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February 12, 2010

Legislative Update: Governor Signs GBA Priority Legislation
The Senate this week unanimously passed GBA’s priority legislation, HB 926, that allows state chartered banks to renew loans that would have otherwise exceeded the bank’s lending limit because of capital erosion. In an usual move recognizing the importance of the issue, Governor Sonny Perdue signed the bill late Thursday afternoon, the first bill to be signed this session. Sen. Jim Butterworth from Cornelia handled the bill when it came before the Senate. We also appreciate the support of Banking and Financial Institutions Committee chairman Bill Hamrick, Rules Committee chairman Don Balfour and Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle for ensuring the bill received action in the minimum number of days under legislative rules. “While this bill applies in a limited number of cases, it was important to recognize that borrowers who were performing on some of the most significant loans in a bank were being hurt by a rule that needed to be changed. The bill simply puts state banks on par with federally chartered banks and thrift institutions, and we appreciate the Legislature’s quick action to provide a remedy,” said GBA President Joe Brannen. House Banks and Banking Committee chairman James Mills ushered the bill through the House with the full support and encouragement of Speaker David Ralston. The change in the statute is effective immediately.

Committee Hears More Testimony on Foreclosure Bill
In other legislative news this week, a House Judiciary Subcommittee resumed consideration of
HB 972, a bill to lengthen the foreclosure notice provisions from 30 to 90 days and allow a borrower to cure the deficiency prior to foreclosure. GBA testified last week. GBA’s comprehensive, nationwide study was referenced by several of the witnesses during their testimony. This study shows there is no correlation between the number of foreclosures and how foreclosures are resolved. The Subcommittee took no action on the bill, but additional subcommittee meetings are being scheduled.

House Passes Identity Fraud Bill
Of specific interest to our members, the House unanimously passed legislation this week, HB 1016, that adds businesses as potential victims of identity fraud. The bill was introduced at the request of Attorney General Thurbert Baker who has been at the forefront of protecting Georgians against identity fraud and aggressively prosecuting offenders. At his urging, Georgia was one of the first states to pass an identity fraud bill several years ago.

Small Business Committee Looking for Ways to Help
GBA was pleased to cooperate this week with Rep. Sean Jerguson who chairs an important subcommittee of the new Small Business and Jobs Committee looking for ways the state can help small businesses get credit that is otherwise unavailable from traditional lenders. GBA hosted a luncheon for several bankers and representatives from the Community Bankers Association to discuss the overall lending environment. While no concrete plans have been put in place for legislation, Rep. Jerguson is meeting with other legislative leaders to discuss various options and hopes to have a plan in the coming days.

Follow All the Bills GBA is Monitoring
Be sure to frequently check the State Issues page of GBA’s web site to see the huge number of bills we continue to monitor this session. We’ve added one new bill this week by Rep. David Knight, HB 1147, that deals with liens on aircraft. With questions about the session including specific bills, contact Elizabeth Chandler at 404.420.2027 or Joe Brannen at 404.420.2026.

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Chitty Appointed GBA Secretary/Treasurer

Ray Chitty, President, Guardian Bank, Valdosta, has been appointed as GBA Secretary/Treasurer. Ray is no stranger to GBA leadership. He has served on the GBA Board, is on the GBA Insurance Trust Board, is our Group 8 BankPAC board member and has been a GBA group officer. Please join us in welcoming Ray to this important volunteer role.


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GBA in the News: Brannen Gives State of Banking Update on Atlanta Radio Show
Many Atlanta-area radio listeners Sunday morning heard our latest take on the Georgia banking landscape. Joe Brannen, GBA president and CEO, was a feature guest on WGKA's Money Talks radio program. Joe discussed capital availability for banks, commercial real estate trends, regulatory guidance about working with borrowers and the proposed Consumer Financial Protection Agency. Here's a link to the audio clip. Money Talks is Atlanta's longest running financial talk radio show (23 years), airing Sundays at 10 a.m. on 920 AM WGKA. Hosts are Dr. Gene Henssler, Bil Lako, CFP®, and Ted Parrish, CFA.


