February 10, 2017 

General Assembly Moving at Fast Clip

Georgia state legislators were in session Tuesday through Friday this week completing Day 16 of the 40-day session. Committees continued to complete action on legislation moving it to the House or Senate Rules Committees that schedule floor votes. It was a busy week for GBA's advocacy team at the Capitol as our top two priority bills were the subject of committee action while other committees considered other legislation we're monitoring.

House Judiciary Subcommittee Hears D&O Liability Bill

Our thanks to Rep. Beth Beskin (R-Atlanta) for ably presenting HB 192 to a subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee. The bill would enhance the liability protection for board members in their decision-making process. In the vast majority of states, the business judgment rule protects both the decision-making process and the actual decisions of directors made in good faith from any second- guessing by courts and juries. The only exceptions are where the directors are guilty of gross negligence, fraud or bad faith. Banking Commissioner Kevin Hagler joined Rep. Beskin testifying in support of the bill relaying his testimony in the FDIC v. Loudermilk case and why he felt strongly that bank directors deserved a gross negligence standard. Also supporting the bill were the two attorneys who helped draft the bill, Tom Richey of Bryan Cave and John Latham of Alston & Bird. They have both been involved in years of litigation dealing with officer and director liability and made a compelling case for the bill. Time ran out before others could testify and another subcommittee hearing is scheduled for Feb. 20. A long list of business groups support the bill: GBA, the Community Bankers Association, the Georgia Credit Union Affiliates, the Georgia Chamber of Commerce and the National Federal of Independent Businesses to name a few. Leading the opposition to the bill is the Georgia Trial Lawyers Association. Here's a link to more information about the reasons this legislation is so important, and below are the members of the Subcommittee. If your state representative is a member of this Subcommittee, listed below, we encourage you to call in support of our position.
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Morris Williamson
Housekeeping Bill Reported out of Committee
The House Banks and Banking Committee chaired by Rep. Greg Morris, Vidalia, met this week and reported the Department of Banking & Finance annual housekeeping bill and it is schedduled for a floor vote this coming Tuesday. HB 143 was introduced by Rep. Bruce Williamson (R-Monroe) and includes important provisions that the GBA Code Review Task Force recommended as the culmination of their three-year project to update Georgia's banking laws. Of note, the bill includes a streamlined calculation for legal lending limits, the ability of the Department to directly examine third party service providers, gives state chartered institutions the ability to conduct business on Sundays to give them parity with national banks, adds the option of providing minors electronic access to accounts, streamlines the Department's subpoena process, authorizes pay-by-phone fees, expands the circumstances for board member removal by the financial institution and modernizes the process for the issuance of subordinated debt.
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Ligon Stone

Senate Banking Committee Meets

In last week's Legislative Update we told you about a meeting planned this week for the Senate Banking and Financial Institutions chaired by Sen. William Ligon (R-Brunswick). The committee did not take up a bill GBA opposes, SB 86 by Sen. Jesse Stone (R-Waynesboro), that 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. You may click here to read more about why we're concerned. We will let you know when a hearing is scheduled on the bill. But just a note about the process and why it's important for our members to engage early to let your legislator know the downside of supporting this bill. We often see legislation like this tacked onto other bills that are moving through the process, and there are several bills that would be considered germane that this bill could be attached to. So don't wait to let your state senator know we oppose this legislation as it could easily become part of another bill. At their meeting this week, the committee considered and voted out another of Sen. Stone's bills, SB 87. This bill creates a new process to extinguish certain liens against property after the debtor has been discharged from his debts in a bankruptcy proceeding.

GBA Supports Save, Earn, Win Act

Legislation was introduced SB 134 this week by Senate President Pro Tem David Shafer (R-Duluth) that would encourage savings by allowing financial institutions to incent saving by creating accounts that have a lottery winnings type component. GBA President & CEO Joe Brannen along with others in the financial and non-profit community appeared with Sen. Shafer announcing the initiative. Click here to see the press conference and learn what Joe and others said about the importance of saving.

Other Committee and Floor Action This Week

Bankruptcy Exemptions - HSAs, MSAs. The Senate Judiciary Committee reported out SB 71 by Sen. Jesse Stone (R-Waynesboro). Sen. Stone chairs the committee. The bill adds Health Savings Accounts and Medical Savings Accounts to the list of property that is exempt from bankruptcy.
Appraisers, Real Estate Agents, Salespersons - Disciplinary Action. The House passed 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. The bill has been assigned to the Senate Regulated Industries and Utilities Committee.
Maps, Plats, Plan Filings. The House passed HB 76 by Rep. Rick Jasperse (R-Jasper). The bill makes several changes to legislation passed in the 2016 session creating 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. The bill has been assigned to the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Tax Credits - Rural Georgia Revitalization. The House Ways and Means Committee amended and reported H.B. 73 by Rep. Penny Houston (R-Nashville). The bill provides tax credit incentives to promote the revitalization of vacant rural Georgia downtowns by encouraging investment, job creation, and economic growth in long-established business districts.

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:
Recording of Deeds - Constructive Notice. SB 120 by Sen. William Ligon (R-Brunswick) establishes a procedure for the correction of defects in attestations and acknowledgments to certain filings. The bill has been assigned to the Senate Judiciary Committee. GBA monitoring.
Home Owners Association Governance. HB 203 by Rep. Brian Strickland (R-McDonough) establishes new procedures whereby home owners associations may expand their scope and changes certain related governance restrictions. GBA monitoring. The bill has been assigned to the House Judiciary Committee.

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.