Feb. 18, 2021

General Assembly Completes Day 19 of 40 Days

Although the Georgia General Assembly was in session only three days this week, legislators continue to pack a lot of work into their schedule. The legislature completed the 19th day of the 40 days the state constitution allows the legislature to meet. Members are slated to be in session Monday through Friday next week.

Floor Action this Week

This week the House passed several bills of interest to our members.
DBF Housekeeping. The House unanimously passed HB 111 by Rep. Bruce Williamson (R-Monroe). This is the annual housekeeping bill introduced at the request of the Department of Banking and Finance. The legislation builds off the Department’s legislation passed in 2020 related to various application processes, and this year’s bill makes similar improvements related to mergers and conversions. Another significant provision permits bank boards of directors to meet remotely as well as for shareholder meetings to be conducted remotely in whole or in part. There are other provisions, such as extending name reservations from one to six months, that can be reviewed in the section-by-section summary provided by the Department. The bill will next be considered by the Senate Banking and Financial Institutions Committee. GBA supports as a priority bill of the session.
Forestry Torts. The House unanimously passed HB 90 by Rep. Bruce Williamson (R-Monroe). The bill limits damages for certain causes of action brought for conversion of timber and is intended to align the tort statute with the UCC and protect good faith buyers in the ordinary course of business. A group of our bank and Bank Counsel Section members worked with the Georgia Forestry Association to help perfect the bill, which was introduced at GFA’s request. The bill will next be considered by the Senate Banking and Financial Institutions Committee. GBA will continue to monitor.
Timberland Taxation. The House unanimously passed HB 282 by Rep. Steven Meeks (R-Screven). The bill addresses the ad valorem taxation of qualified timberland property by defining parameters for “contiguous” property, specifying how the appraised value of timberland property is calculated, and clarifies the required documentation landowners must submit to the Commissioner of Revenue for certification. GBA will continue to monitor.
Cybersecurity. On a vote of 31 to 18, the Senate passed SB 52 by Sen. Bruce Thompson (R-White). The bill provides standards for cybersecurity programs to protect businesses from liability while providing for affirmative defenses for data breaches of private information. GBA will continue to monitor.
Williamson presenting

Committees Took Action on Several Banking-related Bills

Committees were also active this week holding hearings on specific legislation as well as holding hearings on issues of general interest to banking.
Tax Conformity. HB 265 by Rep. David Knight (R-Griffin) was reported out of the Senate Finance Committee. The bill is the annual legislation that conforms the Georgia tax code to recent changes in the federal tax code. This year’s bill includes language exempting forgiveness payments from income and allowing the deductibility of certain PPP expenses. The bill is pending in the Senate Rules Committee. GBA supports.
Sub S / Partnership Taxation. The House Ways and Means Committee reported HB 149 by Rep. Bruce Williamson (R-Monroe). The bill amends the Georgia tax code to provide S corporations and partnerships an election to pay their Georgia state business income taxes at the entity level, thereby restoring the full federal tax deduction for Georgia business income taxes as described in IRS Notice 2020-75. The bill is pending in the House Rules Committee. GBA supports.
Remote Shareholder Meetings. HB 306 by Rep. Stan Gunter (R-Blairsville) was reported out of the House Banks and Banking Committee. The bill provides that a corporation may hold annual shareholders' meetings and special shareholders' meetings by means of remote communication. The bill would apply to bank holding companies and contains permissive language like that included in the DBF housekeeping bill mentioned above that applies to the bank. The bill is pending in the House Rules Committee. Similar legislation, SB 168 by Sen. Larry Walker (R-Perry), has been introduced and is pending in the Senate Judiciary Committee. GBA supports.
Remote Online Notary. A House Judiciary subcommittee held the first of what may be several meetings to consider HB 334 by Rep. Joseph Gullett (R-Dallas). The bill creates additional ways to notarize documents by electronic means. GBA supports.

New Legislation We Are Following

Each week we publish a list of new bills of interest to the banking industry we will be following. We add these bills daily to the State Issues page on the GBA website, so bookmark that if you’re interested in staying in the know. Following are the bills added to our tracking list this week:
Financial Institution Data Match. SB 201 was introduced at the request of the Georgia Department of Revenue by Sen. Chuck Hufstetler (R-Rome). The bill requires financial institutions to provide certain information related to delinquent taxpayers to the Department of Revenue. A data match program would be set up like the child support payments recovery system currently used by financial institutions to report on those accounts. However, this legislation differs in the areas such as penalties for failure to report, and other liability is created for the institution. The bill is pending in the Senate Finance Committee.
State CRA. HB 522 by Rep. Marvin Lim (D-Norcross) requires the Georgia Department of Banking and Finance to conduct community reinvestment evaluations on state-chartered banks and savings institutions. The bill is pending in the House Banks and Banking Committee. GBA is opposed.
Georgia Agribusiness & Rural Jobs Act. HB 500 by Rep. James Burchett (R-Waycross) extends the Act by providing for a second round of funding. HB 504 by Rep. Bruce Williamson (R-Monroe) also extends the Act with a second round of funding and additionally authorizes tax credits for medical equipment and supplies manufacturers and pharmaceutical and medicine manufacturers. GBA is monitoring.
Property Association Assessments. SB 154 by Sen. Donzella James (D-Atlanta) restricts property association assessments to no more than 20% of mortgage costs. The bill is pending in the Senate Judiciary Committee. GBA is monitoring.
Equitable Gender and Diversity Representation. SR 125 by Sen. Lester Jackson (R-Savannah) encourages equitable and diverse gender representation on the boards and in the senior management of Georgia companies and institutions. GBA is monitoring.
Interior Design Liens. HB 480 by Rep. Dale Washburn (R-Macon) adds to the mechanics and materialman lien statute a new category of liens for labor, services, or materials performed or furnished by registered interior designers. The bill is pending in the House Judiciary Committee. GBA is monitoring.
Real Estate Transfer Tax. HB 416 and HB 417 by Rep. Shaw Blackmon (R-Bonaire) are related to the imposition and collection of the real estate transfer tax. The bills are pending in the House Ways and Means Committee.

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.