March 17, 2017  

General Assembly Has Five Legislative Days to Complete Session

Committees of the House and Senate were busy this week in the General Assembly perfecting and reporting bills that had previously passed the other body. There's lots of work to get done in the five days remaining in the 40-day session. Next week, the General Assembly will be in session Monday, Wednesday and Friday. They are set to finish their work for 2017 on March 30.
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Kennedy Williamson

GBA Priority Bill on the Way to the Governor

Thanks to the able presentation of the bill to his colleagues by Sen. John Kennedy (R-Macon), the Senate passed HB 143 by Rep. Bruce Williamson (R-Monroe). Their action was the final legislative nod to the Banking Department's annual housekeeping bill. The bill was pre-cleared by the Governor's office, so we expect his signature after the legislature adjourns. Most of the bill was the work product of the public-private GBA Code Review Task Force chaired by Brad Miller, General Counsel at United Community Banks, Inc., Blairsville, with Department counsel Bo Fears serving as scrivener. This completes the third and final year of the Task Force's work and we extend our thanks to them for helping modernize our banking code so that it's among the best in the country. Major provisions of note in the bill are 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, 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 Beskin Mullis

Business Judgment Rule Bill Cleared by Committee

The Senate Banking and Financial Institutions Committee chaired by Sen. William Ligon (R-Brunswick) held a hearing on Wednesday and unanimously reported HB 192 by Rep. Beth Beskin (R-Atlanta), who presented the bill. Also testifying in support of the bill was Banking Commissioner Kevin Hagler with backup support from GBA, the Community Bankers Association of Georgia, the Georgia Credit Union Affiliates, the National Federation of Independent Businesses and an organization called Georgians for Lawsuit Reform formed by the Georgia Chamber of Commerce. A big showing of businesses large and small representing the diverse interests supporting the bill also were represented at the hearing. The Georgia Trial Lawyers Association that had previously opposed the bill chose not to testify and we understand they no longer oppose the bill. The bill was introduced in response to the 2014 Supreme Court's ruling in the FDIC v. Loudermilk case that created different standards of care by which directors and officers will be held accountable for business decisions and the process leading up to those decisions. The decisions themselves are subject to a gross negligence standard; the process is subject to an ordinary negligence standard. Our view is that because decisions are made all along the process, the two are one and the same and a gross negligence standard should apply. That's essentially what the bill does and we hope the Senate Rules Committee chaired by Sen. Jeff Mullis (Chickamauga) will schedule the bill for a vote in the Senate soon. Sen. John Kennedy (R-Macon) will be handling the bill when it reaches the floor.

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Pirkle Harper

Senate Passes Ag Bill We've been Monitoring

We were pleased to see the Senate pass HB 49 by Rep. Clay Pirkle (R-Ashburn). The bill 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. Our thanks also go to Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black who surfaced the need for the legislation and Sen. Tyler Harper (R-Ocilla) handled the bill on the Senate floor. Their action clears the bill for the Governor's desk. GBA is glad to see Rep. Pirkle rising in prominence in the legislature. He was a banker before becoming a fulltime farmer and is a graduate of GBA's Georgia Banking School.

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Jasperse Stone

Amendment to Gun Bill Creates Protected Class for Licensees

A House-passed bill, HB 292 by Rep. Rick Jasperse (R-Jasper), was amended in the Senate Judiciary Committee chaired by Sen. Jesse Stone (R-Waynesboro) to include a provision similar to a measure included in one of the gun bills vetoed last session. The provision establishes for the first time in Georgia law, a protected class for anyone having a federal firearms license. The bill will require any individual or business to do business with the licensee unless there is a reason not to, other than the fact they are holding a firearms license. Sen. Stone amended the bill using language we requested last year removing a private right of action and having the Attorney General enforce the statute. He also included preemption language requested by the Banking Department should the provision be ruled inapplicable to nationally-chartered banks by the OCC. The bill was reported out of the Senate Judiciary Committee and is expected to pass this session. GBA will continue to monitor the bill with concerns.

In Other Action This Week...

Here's a summary of other legislation we've been monitoring, asking to be amended or generally involved with all session.
Power of Attorney. The Senate Judiciary Committee amended and reported HB 221 by Rep. Chuck Efstration (R-Dacula). The bill is essentially a rewrite of the current power of attorney statute. Our thanks to Rep. Efstration for making a number of changes we recommended in the legislation. The bill was amended this week to take more of our suggestions and to clarify that limited powers of attorney used in many transactions like real estate closings are not covered by the new legislation. GBA supports
Save, Earn, Win Act. The House Banks and Banking Committee chaired by Rep. Greg Morris (R-Vidalia) held a hearing but took no further action on SB 134 by Sen. David Shafer (R-Duluth). The bill authorizes banks and credit unions to offer a deposit account with a raffle component to encourage savings. GBA supports.
Boat Titling. The Senate Finance Committee chaired by Sen. Chuck Hufstetler (R-Rome) reported HB 357 by Rep. Ron Stephens (R-Savannah). The bill 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) reported HB 87 by Rep. Brad Raffensperger (R-Johns Creek). The bill makes the current annual corporate registration requirement good for three years. GBA is monitoring.
Property Tax Bills. The Senate Finance Committee amended and reported HB 204 by Rep. Brett Harrell (R-Snellville). The bill prohibits any non-tax fees from being included on an ad valorem tax bill. GBA is monitoring.
Statewide Tax Lien Registry. The Senate Finance Committee reported HB 337 by Rep. Bruce Williamson (R-Monroe). The bill creates a new process by which state tax liens will be registered at the state level. The bill is a priority of the Department of Revenue. GBA is monitoring.
Electronic Lien and Title - Commercial Vehicles. The Senate Public Utilities Committee chaired by Sen. Tyler Harper (R-Ocilla) reported HB 412 by Rep. Timothy Barr (R-Lawrenceville). The bill expands the current electronic lien and title program to certain commercial motor vehicles. GBA is monitoring.
Maps, Plats, Plan Filings. The Senate Judiciary Committee reported H.B. 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. GBA is monitoring.
Civil Proceedings - File Electronically. The Senate Judiciary Committee reported HB 15 by Rep. Wendell Willard (R-Sandy Springs). The bill 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 is limited to no more than 3.5 percent of the legislated fees plus $0.30 per transaction. GBA supports.
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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.