February 9, 2018  

General Assembly Nears Halfway Mark

The Georgia General Assembly was in session Monday through Thursday this week, completing the 18th day of their 40-day session. The General Assembly will convene again Monday and will be in session daily through Thursday.
Hearing Held on GBA Priority Bill
The House Banks and Banking Committee chaired by Rep. Greg Morris (R-Vidalia) held a hearing on HB 780 by Rep. Bruce Williamson (R-Monroe), the Banking Department’s housekeeping bill. The bill follows months of work by the Department, primarily Bo Fears, the Deputy Commissioner for Legal Affairs, and coordination with the trade associations representing the entities regulated by the department. The legislation continues to build on the good work done by the GBA Code Review Task Force in two principal areas: allowing shareholders to give boards of directors additional liability protection and expanding the existing parity provisions to ensure state chartered banks remain in a competitively equal position with nationally chartered banks. The committee will meet again next Tuesday and we expect they will report the bill to the Rules Committee.
Floor Action This Week
Statewide Lien Registry. The Senate passed HB 661 by Rep. Bruce Williamson (R-Monroe) thereby clearing the bill for the Governor’s signature. The bill reworks the statewide tax lien registry passed last year to correct some unintended consequences. The bill essentially retains local county filing requirements and eliminates a problematic certification process related to outstanding tax liens that would have complicated the closing of real estate transactions.
Administrative Procedures. The Senate amended and passed SB 338 by Sen. William Ligon (R-Brunswick). The bill amends the Administrative Procedures Act to include an easier mechanism for the General Assembly to object and potentially stop rules promulgated by agencies covered by the Act. The bill is expected to be assigned to the House Judiciary Committee next week.
Elizabeth Chandler testifies before the House Insurance Committee
Committees Considered Bills of Interest
It was another busy week for committee work as legislators were testifying at hearings, 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:
Foreclosure – Military Service Members. GBA’s Elizabeth Chandler testified before a meeting of the House Banks and Banking Committee suggesting amendments to HB 676 by Rep. Paulette Rakestraw (R-Hiram). The bill is intended to create a state-level protection for military service members on active duty facing foreclosure action. We’ve met with Rep. Rakestraw and suggested any state legislation exactly track the federal protections so as to not create uncertainty for service members or their mortgage companies. We will keep you informed of any progress being made.
Healthcare Provider Choice of Payment. A House Insurance Subcommittee chaired by Rep. Jason Shaw (R-Lakeland) held a hearing on HB 818 by Rep. Lee Hawkins (R-Gainesville). In addition to capping certain card transaction fees, the bill as introduced allows health care providers to choose the form of payment for services paid by health insurers that tracks similar federal rules. Our thanks to Rep. Hawkins for working with us to remove the fee cap language and GBA’s Elizabeth Chandler testified at the subcommittee hearing about those and other changes we had requested that were approved. A laundry list of healthcare providers representing groups like dentists, doctors and hospitals all testified in support of the amended bill and it was reported to the full committee. We understand other interested parties have concerns with various other provisions in the bill, mostly related to the significant changes in procedures health insurance companies and their vendors would be required to make should the bill pass.
Abandoned Mobile Homes. The House Judiciary Committee reported a substitute to HB 381 by Rep. John Corbett (R-Lake Park) that establishes a new procedure for the disposal of abandoned mobile homes. A significant difference in the version reported is that the Magistrate Court will oversee the process. We’ve had other recommendations that were incorporated earlier and we pass along our thanks to Rep. Corbett for working with us to continue to perfect his bill.
Trust Code Revisions. The House Judiciary Committee held a hearing on and reported HB 121 by Rep. Chuck Efstration (R-Dacula) that deals with minor or unborn beneficiaries; changes provisions relating to nonjudicial settlement agreements, the modification and termination of noncharitable trusts, and distribution to another trust; and changes provisions relating to modification or termination of uneconomic trusts. This is one of the bills resulting from the work of the Trust Code Revision Committee of the State Bar’s Fiduciary Law Section and we appreciate David Miraldi of SunTrust Bank who represented GBA in their deliberations.
