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January 18, 2019

Wild Hog Supper Signals Legislature Coming to Town!

If you knew Abbeville’s “Boo” Addison, it’s likely you don’t need a history lesson about the Wild Hog Supper, the event that’s signaled the start of every Georgia legislative session since 1962. The story goes that Addison, then-Agriculture Commissioner Phil Campbell and then-Speaker of the House George L. Smith were enjoying the fruits of a successful hog hunt in the woods of Dodge County. Realizing their colleagues from other parts of Georgia may have missed out on the good taste of wild hogs, they decided to throw a barbecue the Sunday night before each legislative session. Addison provided the hogs, Campbell provided the sponsorship and Smith invited fellow legislators and friends. While a lot has changed over the years, on behalf of our members, we were happy to help sponsor the event this past Sunday at the Georgia Freight Depot. Co-hosted now by the Georgia Food Bank Association and the Department of Agriculture along with the Honorary Hosts Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black and the House and Senate Agriculture Committees, the event benefits the Food Bank’s Farm to Food Bank Program. “It’s a fun event and everyone is in a great mood. It’s impossible not to be happy when you’re chowing down on a plate full of Georgia barbecue!” said GBA’s Bo Brannen who organized our onsite GBA Team this year and is pictured with Commissioner Black and GBA’s Katina Prokos, Shan Haugabrook and David Oliver.

Kemp, Duncan, Other Constitutional Officers Sworn In

It was a week full of carrying out tradition while getting down to the task of governing. In an impressive ceremony at McCamish Pavilion on the Georgia Tech Campus, Georgia’s new Governor Brian Kemp and new Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan took their oaths of office beginning a change in leadership in our state’s highest offices. Both addressed the packed crowd sharing their vision for Georgia. Putting the divisiveness of elections behind them and focusing on a message of unity for all Georgians was a common theme. Other constitutional officers taking their oath for the first time were Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and Commissioner of Insurance Jim Beck. Other returning Constitutional Officers were Commissioner of Agriculture Gary Black, Attorney General Chris Carr, School Superintendent Richard Wood, Commissioner of Labor Mark Butler and Public Service Commissioners Chuck Eaton and Tricia Pridemore. “Georgia has a great track record of producing strong leaders who work together to move our state forward. We know all these elected officials well and look forward to working with them,” said Elizabeth Chandler, GBA senior vice president, Government Relations.

Speaker Ralston Re-elected to Position

Our congratulations to Speaker David Ralston (R-Blue Ridge), who was elected this week by the House of Representatives to another term as Speaker of the House. He was first elected to the House in 2002 and elected Speaker in 2010. Prior to serving in the House, Ralston served in the Georgia State Senate from 1992 until 1998 when he won the Republican nomination for Attorney General of Georgia.

Legislative Reception Honors General Assembly and State Dignitaries

With 250+ Georgia bankers and an equal number of guests, the 2019 GBA Legislative Reception this week was a big hit. The annual event has been held for decades on the first Wednesday evening of each legislative session. The official hosts are our Board of Directors, Public Affairs Committee and BankPAC Board, and they’re joined by bankers from throughout the state to give a big thank you to those who serve.

Legislative Committees Being Appointed for 2019-2020

Serving on a committee is one of the best ways for legislators to take a deep dive into often complex ideas. Committees are relied upon to study and perfect legislation before reporting it for further consideration by a wider audience. We got our first look at the committees this week and thought you’d like to see who’s a member of the House and Senate banking committees. Rep. Greg Morris (R-Vidalia) returns as chairman of the House Banks and Banking Committee and Sen. William Ligon (R-Brunswick) returns as chairman of the Senate Banking and Financial Institutions Committee. The House is expected to announce their committee memberships soon and the Senate posted their committee rosters this weeks. Please join us in welcoming both the returning and new members to the Senate Banking and Financial Institutions Committee.
William Ligon
Senate Banking Chairman
John Kennedy
Senate Banking
Vice Chairman
Bruce Thompson
Senate Banking Secretary
Mike Dugan*
Ed Harbison
Emanuel Jones
Butch Miller
Jesse Stone
Brian Strickland*

*New member for 2019-2020 Regular Session

Legislation Already Being Introduced

We add bills daily that we’ll be tracking to the State Issues page on our website. We’ll include all the new bills in each week’s Legislative Update. Here’s a list of the bills we added this week:
  • Banking Empowerment Zone. SB 20 by Sen. Michael Rhett (D-Marietta) provides an incentive for financial institutions to operate in underserved areas designated as Banking Improvement Zones by the Department of Community Affairs by allowing the local governmental entity to place deposits with a financial institution so long as the fixed rate of interest is at or below its posted two-year certificate of deposit rate.

