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Savannah Area Chamber Legislative Update – 3/2/16

Key Pro-Business Policy Positions: 

Abrupt Property Assessments: 

HB 982, introduced by Rep. Ron Stephens, unanimously passed the House on Crossover Day. It now makes its way to the Senate where it will be assigned to a committee by the Lt. Governor and set for a hearing.

Religious Freedom:

Prior to Crossover Day, the Georgia Senate approved legislation that combined two religious freedom bills: the Pastor Protection Act (“PPA”), which would assure clergy they would not have to perform same-sex marriages; and the First Amendment Defense Act (“FADA”) which would allow religious nonprofits to deny services to same-sex marriages. There remains concern over the particular language used in HB 757. The Georgia Chamber, along with a coalition of businesses throughout Georgia, have openly opposed it, but are working closely with the legislature to find a compromise regarding the language. It will most likely be taken up later in the session.

HOPE Preservation:

Casino Gambling: Speaker Ralston announced Monday (3/1) that any further discussion regarding bringing casino gambling to Georgia would be postponed until the next session.

Other Bills of Interest:

HB 1017: E-Discovery:

HB 1017, known as the “E-Discovery Bill,” did not make it through Crossover Day. This highly contested bill proposed legislation governing the discovery process in civil litigation. As it was written, there were great concerns from the business community that it would result in increased costs and burdens in the discovery process for all litigants, particularly those in the business community.

Key Dates:

Governor Nathan Deal has signed the executive order to hold a special election on March 29 for the seat of Rep. Bob Bryant, who unexpectedly passed away in February.

The election will fill Bryant’s unexpired term through January 2017. It is non-partisan. In the case of a run-off, a subsequent election will be held in approximately 30 days. Whomever is elected in the special election will be listed as the incumbent on the November ballot.

To qualify for the upcoming November election for terms beginning January 2017, candidates must qualify March 7-11. The Republican or Democratic primary will be held May 24, and the winner of each party’s primary will run in the general election in November.

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