Feb. 12, 2020

General Assembly Focusing on State Finances

The Georgia General Assembly was in recess this week giving members time to consider both the amended 2020 and 2021 fiscal year state budgets. Almost half the House members serve on one of eight House Appropriations Subcommittees and over half the Senate members serve on the Senate Appropriations Committee and its subcommittees. After the President’s Day holiday Monday, legislators will go back into full session Tuesday, Feb. 18. That day in the House, GBA’s priority bill, HB 781 by Rep. Bruce Williamson (R-Monroe), will be up for a vote. The bill was introduced at the request of the Department of Banking and Finance.

Democracy Days

Since we’re not writing about banking topics being considered by the General Assembly this week, we thought we’d take this opportunity to focus on three other important matters: key deadlines this month for the Georgia presidential primary; qualifying for Georgia elections in March, the importance of an accurate census count, an introduction to our Secretary of State and the role of political action committees in elections. Throughout the remainder of 2020, you’ll see us writing about these and other election-related matters under the broad heading of Georgia Bankers Democracy Days. Bankers being a trusted resource on the election process is just one more thing you do. We hope you’ll take advantage of the opportunity to spread the word about important deadlines, encourage voter participation and become involved throughout the election season helping educate candidates on issues important to you, your bank, your community and to your industry.

Georgia Presidential Preference Primary

The 2020 Georgia Presidential Preference Primary will take place Tuesday, March 24, 2020. New this year is that our state’s primary is being held a couple of weeks after several states hold their primaries, often called Super Tuesday. Georgia is the only state holding a primary on March 24, so we expect lots of eyes will be on our choices. There are some important dates ahead for Georgians planning to participate in the Presidential Preference Primary:
  • February 24: Voter Registration Deadline
  • March 2: Early Voting Begins
  • March 14: Saturday Voting
  • March 24: Presidential Preference Primary
The Georgia Secretary of State’s website is the right place to check voter registration status. Click here to go to the My Voter Page see your status or register to vote online.

Qualifying Begins March 2 Signaling the Start of 2020 Elections

Members of the Georgia House and Senate along with U.S. congressional candidates and others will be trekking to the State Capitol from 9 a.m. March 2 to 12 noon on March 6. That’s when each files the paperwork and pays their qualifying fees to offer themselves for election. As we get closer to the date, we’ll know more as incumbents decide whether they’ve had enough, seek re-election for their existing seats or choose to seek a different office. Two Georgia U.S. House of Representatives have announced they won’t be seeking re-election: Tom Graves (R-GA-14) and Rep. Rob Woodall (R-GA-7). Georgia will remain in the national spotlight all year with both our U.S. Senate seats up for grabs along with the potential control of the Senate in the balance. Rep. Doug Collins has said he will be running for the seat currently held by U.S. Senator Kelly Loeffler in a winner-take-all election in November. Sen. David Perdue (R-GA) has announced his bid for re-election in what he’s described as his last. In addition to the open seats, one of the most closely watched and hotly contested seats will be for the one held by Rep. Lucy McBath (D-GA-6). Former Rep. Karen Handel (R) is already campaigning hard to regain that seat she lost in the 2018 election. Also, the Democrats have announced an all-out effort to take control of the Georgia House and make more inroads into controlling the State Senate. Here are some important dates to remember for those federal and state elections:
  • March 2: Qualifying Opens
  • March 6: Qualifying Closes
  • March 31: Absentee Ballots Available
  • April 27: Early Voting Begins
  • May 9: Saturday Voting
  • May 19: General Primary Election
  • July 21: General Primary Runoff (if necessary)
  • November 3: General Election
  • December 1: General Election Runoff for State Office Holders (if necessary)
  • January 5: General Election Runoff for Federal Officer Holders (if necessary)
We’ll be publishing reminders of these and other key dates leading up to the November elections.

