February 19, 2016  

General Assembly Nearing Crossover Day

The Legislature was in session Tuesday through Friday this week completing day 24 of the 40-day session. The members will be in session Monday through Friday next week preparing for the following Monday, which will be day 30 – more commonly called Crossover Day. Bills, in theory, must have passed their body of origin by the end of day 30 in order “crossover” to the other body to be considered this session.

GBA’s Priority Bills Receive Action This Week

GBA is involved with more than 60 bills this session. Two are on our “must pass” list.
Multibank Pledging Pool. The House Banks and Banking Committee, chaired by Rep. Greg Morris (R-Vidalia), held a hearing Tuesday and voted Thursday to report the GBA-requested multibank public deposit collateralization pool bill, SB 283. The bill establishes a third collateralization option for banks doing business with public depositors. This option will be a contingent liability pool comprised of all the banks with over $50 billion in assets doing business in Georgia and optional for other banks qualified as state depositories and approved by the State Depository Board. In return for the cross-guarantee, banks may be eligible for a lowered collateralization percentage from the current 110 percent of the public deposit. Sen. John Kennedy (R-Macon) authored the bill, got it passed in the Senate and presented the bill to the House committee on Tuesday. He and Rep. Bruce Williamson (R-Monroe) co-presented the bill at a second committee hearing Thursday, and the bill was reported unanimously. The next step will be for the House Rules Committee to schedule the bill for a floor vote. Rep. Williamson will be handling the bill on the House floor.
Banking Department Housekeeping Bill. The Banking Department’s annual housekeeping bill, HB 811 by Rep. Bruce Williamson (R-Monroe), was passed by the House last week and this week it was assigned to the Senate Banking and Financial Institutions Committee chaired by Sen. Burt Jones (R-Jackson). We expect a hearing will be scheduled soon. Much of the bill was the work product of the public-private Code Review Task Force chaired by Brad Miller, United Community Bank, Blairsville. Among the issues covered by the bill: 1) recognizes the preemption of the DBF’s role in approving branches of out-of-state institutions, 2) removes prohibitions for state-chartered banks to charge a fee to cash “on us” checks; 3) removes the reserve requirements referenced in Federal Reserve Regulation D so that the provisions will only be applicable to institutions whose deposits are not federally insured; 4) removes the authority of the DBF to present a case directly to a grand jury; 5) reduces the violation of an institution’s charter or bylaws to a misdemeanor from a felony; 6) authorizes banks to participate in cross-guaranty state-level collateral pools; 7) clarifies that interactive ATMs are not branches; and 8) establishes a regulatory structure for virtual currencies. Other sections of the bill apply only to credit unions or non-bank entities registered with or supervised by the DBF.

