Other GBA-monitored Bills Saw Action this Week
The Senate Judiciary Committee this week amended and reported SB 255
by Sen. Jesse Stone
(R-Waynesboro). The bill was introduced to address the reasons a federal judge ruled portions of Georgia’s garnishment statute unconstitutional. The bill is the result of a task force put together at the request of House Judiciary Committee Chairman Wendell Willard
(R-Sandy Springs). Adam Cleveland
of the Thompson O’Brien firm in Norcross, a GBA associate member,
and Ellen Fleming
, an in-house attorney at SunTrust, served on the Task Force representing the interests of financial institutions. At the hearing, Cleveland and other attorneys who primarily represented creditors raised several issues that would continue to improve the bill. A couple of helpful changes were made, as were some that will need further work. We will continue to work with Sen. Stone and others to make the bill more palatable while still complying with the federal court’s ruling.
A House Ways and Means Subcommittee reported HB 356
, a bill by Rep. Ron Stephens
(R-Savannah) to establish a boat and boat motor titling program using the same Electronic Lien Titling process currently used for motor vehicles The full committee will consider the bill when a fiscal note has been prepared. GBA supports the concept.
Data Center Tax Credit/Exemptions.
A subcommittee of the House Ways and Means Committee held a hearing on HB 487
by Rep. Don Parsons
(R-Marietta) that possibly would be helpful to banks operating their data centers in Georgia. No further action was taken on the bill.
529 Savings Account Tax Deduction Increase.
The House Ways and Means Committee held a hearing and reported out HB 802
by Rep. Sam Teasley
(R-Marietta). If passed, the tax deduction for joint return filers for annual contributions to 529 college savings plans will increase from $2,000 to $4,000.
Tax Exempt Savings Accounts for the Disabled.
A subcommittee of the House Ways and Means Committee reported HB 768
by Rep. Lee Hawkins
(R-Gainesville). The bill would establish a qualified program in Georgia so people can contribute to tax-exempt accounts to pay for qualified expenses such as education, housing and transportation of eligible individuals with disabilities. This is a national initiative and is commonly referred to as an ABLE account, which stands for Achieving a Better Life Experience.
Cyber Security Study Committee.
The Senate Science and Technology Committee met this week to get an update on the growing importance of the growing Financial Technologies and Financial Security industries in Georgia. The committee also reported out SR 360
by Sen. Brandon Beach
(R-Alpharetta) that establishes a study committee to consider the security of information held by state agencies.
Unauthorized Practice of Law.
The House Rules Committee, chaired by Rep. John Meadows
(R-Calhoun), has scheduled HB 759
for a floor vote in the House Monday. The bill by Rep. Wendell Willard
(R-Sandy Springs) clarifies that credit unions have parity with other financial institutions so that loan closings may be done without the use of an attorney in limited situations.
Georgia State Small Business Credit Initiatives. A joint meeting of the House Banks and Banking Committee and the House Small Business Development Committee, chaired by Rep. Bubber Epps (R-Dry Branch), heard good news from Holly Hunt of the Georgia Department of Community Affairs as she briefed members on the success of the Georgia State Small Business Credit Initiatives. Hunt told members of the important roles banks play by working in concert with the Department in making loans that likely would not be made were it not for the state funding piece. She gave examples of several projects where the businesses were startups and needed operating capital. The banks financed the portions of the loans related to real estate on the project and the state funded the operating capital portions. Hunt distributed a map showing broad support of the program statewide and encouraged legislators to talk with their local bankers if their area is not yet being served by these funds.