February 16, 2018   

General Assembly Passes Halfway Mark
The Georgia General Assembly was in session Monday through Thursday this week, completing the 22nd day of their 40-day session. The General Assembly will convene again Tuesday and will be in session daily through Friday. Eyes now turn to Day 28 scheduled for Feb. 28 as that’s “crossover day” so named because, in theory, any bill not passing its body of origin would ordinarily not be considered by the other body. The pace of committee and floor activity will quicken.
GBA Priority Bill Reported from Committee
The House Banks and Banking Committee chaired by Rep. Greg Morris (R-Vidalia) voted to report HB 780 by Rep. Bruce Williamson (R-Monroe), the Banking Department’s housekeeping bill, to the Rules Committee that decides which legislation moves to the full House. Among other provisions, the bill allows shareholders to give board members additional liability protection and expands the existing statutory parity provisions to ensure state chartered banks remain in a competitively equal position with nationally chartered banks. The Rules Committee has scheduled a vote by the full House for this coming Tuesday.
Floor Action This Week
Unauthorized Computer Access
. The Senate passed
SB 315 by Sen. Bruce Thompson (R-White) to create a new crime of Unauthorized Computer Access to apply to those instances when someone gains access to a computer or network without authority and upon conviction, the individual will be punished for a misdemeanor of a high and aggravated nature.
Abandoned Mobile Homes. The House passed a revised version of HB 381 by Rep. John Corbett (R-Lake Park). The bill establishes a new procedure for the disposal of abandoned mobile homes. We appreciate Rep. Corbett continuing to work with us to perfect his legislation.
Action on Bills of Interest
It was another busy week for committee work as legislators were holding hearings, receiving testimony, amending and reporting bills to the Rules Committee of the respective body where there is a second look before full floor action is scheduled. Here are some of the highlights of committee action on bills of interest to our members:
Healthcare Provider Choice of Payment. HB 818 by Rep. Lee Hawkins (R-Gainesville) was introduced with the goal of giving health care providers a choice in the form of payment they receive from insurance companies. However, as introduced, the bill went much further and included provisions that would have capped certain card transaction fees and instituted a burdensome process for both insurers and providers to efficiently take advantage of whichever payment mechanism they chose (ACH, check or credit card). Our thanks to Rep. Hawkins for working with us to remove the unworkable language both prior to a subcommittee meeting we reported on last week and making further improvements to the bill this week. We expect the revised bill to be heard in the House Insurance Committee next week.
Funeral Expenses. A subcommittee of the House Insurance Committee chaired by Rep. Darlene Taylor (R-Thomasville) held a hearing on HB 689 by Rep. Rick Williams (R-Milledgeville). The bill removes the 90-day waiting period for a financial institution to pay up to $10,000 out of an intestate depositor’s account for funeral expenses and requires funeral expenses to be paid before any other expenses. In certain circumstances, an insurer may pay up to $10,000 of an insured’s life insurance proceeds directly to a funeral home. GBA has expressed concern to Rep. Williams about the bill and we will continue to work with him so that our concerns may be considered. No testimony was taken from anyone other than the author at the hearing this week, but another hearing is set for Tuesday. 
Power of Attorney. The House Judiciary Committee reported HB 897 by Rep. Chuck Efstration (R-Dacula). The bill continues the significant work accomplished last session revising the state’s Power of Attorney statute, which GBA supports. Our thanks to Rep. Efstration for working with us to perfect the bill.
Guardians and Conservators. The House Judiciary Committee reported HB 896 by Rep. Chuck Efstration (R-Dacula). The bill revises the guardian, ward and adult conservatorship statute to incorporate language recommended from the Uniform Adult Guardianship and Conservatorship Proceedings Jurisdiction Act.
Foreclosure – Confirmation Waiver Prohibition. We’ve reported on our concerns related to SB 86 by Sen. Jesse Stone (R-Waynesboro) that adds judgments and levys to the real estate sales subject to a mandatory confirmation process in order to pursue a deficiency. The bill also prohibits contracts from including language to waive a guarantor’s confirmation rights.  Sen. Stone provided us with a proposed substitute this week removing levys from the bill but adding other provisions related to collecting any debt. We’ve asked several of our standing committees to review the substitute and once we hear back from our members, we will provide feedback to Sen. Stone. A hearing is scheduled for this coming Tuesday. 
New Bills of Interest Introduced This Week
Even though the session is past the halfway mark, legislators continue to introduce bills of interest to the industry. It’s a tribute to our process and the legislative leadership here in Georgia that important legislation can be efficiently considered and passed in a fairly short period of time. We added the following bills to our tracking list this week: 
Financial Institution Tax Credit Abolished. SB 432 by Sen. John Albers (R-Roswell) would abolish the financial institution tax credit as of Dec. 31, 2019. The credit was part of a comprehensive rewrite of the bank taxation laws in the early 1980s due to the Supreme Court ruling the method in place at the time was unconstitutional. The tax credit was included to prevent a huge windfall to the state. The bill has been assigned to the Senate Finance Committee.
Industrial Loan Act/Small Consumer Loans. HB 902 by Rep. Earl Ehrhart (R-Powder Springs) transfers the licensing, examination and enforcement of what has heretofore been called the Georgia Industrial Loan Act governing non-bank loans of $3,000 or less from the Insurance Department to the Department of Banking and Finance. The bill has been assigned to the House Banks and Banking Committee. 
Limited Credit Insurance Agency. HB 938 by Rep. Darlene Taylor (R-Thomasville) authorizes the creation of a new entity called a Limited Credit Insurance Agency designed to provide a licensing alternative to covered entities such as banks so that the agency will be licensed negating the need for individuals to hold a limited credit insurance license from the Insurance Department. The bill was assigned to the House Insurance Committee.
Rural Development Council Recommended Legislation. 
  • Broadband Access. HB 887 by Rep. Jay Powell (R-Camilla) would simplify state and local taxes and local franchise fees to make it easier to finance broadband projects. The bill is one of the recommendations from the House Rural Development Council following statewide meetings in 2017 and was assigned to the House Ways and Means Committee. SB 402 by Sen. Steve Gooch (R-Dawsonville) is similar to HB 887 and also includes authorizing the state Department of Transportation to deploy broadband technology along interstate highways. The bill was assigned to the Senate Transportation Committee. SB 426 by Sen. Steve Gooch (R-Dawsonville) outlines the rules local governments may enact related to restricting right-of-way access to broadband infrastructure. The bill was assigned to the Senate Transportation Committee.

  • Center for Rural Prosperity and Innovation. HB 951 by Rep. Jason Shaw (R-Lakeland) would establish the Center for Rural Prosperity and Innovation, to be housed within the University System of Georgia and shall assume the business and responsibilities of the Centers of Innovation Agribusiness administered by the Department of Economic Development. Assigned to the House Small Business Development Committee.
Stay Current on Banking Issues This Year
We publish the Legislative Update each week the General Assembly is in session, so be on the lookout for that email. You can always see a list of bills we’re monitoring on the
State Issues Page of our website that we update daily. 

GBA’s Advocacy Team at the Capitol

Led by GBA’s Senior Vice President, Government Relations, Elizabeth Chandler, GBA is 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.