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January 30, 2019

General Assembly Back to Work

The Georgia General Assembly was in session Monday through Wednesday this week after using the previous week for recognizing Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day and budget hearings. Tuesday’s activities were abbreviated because of the predicted weather event that closed state offices in the metro Atlanta area and North Georgia. However, that didn’t stop legislators from continuing to introduce legislation and begin holding organizational committee meetings. The General Assembly is slated to be in session Tuesday through Thursday next week. The Georgia Constitution sets 40 days as the maximum number of days for each year’s legislative session. Next Thursday’s session will complete Day 11.

GBA Priority Bill Introduced

Our thanks to Senate Banking and Financial Institutions Committee Chair William Ligon (R-Brunswick) for introducing SB 37 this week. The legislation is one of GBA’s priority bills for 2019 and is needed to restore the proper method of releasing or rescinding a written guaranty. A 2018 Georgia Court of Appeals case, Crop Production Services, Inc. v T. E. Moye, reversed two cases going back nearly three decades which held that the Statute of Frauds barred oral evidence that a written guaranty had been released or rescinded. In Moye, the court held that a written guaranty may be rescinded by a mutual oral agreement, even though the guaranty itself is subject to the Statue of Frauds and contains a provision requiring that notice of revocation must be in writing. Because the creditor technically “won” this case because the summary judgment granted to the guarantor was reversed and remanded to the trial court to determine a question of fact, an appeal is unlikely. Therefore, legislation is needed to correct this decision that could have a profound impact on lending in Georgia. Joining Sen. Ligon as original cosponsors were Sen. John Kennedy (R-Macon) and Sen. Jen Jordan (D-Atlanta). The bill was assigned to the Senate Banking and Financial Institutions Committee for further action.
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Other Priority Legislation Receiving Attention

We are glad to see quick action on several issues we’re supporting on behalf of our members. Here’s an update on three:
  • Shared Deposits for Public Depositors. We’ve had productive meetings with various stakeholders to perfect legislation that gives banks the ability to offer unlimited FDIC insurance to cover local public deposits. A number of our members offer this service to private sector depositors, usually through third parties such as StoneCastle Partners or Promontory Interfinancial Network. GBA supports the concept, and we expect the bill to be introduced soon.
  • Rural Development – Broadband. HB 22 and HB 23 by Rep. Penny Houston (R-Nashville) have been reported out of the House Economic Development and Tourism Committee. HB 22 allows telephone cooperatives and their affiliates to provide broadband services. HB 23 allows Electric Membership Corporations and their affiliates to provide broadband services. The initiatives are among the recommendations of the House Rural Development Council. GBA testified before the council supporting expansion of broadband as an important tool to help rural communities keep and attract jobs.
  • Department of Banking and Finance Housekeeping Bill. Legislative Counsel is putting the finishing touches on the Department’s bill we will be supporting encompassing a handful of issues. The bill will include 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.

Bills We’ve Added to our Tracking List This Week

We add bills daily that we’ll be tracking to the State Issues page on our website and include all the new bills in each week’s Legislative Update. Here’s a list of the bills we added this week:
  • Guardianship. HB 70 by Rep. Chuck Efstration (R-Dacula) revises a number of areas within the code affecting guardianship of minors and adults. We’re watching the section related to guardian access to digital assets as those are interpreted to be user names and passwords to various accounts.

  • Student Loan Defaults – Professional Licenses. HB 42, by Rep. Scot Turner (R-Holly Springs) prohibits a professional licensing board from revoking licenses due solely to a student loan default.

  • Electronic Filing – Courts. SB 38 by Sen. William Ligon (R-Brunswick) excludes certain filings such as those related to the enforcement of child support orders to be entered into the clerk of court’s electronic filing registry.

  • Information Security Officer – Covenants. HB 81 by Rep. Todd Jones (R-Cumming) would prohibit restrictive covenants from being included in information technology employee contract agreements.
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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..