  • Rural Development – Broadband. HB 22 by Rep. Penny Houston (R-Nashville) and SB 17 by Sen. Steve Gooch (R-Dahlonega) are similar bills that allow telephone cooperatives and their affiliates to provide broadband services.

  • Rural Development – Broadband. HB 23 by Rep. Penny Houston (R-Nashville) and SB 2 by Sen. Steve Gooch (R-Dahlonega) are similar bills that allow Electric Membership Corporations and their affiliates to provide broadband services.

  • Rural Development – Freight and Logistics. HR 37 by Rep. Kevin Tanner (R-Dawsonville) and SR 19 by Sen. Brandon Beach (R-Alpharetta) are similar bills that create the Georgia Commission on Freight and Logistics to make recommendations for a comprehensive strategic business plan to develop state-wide freight and logistics infrastructure with the intent of ensuring the state remains economically competitive.

Other Banking Issues That May Be Considered This Year

It’s too early to know for sure what issues will be introduced that we’ll need to engage to support, help perfect or oppose, but there are several we expect. Here’s a partial list:

  • Department of Banking and Finance Housekeeping Bill. The Department has drafted a bill encompassing a handful of issues that is expected to be introduced soon The bill includes provisions to eliminate barriers to forming de novo banks, eliminate appropriated retained earnings references since that no longer impacts legal lending limits, authorize background checks for trust company directors and officers, among other provisions affecting other entities the Department regulates.

  • Guarantees. The Georgia Court of Appeals issued a decision in the Crop Production Services, Inc. v. T.E. Moye case in March of 2018 calling into question the ability to enforce a guaranty if it was cancelled orally instead of in writing. In working with members of the GBA Bank Counsel Section, they’ve asked us to support legislation requiring that all changes to a guaranty, modification, cancellation, alteration, etc., must be in writing.

  • Rural Development Council Recommendations. We have followed the work of the House Rural Development Council and a Senate study committee looking at similar issues on how to boost rural economies in Georgia. Many of those recommendations are important to the potential for greater economic vitality throughout our state and because bankers play such an important role in growing their communities, we will report as these issues are considered such as the broadband expansion and logistics legislation introduced this week.

  • Reciprocal Deposit Coverage for Municipal Deposits. There is an effort underway to have legislation introduced allowing for FDIC coverage of public unit deposits through reciprocal deposit products. GBA supports the concept.

  • HEMP/Marijuana Related Banking Issues. We have followed the study committees charged with determining the viability of growing and distributing industrial HEMP as contemplated in the federal farm bill and the low-THC oil products currently allowed in Georgia for certain medical conditions. With an eye on the regulatory treatment of banking such customers, GBA will closely follow these efforts.

  • Foreclosure Law Changes. There still seems to be some interest in the General Assembly to create a judicial foreclosure process to handle foreclosures, especially those with a deficiency. Georgia’s non-judicial foreclosure laws have served our state well and we will oppose efforts to make the process more costly and time consuming.

  • Funeral Home Services Payment. A draft bill is being circulated to address order of payment for funeral services to be reintroduced this year. This is coming from the funeral home directors frustrated with delayed payment from financial institutions as the priority of payment issues are sorted out. Our aim is to give banks certainty on order of payment.

  • Self-Settled Trust. We expect legislation to be reintroduced allowing for a self-settled or asset protection type trust in Georgia. A version was passed in the 2018 session, but vetoed by Governor Deal. The GBA worked to amend the legislation to the point where our concerns were alleviated and we will make sure those helpful changes are retained in this year’s bill.

GBA’s Advocacy Team at the Capitol

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