This post was drafted by Evon B. Davis and edited by David R. Cook.
As COVID-19 continues to evolve, the drastic effect on human interaction forces businesses to adapt. Governor Kemp provided respite with his most recent executive order that suspends the original–signature requirement for certain public documents. On February 26, 2021, Governor Kemp renewed the Public Health State of Emergency until April 6, 2021, by issuing Executive Order 02.26.21.01. The Order is granted under the authority of O.C.G.A. § 38-3-31, which states: “In the event of actual or impending emergency or disaster of natural or human origin, or pandemic influenza emergency, or impending or actual enemy attack, or a public health emergency, within or affecting this state or against the United States, the Governor may declare that a state of emergency or disaster exists.”
The most recent order was effective from March 16, 2021, at 12:00 am to March 31, 2021, at 11:59 pm, but has now expired. Specifically, the Governor suspended any purported rule that requires original signatures and raised corporate seals related to construction surety bonds under O.C.G.A. § 13-10-40 through O.C.G.A. §§13-10-65, 32-2-70, 36-91-1,3691-2, 36-91-50, 36-91-70 through O.C.G.A. § 36-91-93. Also, any other statutes that require original signatures on commercial surety bonds are suspended for the limited purpose of providing that public procurement officers shall accept electronic signatures and electronic corporate seals as provided by the provisions of O.C.G.A. § 10-12-2 et. seq. and O.C.G.A. § 33-24-14. Now that the executive order has expired, the original signature suspension reverts to the original requirement under the statute.
UPDATE: The Georgia General Assembly amended the relevant statutes to require acceptance of electronic signatures on certain bonds. Georgia State and Local Governments Must Accept Electronic Signatures and Seals on Construction Bonds | Autry, Hall & Cook, LLP (ahclaw.com)