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February 26, 2016  

General Assembly Readies for Crossover Day Monday

The Legislature was in session Monday through Friday this week completing day 29 of the 40-day session. Monday is day 30 – more commonly called Crossover Day. Bills, in theory, must have passed their body of origin by the end of that day to “crossover” to the other body to be considered this session. As you’ll see below, this has been one of the busiest weeks so far this session with many bills GBA has been monitoring recieving action.

Update on GBA’s Priority Bills

GBA is involved with over 70 bills this session. Two are on our “must pass” list:
Banking Department Housekeeping Bill. The Banking Department’s annual housekeeping bill, HB 811 by Rep. Bruce Williamson (R-Monroe), was the subject of a hearing in the Senate Banking and Financial Institutions Committee chaired by Sen. Burt Jones (R-Jackson). Rep. Williamson did a nice job presenting the bill and it was reported unanimously. The bill is now eligible for the scheduling of a floor vote by the Senate Rules Committee chaired by Sen. Jeff Mullis (R-Chickamauga). 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.
Multibank Pledging Pool. The GBA-requested multibank public deposit collateralization pool bill, SB 283, is pending in the House Rules Committee, chaired by Rep. John Meadows (R-Calhoun), We expect the bill will be scheduled for a floor vote after Crossover Day. 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 and Rep. Bruce Williamson (R-Monroe) will be handling the bill on the House floor.

