Home I GBA University I Member Services I Volunteers I Government Relations I Calendar of Events            March 7, 2014


Legislature Completes Day 34 of 40 Allowed for Session

The Georgia General Assembly was in session every day this week with Friday being day 34 of the 40-day session. Thursday, the Senate passed GBA's priority "fees are not interest" bill sending it back to the House for a final vote. This past Monday was Crossover Day. That's the day bills must pass their body of origin in order to be considered by the other body. The leadership ensured an orderly pace allowing plenty of time for debate on sometimes controversial issues. Several bills GBA has been monitoring saw action this week, and below is more information about those. Also, qualifying for the 2014 elections began Monday of this week. That's weeks earlier than in the past due to a federal court's requirement that Georgia's federal election primaries be moved to May. The General Assembly voted to move the state election primaries to coincide with that same date to save millions of dollars in state and local election costs.


GBA Priority Bill Passes Senate

The "Fees are Not Interest" bill, H.B. 824, by Rep. Richard Smith (R-Columbus) was passed by a vote of 48-5 by the full Senate this week. Our thanks to the Senate Rules Committee chairman, Sen. Jeff Mullis (R-Chickamauga), for his leadership in scheduling the bill for a vote. Our thanks also go to Sen. Jesse Stone (R-Waynesboro) for skillfully handling the bill on the Senate floor. The bill is needed to ensure parity between state-chartered and nationally-chartered banks and has been 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 was amended in the Senate Banking and Financial Institutions Committee so as to not affect any existing litigation on these fees. Because of that slight change, the bill must go back to the House to get agreement with the change, which we expect will be considered soon. Click here to read an Issue Brief about the bill.


Other Action This Week

Hearings were held on a number of bills we're following and some have received floor action. 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. GBA requested language be added to the bill related to redemptions of liens that had been sold. The language changes the application of the 20 percent the redeemer of the lien pays from being applied to the amount the lien sold for to the amount of the tax due. The bill was passed by the House this week and is pending in the Senate Finance Committee.

  • Foreclosure Study. H.R. 1643 by Rep. Paulette Braddock (R-Powder Springs) was introduced this week and 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. The House Banks and Banking Committee held a hearing this week giving Rep. Braddock and others the opportunity to discuss the background behind her concerns. GBA supported testimony from the Mortgage Bankers Association that disputed much of the information provided and helped educate the committee, giving facts about recent law and regulatory changes that address the concerns raised by the resolution. The committee did not take a vote on whether to move forward with the Study Committee, but is still considering it.

  • 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 passed by the House this week and was reported out of the Senate Banking and Financial Institutions Committee.

  • 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 passed by the House this week and was reported out of the Senate Banking and Financial Institutions Committee.

  • 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 was passed by the House this week and is pending in the Senate Health and Human Services Committee.

  • 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 passed the House this week and is pending in the Senate Economic Development Committee.

  • Flood Insurance. S.R. 747 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 values. The resolution was passed by the Senate this week. A similar resolution, H.R. 1055 by Rep. Alex Atwood (R-Brunswick), passed the House earlier this session.

  • Tax Sales - Redemption Costs to be Paid. H.B. 69 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. The bill passed the House this week and is pending in the Senate Finance Committee.

  • 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 passed the House this week and it is pending in the Senate Finance Committee.

  • Auctioneers. H.B. 1042 by Rep. Katie Dempsey (R-Rome) has been added to our tracking list this week out of an abundance of caution. The bill changes 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. The bill passed the House this week and is pending in the Senate Regulated Industries and Utilities Committee.

  • 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 reported out of Senate Judiciary Non-Civil Committee this week.

  • Synovus Recognized. H.R. 1134 by Sen. Ed Harbison (D-Columbus) recognizes Synovus Financial Corporation for receiving 16 Greenwich Excellence Awards.

  • 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 reported out of the Senate Banking and Financial institutions Committee this week.











Dempsey Kirby Harbison Frye

Behind the Scenes

All committees in the House and Senate work overtime to perfect legislation referred to their respective committees. Once the committees complete their review, the bills are then sent to the Rules Committee of the respective body. These are the committees that determine the flow of legislation onto the floor for debate. The chairman of the House Rules Committee is Rep. John Meadows (R-Calhoun). The chairman of the Senate Rules Committee is Sen. Jeff Mullis (R-Chickamauga). They are two of the hardest working members of the General Assembly and we  thought you'd like to know a little more about them.


  • Rep. Meadows was elected to the House of Representations in the November 2004 election covering Gordon and Murray Counties. Originally from Calhoun, Meadows went on to attend West Georgia College. Prior to his election to the House, he served as the Mayor of Calhoun for 13 years as well as a member of the Calhoun City Council for three years. Meadows is currently employed as an Insurance Salesman at Starr-Matthews Agency, Inc. His community and civic involvement includes membership in the Society of CLU CAFL and the Northwest Georgia Association of Health Underwriters. He served as the President of the Georgia Municipal Association from 1995-1996 and proudly served in the United States Marine Corps. The avid golfer and his wife Marie are the proud parents of two children, B.J. and Missy, and grandfather of twin boys, Will and Patrick, born in May, 2005. A strong desire to be involved in the future of his community and a longing to pay them back for what they have given him and his family led him to his most recent role. In addition to serving as Chairman of the Rules Committee, he is also a member of the Governmental Affairs, Fame, Fish and Parks, Industry and Labor, Retirement, and Insurance Committees.


  • Sen. Mullis was first elected to the Georgia State Senate in 2000 representing several mountain counties in northwest Georgia. He was born, raised and lives in Chickamauga. He currently is an Economic Developer in Northwest Georgia. In addition to the Rules Committee, he is also a member of the Banking and Financial Institutions, Economic Development and Appropriations Committees and chairs the Appropriations Economic Development Subcommittee. Sen. Mullis chairs the Senate Music Committee and The Halls of Fame Joint Committee. He is the Chairman Emeritus of the Sportsman Caucus. Sen. Mullis has been recognized numerous times by Georgia Trend magazine as one of the "100 Most Influential People in Georgia" and by James Magazine as one of the "Most Influential Political Leaders in Georgia." He has also been the recipient of many awards recognizing his service in recent years including the Governor Zell Miller Public Policy Leadership Award from the Georgia Economic Development Association; GMA "Champion of Georgia Cities" award; "Legislative Service Award" from the Association County Commissioners of Georgia (ACCG); an award for work on biker issues given by the American Bikers Aimed Towards Education (ABATE); the Brotherton Award given locally for protecting heritage; "Legislator of the Year" award for his dedication to the Georgia Fire Service; GBI recognized Sen. Mullis for his support of the GBI’s DNA Database; and he has been recognized by Get Georgia Moving and the Metro Atlanta Chamber for his work in the Senate on transportation issues. He and his wife Teresa have three children.


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.

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