Wednesday, March 31, the Georgia General Assembly completed Day 40, the last day of legislative session for 2021. The Georgia Restaurant Association serves as the voice of restaurants to our State Senators and Representatives throughout session on issues that impact your business. Issues the GRA works on with legislators include labor, economic development, regulatory issues, and much more. Below are some key issues that directly affect your business:
ON THE GOVERNOR'S DESK
- Cocktails-To-Go: SB 236 (by Senator Matt Brass) allows local governments to choose whether or not to prohibit restaurants from having the ability to sell cocktails for to-go or curbside pick-up orders, not for delivery. Some conditions for a restaurant include: beverages must be in a tamper proof, sealed container, must be sold with food entrees, a cocktail must contain no more than 3 ounces of distilled spirits, and can only sell two (2) mixed drinks per entrée sold. If the Governor signs this bill into law, the Department of Revenue may issue regulations and the GRA will conduct a webinar with them to ensure all restaurants are compliant.
- COVID-19 Liability Protection (extended): HB 112 (by Representative Trey Kelley) extends the COVID-19 liability protection from last year until July 14, 2022.
- Fuel Choice Legislation: HB 150 (by Representative Bruce Williamson) prevents local governments from enacting ordinances, resolutions, or regulations through building codes that would ban a specific type of fuel from being used. This does not prevent local governments from offering incentives to use a specific type of fuel. As an example, a local government could not ban gas this year and then ban electricity in 20 years.
- Hotel Service & Off Premise Distancing Requirements: HB 392 (by Representative Jason Ridley) made a change in order to allow a person to have a mixed cocktail or draft beer from the hotel delivered to their room by a hotel employee. In addition, it changes school grounds to school buildings when determining distance for package stores and sets a new state minimum.
IN EFFECT TODAY
- Internal Revenue Code Update: HB 265 (by Representative David Knight) updates Georgia Revenue Codes to match the Federal code. This update includes: 1. State will not collect income tax on PPP loans; 2. Business expenses are still deductible; 3. Includes 100% business meal deductions
- Innovative Ways to Maximize Global Talent Study Committee: HR 11 (by Representative Wes Cantrell) creates a Study Committee with a goal to increase support of our foreign-born Georgians that will help find innovative ways to spark economic growth and create a sustainable recovery for all of Georgia.
BILLS RETURNING FOR CONSIDERATION IN 2022 (2nd HALF OF SESSION)
- Cap 3rd Party Delivery Fees: SB 205 (by Senator Elena Parent) create a cap on 3rd Party Delivery fees to 15% when in a State of Emergency. This will open up more discussions regarding business relations and practices between 3rd Party Delivery companies and restaurants.
- State appoints District Health Directors: SB 256 (by Senator Dean Burke) changes how District Health Directors would be appointed by the State Department of Health instead of local boards. This would have promoted unity throughout the state.
- Repeal State & Local Alcohol Excise Taxes: HB 805 (by Representative Kasey Carpenter) repeal State & Local alcohol excise taxes and replace it with a 1% sales tax.