One year ago, we convened 50 of our top business leaders to explore ways to restore Georgia’s economy as the impacts of COVID-19 were just beginning to devastate businesses and our way of life. Supported by the Boston Consulting Group, we launched our RESTORE initiative to revitalize Georgia’s economy. You stepped up and shared your thoughts through the ideation phase, and loaned your support through the execution phase. One year later, we reflect on what RESTORE accomplished.
The following RESTORE recommendations were passed by the Georgia General Assembly during the 2020 legislative session and signed by Governor Kemp:
SB 377 (Sen. Burt Jones) – makes permanent Gov. Kemp’s emergency order permitting third-party construction inspections of high-rises and healthcare facilities.
*SB 359 (Sen. Chuck Hufstetler) – provides for a gross negligence standard as it relates to COVID-19 for any business that opens its doors. The bill allows for greater protections for businesses that post a sign at the entrance of the establishment which provides notice that those entering assume entry at their own risk. This does not provide blanket immunity, but it does provide heightened protections for businesses who aren’t acting recklessly.
HB 244 (Rep. Ron Stephens) – authorizes the Public Service Commission to set pole attachment fees charged by electric membership corporations for communications equipment, including broadband.
HB 846 (Rep. John Corbett) – updates Georgia’s Internal Revenue Code to align with federal tax law changes. This bill includes a new job tax credit for companies that manufacture personal protective equipment (PPE) and does not allow PPP loans that are forgiven to be subject to state income tax. It would also permit businesses utilizing the Quality Jobs Tax Credit program to use their 2019 or 2020 job creation numbers to continue in the program in 2020 or 2021.
HB 879 (Rep. Brett Harrell) – authorizes the delivery of beer and wine in unbroken packages from restaurants, and beer, wine and liquor from package stores.
*During the 2021 legislative session, the provisions of SB 359 (see above) were extended for one year through HB 112 (Rep. Trey Kelley), thus continuing to support businesses operating responsibly amid the pandemic.
Building on the work of RESTORE, we created a working group to identify areas of the Georgia code due for modernization or a “REFRESH.” Several of these ideas were passed during the 2021 legislative session and are awaiting the Governor’s signature:
SB 168 (Sen. Larry Walker) – authorizes Georgia business corporations to hold shareholder meetings virtually, even after the Governor’s emergency powers are lifted.
SB 169 (Sen. Larry Walker) – authorizes construction surety bonds to be transacted remotely rather than in-person using an electronic signature and corporate seal.