March 10, 2017 

General Assembly Eases Back into Session

As is traditional after a long session called Crossover Day last Friday that saw dozens of bills passed from one body to the other, the General Assembly returned Monday with light calendars in the House and Senate. Both chambers spent most of their time this week with committees reviewing and perfecting legislation to ready the bills for action in the waning days of the session. We were honored this week to serve as co-hosts for the annual dinners recognizing two hard working committees: the House Rules Committee and the Senate Banking and Financial Institutions Committee. Legislators were in session Monday, Thursday and Friday this week, completing Day 31 of the 40-day session. They’ll return next Monday and be in session daily through Thursday.

Hearings/Floor Actions on Bills of Note

Several bills we’ve been following were either the subject of hearings this week or hearings will be scheduled soon.
Business Judgment Rule – Director and Officer Liability. The Senate Banking and Financial Institutions Committee did not meet this week, but we’re told to expect a hearing next Wednesday on one of GBA’s priority bills, HB 192 by Rep. Beth Beskin (R-Atlanta). The legislation is intended to address the standard of care for directors and officers. Until a recent Supreme Court decision, a gross negligence standard of care was presumed to be in place. However, the court ruled that an ordinary negligence standard of care applied to the decision making process while a gross negligence standard of care applied to the decision itself. We’ve always felt the decision-making process and the decision were so intertwined they were one and the same; and this legislation, if passed, will confirm that.
Banking Department Housekeeping Bill. We hope the Senate Rules Committee chaired by Sen. Jeff Mullis (R-Chickamauga) will soon take up HB 143 by Rep. Bruce Williamson (R-Monroe). The bill is the Banking Department’s annual housekeeping bill, much of which came from the GBA Code Review Task Force.
Boat Titling. The Senate Finance Committee chaired by Sen. Chuck Hufstetler (R-Rome) reported HB 357 by Rep. Ron Stephens (R-Savannah). The bill has been many years in the making and creates a process by which boats and other watercraft will be titled. GBA supports.
Corporate Registrations. The Senate Economic Development and Tourism Committee chaired by Sen. Mike Dugan (R-Carrollton) held a hearing but did not take further action on HB 87 by Rep. Brad Raffensperger (R-Johns Creek). The bill would make the current annual corporate registration requirement good for three years.
Bankruptcy – Extinguish Liens. The House Judiciary Committee chaired by Rep. Wendell Willard (R-Sandy Springs) held a hearing on and reported SB 87 by Sen. Jesse Stone (R-Waynesboro). The bill creates a new process to extinguish certain liens against property after the debtor has been discharged from his or her debts in a bankruptcy proceeding.
Bankruptcy Exemptions – HSAs, MSAs. The House Judiciary Committee also held a hearing on and reported SB 71 by Sen. Jesse Stone (R-Waynesboro). The bill adds Health Savings Accounts and Medical Savings Accounts to the list of property that is exempt from bankruptcy.
House Rural Development Council. The House Economic Development Committee chaired by Rep. Ron Stephens (R-Savannah) held a hearing on HR 389 by Rep. Sam Watson (R-Moultrie). The resolution creates House Rural Development Council that will be comprised of a blue ribbon panel of House members. They will be tasked with the job of looking into the reasons rural areas of the State have not enjoyed the same economic development opportunity our more urban areas have enjoyed. Emphasizing the importance of the Council, Speaker of the House David Ralston (R-Blue Ridge) testified before the Committee and outlined his reasons for announcing the effort early in the session and said he looked forward to seeing strong results and recommendations for specific actions to come from the two-year effort. The house passed the bill unanimously.
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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.