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


    General Assembly in Session Every Day this Week

    The Legislature continued its efficient pace this session by meeting all five days this week. Committees worked overtime to perfect legislation before it's sent to the floor. Friday was the 19th Legislative Day, marking almost the halfway point of 40 days allowed by the Georgia Constitution for the General Assembly to meet in regular session. Next week legislators are scheduled to be in session Monday through Thursday and will be in recess Friday and Monday returning Tuesday, Feb. 18. This was a busy week for GBA as our priority bills were up for both committee hearings and votes. We also began monitoring a number of new bills, and there's more information below.



    GBA Priority Bills See Action

    The House Banks and Banking Committee met twice this week to hold hearings and take votes on three bills before their committee including GBA's two priority bills. All bills were reported out, with the "Fees are Not Interest" bill, H.B. 824, reported out first. Rep. Richard Smith (R-Columbus) did a great job presenting the bill and no further testimony was given. He focused mostly on the bill being needed to ensure parity between state-chartered and nationally-chartered banks which resonated with the committee. The House Rules Committee also felt strongly about parity and scheduled it for floor action Wednesday where it passed unanimously. In the Senate, the bill has been assigned to the Senate Banking and Financial Institutions Committee where a hearing is scheduled for Tuesday. Click here to read an Issue Brief about the bill.


    The Banks and Banking Committee spent much more time on the patent troll bill, H.B. 809 by Rep. Bruce Williamson (R-Monroe). Rep. Williamson explained the bill and gave the committee some good history about the nature of patent trolls and the kinds of businesses being targeted in Georgia. GBA's Elizabeth Chandler testified in support of the bill and told the committee that 15 state legislatures around the country are considering similar bills. The committee amended the bill to clarify the original intent in the bill was to provide two options to fight the trolls. One is by empowering the Governor's Office of Consumer Affairs to bring action against trolls they discover are violating the act. The second alternative is a specific grant of authority to individuals to bring a private action against a troll. The House Rules Committee scheduled the bill for a floor vote Thursday, and it passed the House unanimously. Click here to read an Issue Brief about the patent troll bill.




    GBA's Elizabeth Chandler testifies in support
    of the patent troll bill.

    New Bills We're Following/Action on Other Bills

    We've added nine new bills this week to our tracking list to monitor. Obviously not all bills will be passed, but we monitor all bills related to our interests to keep an eye on the process. Be sure and check out GBA's State Issues Page on our website where you'll see all the bills we're following.

    • Foreclosure Confirmation Process. H.B. 917 by Rep. Brian Strickland (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.

    • E-Discovery. S.B. 354 by Sen. Bill Cowsart (R-Athens) is similar to H.B. 643 by Rep. Wendell Willard (R-Sandy Springs) that creates new provisions within the Georgia Civil Practice Act related to the discovery, preservation and production of electronically stored records. Extensive hearings have been held on the House bill with more scheduled next week. The Georgia Chamber of Commerce is coordinating the proponents' efforts with some pushback from the Georgia Trial Lawyers Association. GBA is following the legislation as records maintained by our members would be affected.

    • Forfeiture of Seized Assets. H.B. 1 by Rep. Wendell Willard (R-Sandy Springs) revising and updating statutes related to forfeitures was reported out of the House Judiciary Committee this week. We're following the bill as it affects the way a financial institution may dispose of certain seized property, among other things.

    • Security Freezes for Minors. H.B. 915 by Rep. Josh Clark (R-Buford) authorizes the placement of a security freeze on the minor's identifying information by a credit reporting bureau.

    • Foreclosure Withdrawal/Notice of Completion. H.B. 903 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.

    • Dispossessory Judgments. H.B. 928 by Rep. David Knight (R-Griffin) provides for a court procedure including a trial when a tenant answers a writ of possession.

    • Contractor Liens - Cause of Action for Unpaid Work. S.B. 363 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. GBA opposes.

    • 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.

    • Bridge Naming Honors Bank Founder. H.R. 1184 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.

