2020 State Bar Legislative Update: Week 1

2020 Legislative Update | Week 1

The Georgia General Assembly commenced the second year of its two-year cycle on Monday, Jan. 13. The early days of the session are often used by legislators and policymakers to preview their priorities for the months ahead and this past week was no different. On Thursday, Gov. Kemp gave his State of the State address, which highlighted his focus on gang prosecutions, human trafficking and legislative changes to streamline adoptions in the foster care system. The governor also promised a $2,000 pay raise for public school teachers in Fiscal Year 2021.

After facing a decline in state revenue during the latter half of 2019, legislators moved quickly to pass legislation addressing internet sales tax collections and marketplace facilitators. The bill, HB 276 [ www.legis.ga.gov ] , was carried over from the 2019 session and completed the committee process last year, which allowed for its speedy passage early in the session. Contingent on the governor’s signature, the bill will go into effect April 1, 2020. The House and Senate sponsors of the bill have stated that at least $100 million more in tax dollars will be collected as a result of its passage.

A few new bills were introduced during the first week of the session. Of note to those attorneys who consistently need a notary, HB 785 [ www.legis.ga.gov ] , introduced by Rep. Joseph Gullett (R-Dallas), would permit remote online notarization in Georgia. HB 785 [ www.legis.ga.gov ] has been assigned to the House Judiciary Committee and will likely receive a committee hearing in the coming weeks.

Following the State of the State address, the governor released his FY 2021 and Amended FY 2020 budgets. The Legislature took Monday off for MLK Day and will stand adjourned for the remainder of the week as members attend budget hearings. The Legislature will reconvene on Monday, Jan. 27, for legislative day 5.

For a look at the State Bar’s 2020 legislative package, visit the website [ www.gabar.org ] . We plan to keep Bar membership in the know with weekly updates like this one covering legislation that impacts the practice of law. For questions about the legislative session or to plan a lobby day at the State Capitol, please reach out to Christine Butcher Hayes, director of governmental affairs, at christineh@gabar.org.