Higher Education Savings Accounts. The House Ways and Means Committee held a hearing on and reported HB 664 by Rep. Sam Teasley (R-Marietta). The bill doubles the income tax deduction for contributions to higher education savings trust accounts for individual filers to $4,000 per beneficiary and to $8,000 per beneficiary for joint filers.
Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets. The Senate Judiciary Committee reported SB 301 by Sen. John Kennedy (R-Macon). The bill is recommended by the Uniform Law Commissioners and relates to the fiduciary access to digital assets. The bill is the result of several years of work by the Commissioners and has been adopted by most other states including all those that surround Georgia.
Waste Management Fees. HB 693 by Rep. Brett Harrell (R-Snellville) removes the authorization for local governments to collect unpaid waste management fees in the same manner as if these fees were taxes or other assessments. The bill was reported out of the House Ways and Means Committee.
Ad Valorem Tax - Fair Market Value. The House Ways and Means Committee held a hearing but took no further action on HB 741 by Rep. John Corbett (R-Lake Park). The bill amends the income approach to establishing fair market value for ad valorem tax purposes so as to allow the approach to be considered rather than utilized.
Homeowner Association – Fees. The House Ways and Means Committee held a hearing but took no further action on HB 410 by Rep. Alan Powell (R-Hartwell) that restricts the initial assessments of new purchasers of lots within a homeowner association to one month of dues and limits the fees that an HOA can charge to provide documentation related to amounts owed to the HOA.
Rural Development Council Recommendation. The House Ways and Means Committee reported HB 735 by Rep. Patty Bentley (D-Butler). The bill creates a state tax credit for short-line railroads similar to a federal tax credit.
New Bills Added to our Tracking List
We added the following bills to our tracking list this week:
Healthcare Provider Choice of Payment. HB 818 by Rep. Lee Hawkins (R-Gainesville), in addition to capping certain card transaction fees, allows health care providers to choose the form of payment for services paid by health insurers. The bill has been assigned to the House Insurance Committee and the article above discusses a hearing held on the bill this week where amendments we proposed were adopted.
Business Court. HR 993 by Rep. Chuck Efstration (R-Duluth) proposes an amendment to the Georgia Constitution that would establish a business court with state-wide jurisdiction. A state-wide business court would provide specialized resolution of complex business litigation matters. The concept was developed from years of work by interested business interests who felt establishing a business court would create a reliable and effective forum for litigants throughout the state. By removing complex, time-consuming business cases from the general docket, non-business cases should be resolved more efficiently.
Rural Hospital Tax Credit. HB 827 by Rep. Trey Kelley (R-Rockmart) raises the limitation of an individual’s, couple’s or corporation’s (including Sub S corp’s) qualified rural hospital contribution allowable for deduction from individual, joint or corporate tax returns from 90 to 100 percent and removes the sunset date of the tax. Existing total limits of the deduction remain in place ($5,000 individual, $10,000 couple and 75 percent of corporate tax due). The bill was assigned to the House Ways and Means Committee.
Low-income Housing Tax Credit. HB 851 by Rep. Dale Rutledge (R-McDonough) sets December 31, 2023 as the expiration date for the state low-income housing tax credit. The bill was assigned to the House Ways and Means Committee.
Consumer Credit Reporting Bureau Fees. HB 866 by Rep. Scot Turner (R-Holly Springs) removes the statutory authorization for a consumer credit reporting agency to charge a fee to a consumer who chooses to place or remove a security freeze on the consumer’s account. The bill was assigned to the House Banks and Banking Committee where a hearing will be held Tuesday. The bill is similar to bills pending in the Senate, SB 345 by Sen. Jen Jordan (D-Atlanta) and SB 376 by Sen. David Shafer (R-Duluth).
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.