February 3, 2017 

Busy Week for General Assembly

The third week of the 2017 Georgia General Assembly was the busiest yet of the session. Legislators continued to introduce bills important to their constituents, committees held hearings as bills began moving through the process, and the legislators voted to complete this year's session on March 30. For the next three weeks, the legislators will convene on a Tuesday through Friday schedule. So far, they've completed 12 days of their 40-day session.

Directors and Officers Liability Protection Bill Introduced  - GBA's #1 Priority for 2017

Our thanks to Rep. Beth Beskin (R-Atlanta) for introducing HB 192, legislation designed to give bank and other corporate directors gross negligence protection in lawsuits involving their decision-making process. The legislation addresses the results of recent court decisions and a jury trial involving the officers and directors of Buckhead Community Bank. Here's a link to more information about the need for the legislation. Original cosponsors of the bill are House Majority Leader Jon Burns (R-Newington); House Judiciary Committee Chairman Wendell Willard (R-Sandy Springs); House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Jay Powell (R-Camilla); House Majority Caucus Chairman Matt Hatchett (R-Dublin); House Majority Caucus Secretary Bruce Williamson (R-Monroe) and House Majority Whip Christian Coomer (R-Cartersville). If your state representative is on this list, please follow up with a personal call of thanks for their help. The bill has been assigned to the House Judiciary Committee where we hope to have hearings soon. We have been meeting with various stakeholders including those representing the plaintiff's bar, who often oppose legislation of this nature.

GBA's Other Priority Bill Heard in Committee

For the past three years, you've been hearing about the public-private Code Review Task Force coordinated jointly by GBA and the Department of Banking and Finance and ably chaired by Brad Miller, General Counsel at United Community Banks, Inc., Blairsville, with help from a diverse group of lawyers from GBA's Bank Counsel Section and the Department staff. Their work has been important as significant bills were passed in the 2015 and 2016 legislative sessions modernizing the Georgia banking code. The 2017 legislation introduced last week wraps up the work of the task force. This year's Department housekeeping bill, HB 143 by Rep. Bruce Williamson (R-Monroe), is mostly comprised of issues developed through the Task Force. A hearing was held on the bill this week in the House Banks & Banking Committee chaired by Rep. Greg Morris (R-Vidalia). The committee meets again next Wednesday when a vote is scheduled to move the bill on to the Rules Committee. Click here for a summary of the provisions in the bill provided by the Department...

GBA Opposes Foreclosure Bill

In last week's Legislative Update we told you about SB 86 by Sen. Jesse Stone (R-Waynesboro) that adds judgments and levys to the real estate sales following a foreclosure that would be subject to a mandatory confirmation process in order to pursue a deficiency. The bill also prohibits contracts from including language that waives the confirmation process by guarantors. GBA opposes the bill, and you may click here to read more about why we're concerned. The Georgia Supreme Court settled the law as it relates to guarantor waivers with a ruling last February, and we see no need to revisit the law that's been on the books for decades. And further, we believe that subjecting real estate foreclosed to confirmation hearings in either a judgment or levy process only adds costs and time to collect what is already known to be a lawfully owed debt. The bill has been assigned to the Senate Banking and Financial Institutions Committee and we expect a hearing as early as next week. Here's a list of the committee members:
John Kennedy, Vice Chairman
Michael Williams, Secretary
David Shafer, Ex-Officio
If your state senator is on this committee, please click through the link on his name above for his contact information and call to ask that he oppose the bill. Calls are better than emails. We also expect that another of Sen. Stone's bills will be on committee's agenda for consideration. That bill is SB 87 and it sets up a new process for the extinguishment of certain liens against property after the debtor has been discharged from his debts in a bankruptcy proceeding. With questions, contact Elizabeth Chander, 404.420.2027, Steve Bridges, 404.420.2037 or Joe Brannen, 404.420.2026
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Dugan Cagle
GBA Supports FAST Act - a Boon for Economic Development
GBA has joined a diverse group of business interests weighing in to support SB 2 by Sen. Mike Dugan (R-Carrollton) that will set Georgia apart among the states for businesses looking to locate, expand and create jobs. It's all in the name: “The FAST Act - Fairness, Accountability, Simplification, and Transparency - Empowering Our Small Businesses to Succeed.” Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle and many in the Senate leadership have taken a close look at how businesses now have to navigate a sometimes complex and time consuming maze of state and local permitting, licensing, zoning and other requirements in order to do business. In a presentation to the Real Estate Trade Group, of which GBA is a member, Sen. Dugan and Lt. Gov. Cagle talked about the FAST Act as a way for businesses to have greater certainty in navigating the process. Georgia will stand out for having a program in place that is transparent, easy to navigate and that gives a certain route to ensuring compliance with state and local requirements. We applaud the approach taken in the legislation as yet another way to enhance Georgia's designation as the number one state in which to do business.

