State Legislative Issues - 2014
Georgia’s 2014 General Assembly session ended
March 20. This was the second of a two-year term. The bills below
were both carryover
bills from the 2013 session that could be considered in the upcoming
session plus new ones introduced in the 2014 session, designed with
notation indicates new in the 2014 session.
here for our final 2014 GBA Legislative Update and
here for our final 2013 GBA Legislative Update summarizing the
outcome of the two sessions.
at the Capitol
Throughout the sessions, GBA was represented by our Senior Vice
President for Government Relations,
Elizabeth Chandler, 404.420.2027, and President and CEO,
Joe Brannen, 404.402.2026. Contact either of them with
questions about legislation, information about your legislator's
stance on a particular issue or to request any other information
related to the Georgia General Assembly.
Click on the bill numbers below for summaries and links to the full text of bills.
Full Summaries of All Legislation Monitored
Support / Amend / Oppose
Fees are Not Interest (GBA Priority)
by Rep. Richard Smith (R-Columbus) clarifies that a variety of
routine fees for banking services offered by state-chartered banks
and credit unions will not be considered interest. The legislation
is intended to clarify and confirm the Department of Banking and
Declaratory Order last July related to overdraft fees. The
legislation is intended to remove any ambiguity that
Georgia-chartered banks and credit unions may continue to charge a
fee that will not be considered interest for offering a range of
services, including overdraft services. The bill creates parity
between state-chartered and federally-chartered banks and credit
unions operating in Georgia. Without this legislation, families and
businesses that have chosen to do business with state-chartered
institutions may not have access to valued services they have come
to expect as basic account features for customers in good standing.
Click here to read an
about this bill. GBA supports.
Patent Trolls (GBA Priority)
by Rep. Bruce Williamson (R-Monroe) creates a new section
within the Georgia Fair Business Practices Act that says a person
shall not make a bad-faith assertion that a patent has been
infringed. Businesses throughout Georgia, including a number of our
community bank members, have had to defend themselves from patent
infringement allegations, most all of which are baseless. The
allegations are coming from Patent Assertion Entities, or patent
trolls as they are more commonly called. The legislation will give
targeted companies a new tool to fight back. The bill is similar to
one passed in Vermont that has been adopted as a model bill by the
Council of State Governments. At least 11 states now have similar
legislation pending. Click here to read an
about this bill. GBA supports.
Contractor Liens - Cause of
Action for Unpaid Work.
(N) by Sen. Lindsey Tippins (R-Marietta)
would require lenders making A, D & C loans to develop a schedule
for payments for a borrower that would be made available to a
contractor along with verification that funds are available for each
phase of the project. The bill further requires a lender to adhere
to the schedule, and the developer or owner of the project is
required to disburse funds to the contractor within seven days of
receipt. If the lender adheres to the schedule of disbursements, it
will not be held liable for any funds not paid to contractor. This
is related to legislation Tippins has proposed in the past two
sessions that would have
given liens for work performed on real estate priority over a deed
to secure debt by requiring distributions from a foreclosure sale to
first be used to satisfy these liens.
Foreclosure - Confirmation Process
(R-McDonough) extensively revises
the foreclosure confirmation process
which would also apply to
post-judgment foreclosures. The bill
also introduces the term "fair
market value" replacing "true market
value" in the current code. GBA
Foreclosure – Unpaid Condo / HOA
S.B. 56 by Sen. Jesse Stone (R-Waynesboro) would require the
purchaser of a foreclosed property, prior to the purchaser obtaining
title to the property, to pay an amount equivalent to
months of unpaid assessments if the foreclosure is a condo and up to
one-half of unpaid assessments in the previous 12 months if the foreclosure is a lot or home
governed by a homeowners association. GBA opposed.
Foreclosure - Property Owner Associations
Christian Coomer (R-Cartersville) would require mortgage holders
to pay up to six months of unpaid property association fees on a
property upon foreclosure. GBA Opposed.
H.B. 82 by Rep. Earl Ehrhart (R-Powder Springs) would
an acquirer of a note purchased from an insured institution at a
discount of more than 60 percent to notify to borrower of a new
right being given the borrower to purchase the note for a 10 percent
premium if purchased within 30 days or a 20 percent premium if purchased
within 90 days. GBA opposed.
Liens - Priority over Deed to Secure Debt
by Sen. Lindsey Tippins (R-Marietta) would
give liens for work performed on real estate priority over a deed to
secure debt by requiring distributions from a foreclosure sale to
first be used to satisfy these liens. GBA opposed.
