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Published on: Apr. 5, 2021
Final Legislative Update 2021

Last week, the General Assembly convened on Monday, March 29, and Wednesday, March 31, completing legislative days 39 and 40, the final days of session. Several pieces of positive legislation passed that were directly addressed through the Chamber’s 2021 State Legislative Agenda.

HB 80, the supplemental appropriations for the state’s Fiscal Year 2021, included one-time funds ($1M) for a targeted advertising campaign to promote interstate Georgia tourism. This bill will provide one-time funding for marketing and advertising efforts aimed at reaching potential visitors in Georgia and surrounding states. Governor Kemp signed HB 80 on February 15. Additionally, increased funding for marketing Georgia as a tourism destination was a key pro-business item in the Savannah Chamber’s Legislative Agenda.

HB 81, the general appropriations for the state’s Fiscal Year 2022, included appropriation of $36.7M for the construction of the Georgia Southern Convocation Center on the Statesboro Campus, appropriation of $4.05M for design, construct, and equipment for campus-wide HVAC and access control infrastructure at Savannah State University, and the appropriation of $3.5M for design and construction of the Culinary Institute Renovation at Savannah Technical College.

HB 81 also includes additional appropriation of $90M for the expansion of the Savannah Convention Center. All these were items specifically requested in the Savannah Chamber’s Legislative Agenda. HB 81 has been submitted to Governor Kemp for his consideration.

HB 112, would renew until July 2022, Georgia’s law protecting businesses and others from being sued if someone blames them for contracting COVID-19. This legislation supports the Chamber’s efforts to keep Georgia as the state with the Top Business Climates in the U.S. HB 112 has been submitted to Governor Kemp for his consideration.

HB 268 and HB 395 includes certain licensing provisions related to professional counselors, marriage and family counselors, social workers and occupational therapist. By entering to an interstate compact, Georgia would recognize professional licenses issued in other states, thus allowing these practitioners to operate in Georgia. These bills will be instrumental in the support of the spouses of active-duty military personnel. The support of our military and their families has always been a tip initiative of the Savannah Chamber, this legislation is a positive move in the continued support of that initiative. Both HB 268 and HB 395 have been submitted to Governor Kemp for his consideration.

HR 248 supported the Chamber’s prioity to expand the state-designated Logistics Technology Innovation Corridor by encompassing of all of Chatham County, Bryan County, Effingham County, Bulloch County, Liberty County, and Screven County, the Savannah Logistics Technology Innovation Corridor is the official technology innovation corridor in the State of Georgia. SR 102 will continue the work of the Georgia Commission on E-Commerce and Freight Infrastructure (formerly known as the Georgia Commission on Freight and Logistics). The mission of the commission is to provide a comprehensive, strategic business plan to develop state-wide freight and logistics infrastructure in order for this state to remain economically competitive. Both HR 248 and SR 102 have been submitted to Governor Kemp for his consideration.

These are a few of the pieces of legislation that made it through the 2021 legislative session and were directly addressed through the Chamber’s 2021 State Legislative Agenda. Governor Brian Kemp will have 40 calendar days to consider signing, vetoing, or taking no action on legislation passed by the General Assembly. As of March 31, 2021, any bill that has not received final legislative approval will no longer be considered until the 2022 session of the Georgia General Assembly.

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