NEWS

Published on: Feb. 29, 2016
Georgia Chamber Legislative Update – Feb. 26

ACTION ALERT

HB 1017: E-discovery

Chamber Position: Oppose; Scorecard

House Bill 1017, legislation which would increase costs and burdens on all parties in the discovery process of civil litigation, passed the House Judiciary Committee Thursday and is eligible to be called for a vote on the House floor until midnight Monday (2/29) night.    

It is critical that House members hear from the business community. Please contact all members of the House Rules Committee and ask them to oppose HB 1017. Although ultimately endorsed by the Georgia Bar, the bill contains provisions strongly opposed by over 50 leading Georgia companies, significant portions of the Georgia Bar, the Georgia Chamber and other like-minded trade associations. If HB 1017 is passed, Georgia will be alone in affirmatively acting to make discovery more expensive and time-consuming, ultimately impacting the state’s ability to attract and develop industry. (Click here for a one-pager regarding the issue)

Simply put, this legislation, if passed would be catastrophic for small business and extremely costly and problematic for larger employers.

Meadows, John                 Chairman
Harrell, Brett                      Vice Chairman
Smith, Richard H.               Secretary
Abrams, Stacey                  Member
Ballinger, Mandi L.              Member
Benton, Tommy                  Member
Burns, Jon G.                     Member
Cooper, Sharon                  Member
Dempsey, Katie M.             Member
Dickson, Tom                     Member
Drenner, Karla                    Member
Ehrhart, Earl                       Member
Evans, Stacey                    Member
Fleming, Barry                    Member
Golick, Rich                        Member
Greene, Gerald E               Member
Hatchett, Matt                     Member
Hugley, Carolyn                  Member
Jackson, Mack                    Member
Jones, Jan                          Member
Knight, David                      Member
Morris, Greg                       Member
Parrish Butch                       Member
Peake, Allen                         Member
Powell, Alan                        Member
Powell, Jay                          Member
Ramsey, Matt                      Member
Rice, Tom                            Member
Rogers, Carl                        Member
Rogers, Terry                      Member
Setzler, Ed                           Member
Sims, Barbara                      Member
Smith, Lynn                          Member
Smyre, Calvin                       Member
Stephens, Ron                      Member
Weldon, Tom                        Member
Willard, Wendell                    Member
Williams, Al                           Member 

LEGISLATIVE CALENDAR

Friday, the General Assembly completed legislative day 29 of the 40 legislative day calendar.  This week, the legislature will be in session Monday and Wednesday. Monday will be “crossover day,” the last day that a bill can pass its chamber of origin in order to be considered by the other body

 

BILLS OF INTEREST

BUSINESS & INDUSTRY

HB 677 & HR 807: Casino Gaming
Chamber Position: Support 

Sponsored by Representative Ron Stephens (R – Savannah), House Resolution 807 and House Bill 677, both concerning legalizing casino gaming, were favorably reported out of committee Thursday and initially scheduled for a vote Friday, but the vote has been postponed. HR 807 proposes an amendment to the State Constitution allowing for the local authorization of a limited number of destination resort casinos within the state. Georgia voters would have the opportunity to vote in a statewide referendum as to whether the state’s gambling laws should be changed. If approved, local districts would then vote on whether to approve a licensed casino gaming facility in their area. Also sponsored by Representative Stephens, House Bill 677 is the enabling legislation, which would direct revenue generated from gaming toward the preservation of the HOPE Scholarship program. With anticipated revenue upwards of $200 million annually dedicated to HOPE, the Georgia Chamber supports efforts to allow local communities to decide whether to expand casino gaming as we recognize the importance of protecting and expanding post-secondary access through Georgia’s merit-based and needs-based student financial aid programs. 

HEALTH & WELLNESS

HB 920: Health; hospitals and related institutions; restrict civil actions against passive investors in nursing homes and intermediate care homes
Chamber Position: Support

House Bill 920, sponsored by Representative Trey Kelley (R- Cedartown) protects passive investors in nursing homes from undue liability and litigation costs. HB 920 successfully passed the House by a vote of 137-14 on Friday. This legislation is a reaction to out of state plaintiff’s firms targeting Georgia nursing homes along with their passive investors. Aggressive litigation tactics, including the naming of multiple defendants, drive up litigation costs and extort increased settlements.  Furthermore, nearly 75% of Georgia nursing home residents are on Medicaid. As litigation costs rise, the need for additional Medicaid funding by the state will also rise and as increasing access to health care is a cornerstone priority of the Georgia Chamber, we fear this costly and often frivolous litigation will have a negative effect on both the state budget and the very Georgians in need of care. The Chamber supports this common-sense reform, which will reduce litigation costs while ensuring patients still have a clear path to justice and any bad actors in the industry will still face stiff penalties including loss of licensure. 

Click here to see how your representative voted.

TRANSPORTATION

SB 330:  MARTA Expansion
Chamber Position: Support

Sponsored by Senator Brandon Beach (R-Alpharetta), Senate Bill 330 would allow voters in Fulton & DeKalb counties the opportunity to fund significant expansions of MARTA by dedicating ½ of the 1% local transportation sales tax authorized in HB 170 for transit expansion. As of Friday, SB 330 was not scheduled for a floor vote today (2/29), crossover day. Recognizing the important role improving traffic congestion and increasing mobility play in improving the state’s business climate, the Georgia Chamber is supportive of transit efforts.

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