Actively Monitoring With
by Rep. Katie Dempsey (R-Rome) would change the code related
to the individuals and entities who must be licensed as auctioneers.
We are looking at the bill and may request amendments if our members
who are selling foreclosed or repossessed property could be
inadvertently caught by the new licensing provisions.
Foreclosure - Post Judgment Process
by Sen. Jesse Stone (R-Waynesboro), would add a new right for
borrowers related to the valuation of property sold at foreclosure
after a judgment has been granted on a note. Within 30 days after a foreclosure, any
person or entity obligated on the debt may file a
complaint against the holder to establish the fair market value of
the real estate. If the court determines the property was sold at
less than the fair market value, the court may set aside the
foreclosure OR reduce the balance of the remaining judgment by the
fair market value, with any excess funds left over after
satisfaction of the judgment paid by the holder to the person or
entity obligated on the debt.
Foreclosure - Post Judgment Process
Rep. Matt Ramsey (R-Peachtree City)
would add a new right for borrowers related to the valuation of
property sold at foreclosure after a judgment has been granted on a
note. Within 30 days after a foreclosure, any person or entity
obligated on the debt may file a complaint against the holder to
establish the fair market value of the real estate. If the court
determines the property was sold at less than the fair market value,
the court may set aside the foreclosure sale OR the court enters an
order crediting the amount of the court's finding of true market
value against the remaining balance of the judgment. A primary
above is that if the court's finding of true market value exceeds
the remaining balance of the judgment, the credit shall be limited
to such remaining balance in full satisfaction of the judgment and
the holder shall not be liable to any person or entity for any sum
in excess of the full satisfaction of the judgment."
Rep. Paulette Braddock (R-Powder Springs) would create the
House Committee on Foreclosure Reform. The committee would look into
the use of the money the state received in settlements from large
mortgage servicers, the processes behind the Mortgage Electronic
Registration Systems (MERS), the validity of mortgages if some of
the paperwork cannot be produced, dual tracking of modifications and
foreclosures, and protecting Georgians from fraud and undue
hardships related to foreclosures.
Sen. Renee Unterman (R-Buford) would create the Senate
Committee on Foreclosure Reform. The bill is similar to
above by Rep. Paulette Braddock (R-Powder Springs). The
committee would look into the use of the money the state received in
settlements from large mortgage servicers, the processes behind the
Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems (MERS), the validity of
mortgages if some of the paperwork cannot be produced, dual tracking
of modifications and foreclosures, and protecting Georgians from
fraud and undue hardships related to foreclosures.
Withdrawal/Notice of Completion
(N) by Rep. LaDawn Jones (D-Atlanta)
requires a notice to the debtor if a
foreclosure is withdrawn prior to
completion, allows the debtor to
remain in the property until the
deed if filed post-foreclosure and
requires notice of completion to the
debtor. A hearing in the House Banks
and Banking Committee is set for Feb. 11.
Mortgages - Property Covenants
Brian Strickland (R-McDonough) would make deeds to secure debts
on residential development lots subordinate to covenants on the
properties. Entities foreclosing would be subject to all properly
filed homeownership association and other covenants.
Other Bills Actively Monitoring
Ad valorem Taxation of Property
by Rep. Brett Harrell (R-Snellville) requires a tax assessor
when determining fair market value of property to consider decreased
value of the property based on rent limitations and any other
restrictions imposed upon the property in connection with the
property being eligible for certain income tax credits or receiving
any other state or federal subsidies provided with respect to the
use of the property as residential rental property.
by Rep. Chuck Williams (R-Watkinsville) renames the Georgia
Hazardous Site Reuse and Redevelopment Act to the Georgia Brownfield
Act while expanding the limitation of liability to certain
purchasers of properties covered by the Act.
Bridge Naming Honors
by Rep. Gerald Greene
(R-Cuthbert) recognizes the
contributions of William Riley Curry, founder of what is now First
State Bank of Randolph County in Cuthbert and calls for the naming
of a bridge on U.S. 82 over Pachitla Creek in his honor. Curry is
the uncle of current bank CEO Charlie Curry.
Check Cashers/Money Transmitters
by Rep. Bruce Williamson (R-Monroe) was introduced at the
request of the Georgia Department of Banking and Finance to update
and revise the current statutes related to non-bank check cashers
and money transmitters and to require these entities to register
the Nationwide Multi-State Licensing System & Registry. Introduced
at the request of the Georgia Department of Banking and Finance.
