2024 Legislative Session Report Week 12

GFB Action Center

March 29, 2024

In this Issue: 

Photo Credits: Atlanta Journal Constitution

Sine Die


Early Friday morning the sound of Speaker Burns and Lieutenant Governor Jones' gavel rang through the Capitol as the General Assembly adjourned Sine Die. Excitement filled the halls as legislators and lobbyist alike cheered the end of another legislative session. Legislative day 40, known as Sine Die, marks the end of the legislative session, and this year marks the end of the 2023-2024 biennium. 


Georgia Farm Bureau is fortunate to have had a great year under the Gold Dome with many important pieces of legislation making it through both chambers and now on their way to Governor Kemp's desk. Before a bill becomes law, it must undergo review by Governor Kemp within the 40 day veto period. The Governor has three actions he may take on a bill: sign, veto, or no action. If the Governor signs or takes no action on a bill it will become law. The Governor can prevent a bill from becoming law by enacting veto power. 


We would like to say thank you to our friends in the General Assembly who worked to promote and defend agriculture. Our state is fortunate to have many leaders who fight for the betterment of our industry. We also want to extend a special thank you to our GFB members who took the time to advocate for our organization's issues. Whether you attended GFB Day at the Capitol or contacted your elected officials to advocate on specific issues, we appreciate your dedication and passion to fight for the success of agriculture.

Photo Credits: Senate Press Office

General Assembly Protects Private Property Rights


On Tuesday, HB 1172 by House Whip James Burchett (R-Waycross) received final passage in the Senate. This bill has been the top priority of GFB this legislative session and we could not have passed it without the help of our friends at other agriculture and business organizations. 


HB 1172 removes the public trust doctrine from code and restores private property rights to landowners adjacent to navigable waters eroded by SB 115 last year. HB 1172 is important because it addresses unattended consequences from previous legislation while still allowing the public to pass, hunt, and fish on navigable waters which was the original intent of the legislature. While this bill resolved significant concerns, it has opened the flood-gate to further conversations surrounding water policy in the state. We will continue to see attention in the coming months evaluating the criteria and methods used to determine which waterways are designated as navigable via HR 1554 - House Study Committee on Navigable Streams and Related Matters.

DEF Soon to be Eligible Under GATE


On Thursday, Chairman Russ Goodman presented SB 340 on the Senate floor and it passed with overwhelming favorable support. SB 340 was originally a tax exemption bill authored by Sen. Kay Kirkpatrick, but she willingly allowed Rep. Joe Campbell (R-Camilla) to present a substitute in committee changing the bill. SB 340, as it passed, will now make diesel exhaust fluid, DEF, an eligible purchase under the Georgia Agricultural Tax Exemption, GATE, program. We appreciate Rep. Campbell being willing to address this issue in the last few days of session. While it might seem simple, this bill will help put money back in the pockets of farmers and ensure the GATE program is meeting the current needs of producers.

Leadership Tax Priorities


This year Governor Kemp, Speaker Burns, and Lieutenant Governor Jones all took the charge to lower citizens' tax burden in Georgia through a package of legislation. Georgia already has one of the lowest tax structures in the nation, but our leadership stays committed to further reducing these rates for all Georgians. 


HB 1015 by Rep. Lauren McDonald (R-Cumming) reduced the income tax by an additional 10 basis points from 5.49% to 5.39%. HB 1019 by Rep. Matt Reeves (R-Duluth) increase the statewide homestead property tax exemption from $2,000 to $10,000. This bill requires a constitutional amendment, so for it to become law, it must be voted on in November. Additionally, HB 1021 by Rep. Lauren Daniel (R-Locust Grove) increase the dependent tax exemption from $3,000 to $4,000. 


All three of these bills passed both chambers and head to Governor Kemp's desk for final approval. 

General Assembly Protects Georgia Farmland


On Tuesday, SB 420 by Sen. Jason Anavitarte (R-Dallas) received final passage in the Senate. This bill will prohibit the foreign acquisition of farmland by nonresident aliens, business domiciled in, or governments of a nation deemed a foreign adversary by the federal government. GFB has been a leading voice of support on this issue and tried to work with the author to craft a bill that protects our food production. 


We would like to also recognize the work Rep. Clay Pirkle (R-Ashburn) has done on this issue throughout the past two years. Last year, Rep. Pirkle began this discussion with HB 452 and became a leading voice for the House on this policy. He carried SB 420 on the House floor and helped get this bill across the finish line. 

FY 2025 Conference Committee Budget


Late Thursday afternoon, Chairman Matt Hatchett (R-Dublin) and Chairman Blake Tillery (R-Vidalia), along with the other four conferees, released the fiscal year 2025 budget. This year's conference committee budget remained fairly similar to what we saw emerge from the Senate with the continued support of agriculture across the board. See below for highlights from the budget that passed both chambers of the General Assembly late Thursday night. Like all bills, the budget must go before Governor Kemp for his approval before being finalized.


Department of Agriculture

  • $267,861 for two shellfish inspection and certification specialist positions.
  • $900,000 for agricultural improvements.

