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January 12, 2018 

General Assembly Convenes for Second Year of Biennial
Adhering to the state constitutional requirement, Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle (R-Chestnut Mountain) and House Speaker David Ralston (R-Blue Ridge) gaveled the Senate and House to order Monday for their annual 40-day legislative session. There are a few new faces in leadership positions. Among those are Sen. Butch Miller (R-Gainesville), who was unanimously elected as the President Pro-tem, the highest position among the Senators, and Rep. Bob Trammell (D-Luthersville), who was elected House Minority Leader. As we’ve reported earlier, the new House Banks and Banking Committee vice chairman will be Rep. John Deffenbaugh (R-Lookout Mountain), and newly elected Rep. Marc Morris (R-Cumming) has also been named to the committee. Newly elected Sen. Jen Jordan (D-Atlanta) has been named to the Senate Banking and Financial Institutions Committee.
Banking Issues Front and Center This Year
We’ll publish the Legislative Update each week the General Assembly is in session, so be on the lookout for that email. All bills introduced last year but that did not get to the Governor’s desk are held over for consideration this year. You can see a list of those on the State Issues Page of our website.
Priority Bills Identified
We’re always tracking dozens of bills; but each session, a number of bills get heightened attention from our members and staff because of their potential positive or negative effect on the industry. And this year is no exception. Here are a few we know to expect this year.
  • Banking Department Housekeeping Bill. This bill will continue to tweak some of the major work completed last year by GBA’s three-year public private partnership between the Department and the GBA Bank Counsel Section. Included in the 2018 revision are expected to be slight modifications to the parity between state and nationally chartered institutions and tweaks to the director and officer liability protections banks can grant these individuals. The bill is being drafted now and we expect it to be introduced soon.
  • Foreclosure – Confirmation Waiver Prohibition. SB 86 by Sen. Jesse Stone (R-Waynesboro) 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 the requirement. GBA opposes as introduced and has met with Sen. Stone to discuss. How he will proceed is uncertain at this time.
  • Rural Georgia. GBA testified before the House Rural Development Council and a member banker participated on a panel before the Senate Study Committee on Rural Georgia. While we are unaware of specific banking issues that will be part of any recommendations from either of the committees, GBA stands ready to support initiatives that foster growth and economic opportunity for rural Georgia.
  • Power of Attorney. HB 221 by Rep. Chuck Efstration (R-Dacula) was passed in the 2017 session and is the first rewrite of the current power of attorney statute in decades. As with any legislation that major, practitioners will find unintended consequences or tweaks needed to make the new process work more efficiently. GBA has suggested changes we have had brought to our attention by members to Rep. Efstration, and we expect to see a bill introduced early in the 2018 session.
New Bills Added to our Tracking List Already
The General Assembly was in session Monday through Thursday this week and we’ve already added three new bills to our tracking list.
  • Statewide Lien Registry. HB 661 by Rep. Bruce Williamson (R-Monroe) reworks the statewide tax lien registry passed last year to correct some unintended consequences. The bill has already been reported out of a subcommittee and the full Ways and Means Committee.
  • Fraudulent Titles. SB 299 by Sen. Frank Ginn (R-Danielsville) requires that an attorney in good standing with the State Bar of Georgia must sign any documents related to the title of a property and affirm that the document being recorded is both properly prepared and not fraudulent; a notary that has knowingly notarized fraudulent documents shall be guilty of a felony and, upon conviction, subject to imprisonment of up to 5 years and/or pay a fine of $25,000.
  • Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets. SB 301, by Sen. John Kennedy (R-Macon) is a bill 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.
  • Higher Education Savings Accounts. HB 664 by Rep. Sam Teasley (R-Marietta) 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.
Other Bills GBA Will be Monitoring
Several bills that carried over from the 2017 session are likely to see action this session. We will continue to monitor these bills and report as progress is made.
  • Self-settled Trusts. HB 441 by Rep. Barry Fleming (R-Harlem) creates a new trust instrument in Georgia that allows the creator of the trust to also be the beneficiary of the trust. The House passed the bill but it was held by the Senate Banking Committee to give the two sides the opportunity to resolve disagreements. Negotiations continue.
  • Trust Code Revisions. HB 121 and HB 122 by Rep. Chuck Efstration (R-Dacula) are the result of 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. H.B. 121 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. H.B. 122 deals with the Uniform Statutory Rule Against Perpetuities, so as to change provisions relating to the validity of nonvested property interest or power of appointment; and changes provisions relating to reform of disposition by court to approximate transferor's plan of distribution among other things.
  • Boat Titling. HB 357 by Rep. Ron Stephens (R-Garden City). The bill creates a process by which boats and other watercraft will be titled. The bill passed the House in 2017 and was reported out of the Senate Finance Committee but not taken up on the floor. The Senate committee is expected to consider the bill early in the session.

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.