Disclosure of Financial Account Numbers
by Sen. John Albers (R-Roswell) would prohibit the public
disclosure of social security numbers, taxpayer identification
numbers, and financial account numbers in court documents
(N) by Rep. David
Knight (R-Griffin) provides for
a court procedure including a trial
when a tenant answers a writ of
Wendell Willard (R-Sandy Springs)
(N) by Sen. Bill Cowsart
(R-Athens) creates new provision within
the Georgia Civil Practice Act related to the discovery,
preservation and production of electronically stored records.
bills mirror the federal rules which require a pre-trial discovery
conference for determining the scope of discovery for electronically
stored information, introduces a concept of proportionality in
searching, so that duplicative, burdensome, or expensive searches
are not required unless there is a demonstrated need and permits the
court to allocate discovery costs between the parties, and provides
a safe harbor in the event that relevant information is
unintentionally lost or destroyed.
GBA is following the legislation as records
maintained by our members would be affected.
by Sen. Donzella James (D-Atlanta) with limited
exceptions, prohibits employers from requesting credit reports on
existing or potential employees.
(N) by Rep. Dar'shun Kendrick (D-Lithonia) is a
resolution calling for limiting the use
of credit scores in connection with
employment and insurance.
Barriers in Employment
(N) by Rep. Keisha Waites (D-Atlanta) is a resolution
seeking the reduction of credit-based
barriers in hiring and employment
(N) by Rep. Jay Powell
(R-Camilla) would specify that the
rights of condo associations can't be
waived by contracts or other documents
recorded before the expiration of the
declarant's right to control the
association. It would act to hold a
developer liable for a longer period of
time for claims by an association.
Rep. Matt Dollar (R-Marietta) would require amounts in excess
of one-sixth of the per unit annual common expense assessment to be
approved by a majority vote of the unit owners.
Consumer Lawsuit Lending
by Rep. Earl
Ehrhart (R-Powder Springs) adds a
regulatory scheme for consumer lawsuit
lending for loans of any amount to the
Georgia Industrial Loan Act that
generally applies to loans of $3,000 or
less. Financial Institutions are exempt
from the new provisions.
H.B. 215 by Rep. Tommy Benton (R-Jefferson) would change
the process by which clerks record instruments in their records and
raises the fee for certain filings.
Debt Management/Settlement Services
by Rep. Chuck Martin (R-Alpharetta) would
enact a new Chapter 5 for Title 18 of the Official Code of Georgia
to require certain companies providing debt management services to
be regulated by the Georgia Department of Banking and Finance. It
would require annual registration with the department, and it
defines several other rules related to fees, advertising and
services that may be provided.
H.B. 1154 by Rep.
Mike Jacobs (R-Brookhaven) to create a regulatory scheme for
debt settlement companies within the Department of Banking and
(N) by Rep. Karen
Bennett (D-Stone Mountain) is a
resolution calling on the Federal
Government to use more electronic
payments for citizens.
Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) Cards - ATM Usage Prohibition
H.B. 181 by Rep. Kevin Cooke (R-Carrollton) would
prohibit the use of EBT cards that provide public assistance
benefits such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program to be
used at ATMs to withdraw cash. Banks and other ATM operators would
have to set up the machines so they will not accept the cards.
Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) Cards - Retail Usage Prohibitions
by Rep. Andrew Welch (R-McDonough).
As required by the Federal Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation
Act of 2012, this bill would prohibit the use of EBT cards by
the federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families
program in establishments such as liquor stores or adult
entertainment venues. Those establishments would also have to
prevent access to cash from EBT cards through ATMs or point of sale
terminals. EBT recipients would not be able to use and other
retailers would not be able to accept EBT cards for purchases such
as alcohol, tobacco, firearms, gambling, pornography, tattoos and
other defined items. A number of reporting and disclosure
requirements are included, as well.
(N) by Rep.
