State Bar Legislative Update: Days 31-36

Legislative Update | Days 31-36

We’ve entered the final stretch! The past two weeks have marked Days 31 through 36, with committees working throughout the day when the House and Senate are not convened. The Senate Appropriations Committee released its version of the FY 2020 budget on Thursday, which will likely be taken up for a vote before the full Senate early next week. Below is an update on some of the legislation the State Bar has been tracking throughout the session.

HB 70 [ www.legis.ga.gov ] , sponsored by Rep. Chuck Efstration (R-Dacula), passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday. HB 70 [ www.legis.ga.gov ] integrates citations to provisions in Title 29 Chapter 11 in order to provide clarity for attorneys practicing in this area and to prevent litigation based on ambiguities between these chapters. The bill also adds three new provisions that address bonding, costs and registering guardianship letters from other states. HB 70 [ www.legis.ga.gov ] will await selection before the House Rules Committee next week, where the bill must be chosen for the Rules Calendar in order to get a vote on the Senate floor.

The House and Senate each have separate bills implementing the statewide business court. HB 239 [ www.legis.ga.gov ] and SB 110 [ www.legis.ga.gov ] both passed in their respective chambers by the Crossover Day deadline and continue to make their way through the committee process. SB 110 [ www.legis.ga.gov ] was voted out of the House Judiciary Committee on March 19 and HB 239 [ www.legis.ga.gov ] passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee on March 21. While HB 239 [ www.legis.ga.gov ] and SB 110 [ www.legis.ga.gov ] share a number of the same provisions that implement the statewide business court, there are a couple of fundamental differences between the bills. The language preferred by the House would allow a single party to transfer a case from superior or state court to the business court, while the Senate version would require the consent of both parties to transfer a case. Additionally, the Senate’s preferred language puts the statewide business court in Macon, while the House version favors the court’s headquarters in Atlanta.

HB 311 [ www.legis.ga.gov ] , sponsored by Rep. Andy Welch (R-McDonough), passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday. The bill provides for specific instances where sovereign immunity is waived in a lawsuit against the state that seeks declaratory or injunctive relief to remedy an injury in fact caused to an aggrieved person.

HB 346 [ www.legis.ga.gov ] , sponsored by Rep. Sharon Cooper (R-Marietta), passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday. The bill intends to strengthen tenant protections so that a tenant can bring a defense of retaliation against a landlord in a dispossessory action where the dispossessory was filed because the tenant gave notice of a repair, complained to a governmental entity about code enforcement, or created a tenant organization to discuss the conditions of the property.

SB 37 [ www.legis.ga.gov ] , which amends the statute of frauds, passed out of the House Judiciary Committee on Thursday. The bill would require that any agreement to modify, alter, cancel, revoke or rescind a contract that falls within the Statute of Frauds must be in writing. SB 37 [ www.legis.ga.gov ] is in response to a 2018 Court of Appeals of Georgia decision in Crop Production Services, Inc. v. Moye , which found that a mutual oral agreement to rescind a written guarantee is not subject to the Statute of Frauds.

If you have questions or comments on these bills or any other legislation before the General Assembly this session, please email Christine Butcher Hayes, director of governmental affairs, at christineh@gabar.org [ mailto:christineh@gabar.org ] . For additional information about the State Bar of Georgia’s legislative program and agenda, to track legislation or to contact the Bar’s legislative team, please visit the Legislative Program page [ www.gabar.org ] .