In tough times, protecting Georgia taxpayers and Georgia business owners from undue burdens is more crucial than ever. From creating more efficient processes for Georgia taxpayers to protecting Georgia businesses from liability when they are taking every reasonable precaution, the Georgia House Republican Caucus was proud this year to pass quite a few pieces of legislation that do just that.
A bill that will benefit Georgia businesses all over the state, particularly Georgia agribusinesses, is House Bill 105. HB 105 revises Georgia tax law to ensure that Georgians and Georgia businesses are not taxed on disaster relief funds received through the United States Department of Agriculture for Hurricane Michael’s damage. This legislation will ensure that Georgians receive the full benefit of relief they receive, rather than being required to return a portion of those funds to the state. Georgians all over the state felt the effects of Hurricane Michael, especially in the southwest corner of the state. Those Georgians affected deserve our strong support.
House Bill 846, signed into law by Governor Kemp on June 30, updates Georgia law to conform with the Internal Revenue Code. This necessary change ensures that Georgia taxpayers are not penalized by different state and federal definitions and standards as they file their income taxes. This bill also adds provisions regarding disaster relief, medical expense deductions, and the ‘CARES Act,’ vital during the present COVID-19 challenges facing Georgians. Additionally, HB 846 creates a direct pay reporting program that allows some taxpayers to pay sales and use tax directly to the Georgia Department of Revenue, increasing efficiency for Georgia businesses.
Senate Bill 359 was passed by the House and Senate this year and sent to the Governor for his signature. SB 359, the “Georgia COVID-19 Pandemic Business Safety Act,” provides certain immunities from liability claims that arise from COVID-19. This bill protects healthcare facilities or providers, entities, or individuals from liability for damages involving COVID-19 unless the party making a claim shows gross negligence, willful and wanton misconduct, reckless infliction of harm, or intentional infliction of harm – very high standards.
Under SB 359, a business can further protect itself from liability by posting signage containing specific language stating that you are assuming the risk of contracting COVID-19 at an entry to the premises. Businesses can also protect themselves from liability by providing similar language on a ticket or wristband distributed to people entering the premises as proof of entry. Representative Trey Kelley, House Whip, spearheaded this legislation, and I am proud of the House Republican Caucus’s efforts to provide these essential protections to businesses who are making every effort in these difficult times to serve Georgians.
As we move forward into our new normal, I am proud of the work we have done to help Georgians and Georgia businesses receive the support and protection they deserve. Thank you all for allowing me to represent Georgia House District 159. It is truly an honor to work for you and this great state. If you have any feedback, do not hesitate to call (404.656.5052), email, or engage on Facebook. If you would like to receive email updates, please visit my website to sign up for my newsletter or email me.
Jon Burns represents District 159, which includes parts of Bulloch County in the Georgia General Assembly where he serves as the House majority leader.