January 29, 2016  

Legislature Completes Day 13 of 40-day Session

The General Assembly was in session Monday through Thursday this week and will return Monday for another four-day work week. Most of the activity is still going on at the committee level with few bills perfected to the point they can be considered on the floor. Next week, the House Banks and Banking Committee chaired by Rep. Greg Morris (R-Vidalia) will meet to discuss the Banking Department’s annual housekeeping bill, HB 811 by Rep. Bruce Williamson (R-Monroe) which GBA supports. Much of the bill was the work product of the public-private Code Review Task Force chaired by Brad Miller, United Community Bank, Blairsville, and made up of members of the GBA’s Bank Counsel Section and senior department staff with Deputy Commissioner for Legal and Consumer Affairs, Bo Fears, serving as scrivener.

Committee Hearings of Note This Week

GBA’s priority bill creating a multibank public deposit collateralization pool, SB 283, by Sen. John Kennedy (R-Macon), was scheduled to be heard by the Senate Banking and Financial Institutions Committee Thursday. However, the session ended early and with the General Assembly not in session Friday, most afternoon committee meetings were postponed so legislators could head home. We expect the hearing to be next week. We will be testifying in support of the bill as will Banking Commissioner Kevin Hagler and State Treasurer Steve McCoy.
Garnishment. The Senate Judiciary Committee met this week to consider 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, and Ellen Fleming, an in-house attorney at SunTrust, served on the Task Force representing the interests of financial institutions.. At the hearing, several issues were raised that would continue to improve the bill and we expect those amendments to be adopted prior to the bill being reported out of committee next week. GBA supports the concept.
Taxes – Property Redemption. The Senate Judiciary Committee reported out HB 51 by Rep. Tommy Benton (R-Jefferson) that had been held over from the 2015 session. The bill changes the provisions about the amount of taxes payable upon redemption of a property sold for taxes, as well as establishes timeframes for when the purchaser of a property is required to join a homeowners association and pay association dues. GBA is monitoring the bill.
Credit Union Activities - Unauthorized Practice of Law. The House Judiciary Committee favorably reported HB 759 by Rep. Wendell Willard (R-Sandy Springs) clarifying 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. GBA is monitoring the bill
Tax Exempt Savings Accounts for the Disabled. A subcommittee of the House Ways and Means Committee held a hearing on HB 710 by Rep. Scot Turner (R-Holly Springs) and HB 768. The bills 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. No action was taken on moving the bills forward. GBA is monitoring the bills.

New Bills Introduced This Week

We add bills 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 three bills.
Wes Smith Honored. SR 847 by Sen. Jeff Mullis recognizes former GBA Chairman Wes Smith’s more than 50-year banking career and dedication to the northwest Georgia community, and it dedicates the intersection of U.S. Highway 41 and Georgia Highway 151 in downtown Ringgold as the L. Wesley Smith Memorial Intersection. GBA supports the resolution.
Military Consumer Protection Act. HB 812 by Rep. Brian Prince (D-Augusta) would make possible state enforcement of provisions in the federal John Warner National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2007 that deal with industrial loans, payday lending and pawnbrokers. The bill has been assigned to the House Regulated Industries Committee. GBA is monitoring the bill.
Senate Work and Save Study Committee. SR 736 by Sen. Charlie Bethel (R-Dalton) establishes a five-senator committee to evaluate the employer-offered retirement saving options or lack thereof for Georgia residents and recommend any action or legislation appropriate based on its findings. Nine states have passed “Work and Save” plan legislation that provides a way for all employed residents to save for retirement by payroll deduction at work, similar to a 529 college savings plan. GBA is monitoring the resolution.

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.