limit the awards in these cases. HB 961 passed the House of Representatives this week by a vote of 168-0. 

The General Assembly has now completed 24 Legislative Days of the 40 Day Session.
Next week’s schedule is as follows:

  • Monday (3/7)– Out of Session
  • Tuesday (3/8) – Legislative Day 25
  • Wednesday (3/9) – Committee Work Day
  • Thursday (3/10) – Legislative Day 26
  • Friday (3/11) – Legislative Day 27

Friday, 25 February 2022 16:02

2022 Legislative Session: Week Seven

It was a lighter week from a legislative standpoint as the House and Senate were in Session for two days with a committee day in between. Local redistricting issues continue to take much of the time on the calendar and the debate over certain maps in larger cities has grown quite partisan. Add in some hot-button social issues and the temperatures inside the Capitol have grown as warm as the afternoon temperatures we’ve been enjoying lately. 

That being said, there are priorities that the two sides can agree on such as the full funding of the state’s K-12 education formula, teacher raises and efforts to promote public safety like the Georgia INFORM Act. While we still don’t have confirmation on a hearing date in the House yet, the legislators who have been educated on the issue are enthusiastic in their support. Georgia Retailers is looking forward to a hearing being scheduled on the bill shortly after Crossover Day occurs on March 15th.

The General Assembly has now completed 20 Legislative Days of the 40 Day Session.
Next week’s schedule is as follows:

  • Monday (2/28) – Legislative Day 21
  • Tuesday (3/1)– Legislative Day 22
  • Wednesday (3/2)– Committee Work Day
  • Thursday (3/3) – Legislative Day 23
  • Friday (3/4)– Legislative Day 24

Friday, 18 February 2022 15:57

2022 Legislative Session: Week Six

The General Assembly continues to progress through its calendar and move legislation forward as the Session finishes its sixth week. While Crossover Day is still a month away, another date has been quietly looming in the background and is beginning to come into play. That date is Monday, March 7th, the first day of qualifying to run in the 2022 elections. Qualifying will end on Friday, March 11th. While that is still weeks off, the effect of an election year is already being felt both in the bills that are progressing, the tenor of the debates and in the decisions being made.

This week two notable legislators announced they are retiring – one in the Senate and one in the House.

On Tuesday, Senate Higher Education Committee Chairman Lindsey Tippins of Marietta announced he was not running for re-election. Then another bombshell hit Thursday when House Appropriations Chairman Terry England revealed he was not running for reelection after serving 17 years, 12 as the Chair of the all-important budget writing committee. The reverberations of that retirement will be felt throughout the Capitol as he is universally respected.

They are not the only two legislators to announce retirements as at least 10 House members and almost as many Senators have already declared they are either running for different positions or retiring. Many more announcements are expected over the next three weeks before Qualifying ends. Rumors are circulating that 30 or more legislators may not come back in the House alone, that’s not counting any changes that may occur as a result of the elections themselves.  

Press Conference Supporting Georgia INFORM Act Draws Media Coverage 
A press conference held Tuesday by Sen. Albers and members of Georgia Retailerswas well attended by local media and resulted in a number of positive stories on the local news that evening as well as on the web. Fox 5 and WSB 2 both ran stories that helped explain the issue and why the GA INFORM Act is an important tool for law enforcement. Attorney General Chris Carr, State Senator John Albers, and Rep. Houston Gaines of Athens, the House sponsor of the legislation, all spoke on the importance of the legislation. 

You can see the stories and articles from Fox 5 here and WSB here.

The General Assembly has now completed 18 Legislative Days of the 40 Day Session.
Next week’s schedule is as follows:

  • Monday (2/21) – President’s Day
  • Tuesday (2/22)– Legislative Day 19
  • Wednesday (2/23) – Committee Work Day

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