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November 20, 2018

General Assembly Concludes Five-Day Special Session

The Georgia General Assembly adjourned Saturday after a special session called by Gov. Nathan Deal to address the historic damage caused by Hurricane Michael as it roared through southwest Georgia last month. The House of Representatives and State Senate passed an amended fiscal year 2019 budget that appropriates $270 million to aide those areas impacted by the storm that includes the funds referenced below for the Georgia Development Authority. "It’s a very sobering thing… how agriculture is important to our economy and how we lead in the production of peanuts and pecans and forest products," said Georgia Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black in addressing the House Appropriations Committee. "We are accustomed to leading in production. Now we lead in destruction. What we’ve got to do as a family of Georgians is lead in reconstruction. That’s what I’m committed to do. Every breath that we have will be committed to working alongside you," he added. A separate measure of interest also passed that allows timberland owners in the 28 designated counties to apply for an income tax refund or a tradeable tax credit worth 100 percent of timberland’s value lost to Hurricane Michael. This is contingent upon reforestation of the property. The income tax credit has a cap of $200 million and the credit would be capped at $400 per eligible acre of qualified timberland. Eligible counties include Baker, Bleckley, Brooks, Calhoun, Clay, Colquitt, Crisp, Decatur, Dodge, Dooley, Dougherty, Early, Grady, Laurens, Lee, Lowndes, Miller, Mitchell, Pulaski, Randolph, Seminole, Sumter, Terrell, Thomas, Tift, Turner, Wilcox and Worth counties. Our thanks go to Gov. Deal and the leadership of the house and senate for quickly coalescing around these helpful initiatives to help our fellow Georgians.

Legislature Approves Special Loan Program

The Georgia Development Authority (GDA) has been appropriated $55 million to create a revolving loan fund to assist producers and others hardest hit by the recent disaster. Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black was instrumental in getting the new program approved. Black also chairs the seven-person GDA Board. Our thanks to executive director, Thomas Carter, for reaching out to the GBA Agriculture Subcommittee that has been working on federal and state initiatives related to the recent disaster. Carter says the goal is to create a program to serve as many people as possible with the least amount of red tape. GDA is focused on getting the program operational as quickly as possible knowing producers and others will be getting their operating lines in place early next year. This program could help many with their cash flows and repayment ability metrics. We’ll let you know as more information becomes available. Established by the legislature in 1953, more than 100 lenders work in partnership with the Authority on their guaranteed loan programs. If you’re not familiar with GDA, their loan programs can be used to build or repair farm buildings; purchase machinery and equipment; build farm ponds; establish permanent pastures; establish beef, dairy or swine herds; and refinance debts. GDA also has specialized lending programs in place for dairy, poultry, swine or beef enterprises. Carter serves as one of the Associate Member representatives on GBA’s Agriculture Committee.

Caucus Leadership Positions in the Spotlight

The caucuses of the House and Senate have taken the opportunity this past week to meet and elect new leadership going forward now that the elections are over. Once all newly elected members of the general assembly are sworn in on Jan 14, the first day of the 2019 session, the Senate will have 35 republicans and 21 democrats while the House will have 105 republicans and 75 democrats. Below is a list of officers by caucus:

Senate Republican Caucus

Butch Miller
President Pro Tempore
Mike Dugan*
Majority Leader
Steve Gooch
Majority Whip
John Kennedy
Majority Caucus Chairman
Larry Walker*
Majority Caucus
Vice Chairman
John Wilkinson
Majority Caucus Secretary


Senate Democrat Caucus

Steve Henson
Minority Leader
Stone Mountain
Gloria Butler*
Minority Caucus
Stone Mountain
Emanuel Jones
Minority Caucus
Vice Chairman
Harold Jones*
Minority Whip
Nan Orrock
Minority Caucus


House Republican Caucus

David Ralston
Speaker of the House
Blue Ridge
Jan Jones
Speaker Pro Tempore
Jon Burns
Majority Leader
Trey Kelley*
Majority Whip
Matt Hatchett
Majority Caucus Chairman
Micah Gravely*
Majority Caucus Vice Chairman
Bruce Williamson
Majority Caucus Secretary/

House Democrat Caucus

Bob Trammell
Minority Leader
William Boddie*
Minority Whip
East Point
James Beverly
Minority Caucus Chairman
Erica Thomas
Minority Caucus Vice Chair
Kim Alexander
Minority Caucus Treasurer
Pat Gardner
Minority Caucus Secretary
Dar'shun Kendrick*
Minority Caucus Chief Deputy Whip

*Newly elected to position



GBA Mourns the Death of Rep. John Meadows

We were saddened to learn this past week of the death of Rep. John Meadows, a Republican state representative from Calhoun. House Speaker David Ralston called the seven-term lawmaker "outwardly fierce and courageous but he was, at the same time, one of the kindest and most generous souls you have ever met". Rep. Meadows was chairman of the powerful House Rules Committee which serves as a gatekeeper in deciding which proposals go before the full House for a vote. GBA’s governmental affairs team recalls that Chairman Meadows was always generous with his time and viewpoint toward the banking industry which helped advance our initiatives. We are most grateful for his service and longtime friendship. His 5th District seat included Gordon and Murray counties in north Georgia. Meadows was a U.S. Marine who also served 13 years as mayor of Calhoun.

GBA’s Advocacy Team
For more information, contact GBA’s Senior Vice President, Government Relations, Elizabeth Chandler at 404.420.2027, President and CEO Joe Brannen at 404.420.2026 or government relations consultant Steve Bridges at 404.420.2037.