March 23, 2018     

Legislators Sights Set on Adjournment Next Week
The Georgia General Assembly was in session Monday, Wednesday and Friday this week, completing the 38th day of their 40-day session. The final two days of the 2018 session are set for Tuesday and Thursday next week.
Willaimson and Kennedy
Floor Action This Week – GBA Priority Bill Passes Senate
Several bills we’ve been monitoring saw floor action this week:
Department Housekeeping Bill. The Senate unanimously passed GBA’s priority bill for the session, HB 780 by Rep. Bruce Williamson (R-Monroe). This is the Banking Department’s housekeeping bill that builds on the good work done by the GBA Code Review Task Force in two primary 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. Our thanks to Sen. John Kennedy (R-Macon) who did a great job handling the bill on the Senate floor. As the bill had been amended in the Senate Banking and Financial Institutions Committee, the changes will need to be agreed to by the House which we expect will occur next week.
Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets. The House passed 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. The bill was handled on the floor by Rep. Barry Fleming (R-Harlem) and the House vote clears the bill for the Governor’s signature.
Power of Attorney. The Senate unanimously passed 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. The bill was handled on the floor by Sen. John Kennedy (R-Macon), and the Senate action clears the bill for the Governor’s signature.
Trust Code Revisions. The Senate passed HB 121 that had previously been amended to include the provisions of HB 122, both by Rep. Chuck Efstration (R-Dacula). The legislation is the result of the work of the Trust Code Revision Committee of the State Bar’s Fiduciary Law Section. The legislation 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; changes provisions relating to modification or termination of uneconomic trusts and adopts provisions of 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. Sen. Jesse Stone (R-Waynesboro) handled the bill on the floor. Our thanks to Synovus Bank’s Blake Melton, who serves as chair-elect of the Bar’s Fiduciary Law Section and SunTrust Bank’s David Miraldi, who was GBA’s representative to the Section for their work on the bill. The Senate vote clears the bill for the Governor’s signature.
Abandoned Mobile Homes. The Senate unanimously passed HB 381 by Rep. John Corbett (R-Lake Park) that establishes a new procedure for the disposal of abandoned mobile homes. Our thanks to Rep. Corbett for working with us to perfect the bill. The bill was handled on the floor by Sen. John Kennedy (R-Macon) and because of changes made to the bill, the House will need to agree to the Senate-passed version.
Self-settled Trusts. The House amended and passed HB 441 by Rep. Barry Fleming (R-Harlem). The bill creates a new type of trust in Georgia that allows the creator of the trust to also be the beneficiary of the trust. The Senate will need to concur with the House-passed version.
Homeowner/Condo Association – Fees. The Senate passed HB 410 by Rep. Alan Powell (R-Hartwell). The bill outlines the procedures to be followed and limits the fees a homeowner or condo association may charge to provide documentation related to amounts owed to the association. The bill was handled on the floor by Sen. William Ligon (R-Brunswick) and because of changes made in the Senate, the bill will go back to the House for their concurrence.
Garnishment. The House passed SB 194 by Sen. Jesse Stone (R-Waynesboro). The bill makes several changes to the garnishment code, among which are the earnings subject to garnishment, service of garnishments, the time a garnishment may be outstanding and the evidence that may be presented to the court. The bill was handled on the floor by Rep. Barry Fleming (R-Harlem) and because of changes made in the House, the Senate will need to concur.
Rural Healthcare Initiatives. This is one of the recommendations from the House Rural Development Council we’ve been supporting. The House agreed to amendments made in the Senate to HB 769 by Rep. Rick Jasperse (R-Jasper). The bill, among other things, calls for the elimination of the requirement for a pharmacist to be present at all times in a hospital pharmacy; expediting the credentialing process for access to state medical plans; establishes the Rural Center for Healthcare Innovation and Sustainability; and creates a new entity called a micro hospital. The House agreement clears the bill for the Governor’s signature.
Real Estate Recordings. The Senate passed HB 1036 by Rep. Chuck Martin (R-Alpharetta), a local bill that allows the Fulton County Clerk of Superior Court to adopt a requirement that recordings related to certain real estate filings contain tax parcel identifying numbers. The bill was amended in the Senate to make clear that an incorrect identifying number would not invalidate or create additional unintended consequences with the recording of the new requirement. The House will need to concur with the Senate changes.
Committees Considered Bills of Interest
Committees in the House and Senate held their last meetings of the session and we want to express our thanks to the legislators who spend countless hours working hard to make sure bills that get reported are perfected and of the highest priority. Here’s a note about some bills we’ve been following that were the subject of hearings this week:
Financial Institution Tax Credit. For our readers who follow the goings on at the State Capitol, you know this is the time of the session when legislators use all available opportunities to get their favored bills enacted. It requires constant diligence by GBA’s capitol team to stay on top of their game to keep track of all the bills we’re monitoring as they sometimes end up attached to other pieces of legislation. That happened this week with a bill of significant importance to us dealing with the way banks are taxed. The House Ways and Means Committee amended and reported SB 432 by Sen. John Albers (R-Roswell). As introduced, the bill would have abolished the financial institution tax credit as of Dec. 31, 2019. The bill had already been amended in the Senate to have the state auditor conduct a study on the credit and report findings to the legislature. The House committee removed the tax credit language altogether and the bill now addresses exemptions from sales or income tax for certain medical practitioners and memberships in shooting ranges. At a meeting of the Senate Finance Committee this week, Sen. Albers offered an amendment to add the language from his Senate-passed bill to an unrelated house bill, HB 93 by Rep. John Corbett (R-Lake Park). The committee reported the bill, and as it stands now, if this bill gets final clearance and the Governor signs it, the Financial Institution Tax Credit will be studied with a report due at the end of this year.
Business Court. The Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on and reported HR 993 by Rep. Chuck Efstration (R-Duluth) that proposes an amendment to the Georgia Constitution so as to establish a business court with state-wide jurisdiction. A state-wide business court would provide specialized resolution of complex business litigation matters. The Committee also used another bill, HB 185 by Rep. Christian Coomer (R-Cartersville), and replaced the existing language with new language that sets up an advisory council that would help in setting up the business court should the constitutional amendment pass. Even if the amendment doesn’t pass, the advisory council could still provide information to future sessions of the General Assembly should they choose to move forward with a business court.
Unauthorized Computer Access. The House Non-civil Judiciary Committee held a hearing on and reported SB 315 by Sen. Bruce Thompson (R-White). The bill creates a new crime of Unauthorized Computer Access to apply to those instances when someone gains access to a computer or network without authority.
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.