June 16, 2020 – On Monday, the Senate Public Safety Committee, chaired by Sen. John Albers (R – Roswell), passed House Bill 216 (The Georgia Pandemic Business Immunity Act) out of committee, the first day of an 11 day session now underway in Atlanta at the Georgia General Assembly.  This year’s 40-day session was abruptly halted due to the growing COVID-19 pandemic back in March. 

However, it looks like something the public may see a lot of in what promises to be a wild ride in this special June session to complete the General Assembly's 2020-2021 session, according to political insiders. 

Sen. Ben Watson from Savannah sits on that committee.  The revised bill language appears to have been tacked onto a bill regarding Special License Plates and creating a Georgia Tennis Foundation, HB 216.  The new language of the bill was "offered as a substitute to the bill." 

“Georgia’s business community has done a remarkable job beginning the reopening process, while simultaneously taking appropriate action to minimize health concerns associated with COVID-19 for employees and customers,” said Sen. Albers. “However, even many of the strongest measures implemented do not completely mitigate the risk of possible exposure. This legislation will allow our business community to start to return to normalcy and provide services to Georgians without fear of needless litigation, while still ensuring that legitimate legal action is possible. This will also help our small businesses, healthcare workers and homeowners associations to be open without concern. I want to thank Lt. Governor Geoff Duncan for his support on this measure and I look forward to witnessing the positive impact this bill will have on Georgia’s businesses.”

“I am proud of Senator Albers’ work on thoughtful legislation that ensures consumers are protected and encourages businesses to reopen – without the worry of lawsuits hanging over their heads,” said Lt. Governor Geoff Duncan. “I commend the Public Safety Committee for addressing this critical issue and giving Georgia businesses the liability protections they need during an unforeseen health-care crisis.”

The Georgia Pandemic Business Immunity Act would grant businesses immunity from civil liabilities for any damages arising from exposure to COVID-19, under certain circumstances.

The bill will now move to the full House, and if passed, then move on to the Senate.  There are nine days left in the session. 

In other business in the Georgia Senate, House Resolution 935, carried by Sen. Brandon Beach (R – Alpharetta), passed the Senate by a vote of 51-0. This measure aims to promote statewide freight and logistics infrastructure by recreating the Georgia Commission on Freight and Logistics.

“In order to ensure Georgia remains a top state in which to do business, state and local leaders must work to promote a comprehensive freight and logistics plan for Georgia,” said Sen. Beach. “The Georgia Commission on Freight and Logistics has made significant progress over the past year throughout our meetings all across the state. By working with industry experts, the Commission has made progress towards determining how we can best leverage our existing freight and logistics infrastructure and ways we can expand freight and logistics investment in Georgia. There is still work to be done and recreating the Commission will allow Commission members the opportunity to further study this industry expansion. I appreciate the support of my colleagues in the General Assembly for prioritizing Georgia’s ever-evolving economy through this innovative measure.”

The Georgia Commission on Freight and Logistics was created in 2019 as a result of the passage of House Resolution 37. Sen. Beach currently serves as Co-Chair of the Commission, along with Rep. Kevin Tanner (R – Dawson).

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