March 9, 2017 - GACVB General Assembly Update

Crossover Day was Friday, March 3rd.  Bills that are still in the chamber where they originated are dead for this year but can be taken up again next year.

Legislation we will continue to monitor:

SB 226 - The Georgia Wineries bill is by Senator Butch Miller and others passed the Senate with only two dissenting votes and now resides in the House Regulated Industries Committee Chaired by Howard Maxwell of Dallas.  If passed it will change the laws related production requirements for Georgia farm wineries. 

SB 85 - the Brew Pubs bill as it is sometimes known was sponsored by Senator Rick Jeffares (R-McDonough) and if passed will allow breweries to sell a limited amount of their product (3000 barrels annually) directly to customers on site, remove the restrictions and requirements of brewery tours, and allow brewpubs and breweries to sell packaged products with some limitations for off-site consumption.  The bill passed the Senate February 2 and is now awaiting consideration by the House Regulated Industries Committee.  

The following legislation did not progress out of the chamber it originated in, failing to meet the Crossover Day deadline: 

HB 141 - Hotel/Motel Tax Legislation – HB 141 was hijacked from its original sponsor and briefly became this year’s version of the seemingly annual effort to redirect lodging taxes away from tourism promotion. The harmful language was inserted with no warning during a Friday afternoon meeting of a subcommittee.  GACVB actively opposed the legislation along with our allies in the tourism industry and by 11 A.M. the following Monday it was pronounced DOA for the year. GACVB's #1 legislative policy is to protect Georgia's hotel/motel tax dollars from policies that would erode funding for tourism/destination marketing. 

HB 158 and SB 79 - the "Destination Resort" or "Casino" bills.  Both failed to make the Crossover Day deadline.  There was a brief flurry of activity on the two almost identical "Destination Resort" (casino) bills.  The bills sought to create two casinos, one in Atlanta and another somewhere else in the state. 

HB 60 by Rep. Ron Stephens (R-Savannah) was held in the House Regulated Industries Committee. It is a bill that would relax the laws related to licensed distilleries if passed. 

HB 96 and HB 107 are "placeholder" bills in the excise tax on lodging code section that did not move out of committee.  

SB 17 by Sen. Renee Unterman (R-Buford) is the "Mimosa Mandate" or the “Brunch Bill.”  It failed to pass the Senate before Crossover Day so Sunday Sales of alcohol cannot begin in time for morning brunch for at least another year (except in government-owned buildings). 

SB 51 by Jeff Mullis (R-Chickamauga) creates the "Georgia Film & Television Trail" recognizing and placing signage at film and television production sites along the Georgia Film and Television Trail.  The bill is assigned to Senate Economic Development & Tourism Committee. 

SB 58 sought to repeal the $5 hotel fee, but there is absolutely no appetite for this legislation from Senate or House leadership and the bill is not expected to move. 

SB 233 - Religious Freedom or RFRA bill sponsored by Senator Marty Harbin and several others.  It did not pass out of a Senate Committee and is dead for the session.  The sponsor claims that SB 233 bill only codifies federal law in the Georgia law.  GACVB opposes this bill in accordance with our legislative priorities.  The sponsor did try to amend this language to another bill, but his amendment was ruled non-germane by the Lieutenant Governor. 

Governor Deal was unequivocal in his opposition and was quoted "I didn't want there to be any confusion about where I stand on the RFRA bill: I have no desire or appetite to entertain that legislation," Deal said.  More about Governor Deal's comments here. 

Also, the Georgia Chamber of Commerce and the Metro-Atlanta Chamber of Commerce released a joint statement in opposition to the legislation: "While there's no new evidence to suggest this legislation is needed to strengthen a right guaranteed by our constitution, there is plentiful data indicating other states have suffered and will continue to suffer long-term economic harm for enacting a law that many see as discriminatory." 

SR 105 by Bill Heath (R-Bremen) is a proposed constitutional amendment to prevent discrimination in the public funding of social services by allowing religious or faith based organizations to receive public aid, directly or indirectly, for the provision of such services.  It was held in the Senate Government Oversight Committee.

For more information on this legislation please visit