January 15, 2021

General Assembly Convenes

The Monday after the second Sunday in January is the constitutionally mandated date for the General Assembly to convene, and convene they did on Jan. 11. The usual festive atmosphere of returning and new members with throngs of family, friends and supporters gave way to the realities of health and safety and strict protocols were in place. The House re-elected Rep. David Ralston (R-Blue Ridge) Speaker. The Senate announced committee chairs and members. And Gov. Brian Kemp delivered the annual State of the State address. The Legislature was in session through Thursday and will not be in formal session next week to recognize Monday as Martin Luther King Jr. Day and have budget meetings the rest of the week. Legislators are scheduled to return for their fifth of 40 legislative days Tues., Jan. 26.

Brass Named to Chair Senate Banking Committee

Congratulations to Sen. Matt Brass (R-Newnan) for being named chairman of the Senate Banking and Financial Institutions Committee. We’ve known Sen. Brass for many years going back to his days as Chief of Staff for former U.S. Rep. Lynn Westmoreland. A U.S. Navy veteran, Brass is also a graduate of the University of Georgia. Brass was elected to the Senate in 2016. Here’s a link to more details about his background and service in the Senate so you can get to know him. Here’s a link to a list of all the members of the Senate Banking and Financial Institutions Committee. If you are a constituent of a member, please reach out and offer to be a resource.

Mullis, Walker, Strickland & Thompson to Chair Committees

We were glad to see Sen. Jeff Mullis (R-Chickamauga) will be returning as chairman of the Senate Rules Committee this year. The committee is charged with determining the path to the floor for most legislation in the Senate and his experience will serve us all well. Several Senate committees where banking legislation is considered will have new chairmen this year. Sen. Larry Walker (R-Perry) will chair the Senate Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Committee. Sen. Brian Strickland (R-McDonough) will chair the Senate Judiciary Committee. And, Sen. Bruce Thompson (R-White) will chair the Senate Economic Development and Tourism Committee. Senators Walker and Thompson are on community bank boards and gained helpful experience about issues affecting our industry with that service. Here’s a link to see a list of Senate committee chairs and committees. I know you’ll join us in congratulating and thanking these members for their service. We should learn House committee chairs and members soon.

Legislation We’ll Be Following

We’ll publish a list of new bills of interest to the banking industry each week. We add those bills daily to the State Issues page on the website, so bookmark that if you’re interested in staying in the know. Following are bills introduced this week:
Tax Credits. SB 6 by Sen. John Albers (R-Albers) 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. SB 6 has been assigned to the Senate Finance Committee.
Employment. SB 14 by Sen. Tonya Anderson (D-Atlanta) will allow applicants for benefits to obtain their personnel files when their claims are contested by their former employers. The bill has been introduced but not yet assigned to a committee.
Property Transfer. HB 74 by Rep. Dale Washburn (R-Macon) provides that it shall be unlawful for a person with intent to hinder, delay, impair, or defraud a creditor's rights to deed or otherwise transfer title to real property to another person without the knowledge or consent of such other person. The bill has been assigned to the House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee.
Forestry Torts. HB 90 by Rep. Bruce Williamson (R-Monroe) provides that certain persons, firms, or corporations who are buyers of land for conversion of timber shall be exempt from certain liabilities and to limit damages for certain causes of action brought for conversion of timber. The bill has been introduced but not yet assigned to a committee.
Cannabis. HR 13 by Rep. Dar’shun Kendrick (D-Lithonia) is a resolution urging the United States Congress to enact legislation removing cannabis from the federal Controlled Substances Act, exempting certain activities related to marijuana, facilitating the full spectrum of private banking services for cannabis related business and encouraging scientific research as related to cannabis products. The bill has been assigned to the House Judiciary Non-Civil 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.