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TARP COP CRE Report Paints Gloomy Picture
As expected, the Congressional Oversight Panel for TARP released a tough report about the state of the commercial real estate (CRE) market this week. "The Panel is deeply concerned that a wave of commercial real estate loan losses over the next four years could jeopardize the stability of many banks, particularly community banks, and prolong an already painful recession," the news release about the report said. The issues in the report are not new for GBA member banks because of the well-documented stress to their portfolios caused by the construction and development loan component of CRE. "We continue to focus our support of members on efforts to stabilize real estate valuations, encourage reasonable and effective regulatory oversight to stabilize banks rather than put them at further risk and spur necessary capital investment in the state's banking sector," said Joe Brannen, GBA president and CEO. The 189-page report includes testimony given by GBA member Chris Burnett, CEO, Cornerstone Bank, at its field hearing in Atlanta a couple weeks ago. Here's a link to the Oversight Panel's web site with full report details.


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More SBA Expansion Proposed
New legislation was proposed last week that would expand Small Business Administration programs to provide more working capital loans and commercial real estate refinancing – two areas that we understand would be beneficial for a number of Georgia banks and businesses. The President made two proposals. The first would temporarily allow loans on owner-occupied commercial real estate to be refinanced under the SBA's 504 program, which primarily provides loan guarantees for new real estate and other fixed assets. Businesses with loans maturing in the next year that are current on all payments would be eligible under the proposal. The second proposal would temporarily raise the ceiling on SBA Express loans from $350,000 to $1 million to help more small businesses use the program's streamlined approval process. "Increasing the maximum loan size to $1 million will help address the liquidity needs of small businesses as the economy recovers and they are restocking inventories and financing increasing sales," the proposal says. Click here for a SBA fact sheet.


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GBA Roundtable Peer Groups Begin in March
It's time to rejoin or sign up for GBA's President/CEO and Finance/Operations Roundtables. Joining us again as facilitators are Elaine Demarest and Chrys Henderson of Demarest Strategy Group, Inc. The meetings are from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on dates selected by the participants at Idle Hour Country Club in Macon. Value extends beyond just those meeting dates, though. "The year-round e-mail networking has proven to be very beneficial for the members of these groups," Demarest said. "It's a great way to stay connected and in the know through the most challenging period that I've seen in Georgia banking." A limited number of slots are available in the Roundtable groups for new members. The next Roundtable sessions are slated to begin in March 2010. To find out more about the meeting schedule and session formats, visit the GBA University page. With questions or to sign up for placement in a peer group, contact Elaine Demarest at (843) 686-5044 or Susie McGehee at (404) 420-2010.


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Georgia Banking School Best Way to Be a Better Banker
Banking has changed dramatically in the past two years. As an emerging industry leader, what better way to springboard your career with new, updated and improved skills by going back to school? A new landscape has been established that requires banks and other lenders to employ many "back to basics" lending skills. There is now renewed emphasis on building and maintaining strong customer relationships as many banks are shifting their focus away from real-estate lending. This year, the Georgia Banking School will continue to provide its traditionally well-balanced curriculum focusing on contemporary issues such as small business development, regulatory change and the fluctuating economic environment. Reinvest in yourself now by enrolling in the Georgia Banking School, held at the University of Georgia from May 2-7, 2010. "The curriculum covered at the Georgia Banking School was extremely beneficial to me in furthering my career in banking.  As I finish my last year at the Graduate School of Banking at LSU, I now recognize even more the advantage afforded to me by attending the Georgia Banking School where solid foundations and understandings of the industry were developed," said Georgia Banking School Alumnus, Brad Brookshire, Vice President, Bryan Bank & Trust.


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USDA Offers Free Rural Housing Loan Training March 3
The Clarkesville USDA Rural Development office is hosting a Guaranteed Rural Housing Loan training class in Clarkesville March 3 from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.  Participants will learn how to put together an RD Guaranteed Loan package, and exactly what USDA regulations and requirements are for this program. This training class is free; however there is limited space. E-mail Samuel Kirkland to sign up.


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New Expert Speakers Sign on for 2010 Annual Convention
GBA's Annual Convention scheduled for June 13-16 at Charleston Place in Charleston, SC, has an outstanding lineup of expert speakers. You'll receive an economic update from, Mark Vitner, Senior Economist with Wells Fargo, learn how to deal with the current regulatory situation and the examination environment from GBA Counsel Walt Moeling, get an enlightened glimpse of "What's Next" in the financial services industry from Charles E. "Gus" Whalen, Chairman of the Warren Featherbone Company in Gainesville, and much more. Also on tap are eight valuable breakout sessions, including a session specifically for outside directors. We'll mail brochures with details about the convention in the next few weeks. GBA has reserved a block of rooms at Charleston Place at a reduced rate of $299 per night for single or double occupancy. Make your reservations by calling the hotel directly at 843.724.8410. The cut-off date for reservations is May 21. With questions, please contact GBA's Susie McGehee at 404.420.2010.