Department of Economic Development

  • $200,000 for contracts to support the global export of GA manufactured and agricultural products.
  • $200,000 for a site development specialist position to support economic development in rural communities.

Agriculture Education

  • $192,000 for new Peach Co. and Barrow Co. Young Farmer positions
  • $88,000 for eight extended day/year programs within Ag Education.

Department of Natural Resources

  • $300,000 for processing of venison donations to encourage deer harvests.
  • $350,617 for five additional ag water withdrawal positions.

Board of Regents

  • $500,000 for projects at the Center for Rural Prosperity and Innovation.

Student Finance Commission

  • $35,000 increase for the Veterinary Loan Repayment Program service cancelable loans.

Capitol Project Funds

  • $10,320,142 one-time funds to purchase vocational and agricultural education equipment statewide.
  • $2,900,000 for renovation of Chambliss Hall, Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College.
  • $4,470,500 one-time funds for design and renovation of Dept. of Ag building
  • $1,014,674 one-time funds for lab equipment at Tifton Lab.
  • $3,000,000 one-time funds for chiller and generator replacement at Tifton Lab.
  • $22,000,000 one-time funds for construction of new goat, sheep, and swine barn in Perry.
  • $5,545,000 one-time funds for commercial driver's license pad at Georgia Northwestern Technical College

Retiring Friends of GFB


With the end of another legislative session, we see old friends return home for retirement and get ready to welcome newcomers to the Capitol. This year, we are sad to see a few good friends and champions of agriculture head home to be with their family and friends and hang up their careers under the gold dome. We would like to thank the following friends of Farm Bureau who will not be returning next year: 


Rep. Clay Pirkle of Ashburn, Rep. Penny Houston of Nashville, Rep. James Beverly of Macon, Rep. David Knight of Griffin, and Sen. Shelly Echols of Gainesville. 


We cannot thank these individuals enough for their dedication to our state and their support of agriculture. We will miss seeing them around the capitol but know they will continue to make a difference in their communities back home.

Public Input About State Deer Management Plan


Georgia farmers across the state have continually expressed challenges they face from increasing crop depredation from whitetail deer. It is important we make our voice heard to policymakers in order for them to set policy that addresses our needs and concerns. The Department of Natural Resources is currently taking public input from citizens and stakeholder groups to inform their decisions as they prepare the State Deer Management Plan for the next 6 years. It is important for farmers to participate and submit their input on this policy that will be in place for multiple years. Click below to learn more and submit input.

Click Here

Bills Headed to the Governor's Desk


HB 300:

Reps. Smith, Kelley, Williamson, Stephens, and Blackmon

This legislation would establish the Solar Technology Trust Fund and impose a fee of $15 per kilowatt of capacity on retail sales of solar equipment in Georgia. The fees collected would be used by the trust fund for remediation, decommissioning, and disposal of solar equipment, such as solar panels.

Passed House and Passed Senate 3/28/2024


HB 1114:

Reps. Wade, Gambill, Hong, McDonald, Jones, and others

This bill is known as the Data Analysis for Tort Reform Act. It is a priority of Governor Kemp and will help his administration gather information to help prepare for future tort reform efforts.

Passed House and Passed Senate 3/26/2024


HB 1172:

Reps. Burchett, Rhodes, Leverett, Smith, and Williams

This bill comes from the Chairman of the House Study Committee on Fishing Access to Freshwater Resources. This bill is a priority of GFB this session. It fixes unintended consequences of SB 115 (2023) and removes the reference to public trust doctrine as it relates to navigable waters.

Passed House and Passed Senate 3/26/2024 


HB 1223:

Reps. Leverett, Petrea, Prince, Jackson, and Adesanya

This bill amends the Georgia Soil Amendment Act of 1976 and prohibits the application of soil amendments to a site currently subject to a consent order issued by EPD or an existing enforcement action of EPD.

Passed House and Passed Senate 3/26/2024


HR 1554:

Reps. Smith, Dickey, Corbett, Rhodes, and Smith

This resolution creates the House Study Committee on Navigable Streams and Related Matters. This study committee will try to provide clarity around which waterways in Georgia are deemed navigable.

Passed House 3/28/2024


SB 340:

Sens. Kirkpatrick, Albers, Hufstetler, Robertson, Anavitarte, and others

This bill would create a sales tax exemption for firearms safes and firearm safety devices. This bill was amended in House committee to include bill language from HB 1459 by Rep. Campbell to make DEF a GATE eligible purchase. 

Passed Senate and Passed House 3/28/2024


SB 420:

Sens. Anavitarte, Goodman, Beach, Cowsert, Gooch, and others

This bill would prohibit the foreign ownership of agricultural land by any non-resident alien, government, or business from a country considered to be foreign adversary as determined by the US Secretary of Commerce. It would also restrict ownership by those individuals, governments, and businesses of any land that is within a 10 mile radius of a military installation. Any violator would be convicted of a felony with up to two years in prison or a $15,000 fine.

Passed Senate and Passed House 3/26/2024 


SR 786:

Sens. Kennedy, Anderson, Goodman, Watson, and Walker

This resolution creates the Senate Advancing Forest Innovation in Georgia Study Committee.

Passed Senate 3/26/2024