PAC Update – Conclusion of 2023 Georgia General Assembly Session

The 2023 Georgia General Assembly Session adjourned Sine Die on March 29. This is the first year of a biennial session, so those bills that did not crossover or pass this year could still be considered next year. Over 2,200 bills and resolutions were introduced this year, and the GPA Policy and Advocacy Committee (PAC) met regularly to track those bills of importance to the chapter.    

Just before Sine Die, PAC notified the chapter membership of particular bills of interest that might be up for a vote. These bills included:

HB 404 – Safe at Home Act. This bill would modify a number of provisions in landlord and tenant agreements, generally to be more in favor of tenant rights. Georgia law currently very much favors landlord rights, so these provisions would make GA law more comparable with other states. GPA supports this bill, but it was tabled in the Senate and failed to pass this year.

HB 514 – Housing Regulation Transparency Act. This bill would place a six-month limitation on zoning moratoria with some exceptions, and would restrict zoning and planning fees to be used solely for the purpose of funding the operation of zoning administration and enforcement. Local governments will also be authorized to abate, exempt, or waive any fees related to zoning decisions and related permits for single-family housing developments or projects when the residential units associated with such development or project consist of homes less than 2,500 sf. Our biggest concern regarding this bill is the impact on local fees that typically are used to fund planning departments and the additional burden of tracking specific costs related to zoning administration and enforcement. GPA opposes this bill. This bill did pass the Senate by substitution, but the House disagreed with the changes, so it too failed to pass this year.

SB 62 – Homeless Encampment Bill. This bill would pre-empt local efforts to discourage the enforcement of local anti-camping laws. As worded this bill is very confusing but at its heart is an effort to require that local governments enforce prohibitions on public camping and sleeping. The bill prohibits a city or county from adopting a policy to prohibit or discourage enforcement of criminal laws against street sleeping, camping, or obstructing a sidewalk. It prohibits a policy discouraging law enforcement or prosecutors from enforcing these criminal laws. GPA opposes this bill, but unfortunately it did pass both chambers with some substitutions and will be going on to the Governor for signature.

Another key bill of interest is HB 189, the Truck Weight Bill. The Senate passed the bill last week by substitution, and for a while it looked like the House was not going to approve it; however, at the last minute, a Conference Committee did accept the Senate substitution, so it is heading to the Governor for his signature. As approved, larger trucks (88,000 lbs vs the current 80,000 lbs) carrying agricultural and forestry products will be allowed to travel within 75 miles of their origin.

Other bills of interest that did pass and will be heading to the Governor for signature, include the following:

HB 132 – Authorizes the use of ungraded lumber in the construction or repair of any accessory structure not containing habitable space.

HB 254 – Website posting of legal notices, which provides an additional manner for publishing certain legal notices by local jurisdictions other than just the local newspaper.

HB 374 – Municipal  de-annexation, which revises de-annexation requirements and criteria by providing for a 100% method of de-annexation for 10 or fewer parcels.

SB 55 – Lemonade Stand Act, which prohibits the regulation of businesses or home occupation based on the age of the owner. Persons under 18 can operate a small business, as long as they do not generate more than $5,000 in gross annual receipts. Many local zoning codes currently do not make an exception based on age or gross receipts.

SB 213 – Allows the continuance of lawful non-conforming manufactured homes or mobile homes. This would prohibit local governments from preventing the continuance of lawful nonconforming mobile or manufactured homes when a pre-existing manufactured home or mobile home is replaced with another such home. 

Upcoming PAC Efforts

If you have further questions about these bills or others considered under the Gold Dome this year, PAC will give an update on this year’s legislative activities as part of the legal session of the Spring Conference. Over the coming months, PAC will be preparing for the next half of the 2023-24 biennial session by reviewing the GPA policy positions, and tracking the efforts of legislative Study Committees.

If you are interested in helping in these efforts or attending our monthly meetings, please contact PAC Chair Jim Summerbell.