by Brianna Cook
While many bills were passed and many were not, the Senate did not reach unanimity regarding Georgia Senate Bill 171—a bill relating to mechanics and materialmen liens, to provide that such liens may attach to the usufruct interest of properties owned by or titled in a development authority or downtown development authority. The bill was subject of a study committee last summer, and would have established lien rights for construction providers on development authority projects. As mentioned previously, conference committees within the House and Senate receive bills and hash out any differences between the House and Senate versions of the bill. SB 171 was referred to the Economic Development and Tourism Senate Committee. These members have “general jurisdiction over economic development, business, trade, and any proposed measures that will affect the presence of tourism throughout the state.” Among the bills sponsors include Rep. Max Burns (23rd District), Rep. Steve Gooch (51st District), Rep. Michael Rhett (33rd District), Elena Parent (42nd District), and Rep. Clint Dixon (45th District).
SB 171 made it out of committee, but unfortunately was short lived, as it was tabled due to some last-minute opposition and concerns from local development authorities. In this instance, bills may be reported, with or without amendment, or tabled, which means no further action on it will occur. Tabling effectively “kills” the measure. If the committee has approved extensive amendments, they may decide to report a new bill incorporating all the amendments. In other words, the bill is dead, but it may return for a vote. When a pending matter is tabled correctly, it is set aside with no provision for bringing it back at any specific time. While the bill may not be moving forward, AGC understands the paramount of importance and has committed to revisit the issue in the future.
Summary of Georgia Legislative Process:
The Georgia General Assembly stands as one of the largest state legislatures in the nation. Comprised of the House of Representatives and the Senate, the Georgia General Assembly meets from January until late March to set the state’s annual budget, as well as propose laws on a variety of topics. Monday, March 6th, marked the 28th legislative day of the Senate’s 40-day session. The 28th day, known as none other than “Crossover Day,” is the Georgia General Assembly’s deadline for most bills to be passed by either the House or the Senate before becoming new laws by when the legislative session ends on March 29th. According to Mark Woodall, Associated General Contractor’s of Georgia’s (AGC) Director of Governmental Affairs, approximately 50+ bills were passed out of both the House and the Senate this night. Needless to say, there was a great bit of hustle and bustle at the Capitol and more expansion to come.
In the House, a bill is introduced when it is dropped in the hopper (a wooden box on the House floor). Meanwhile, in the Senate, the bill is submitted to clerks on the Senate floor. Upon introduction, the bill will receive a designation based on the chamber of introduction. Joint resolutions are designated H.J. Res, for House-originated bills, or S.J. Res., for Senate-originated bills, and are followed by a number, which is typically the next number available in sequence during that two-year Congress. Like a bill, a joint resolution requires the approval of both Chambers in identical form and the president’s signature to become law. In the House only, on the next legislative day, the House Clerk reads the bill’s title in chamber, although the actual bill is now assigned to a committee. In the Senate, the second reading before the entire chamber comes after a bill receives a favorable report from the committee to which it has been assigned. If a bill is reported favorably by committee, it is returned to the Clerk or Secretary who prepares a General Calendar of bills that have been favorably reported from the committee. The Senate does not have its second reading until after the bill passes through the committee. That means in the Senate, bills that do not pass the committee do not get a second reading. A simple majority (51 of 100) passes the bill. Finally, a conference committee made of House and Senate members works out any differences between the House and Senate versions of the bill. The resulting bill returns to the House and Senate for final approval.