2020 Legislative Update

7.3.2020
Rep. Scott Holcomb

Greetings:

The 2020 legislative session was unlike any other. The session adjourned on Friday, March 13, 2020, because of COVID-19. The following Monday, March 16, 2020, the General Assembly returned to the Capitol for a one-day emergency session to concur with Governor Kemp's declaration of a state of emergency. That state of emergency remains in effect and will likely continue for some time.

The General Assembly reconvened on June 15, 2020, and was in session through Saturday, June 20, 2020. The General Assembly adjourned for Father's Day, and then reconvened from June 22, 2020 until Sine Die on June 26, 2020. Below is a summary of key measures.

In addition, coronavirus cases have risen dramatically over the last week. Yesterday marked a record high for confirmed cases in the United States and in Georgia. Please continue to be careful.

Lastly, I would like to wish you a happy and safe 4th of July.

Very best,

Scott

Legislative Summary

The Georgia House Budget and Research Office has prepared a summary of the bills that passed this year. You can view it here.

Below is additional information about some of the measures that passed.

Fiscal Year 2021 Budget

The General Assembly passed the budget for this fiscal year (which begins today, on July 1st).

Here is a link to the Track Sheet used in the House of Representatives:

Highlights of the budget can be found here.

Because of the economic downturn from the coronavirus, the revenue estimate was revised downward. Approximately $2.2 billion was cut from the budget, and that included roughly $950 million in cuts to K-12 education funding. There were also significant cuts to health care. However, other areas of the budget were restored.

Here is a link to an article about the budget:

Hate Crimes Bill

Georgia was one of four states without a hate crimes law. That has now changed.

On June 26, 2020, Governor Kemp signed House Bill 426 into law. HB 426 provides for enhanced penalties if the trier of fact determines beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant intentionally selected any victim or group of victims or any property as the object of the offense because of such victim's or group of victims' actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender, mental disability, or physical disability.

House Bill 838

This measure creates the right for a civil suit to be brought by a peace officer against any person, group of persons, organization, or corporation, for damages suffered during the officer's performance of official duties or for filing a false complaint against the officer. In addition, the law creates a new crime of "bias motivated intimidation," a felony. Numerous civil rights groups oppose this legislation and have asked Governor Kemp to veto it.

Benefit Corporations

This bipartisan legislation updates Georgia's Corporate Code to authorize benefit corporations in our state. A benefit corporation is a traditional corporation with modified obligations committing it to higher standards of purpose, accountability, and transparency. Presently, 35 states (to include our neighbors Florida, South Carolina, and Tennessee) and the District of Columbia authorize benefit corporations. There are a number of start-ups that want to be incorporated in Georgia as benefit corporations, but they do not presently have this option. That will change if signed into law. I have worked on this legislation for five years and I am very pleased it was passed by the House and Senate.

Sovereign Immunity

If approved by Governor Kemp, this measure would put before the voters a Constitutional referendum that would waive sovereign immunity so that citizens could petition the courts if the government is acting outside of its lawful authority or in violation of state law, the Georgia Constitution, or the U.S. Constitution.

Here is the question for the referendum:

Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended to waive sovereign immunity and allow the people of Georgia to petition the superior court for relief from governmental acts done outside the scope of lawful authority or which violate the laws of this state, the Constitution of Georgia, or the Constitution of the United States?

I will be voting yes.

Click here for more information.

DeKalb County Board of Ethics
Legislation was passed to fix the appointment process for the DeKalb County Board of Ethics. Here is an article about the legislation.



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