Legislation Already Getting Floor Votes

Wasting no time when legislation has been perfected in the committee process, the Leadership has already started scheduling floor votes by the full House and Senate. One bill we've been monitoring and support passed the House this week. The bill, HB 49 by Rep. Clay Pirkle (R-Ashburn), adds letters of credit, certificates of deposit and other instruments issued by lending institutions to the surety bond options for livestock dealers and licensed auction houses to use as bond to cover losses resulting from the failure to pay the purchase price for animals being sold. The bill will next be considered by the Senate Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Committee.

Committees Hear Other Bills of Banker Interest

Trust Code Revisions. The two bills addressing some much needed changes in the Georgia trust code were the subject of hearings in the House Judiciary Committee and both were reported for further consideration by the House Rules Committee. HB 121 and HB 122 by Rep. Chuck Efstration (R-Dacula) are the result of the work of the Trust Code Revision Committee of the State Bar's Fiduciary Law Section. H.B. 121 deals with minor or unborn beneficiaries; changes provisions relating to nonjudicial settlement agreements, the modification and termination of noncharitable trusts, and distribution to another trust; and changes provisions relating to modification or termination of uneconomic trusts. H.B. 122 deals with the Uniform Statutory Rule Against Perpetuities, so as to change provisions relating to the validity of nonvested property interest or power of appointment; and changes provisions relating to reform of disposition by court to approximate transferor's plan of distribution among other things. GBA supports.
Maps, Plats, Plan Filings. The House Judiciary Committee also held hearings and reported out to the Rules Committee for further consideration HB 76 by Rep. Rick Jasperse (R-Jasper). The bill makes several changes to legislation passed in the 2016 session that created a more user-friendly system for the filing of maps, plats and plans for real estate. This bill mostly deals with condominium projects and land surveyors. GBA supports.
Appraisers, Real Estate Agents, Salespersons - Disciplinary Action. The House Regulated Industries Committee reported HB 39 by Rep. Alan Powell. The bill gives a 10-day period for any of the affected licensees to notify the licensing board of convictions of certain offences and replaces the requirement for automatic revocation of a license to a permissive process. GBA is monitoring.

New Bills Added to our Tracking List This Week

We add bills almost daily to our tracking list that can be found on the State Issues Page of our website. Bookmark that page if you're interested in following all the goings on at the State Capitol. Here are the bills we added this week:
Bankruptcy - Extinguish Liens. SB 87 by Sen. Jesse Stone (R-Waynesboro) would create a new process to extinguish certain liens against property after the debtor has been discharged from his debts in a bankruptcy proceeding. GBA is monitoring.
Civil Proceedings - File Electronically. HB 15 by Rep. Wendell Willard (R-Sandy Springs) creates a new process by which certain civil proceedings will be filed electronically with the courts. Convenience fees for those using credit card or bank drafting service are limited to no more than 3.5 percent of the legislated fees plus $0.30 per transaction. GBA is monitoring.
Fair Business Practices - Solicitation of Real Estate Conveyance Instruments. HB 197 by Rep. Sam Teasley (R-Marietta) 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.
Credit Checks Employees/Potential Employees. HB 182 by Rep. Winfred Dukes (D-Albany) prohibit credit checks on certain current and potential employees. Although employees of banks and credit unions are exempt from the prohibition, GBA is monitoring.
A. Powell

GBA's Advocacy Team at the Capitol

Led by GBA's Senior Vice President, Government Relations, Elizabeth Chandler, GBA was 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. 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.