Feb. 4, 2021

General Assembly Completes Day 12 of 40 Days

The Georgia General Assembly met Monday through Thursday this week, completing the 12th day of the 40 days the state constitution allows the legislature to meet. The brisk pace of committee and floor action is expected to continue throughout the session. Legislators are slated to return Monday and will adopt a resolution setting their upcoming meeting days.

Floor Action Begins on GBA-monitored Legislation

This week, the Senate unanimously passed SB 6 by Sen. John Albers (R-Albers). The bill provides for independent economic analyses to be procured by the Office of Planning and Budget for certain tax benefits upon request by the chairpersons of the House Committee on Ways and Means and the Senate Finance Committee. Because the Bank Tax Credit is not well understood by many members, we track legislation like this should legislators choose to review that credit. Here’s a link to a White Paper published by GBA’s Tax Advisory Committee about the credit. The bill has been assigned to the House Ways and Means Committee for further consideration.

Committee Hearings of Note this Week

Committees were also active this week holding hearings on specific legislation as well as holding hearings on issues of general interest to banking.
DBF Housekeeping. The House Banks and Banking Committee chaired by Rep. Greg Morris (R-Vidalia) held a hearing on 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. GBA’s Bank Counsel Section worked with the Department in an advisory role developing the legislation. Rep. Williamson and Department Commissioner for Legal Affairs Bo Fears informed the committee that 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 is expected to be voted out of Committee next week. GBA supports.
Tort Liability Immunity. The House Special Committee on Access to the Civil Justice System held a hearing and reported HB 112 by Rep. Trey Kelley (R-Cedartown). The bill extends to July 14, 2022, immunity from liability to certain claims related to COVID-19. GBA supports.
Cybersecurity. The Senate Committee on Science & Technology held a hearing on 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 is monitoring.
Small Business. The House Small Business Development Committee chaired by Rep. Mike Cheokas
(R-Americus) held a hearing on the state of small business in Georgia. Nathan Humphrey, Executive Director of the Georgia Chapter of the National Federation of Independent Businesses, had several members on Zoom discussing the challenges and opportunities they were facing. PPP lending was mentioned as being helpful, and most expressed optimism because of Georgia’s favorable business climate. The litigious legal climate was mentioned as hurting some businesses. Scott Hilton, Executive Director of Gov. Kemp’s Georgians First Commission, outlined significant findings from the Commission’s work. He suggested more could be done to open government procurement to small businesses, and access to capital is always a top-of-mind issue for many. GBA was represented on the Commission’s Access to Capital Committee by Chuck Copeland, First National Bank of Griffin and GBA’s Joe Brannen.
Broadband. GBA has been supporting efforts in past legislative sessions to bring broadband to parts of Georgia that are falling behind in part due to lack of high-speed internet access. The Senate Regulated Industry Committee chaired by Sen. Bill Cowsert (R-Athens) held a hearing this week discussing the role of various providers such as telecom, cable, satellite and will hear later from electric membership corporations. We expect to see legislation introduced soon addressing fees, right of way and connectivity.
Remote Online Notary. We’ve been part of a coalition working on a remote online notary bill as so many of our members reported how helpful having that temporary authority has been during the pandemic. Also, our members in the mortgage business, especially, have told us how important such authority would be for those transactions. All sides are close to an agreement around most issues, and we expect the bill to be dropped shortly.


Williamson and Fears





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:
Cybersecurity. HB 260 by Rep. Todd Jones (R-Cumming) provides standards for cybersecurity programs to protect businesses from liability while providing for affirmative defenses for data breaches of private information. The bill is similar to SB 52 by Sen. Bruce Thompson (R-White). The bill has been assigned to the House Judiciary Committee. GBA is monitoring.
Tax Credits. SB 57 by Sen. Jen Jordan (D-Atlanta) requires economic analyses to be conducted by the state auditor for certain tax benefits upon request by the chairpersons of the House Committee on Ways and Means and the Senate Finance Committee to include summaries related fiscal notes and other matters. The bill is pending in the Senate Finance Committee. GBA is monitoring.
Discrimination. HB 230 by Rep. Kim Schofield (D-Atlanta) and SB 61 by Sen. Tonya Anderson (D-Lithonia) are similar bills that prohibit discrimination based on hairstyles associated with race, color, or national origin relative to fair housing, education, labor and industrial relations, and fair employment practices. The House bill is pending in the House Judiciary Committee, and the Senate bill is pending in the Senate Insurance and Labor Committee. GBA is monitoring.
Tax Conformity. HB 235 by Rep. Will Wade (R-Dawsonville) is the annual legislation that conforms the Georgia tax code to recent changes in the federal tax code. The bill is pending in the House Ways and Means Committee. GBA supports.
Digital Applications. SB 63 by Sen. Matt Brass (R-Newnan) and HB 229 by Rep. Kasey Carpenter
(R-Dalton) are similar bills that prohibit the proprietor of a digital application platform from requiring a developer to use a specific digital application distribution platform, a specific in-application payment system, or to take retribution against a developer for using an alternative application distribution platform or choose to use an alternative in-application payment system. The Senate bill is pending in the Senate Science and Technology Committee and the House bill is pending in the House Judiciary 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.