January 29, 2021

General Assembly Completes Day 8 of 40 Days

The Georgia General Assembly was in session four days this week and completed the 8th day of the 40 days the state constitution allows the legislature to meet. Committees began holding organizational meetings to adopt rules for the session, while others began holding hearings as legislation was assigned to them. The Senate Banking and Financial Institutions Committee will meet Friday, Feb. 5, to adopt their rules. The General Assembly is slated to return next week for sessions Monday through Thursday that will take them through Day 12.

Committee Hearings of Note this Week

This early in the session, most of the work is being done in Committees and two bills we are monitoring received action this week:
Forestry Torts. A subcommittee hearing was held on 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. The bill was reported to the full Judiciary Committee although based on questions raised at the hearing, there will likely be further clarifying language added in the full committee when they meet next Wednesday.
Tax Credits. The Senate Finance Committee held a hearing and reported SB 6 by Sen. John Albers (R-Roswell). 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.

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:
DBF Housekeeping. HB 111 by Rep. Bruce Williamson (R-Monroe) is the annual 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. 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 has been assigned to the House Banks and Banking Committee where a hearing is expected soon. GBA supports.
Sub S / Partnership Taxation. HB 149 by Rep. Bruce Williamson (R-Monroe) 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 has been assigned to the House Ways and Means Committee. GBA supports.
Tort Liability Immunity. HB 112 by Rep. Trey Kelley (R-Cedartown) extends to July 14, 2022, immunity from liability to certain claims related to COVID-19. The bill has been assigned to the House Judiciary Committee. GBA supports.
Development Authorities. HB 148 by Rep. Kim Schofield (D-Atlanta) relates to development authorities directors, officers, compensation, adoption of bylaws, delegation of powers and duties, conflicts of interest and audits to provide for taxpaying business owners to be appointed to the authorities and provides a process for removal of directors from the authorities. The bill has been assigned to the House Government Affairs Committee. GBA is monitoring.
Downtown Development Authorities. HB 161 by Rep. Jan Tankersley (R-Statesboro) would remove a provision providing perpetual existence to downtown development authorities. GBA is monitoring.
Solicitations. HB 153 by Rep. Marcus Wiedower (R-Watkinsville) amends the Fair Business Practices Act to require those soliciting services for corporate filings required by the Secretary of State who are other than government officials to clearly show there is no relationship to the governmental entity on the solicitation. The bill has been assigned to the House Agriculture & Consumer Affairs Committee. GBA is monitoring.
Credit Bureaus. HR 53 by Rep. Kim Schofield (D-Atlanta) urges Congress to place a moratorium on the three main credit reporting bureaus, Experian, Trans Union, and Equifax; suspend credit downgrades; and remove other negative impacts on personal or business credit reports during the COVID-19 pandemic. GBA is monitoring.

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.