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Bank Trainer Peer Group Meeting
Please join us for the GBA-U's Bank Trainer Peer Group on Tuesday, March 9, at the Georgia Bankers Association office in Atlanta. We have two industry experts lined up. June Somers will provide great information and some important tips on adult learning. Teri Callahan, with the American Institute of Banking (AIB), will also be on hand to update you on the new Learning Management System, BankPoint, and online eLearning. During lunch, you will also have the opportunity to network with your colleagues at our roundtable discussions. With questions, please contact GBA's Alison Moreau at 404.420.2034.


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AIB Online Instructor Led Courses beginning in March
Here are the instructor-led AIB online classes offered the week of March 1. These courses are instructor-facilitated with weekly assignments and can be taken from your home or your office. All you need is a computer, printer and Internet access. (Classes with an asterisk * require Microsoft Excel Software.) Please register two weeks in advance to secure a seat in the class.

There is still availability in the following AIB Online classes beginning February 22.  Please register as soon as possible to secure a seat in the class.

Please see the AIB Online Course Schedule for a complete listing or call GBA's Alison Moreau at 404.420.2034 with questions.

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Status of Important Banking Cases
Our thanks to the Office of the General Counsel of the American Bankers Association for making available the newest edition of the Status of Important Banking Cases to the members of our Bank Counsel Section. This monthly report provides up-to-date information about litigation involving banks across the country and is another member benefit for the attorneys in GBA's Bank Counsel Section. With questions about how your bank's attorney can participate in the Section, please contact GBA's Kenyetta Parks at 404.420.2035.


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Provide Your Company with Flood Zone Relief for Challenging Times
During the best of times, lenders seek reliable, easy-to-use services offered at a fair price. In a turbulent financial climate, these requests quickly turn into critical needs. Federal Flood Certification Corp. calms the Flood Zone Determination process through their cost-effective approach that protects lenders, expedites the closing process, and helps the bottom line. Federal Flood offers:

  • Easy Access to fully transferable Life of Loan certificates

  • Free Letter of Map Amendment and Letter of Map Revision

  • Free Home Mortgage Disclosure Act data

  • Free rush service

  • Customized billing and reporting

  • No setup charges or monthly minimums.

Federal Flood maintains an experienced staff and a commitment to the latest in technology, providing readily available expertise and support through a variety of platforms. For more information, please contact Federal Flood's Ed Mclin at 214.441.5903 or GBA's Levi Crabtree at 404.420.2022.

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Gladiator Technology Provides 24x7x365 Enterprise Information Security Monitoring
Given today's tough regulatory environment and ever-changing security landscape, financial institutions are focused on making information security a top priority. Gladiator Technology can help. A Managed Security Services Provider (MSSP) located in Atlanta, Georgia, Gladiator is a leading provider of IT security services and works with more than 650 banks and credit unions nationwide.  A long-time Strategic Partner with the GBA, Gladiator specializes in working with financial institutions (FIs) to monitor and safeguard mission-critical IT solutions and networks, along with protecting non-public customer information, per FFIEC regulations. Gladiator's comprehensive services include 24x7x365 management, correlation, and monitoring of multiple security layers specifically designed for FIs. So whether you need security monitoring services (servers; Internet activity; intrusion prevention/detection systems; firewalls), consulting services (vulnerability & security assessments, penetration testing), or IT regulatory compliance (ITRC) management products (Network & Internet Policy; Information Security Policy; ID Theft Prevention Policy; Remote Deposit Capture Policy; online security awareness training, or ITRC consulting services), with Gladiator by your side to help you make the right decisions, you can accomplish your security goals. For additional information about Gladiator Technology, please contact Mike Bell at 877.GLADTECH or GBA's Levi Crabtree at 404.420.2022.


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Find a Job, Post a Job with GBA Job Bank
The Georgia Bankers Association offers free job posting resources for our member banks. These listings can be viewed online or through our bi-weekly publication included in the GBA Bulletin. Resume postings are also available. For more information, please call Kenyetta Parks at 404.420.2035.

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Read All About It -- Send Us Your News
Please remember to include the Georgia Bankers Association on the list of recipients for announcements about promotions, new employees and special recognition your bank has received. We want to share your news with your colleagues across the state. Please forward your announcements and photos to GBA's Lydia Thomas.

Milledgeville - Magnolia State Bank
Bill Jones has been promoted to City President of Milledgeville and Gray.


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