Legislative update: Promoting businesses


The 2014 legislative session has gotten off to a very fast start, and the first bills are reaching the chamber for a vote of the House of Representatives.

In recent years the General Assembly has dedicated significant time and effort on creating a legal and regulatory environment favorable to business expansion and job growth. Continuing our focus on protecting small businesses, Rep. Bruce Williamson sponsored HB 809.

This legislation prevents businesses in Georgia from being subject to the practice known as “patent trolling” which is where corporations buy large numbers of technology patents (usually very broad/vague patents) and use the threat of litigation to force licensing fees.

Georgia companies are competing in an increasingly globalized economy, and they should not be subject to extortion through our own court systems. In response, Rep. Williamson’s legislation empowers our judicial system to determine the validity of patent lawsuits in order to separate legitimate filings from those just looking to leech off successful businesses.

Showing full support for the measure, the House passed this bill unanimously, 169-0.

The state House has also worked to provide our state’s young people with expanded educational opportunities as we move away from a “one-size-fits-all” educational model.

In that regard, HB 766 sponsored by Rep. Eddie Lumsden (R-Armuchee), replaces the current Youth Apprenticeship Program with a work-based learning program that allows high school students 16 and older to enroll in a work-based learning program with approved business enterprises.

The most critical resource for the future of our state’s economy is a well-educated workforce. This legislation develops partnerships among our secondary educational institutions, our technical schools, the business community, and students and their parents to ensure that our children have the skills and expertise necessary to compete for the careers of the future. The House passed this bill 163-1.

Recognizing that thriving businesses often begin as hobbies in our kitchens, living rooms, and garages, Rep. Brett Harrell from Gwinnett County authored legislation that grants flexibility for those that brew their own beer.

Known as home-brewers, HB 737 allows individuals to transport small quantities of their beer to friend’s houses, festivals, and locations beyond home-brewing competitions as is currently the case.

As is often the case, the best recipe for our citizens is for the government to get out of their daily lives, and this legislation is a prime example of that core conservative belief. This bill passed the House with an overwhelming majority, 160-3.

As always, please continue to contact my office if I can be of service. I look forward to hearing from you in the remaining weeks of the General Assembly session.

[Rep. Matt Ramsey (R-Peachtree City) was first elected to the District 72 post in December 2007. He is a law partner with Warner, Hooper, and Ramsey, P.C., in Peachtree City. His email is matt.ramsey@house.ga.gov.]