Other GBA-monitored Bills Saw Action this Week

E-Discovery. HB 1017 by Rep. Barry Fleming (R-Harlem) substantially revises the electronic records discoverable in a court proceeding. The bill was reported out of the House Judiciary Committee this week. The GBA joined a coalition of business interests opposing the bill as introduced as it failed to follow federal standards most states have adopted. Here’s a link to a one-page explanation of why many in the business community are concerned about the bill.
Garnishment. The House Rules Committee returned SB 255 by Sen. Jesse Stone (R-Waynesboro), to the House Judiciary Committee, chaired by Rep. Wendell Willard (R-Sandy Springs), that had earlier reported the bill. Efforts are continuing 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. GBA is continuing to work with all parties to ensure a workable bill is enacted soon.
Water Liens. The Senate Judiciary Committee reported a revised version of SB 206 by Sen. William Ligon (R-Brunswick). The bill as currently written gives certain individuals and entities, specifically including lenders, the right to file a written request with a public or private water supplier inquiring about the existence of unpaid bills attributable to the property. The water provider is presumed to have received the request three business days after the request is mailed or one business day after the request is electronically filed. The water provider has five business days to reply. The amount due in any reply may be paid in full within 30 days to extinguish the lien. If no reply is received from the water provider within the specified time limit, any existing lien rights will be extinguished. GBA appreciates Sen. Ligon’s efforts to continue to improve the bill and we 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. He tells us he will wait until next year to pursue the legislation. A similar bill, SB 397, was introduced by Sen. Judson Hill (R-Marietta). That bill is pending in the Senate Banking and Financial Institutions Committee where no action has been scheduled.
Public Retirement Funds – Permissible Investments. The Senate passed SB 335 by Sen. Ellis Black (R-Valdosta). The bill would add as eligible public retirement system investments comingled funds and collected investment funds managed by state-chartered banks and state-chartered trust companies. GBA supports.
Electronic Court Filings. The House Judiciary Committee reported HB 1027 by Rep. Barry Fleming (R-Harlem) that provides for the electronic filing of documents with the clerks of superior court. GBA is monitoring.
Property Owner Associations. The House Judiciary Committee reported HB 685 by Rep. Brian Strickland (R-McDonough) that establishes a new procedure whereby a property owners association may take over the assets and be given rights to manage the property. GBA is monitoring.
Electronic Real Estate Filings. HB 1004 by Rep. Rick Jasperse (R-Jasper) provides for the addition of electronic images of maps, plats and plans to be filed with the Clerk of Superior Court and into the Georgia Superior Court Clerks’ Cooperative Authority. GBA is monitoring.
Fair Business Practices – Solicitation of Real Estate Conveyance Instruments. The House Judiciary Committee reported HB 914 by Rep. Sam Teasley (R-Marietta) that would require any mail solicitations for services to obtain a copy of an instrument conveying real estate to be in large type and contain specific language indicating the mailing is a solicitation, not a bill. GBA is monitoring.
Taxes – Property Maintenance. A subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee reported HB 938 by Rep. Brian Prince (D-Augusta) that would establish that the purchaser of property at a tax sale is responsible for proper maintenance of the property during the period from the sale through the foreclosure of the right of redemption. If the property is redeemed by the original owner, the owner would pay reasonable costs incurred for maintenance during that period to the purchaser. The bill was scheduled for a hearing before the full Judiciary Committee, but was pulled when information was reported that case law in Georgia does give a tax lien holder property rights. GBA is monitoring.
Financial Technologies and Payment Processing Industry Incentives. The Senate concurred with SR 883 by Sen. Brandon Beach (R-Alpharetta) that will create a joint committee to study the financial technology and payment processing industries to determine if additional incentives would be helpful to these companies to expand their businesses in Georgia. GBA is monitoring.
Notaries. The House Rules Committee scheduled HB 381 by Rep. Andy Welch (R-McDonough) for a vote on the floor this week, however, the bill was taken off the calendar and sent back to the Rules Committee. The bill makes significant revisions to the Georgia code dealing with notaries public. GBA is monitoring.
Purchasing Cards. The House passed HB 949 by Rep. Alan Powell (R-Hartwell) that would prohibit certain county officials from issuing purchasing cards without enacting regulations regarding their use. GBA is monitoring.
Savings Accounts for the Disabled. The House passed 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 state program will be structured in compliance with federal rules so that contributions to the account may be eligible for a federal tax deduction. The bill is pending in the Senate Finance Committee. GBA is monitoring.
529 Savings Account Tax Deduction Increase. The House passed HB 802 by rep. Sam Teasley (R-Marietta) would increase the tax deduction for joint return filers for annual contributions to 529 college savings plans from $2,000 to $4,000. GBA is monitoring.
Property – Vacant Structure Maintenance. The Senate Public Safety Committee, chaired by Sen. Tyler Harper (R-Ocilla), held a hearing on SB 422 by Sen. Janice VanNess (R-Conyers). The bill would make it unlawful for a property owner to neglect reasonable maintenance of a vacant structure or property. If a property is not properly maintained or cleaned up upon defined notice by local government, a lien would be placed on the property to cover cleanup costs. No action was taken. GBA is monitoring.
Animal Liens. The Senate passed SB 356 by Sen. Michael William. (R-Cumming), The bill revises the lien statute applying to impounded animals and establishes a procedure for foreclosing on such liens. The bill is now pending in the House Judiciary Committee. GBA is monitoring.
Identity Theft – Free Credit Report Security Freeze. The Senate Science and Technology Committee, chaired by Sen. Bruce Thompson (R-White), held a hearing on SB 306 by Sen. P.K. Martin IV (R-Lawrenceville). The bill would prohibit credit bureaus from charging a fee for placement of or removal of credit freezes by those notified of compromised information and would remove telephone notification as a permissible means of informing someone of a data breach involving personal information. No action was taken. GBA is monitoring.
Benefit Corporations. The House Judiciary Committee held a hearing on HB 1052 by Rep. Scott Holcombe (D-Atlanta). The bill would establish benefit corporations as a new entity type in Georgia. Such a corporation will be designed to have a beneficial purpose other than maximizing shareholder value. No action was taken. GBA is monitoring.
P. Martin

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, some of which are mentioned above as action was promptly taken. Two others that have not yet received action are below.
Property – Covenant Renewals. HB 1063 by Rep. Chuck Martin (R-Alpharetta) would change the process for the renewal of covenants that restrict land to certain uses affecting planned subdivisions containing no fewer than 15 individual plots so the renewal will require a vote of 51 percent of the homeowners in certain instances. GBA is monitoring.
ERISA Study Committee – Autism Insurance Coverage. SR 1055 by Sen. Jeff Mullis (R-Chickamauga) would establish a joint Senate and House study committee to consider whether to require ERISA regulated health plans to provide payment for Applied Behavioral Analysis treatment for autism spectrum disorder. GBA is monitoring.
C. Martin

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.