Alex Atwood (R-Brunswick) encourages repeal of the
Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012, citing resulting
high increases in premiums, inaccurate mapping and devalued home and
S.R. 747 (N) by Sen. William
Ligon Jr. (R-Brunswick) encourages repeal of the Biggert-Waters
Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012, citing resulting high increases
in premiums, inaccurate mapping and devalued home and property
Forfeiture of Seized Assets
1 by Rep. Wendell Willard (R-Sandy Springs)
would establish a comprehensive forfeiture procedure for seized
assets. Financial institutions qualify as an “interest holder” if
they have filed proper paperwork with the court asserting that
interest in seized property. As an interest holder and upon being
granted permission from the court, a financial institution may
dispose of seized property using commercially reasonable means to
satisfy their interest plus recoup selling costs. Any excess would
be turned over to the court. In addition, if the seized asset is
cash, the clerk of court will be required to place the funds in an
interest bearing account at a financial institution branch in the
county where the civil forfeiture action is located.
Foreclosure -- Confirmation Process
by Sen. Curt Thompson (D-Tucker) relates to the
confirmation process and adds new requirements for providing
appraisals to the court.
Foreclosure -- Deeds to Secure
by Sen. Lester Jackson (D-Savannah),
among other things, would remove the small dollar exemption for
transferring deeds to secure debt, requires notification to the
borrower of the transfer, requires all transfers to be recorded,
prevents property from being sold if transfers are not recorded,
adds new notice requirements on residential foreclosures, and
creates a new crime of residential mortgage foreclosure fraud.
Foreclosure - Definition of a Mortgage.
S.B. 123 by Sen. Vincent Fort (D-Atlanta)
provides that any document or instrument made for the purpose of
securing the payment of money for owner occupied residential real
property shall be deemed to be a mortgage and if the property is
later foreclosed upon, the foreclosure process for a mortgage would
Foreclosure – Right to Cure
by Rep. Billy Mitchell (D-Stone Mountain) would
borrower the right to cure a default up to five calendar days before
a sale is scheduled.
Foreclosure – Rescue Consultants
H.B. 49 by Rep. Billy Mitchell (D-Stone Mountain) would
create a licensing procedure
within the Georgia Real Estate Commission for individuals and
companies that operate as foreclosure rescue consultants.
Foreclosure – Study Committee
H.R. 75 by Rep.
Dar’shun Kendrick (D-Lithonia) calls for the creation of the
House Committee on the Foreclosure Crisis, which would study all the
factors related to foreclosures in Georgia the past few years and
make recommendations to the 2014 legislative session.
Garnishment - Exemption of Retirement Funds and Benefits
by Rep. Ronnie Mabra (D-Fayetteville), would
exempt retirement account, pension fund and certain other employee
benefits from garnishment until such earnings or funds are actually
paid to the person or transferred to a beneficiary. The exemption
would not apply to garnishments for alimony, child support or
divorces involving property divisions.
Gift Cards as Unclaimed Property/Trauma Care
S.B. 190 by Sen. Emanuel Jones
(D-Decatur) adds remaining balances on gift cards after one year to
be designated as unclaimed property and the money collected would be
administratively set aside to help fund a statewide trauma care
S.R. 595 by Sen. Nan Orrock
(D-Decatur) calls on the
Georgia Department of Community Affairs
to broaden the coverage of individuals
who could be served using the federal HomeSafe grant money. A similar
S.R. 757, was introduced in the
House by Rep. Pat Gardner
(D-Atlanta) introduced an identical
S.B. 125 by Sen. Jesse Stone (R-Waynesboro) would codify
the duties, responsibilities and liability of owners and occupiers
of land for protecting trespassers from harm. Land holders would owe
no duty of care for adult trespassers other than to refrain from
causing willful or wanton injury. A possessor of land may be subject
to liability for physical injury or death to a child trespasser
under certain situations. The legislation would apply to bank ORE
Liens - False
by Rep. Tom Kirby (R-Loganville)
expands to all citizens the current prohibition on filing false
liens or encumbrances against public employees.
- Towed Vehicles
H.B. 878 (N) by Rep. Alan
Powell (R-Hartwell) creates new lien rights for towing companies
that would remain subordinate to liens to security interests
granting them a share of proceeds of excess funds following the sale
of an abandoned vehicle.
Liens - Waste Management
by Rep. Brett Harrell (R-Snellville) would
prevent liens generated from
unpaid taxes, fees, or assessments owed
local government solid waste providers from being attached as
a lien against the property upon which the taxes, fees or
assessments are imposed.
Medicaid - Smart Card Pilot
S.B. 220 by Sen. Judson Hill (R-Marietta) would
establish pilot program for the use of smart cards for Medicaid
program recipients. The cards could be used to authenticate
participants and providers, and could include the ability to store
multiple recipients on one card as well as include photo
identification features and store pertinent billing codes and
deductible amounts, among other things.