Other GBA-monitored Bills Saw Action this Week

Banks Serving Firearms Dealers. Largely along party line votes, the Senate voted 39-16 to pass SB 282 by Sen. Jesse Stone (R-Waynesboro), the Georgia Firearms Industry Nondiscrimination Act. Although we didn’t muster enough votes to defeat the bill, we extend our thanks to our members who asked your senator to vote against it. As introduced, the bill essentially said that if a bank chose not to do business with someone who has a federal license to sell firearms, the seller could sue the bank. The bank would then have to prove that the bank’s decision was for a reason other than the seller was related to the firearms industry. Our thanks to Sen. John Kennedy (R-Macon), who worked with Sen. Stone to successfully amend the bill to remove the private right of action provision. That amendment obviously improves the bill as it addresses our concerns about banks defending against frivolous lawsuits from disgruntled former customers. Another amendment was offered by Sen. Steve Henson (D-Tucker) that would have extended the firearms industry anti-discrimination language to also include race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity, but that amendment failed. The bill now moves to the House Banks and Banking Committee for further consideration. Although watered down, we still oppose the bill as the remaining language gives the Attorney General the right to bring an action against a bank if he believes the bank is about to violate, is violating, or has violated the act. No other industry has such a carve-out as is being given the firearms industry, and we believe this sets a bad precedent.
Garnishment. The House Judiciary Committee, chaired by Rep. Wendell Willard (R-Sandy Springs), held hearings on SB 255 by Sen. Jesse Stone (R-Waynesboro), and efforts are underway to improve the senate-passed version. The bill is intended to address the reasons a federal judge ruled portions of Georgia’s garnishment statute unconstitutional.
E-Discovery. HB 1017 by Rep. Barry Fleming (R-Harlem) substantially revises the electronic records discoverable in a court proceeding. A subcommittee held a hearing on the bill, but did not take action. GBA joined a coalition of business interests in opposing the bill as introduced as it failed to follow federal standards most states have adopted.
Motor Boat Titling. A subcommittee of the House Ways and Means Committee held hearings this week and reported to the full committee HB 356 by Rep. Ron Stephens (R-Savannah). The bill would establish a boat and boat motor titling program using the same Electronic Lien Titling process currently used for motor vehicles. GBA supports the concept.
Water Liens. The Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on SB 206 by Sen. William Ligon (R-Brunswick). The bill would establish a process for liens on properties for nonpayment of water service to be appropriately filed as a public record so they can be identified and known at the time of a real estate closing. As drafted, those liens would be placed ahead of mortgages, which was not the intent. We appreciate Sen. Ligon’s efforts to work with us to delete all reference to water bill liens being governed the same as liens under OCGA 48-2-56 (trumping bank mortgages). The liens will be in the county's general execution document which would be checked in a title search. The water providers are resisting the recording of liens and are expected to offer a substitute bill offering a different approach at the next committee meeting Tuesday. GBA will continue to weigh in as needed.
Powers of Attorney. HB 918 by Rep. Chuck Efstration (R-Dacula) would apply uniform terms, conditions and requirements relating to powers of attorney to various code sections. The bill was introduced at the request of the Alzheimer’s Association and AARP. There were a number of problems with the bill, and we appreciate Rep. Efstration working with us this week to improve the bill. GBA is monitoring. Sen. Judson Hill (R-Marietta) introduced another bill, SB 397, this week relating to Powers of Attorney. We are currently reviewing the bill.
Tax Execution Registry. A Subcommittee of the House Ways and Means Committee held a hearing on HB 912 by Rep. Bruce Williamson (R-Monroe). The bill, introduced at the request of the Department of Revenue, would create a new statewide Tax Execution Registry to record tax liens. No action was taken and indications are that the bill will be held over. GBA is monitoring.
Notaries. The House Judiciary Committee reported HB 381 by Rep. Andy Welch (R-McDonough). The bill makes significant revisions to the Georgia code dealing with notaries public. GBA is monitoring.
Savings Accounts for the Disabled. A subcommittee of the House Ways and Means Committee held a hearing and reported a revised version of HB 768 by Rep. Lee Hawkins (R-Gainesville). The bill establishes a qualified ABLE program in Georgia so people can contribute to accounts to pay for qualified expenses such as education, housing and transportation, of eligible individuals with disabilities. The subcommittee changed the bill to allow the State of Georgia to join with a consortium of other states to save administrative costs. GBA is monitoring.
Real Estate Broker Paperwork. HB 869 by Rep. Alan Powell (R-Hartwell) was passed by the House this week. The bill removes the requirement for mortgage brokers to retain indefinitely copies of certain paperwork related to real estate sales transactions. GBA is monitoring.
Animal Liens. SB 356 by Sen. Michael Williams (R-Cumming) revises the lien statute applying to impounded animals and establishes a procedure for foreclosing on such liens. The bill was reported out of the Senate Judiciary Committee. GBA is monitoring.

Other Bills Introduced This Week

We add bills daily to our tracking list as they’re introduced throughout the session. Be sure and watch the State Issues page on our website for updates. This week we added several bills.
Pawnbrokers – Installment Transactions. HB 1001 by Rep. Tom McCall (R-Elberton) is similar to SB 371 by Sen. Rick Jeffares (R-McDonough). The bills would establish an "installment pawn transaction." Currently pawn transactions are only single-payment type obligations. These bills would allow a pawn transaction that can be repaid monthly for a term up to 24 months. GBA is monitoring.
Foreclosure Registry. HB 1026 by Rep. Doreen Carter (D-Lithonia) would establish a statewide foreclosure registry and liens against property having been cited for code violations. GBA opposes.
Banking Improvement Zones. Sen. Josh McKoon (R-Columbus) introduced SB 398 that provides for the establishment of banking improvement zones to encourage opening of financial institutions in areas underserved by financial institutions. The bill calls for a local ordinance to deposit the local government’s funds in a financial institution complying with the provisions of the act at a rate of interest at or below the two-year existing certificate of deposit rate offered by the institution. GBA is monitoring.
Sweepstakes Savings Accounts. Sen. Josh McKoon (R-Columbus) introduced SB 403 that provides for the establishment of sweepstakes savings accounts at financial institutions with the commissioner of the Department of Banking and Finance developing rules and regulations. GBA is monitoring.

GBA’s Advocacy Team at the Capitol

Led by GBA’s Senior Vice President, Government Relations, Elizabeth Chandler, GBA is at the Capitol every day advocating on behalf of our members. Also at the Capitol are GBA’s government relations consultant Steve Bridges and GBA President and CEO Joe Brannen. If you’re going to be around the Capitol with your local chamber, a leadership group, or bringing someone to page, be sure and let us know as we’d love to visit with you and let you know what’s happening that day. Legislators also like to see their hometown constituents taking an interest in their work and we’ll help you get connected. With questions about GBA legislation, other issues of interest, or anything related to the legislative process, contact Elizabeth at 404.420.2027, Steve at 404.420.2037, or Joe at 404.420.2026.