2020 Census: Be Sure You’re Counted

Be watching your mail in late March as you will begin receiving requests to complete the 2020 Census. A new feature this year is that you may complete your census questionnaire online. It’s critical that every citizen is counted as the resulting census data is used in many ways. Businesses often use the data to determine future expansion plans. Policymakers track changes in population to determine future needs such as infrastructure and schools. The data also determines how key federal funds are distributed to the states like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and Federal Pell Grants. The Georgia Farm Bureau reports that Georgia’s rural assistance programs receive more than $1.4 billion annually in allocation payments. And probably one of the most visible uses of the data is to determine how many members of congress are allotted to each state. Population growth has added four members to Georgia’s U.S. House delegation since the 1990 census. The data is also used to draw congressional and state legislative districts. Here are some key dates to remember for the upcoming Census:
  • March: Census packets mailed to homes
  • April 1: Census Day is observed nationwide
  • April: Census takers visit college campuses, senior centers, and other places where large groups of people live
  • May: Home visits to Non-responders
  • August: Online submission closes
  • December: Apportionment counts delivered to the President and Congress
Because the number of U.S. House seats remains at 435, after each census, Congress is tasked with determining how many members are allocated to each state. It’s then the job of the General Assembly to redraw congressional district lines so that each seat represents approximately the same number of citizens. If you ever wanted to see how Georgia’s population has grown and where the most growth has occurred, you only need to compare the district boundaries for Georgia’s 10 congressional seats after the 1980 Census to the 14 congressional seats now allocated to our state. Middle and South Georgia have continued to maintain six congressional districts; north Georgia has maintained two while the Atlanta area has grown from two congressional districts to six. We’ll know more after this year’s census is completed although the best guess right now is that we will likely not add another congressional district:
1980 Congressional Districts
Current Congressional Districts

Meet Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger

The Georgia Secretary of State is charged with duties ranging from overseeing business corporations, licensing professionals, regulating securities companies, licensing charity fundraisers and overseeing elections. One of his biggest tasks recently has been to purchase new voting machines now being used in selected elections and which will be used statewide this year. Most of us first met our Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger when he served in the Georgia General Assembly from 2015-2019. He bested a large field of candidates in the 2018 election for the office that had previously been held by Gov. Brian Kemp. We thought you’d like to know a little more about Secretary Raffensperger. He is the CEO and owner of Tendon Systems, LLC, a specialty contracting and engineering design firm with nearly 200 employees. The firm has operated in 35 different states. Raffensperger also owns and operates a specialty steel manufacturing plant based in Forsyth County. He earned a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from Western University and was awarded his MBA from Georgia State University. He is a licensed Professional Engineer in over 30 states. Raffensperger and his wife, Tricia, have been married for 42 years and live in Johns Creek. They are members of North Point Community Church.

Georgia Bankers Generous PAC Contributors

Everyone knows elections are getting more expensive every cycle and we’re likely to see record sums spent in Georgia this year because of the number of state and federal races that will be on the ballots. 2020 is considered an “off year” for most of our statewide constitutional officers like the Governor, Lt. Governor, Agriculture Commissioner and others. They were all elected to four-year terms in 2018, but most are getting prepared for their 2022 campaigns, so they will be raising campaign funds this year along with those on the ballot in 2020. To facilitate Georgia bankers’ ability to participate in these important campaigns, GBA has two political action committees, one for state and another for federal races. The Georgia BankPAC Board of Directors is chaired by Luke Flatt, AB&T in Albany, and they’ll be kicking off the 2020 campaign to raise PAC funds in conjunction with the annual meeting this summer. The Board oversees the contributions made from those PACs to candidates joining us in supporting a safe and sound banking industry. Here are some statistics from last year’s campaigns to give you an idea of the generosity of our members in supporting the PACS:
  • Bankers made personal contributions of $65,330 to the federal PAC
  • Bankers or banks made individual or corporate contributions of $159,400 to the state PAC
  • Included in the State PAC numbers are $12,000 and $9,550 Leadership GBA raised through their golf and sporting clays events
  • Also included in the State PAC numbers is $6,350 contributed by Associate Members and Bank Counsel Section members
  • GBA staff contributed $1,400 to the Federal PAC
  • The $224,730 total contributed to the state and federal PACs set an all-time record
“The 2019 campaign set a strong pace for us to build upon as we launch the 2020 campaign. It’s important that every member bank be involved and we’re looking for even greater participation among our members this year,” said Flatt.

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.