    • Resolution Honoring Rep. Calvin Smyre. S.R. 843 by Sen. Donzella James (D-Atlanta) is similar to the House resolution, H.R. 1190, we mentioned in last week's Legislative Update honoring Rep. Smyre's induction into the International Civil Rights Walk of Fame.












    Election Season Underway

    Two new House members were elected this week to fill unexpectedly open seats in the General Assembly. Steve Tarvin (R-Chickamauga) will fill the seat vacated by former Rep. Jay Neal, who has taken a position in state government. Sam Moore (R-Ball Ground) will fill the seat vacated upon the death of former Rep. Calvin Hill. We'll be covering the announcements as they're made of members leaving the General Assembly after this session. This week Senate Banking and Finance Committee Member and Senate Majority Whip Cecil Staton (R-Macon) announced he will retire. Also announcing he was leaving the legislature this week was House Banks and Banking Committee member Delvis Dutton (R-Glennville). He told his colleagues he was preparing to challenge U.S. Rep. John Barrow. Previously, Senate Banking and Finance Committee Chairman John Crosby (R-Tifton) said he would be retiring after this session. Rep. Edward Lindsey (R-Atlanta) announced he was leaving the House to run for the congressional seat currently held by U.S. Rep. Phil Gingrey who is running for the open U.S. Senate seat being vacated by current U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss. Sen. Buddy Carter (R-Pooler) is leaving to seek the congressional seat currently held by U.S. Rep. Jack Kingston who is also running for the open U.S. Senate seat. Sen. Jason Carter (D-Decatur) is leaving to seek the Democrat nomination for Governor.



    Behind the Scenes

    Members of the Georgia State Senate elect their leaders within the democrat and republican caucuses. Of the 56 members of the senate, 38 are republicans and 18 are democrats. The two senior party positions are Majority and Minority Leaders. Sen. Ronnie Chance (R-Tyrone) is serving as the Majority Leader and Sen. Steve Henson (D-Tucker) is serving as the Minority Leader. It's a huge honor to be elected to these positions, but the jobs take an enormous amount of work over and above what it already takes to represent their own districts. We thought you'd like to know a little more about them.


    • Sen. Chance was elected to the State Senate in 2004 representing four counties in south Metro Atlanta He serves on the Appropriations, Economic Development, Finance, Regulated Industries, Rules and Transportation Committees. He is the previous chairman of both the Senate Economic Development Committee and Senate Finance Committee. Prior to his current role, Sen. Chance served as Administrative Floor Leader to both Govs. Sonny Perdue and Nathan Deal. Prior to his election, Sen. Chance founded a public relations firm focusing on communications and business development services. He has advised several Fortune 100 corporations as well as a number of policy leaders including former U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole and Sen. Johnny Isakson. Heís also advised U.S. Reps. Mac Collins, Phil Gringrey and Lynn Westmoreland. In recognition of his leadership, he has received several awards including Legislator of the Year, the Champion of Economic Development, the Friend of Business Award, and the Environmental Leadership Award from from various organizations that actively follow the work of legislators. Sen. Chance is a past participant in Leadership Georgia. He earned a BBA degree in Marketing from Georgia State University. He is married to the former Cressida Stevens of Gloucestershire, England and they have three daughters.


    • Sen. Henson has been elected twice to serve in the Senate, first from 1991-1998 and then again in 2003 to the present. In addition to his leadership position, he also serves as the Vice Chairman of the Urban Affairs Committee as a member of the Administrative Affairs, Government Oversight, Health and Human Services, Natural Resources and the Environment, Reapportionment and Redistricting, Regulated Industries and Utilities and Rules committees. Sen. Henson was elected by his local colleagues as chair of the DeKalb County Senate Delegation. He is also a past chair of the DeKalb Democratic Party. A DeKalb resident for over thirty years, Sen. Henson graduated from the University of Georgia with a bachelorís degree in Economics. He is a vocational administrator and teacher at Henson Training Institute and has been an officer and member of numerous community and civic organizations over the years, such as: Tucker Jaycees, Stone Mountain Exchange Club, DeKalb Lung Association, League of Women Voters, PRISM, Georgia Advisory Council for the Mentally Ill, Georgia Epilepsy Board and others.



    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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