January 17, 2020

General Assembly Convenes for 2020 Legislative Session

The Georgia Constitution requires the General Assembly to go into session the Monday following the second Sunday each year and that day fell on January 13 this year. With the bangs of gavels in the House and Senate, Speaker David Ralston and Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan got the 2020 session underway. Legislators were in session Monday through Thursday. Because 2020 was the second year of the biennial, members had little formalities to get through and got right to work introducing legislation, attending committee meetings and passing the first bills of the session. Legislators will not be in session Monday in recognition of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and will be in budget hearings the rest of the week. Members of the General Assembly will reconvene Monday, Jan. 27, and will be in session each day through Friday of that week.
Weiss, Prokos, Snipes and Brannen

Wild Hog Supper Signals Legislators Ready for Session

For many years, GBA has been one of the hosts for the Wild Hog Supper, a tradition going back decades held on the Sunday night before the General Assembly convenes for its annual session. Originally organized by a group of lobbyists, the event was handed over to the Georgia Food Bank Association several years ago by Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black and now benefits the Farm to Food Bank program. The event is family friendly and serves as a fun way to rub shoulders with old and new state leaders and enjoy some good Georgia barbecue. GBA team members always attend the event to help greet legislators and other guests and they were out in force again this year. Professional Development Coordinator ShaKeya Snipes, Director of Member Services Bo Brannen, Marketing and Communications Coordinator Katina Prokos and her guest Nathan Weiss represented GBA at this year's event.
Gov. Kemp

GBA’s Economic & Legislative Forum and Legislative Reception Held Wednesday

Another tradition that goes back decades is the annual reception GBA has hosted for legislators and other state dignitaries. The event is always the first Wednesday of each session and is a much anticipated and well-attended event. Prior to the reception, GBA hosts an Economic and Legislative Forum giving our members their first look in the new year of what’s expected for the state economy as well as legislative initiatives on the minds of policymakers and the industry. We always bring in a political pro to get an inside look at the elections at both the state and national levels. We were honored that Gov. Brian Kemp, Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan, the state’s Fiscal Economist, Jeff Dorfman, Banking Commissioner Kevin Hagler and the Hawthorne Group’s John Ashford were on hand to keynote the event.

GBA’s Process for Identifying and Prioritizing Issues

We are fortunate to have virtually every bank in Georgia as a member and we rely on you to help identify, prioritize and advocate for legislative or regulatory policy initiatives. With more than 300 bankers serving on a committee or board, we frequently learn of issues from a single banker’s experience. Also, every time a committee meets, we ask about issues that may need attention. We especially rely heavily on GBA’s Bank Counsel Section as this group of over a hundred lawyers statewide surface issues and gives us feedback. Our Public Affairs Committee helps us know and prioritize which bills to support, oppose or amend and provides recommendations to the GBA Board of Directors which has the final say on GBA’s position on any particular issue. This banker-driven grassroots process has served the industry well for over 127 years.

Legislation Introduced This Week

Each week when we publish the Legislative Update we will include bills and resolutions introduced that we will be monitoring on behalf of the industry. We’ll highlight those that we’ll prioritize and keep you abreast of our actions. We’ll update the State Issues Page on our website daily, so be sure to check that page to follow issues of interest to you. We added several newly introduced bills this week.
Banking Department Housekeeping Bill. HB 781 by Rep. Bruce Williamson (R-Monroe) is the annual bill crafted by the Banking Department with input from GBA’s Bank Counsel Section and other stakeholders. Among the major provisions are those that would allow a de novo bank to pay a dividend before becoming cumulatively profitable in certain circumstances; allow the Department to waive director residency requirements; revise the requirements to acquire a trust company; clarify that representative offices may exercise the same powers as other bank offices; and add night depositories as an extension of a bank location. The bill has been assigned to the House Banks and Banking Committee. GBA supports as a priority bill of this session.
Electronic and Remote Online Notarization. HB 785 by Rep. Joseph Gullett (R-Dallas) creates additional ways to notarize documents by electronic means. The Georgia Superior Courts Clerks Authority will be empowered to develop and maintain rules and standards. The bill has been assigned to the House Judiciary Committee. GBA is monitoring.
Tax Credits, Deductions and Exemptions. SB 302 by Sen. John Albers (R-Roswell) creates a process to review various state tax credits, deductions and exemptions. GBA has provided Sen. Albers an analysis of the Bank Tax Credit developed by GBA’s Tax Advisory Committee explaining the background of the credit and that it is neither an incentive nor transferable credit. The bill is expected to be assigned to the Senate Finance Committee. GBA is monitoring as a priority bill of the session.
FinTech Regulatory Sandbox. HB 763 by Rep. Todd Jones (R-Cumming) empowers the Attorney General to designate a developing financial product or service as innovative and in so doing, that would allow a person, without being licensed or registered as would otherwise be required, to test the products or services for a limited time and on a limited basis. The bill has been assigned to the Banks and Banking Committee. GBA is monitoring.
Installment Land Contracts. HB 729 by Rep. Debra Bazemore (D-South Fulton) creates a filing process with the Clerk of Superior Court of a new type of document related to the sale of land over a period of five or more years. The bill is pending in the House Judiciary Committee. GBA is monitoring.
FDIC Insurance Premium Deductibility. HB 762 by Rep. John Carson (R-Marietta) would restore the deductibility of FDIC insurance premiums from state income tax liability for banks that lost the deductibility when legislation was adopted to conform with recent federal tax reform legislation. The bill is pending in the House Ways and Means Committee. GBA is monitoring.
Cannabis. HR 875 by Rep. Dar’Shun Kendrick (D-Lithonia) would create the House Study Committee on Financing Options for Cannabis-based Businesses. GBA is monitoring.
Special Recognition. HR 826 by Rep. Alan Powell (R-Hartwell) was introduced and unanimously adopted recognizing Margaret Ayers for her 75 years of service to Northeast Georgia Bank in Lavonia. GBA presented Margaret a service award last year and attended a celebration at the bank in her honor. We are aware of no other Georgia banker who has served one institution for so many years. Thank you, Margaret!
Special Recognition. HR 912 by Rep. Ron Stephens (R-Savannah) recognizes former GBA Chairman Jimmy Burnsed for his leadership to the State of Georgia and especially Bryan County. The resolution also calls for an interchange on I-95 to be named in his honor. HR 913 also by Rep. Stevens recognizes Jimmy and another local leader, Harold Fowler, and calls for a bridge to be named in their honor. Congratulations, Jimmy!
Ayers and Joe Brannen

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.