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March 3, 2017  

General Assembly Passes Critical Point

Today was Crossover Day in the General Assembly, the day a bill should pass its body of origin in order to be considered by the other body this session. It’s always a long day filled with lots of last minute negotiations among legislators, constituents and advocacy groups. GBA’s priority bill related to director and officer liability protection was one of the bills caught in the last minute rush and thanks to lots of help and support from the House Leadership, the bill was included among those up for consideration. The General Assembly will come back next week and be in session Monday, Thursday and Friday.

Directors and Officers Liability Protection Bill Moves to Senate

One of GBA’s priority bills has turned out to be more contentious than many this session. And it boils down to whether Georgia should join 35 other states in providing directors and officers a gross negligence standard of care for both the decisions they make as well as the process by which they make those decisions. You’ve likely been following a Georgia Supreme Court ruling and a Federal jury trial involving certain officers and directors of the former Buckhead Community Bank. The Court bifurcated the decision-making process from the decision with only the decision being protected at the gross negligence level. In FDIC v. Loudermilk, FDIC brought action against the individuals alleging gross negligence, but the Court’s ruling allowed the decision-making process to be tried under an ordinary negligence standard. GBA has taken the position that the decision-making process and the decision itself are so intertwined, that directors and officers should be protected with a gross negligence standard of care. The opponents want the ordinary negligence standard of care to remain in place for the decision-making process. Our thanks to bill author Rep. Beth Beskin (R-Atlanta), House Judiciary Committee Chairman Wendell Willard (R-Sandy Springs) and House Judiciary Subcommittee Chairman Trey Kelley (R-Cedartown) for more than nine hours of committee work over four days to perfect the bill, HB 192, so that it could be considered by the full House. Also our thanks go to Speaker David Ralston (R-Blue Ridge), House Rules Committee Chairman John Meadows (R-Calhoun) and the entire House Leadership for their strong support of the effort. The bill passed and now goes to the Senate for further consideration.
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Beskin Willard Kelley Ralston Meadows

Department Housekeeping Bill Gets Favorable Nod

The Senate Banking Committee chaired by Sen. William Ligon (R-Brunswick) held an extensive hearing this week on HB 143 by Rep. Bruce Williamson (R-Monroe). The bill is the annual Housekeeping bill introduced at the request of the Georgia Department of Banking and Finance and most of the bill contains provisions developed by the public-private GBA Code Review Task Force. Brad Miller, General Counsel for United Community Bank, chaired the task force and Department counsel Bo Fears served as scrivener. 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; state chartered institutions are given the ability to conduct business on Sundays in parity with national banks; provides the option for minors age 16 or over to have bank accounts; streamlines the Department's subpoena process; authorizes pay-by-phone fees; expands the circumstances for board member removal; and modernizes the process for the issuance of subordinated debt. The bill was unanimously reported and awaits consideration by the Senate Rules Committee chaired by Sen. Jeff Mullis (R-Chickamauga).

Other Bills of Interest Received Action this Week

Save, Earn, Win Act. The Senate passed SB 134 by Sen. David Shafer (R-Duluth) that authorizes banks and credit unions to offer a deposit account with a raffle component to encourage savings. GBA supports.
Boat Titling. The House passed HB 357 by Rep. Ron Stephens (R-Garden City). The bill creates a process by which boats and other watercraft will be titled. GBA supports.
Civil Proceedings – File Electronically. The House passed 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.
Corporate Registrations. The House passed 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.
Fair Business Practices – Solicitation of Real Estate Conveyance Instruments. The House passed HB 197 by Rep. Sam Teasley (R-Marietta). The bill requires 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.
Home Owners Association Governance. The House passed HB 203 by Rep. Brian Strickland (R-McDonough). The bill establishes new procedures for home owners associations so that they may expand their scope and changes certain related governance restrictions. GBA is monitoring.
Property Tax Bills. The House passed HB 204 by Rep. Brett Harrell (R-Snellville) that prohibits any non-tax fees to be included on an ad valorem tax bill. GBA is monitoring.
Self-settled Trusts. The House passed HB 441 by Rep. Barry Fleming (R-Harlem). The bill creates a new trust instrument in Georgia that allows the creator of the trust to also be the beneficiary of the trust. GBA is monitoring.
Statewide Tax Lien Registry. The House passed 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.
Georgia Agribusiness and Rural Jobs Act. The House passed HB 314 by Rep. Jason Shaw (R-Lakeland). The bill creates certain agribusiness investments that would be eligible for state tax credits. The bill is intended to grow jobs in rural Georgia. GBA is monitoring.
Electronic Lien and Title – Commercial Vehicles. The House passed HB 412 by Rep. Timothy Barr (R-Lawrenceville). The bill expands the current electronic lien and title program to certain commercial motor vehicles.Installment Loan Pawn Transactions. The House defeated and returned to the Rules Committee HB 353 by Rep. Brett Harrell (R-Snellville) that would have created a new opportunity for pawn transactions...

Power of Attorney. The House passed 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. We need a few more changes we will be working on in the Senate.

Industrial Loan Licensees – Military Installations. The House passed HB 523 by Rep. Brian Strickland (R-McDonough) would prohibit Industrial Loan Act licensees from having a location within certain distances of a military installation. GBA is monitoring.

Installment Loan Pawn Transactions. The House defeated and returned to the Rules Committee HB 353 by Rep. Brett Harrell (R-Snellville) that would have created a new opportunity for pawn transactions.

Abandoned Mobile Homes. HB 381 by Rep. John Corbett (R-Lake Park) was considered in a House Judiciary Subcommittee this week. The bill would establish a new procedure for the disposal of abandoned mobile homes. After several attempts to satisfy concerns we and others raised with the bill, Rep. Corbett decided it would be better to study all views during the off season and bring back a better bill next session. Our thanks to Rep. Corbett for his willingness to meet with us and accept our suggested changes to his original bill.
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Shaffer Stephens Raffensperger Teasley Strickland

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:
Georgia Personal Data Security Act. HB 499 by Rep. Sheri Gilligan (R-Cumming) would require certain entities after having experienced a data breach to notify individuals whose personally identifying information has been compromised. Entities such as banks with notification procedures in place would be exempt. GBA is monitoring.
Cyber Challenge Study Committee. SR 318 by Sen. Harold Jones (D-Augusta), creates a Senate study committee to look into the conditions, needs, issues, and problems with cyber-attacks, cyber threats, and a demand for cyber security.

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.