2019-2020 Legislative Session

Georgia Legislature Again Tries to Claim Land in Tennessee

Part one of the 2019-2020 Georgia Legislative Session wrapped up on Tuesday. We’re going to quickly run through those bills we’ve been tracking that passed and those that failed. Our legislative page has a lengthier discussion of some of the bills discussed in this article. Don’t feel too bad for the bills that failed, though, as the legislature can re-consider them during the second part of the session next year.

The Failures

HB-1, which would have expanded the number of guns allowed in state parks (though still ban slingshots) garnered little interest from the House as did HB-19, would would have expanded the prohibition on housing discrimination. Both bills failed to even be referred to a House committee.

The two homeowners association (HOA) bills we were tracking also failed. HB-71 would have prohibited HOA’s from banning political signs while HB-407 would have prohibited HOA’s from banning solar panels.

Two rideshare-related bills also failed to get out of their respective houses. HB-74 would have prohibited rideshare companies from banning drivers from carrying guns. The bill that received more attention, HB-511, which would have imposed a tax on rideshare services to be used for transit also failed.

Unfortunately, plans for a rail link between Atlanta and Savannah won’t be resurrected anytime soon as HR-50 failed. That resolution would have explored re-opening passenger rail service between the two cities.

All of the civil asset forfeiture-related bills also failed. They would have slightly increased the number of protections citizens have from police attempting to take property that may or may not have been related to a crime.

The Georgia Legislature also failed to take action on e-scooter regulations. HB-454 imposes helmet requirements for electric bikes while also allowing such bikes to use paved paths, but regulations related to e-scooters were cut from the bill. The Senate passed SR-479 to create a sub-committee to study e-scooter regulations.

The Winners

Perhaps the biggest winner was tenants. The legislature, having entertained similar bills in previous years, finally passed landlord retaliation legislation. If signed by the governor, HB-346 would prohibit landlords from retaliating against tenants for various things including tenant requests for repairs, tenants informing local governments of code violations, and tenants joining tenant activist groups. The bill also entitles tenants to collect $500 from landlords for retaliatory acts.

The House passed a resolution, HR-48, officially opposing federal plans to increase offshore oil drilling. The Senate failed to pass a similar resolution.

The legislature also passed HB-76, which allows local jurisdictions to set minimum distance requirements between places selling alcohol and churches and schools.

While the legislature failed to a pass a bill increasing notice requirements for coal ash pond spills, it did pass HB-223 to exempt certain pesticide products and animal waste spills from triggering a notification requirement to local governments.

As it did last year, the Senate passed a resolution allowing the state to negotiate with Tennessee and North Carolina over re-drawing Georgia’s northern border. This is because the Georgia Legislature maintains that the original boundary lines were drawn incorrectly in 1818 and Georgia should actually own more land to its north. This is convenient since just over the border is a trove of water in the Tennessee River that would ease concerns the state has in its water wars with Florida and Alabama. This topic deserves its own, much lengthier discussion.

All of the bills still have to be signed by the Governor to go into effect. Please visit our legislative page for more information on most of the bills.

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