Merchant Acquirer Limited Purpose Bank
by Rep. Brian Strickland (R-McDonough) corrects a couple of
Code section cross-references contained in the bill passed during
the 2012 session.
Mortgage Originator Licensing
H.B. 750 (N) by Rep. Spencer
Frye (D-Athens) would exempt employees of certain
affordable-housing related nonprofit corporations who originate
mortgage loans from having to obtain mortgage loan originator
H.B. 815 (N)
Andy Welch (R-McDonough) repeals the current statute related
to notaries and replaces it with an entire new scheme for
registration and compliance.
Payment of Wages by Prepaid Debit
H.B. 947 (N)
by Rep. Josh Clark (R-Buford) would amend the Georgia code to
allow, with consent of an employee, the payment of wages to be made
by prepaid debit card.
resolution advocating for the protection
of the elderly, active duty military
personnel, veterans, and persons with
cognitive disabilities with limited
financial understanding from predatory
Property - Uniform Rule against Perpetuities
S.B. 159 by Sen. William T. Ligon, Jr.
(R-Brunswick) would change the law
designed to prevent
someone living today from dictating for a long time how the property
is used after his or her death. The legislation would extend the
period from 90 years to 360 years.
Property Taxes - Non-Tax Fees
H.B. 159 by Rep.
Brett Harrell (R-Snellville) would restrict
property tax bills from
including any nontax related fees or assessments.
Resolution Honoring Rep. Calvin
(N) by Sen. Donzella James
honor Rep. Smyre's induction into the
International Civil Rights Walk of
Security Freezes for Minors
(N) by Rep. Josh
Clark (R-Buford) authorizes the
placement of a security freeze on a minor's identifying information
by a credit reporting bureau.
State Income Tax -
Credits for bad
debts on private label credit cards of dealer credit program
by Rep. Allen Peake
(R-Macon) would allow tax deductions or refunds for lenders or
dealers on unpaid balances on accounts or receivables charged off as
bad debt from certain private label credit cards.
by Rep. John Albert (R-Roswell) revises the statute related
to the sale of tax executions. The bill is similar to
by Rep. Chuck Martin (R-Alpharetta) we added last week.
Rate on Past Dues
(N) by Rep. Rich Golick (R-Smyrna) changes the
interest rate charged on past due state and local taxes from 3
percent per month to 3 percent per year.
Tax Credits - Downtown Investments
H.B. 128 by Rep. Allen Peake (R-Macon) would provide $30
million annually in tax credits for certain investments
commercial, industrial or residential projects in Georgia’s historic
downtown districts. Each project would be eligible for a tax credit
equal to a certain percentage of its total cost. Commercial projects
would be capped at $500,000 and residential projects or renovations
at $50,000. Also, donations to a fund that would finance
low-interest loans for such projects would be tax deductible. The
concept for the Georgia Downtown Renaissance Tax
Credit Act is among the results of a 2011 Georgia Municipal
Association/Georgia Cities Foundation special Downtown Development Task Force. GBA Past Chair
Rick Whaley, president and CEO, The Citizens Bank of Americus,
and Joe Brannen, GBA president and CEO, served on the task
force at the request of Lt. Gov. Cagle. GBA supports.
Martin (R-Alpharetta) revises the
statute related to the sale of tax
Tax Sales - Redemption Costs to be Paid
by Rep. Tommy Benton (R-Jefferson) would add amounts
owed to property owners' associations to the various costs to be
paid to redeem property from a tax sale.
Tenants - Storage of Property after Eviction
Rep. Sandra Scott
would require a landlord removing personal property after an
eviction to store the property for up to two weeks in a convenience
warehouse and provide a receipt of the contents to the court.
Landlords would be entitled to reimbursement of costs and fees by
the tenant, and would have a lien on the property that could be
satisfied after two weeks by sale or disposition of the property.
Trust – Transfer of Property
by Rep. Robert Dickey (R-Musella) would
allow property to be transferred to a trust (in addition to a
trustee) if the name of the trust is ascertainable with reasonable
UCC - Bulk Transfers
by Rep. Tom Weldon (R-Ringgold) repeals UCC Article 6 related
to Bulk Transfers.
here for our final 2013 GBA Legislative Update
outcome of the 2013 session. We
also archived summaries of all the bills that were considered
in the 2013 session.
Access the 2013 archive here.