Home I GBA University I Member Services I Volunteers I Government Relations I Calendar of Events            March 13, 2014

 

Two Days Left in 2014 Legislative Session

The Georgia General Assembly was in session Monday through Thursday this week with Thursday being day 38 of the 40-day session. On Tuesday, the House agreed to slight changes the Senate made in GBA's two priority bills clearing both for the Governor's signature. With the primaries moved from July to May this year, those legislators who qualified for either re-election or for another office last week will have to quickly jump into campaign mode when the General Assembly completes its work for the biennial. The closing day is currently set for Thursday, March 20. Several bills GBA has been monitoring saw action this week, and below is more information about those.

 

GBA Priority Bills Headed for Governor's Signature

Please join us in thanking your House and Senate members who voted in support of GBA's two priority bills this session. Both bills have now been passed and are on the way to Governor Deal for signature. The "Fees are Not Interest" bill, H.B. 824, by Rep. Richard Smith (R-Columbus) is needed to ensure parity between state-chartered and nationally-chartered banks. The bill was carefully drawn to support the Department of Banking and Finance Declaratory Order issued last year related to overdraft fees. This bill confirms and clarifies that those and other common bank fees should not be considered interest. The bill passed the House unanimously and passed the Senate with only five negative votes. GBA's other priority bill, H.B. 809 by Rep. Bruce Williamson (R-Monroe), is commonly referred to as the "Patent Troll" bill. The bill adds bad-faith assertions of patent infringement to the list of violations of the Georgia Fair Business Practices Act. The bill passed the House with only one negative vote and passed the Senate with only four negative votes. While the bill affects businesses other than banks, GBA and our sister state bankers associations around the country have coordinated a national effort to pass legislation in as many states as possible. More than 20 states are considering similar legislation this year.

 

Other Action This Week

Hearings were held on a number of bills we're following and some have received floor action this week. Be sure and check GBA's State Issues Page on our website where you'll see all the bills we're following.

  • Tax Executions. H.B. 819 by Rep. Chuck Martin (R-Alpharetta) revises the statute related to the sale of tax executions. The bill was reported out of the Senate Finance Committee and will be in the Senate by Sen. John Albers (R-Roswell). Language supported by GBA related to the redemption of liens was added to the bill in the House. However, as the bill was originally intended to laser in on the sale process rather than the redemption process, that language was removed by the Senate committee. Our thanks to Kevin Watters of The Watters Law Firm in Atlanta who specializes in these matters representing member banks and individual clients. He spent many hours with legislators helping them understand the flaws in the redemption process setting the stage if a standalone bill is considered in a future legislative session.
     

  • Foreclosure Study. S.R. 1186 by Sen. Renee Unterman (R-Buford) was introduced this week and would create the Senate Committee on Foreclosure Reform. The bill is similar to H.R. 1643 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. No hearing has been scheduled on the Senate resolution. The House Banks and Banking Committee held a hearing on the House resolution, but did not vote on whether to move forward with the Study Committee.
     

  • Ad Valorem Tax. H.B. 295 by Rep. Paul Battles (R-Cartersville) is a comprehensive rewrite on the statutes relating to the collection and filing requirements for ad valorem taxation. The bill is a result of a longtime project of the Association County Commissioners of Georgia. We noticed language last week in the bill that required certain real estate transfer tax forms show the fair market value of the property being transferred. After meeting with the author and other parties working on the bill, the Senate Finance Committee revised the language so that verbiage similar to the existing statutory requirement for stating value is retained. The bill was reported out of the Senate Finance Committee this week and is being sponsored in the Senate by Sen. Steve Gooch (R-Dahlonega).
     

  • Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) Cards - Retail Usage Prohibitions. H.B. 138 by Rep. Andrew Welch
    (R-McDonough) would prohibit the use of government benefits in certain retail establishments and for certain products and services, including buying gift cards. Part of the bill requires signage to be posted on ATMs about the prohibitions, which can be done on the machine's screen in lieu of an attached sign. There is also specific language in the bill that would disallow a private right of action against a federally insured financial institution presumably for non-compliance. The bill, sponsored in the Senate by Sen. Rick Jeffares (R-McDonough), was reported out of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee this week.
     

  • Payment of Wages by Prepaid Debit Card. H.B. 947 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. The bill, sponsored in the Senate by Sen. Burt Jones (R-Jackson), was reported out of the Senate Insurance and Labor Committee this week.
     

  • Condo Assessments. H.B. 854 by 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. The bill has passed the House and was reported out of the Senate Finance Committee this week where it is being sponsored by Sen. Jesse Stone (R-Waynesboro).
     

  • Ad valorem Taxation of Property. H.B. 954 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. The bill was reported out of Senate Finance Committee this week where it is being sponsored by Sen. Hunter Hill (R-Atlanta).
     

  • False Liens. H.B. 985 by Rep. Tom Kirby (R-Loganville) expands to all citizens the current prohibition on filing false liens or encumbrances against public employees. The bill was sponsored in the Senate by Sen. Bill Cowsert (R-Athens) where it was passed this week clearing it for the Governor's signature.
     

  • Merchant Acquirer Limited Purpose Bank. H.B. 883 by Rep. Brian Strickland (R-McDonough) corrects a couple of Code section cross-references contained in the bill passed during the 2012 session. The bill was sponsored in the Senate by Sen. Butch Miller (R-Gainesville) where it was passed this week clearing it for the Governor's signature.
     

  • Check Cashers/Money Transmitters. H.B. 982 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 with the Nationwide Multi-State Licensing System & Registry.The bill was sponsored in the Senate by Sen. Jesse Stone (R-Waynesboro) where it was passed this week clearing it for the Governor's signature.
     

  • Downtown Investments. H.B. 128 by Rep. Allen Peake (R-Macon) as amended creates a revolving loan fund administered by the Georgia Department of Community Affairs for certain downtown improvement projects. Funding would come from general appropriations of up to $5 million per year for four years. The bill was sponsored in the Senate by Sen. Frank Ginn (R-Danielsville) where it was passed this week clearing it for the Governor's signature.
     

  • Mortgage Originator Licensing. H.B. 750 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 licenses. Rep. Frye says the bill will only apply to Habitat for Humanity organizations. The bill was sponsored in the Senate by Sen. Hunter Hill (R-Atlanta) where it was passed this week clearing it for the Governor's signature.
     

  • Auctioneers. H.B. 1042 by Rep. Katie Dempsey (R-Rome) changes the code related to the individuals and entities who must be licensed as auctioneers. The bill was amended by the Senate Regulated Industries and Utilities Committee eliminating language defining an auctioneer which could have required entities like local governments, financial institutions and others who are selling assets to either be licensed as an auctioneer or use someone who holds an auctioneer license. The bill was reported out of Committee and is being sponsored in the Senate by Sen. Chuck Hufstetler (R-Rome).

Albers

Unterman

Gooch

Jeffares

Jones

Stone

Hill

Cowsert

Miller

Ginn

Hufstetler

 

Let Us Know if You Have Questions

Throughout the session, GBA will be 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 how your legislator voted on a particular issue or to request any other information related to the Georgia General Assembly.

50 Hurt Plaza, Suite 1050 | Atlanta, Georgia 30303 | 404.522.1501