March 12, 2021


General Assembly Completes Day 31 of 40 Days

The Georgia General Assembly is less than three weeks away from adjourning for the year, and legislators continue to make good progress on bills of interest to the banking industry. The General Assembly was in session Monday through Thursday this week with Monday being Crossover Day. That was the day designated for bills to pass one chamber to be considered by the other chamber. The General Assembly will be in session each day Monday through Thursday next week. Monday, the Senate is scheduled to take final action on GBA’s priority bill for the session, HB 111 by Rep. Bruce Williamson (R-Monroe). This 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. Below is more information about all the goings on at the Capitol this week related to bills we’re monitoring for the industry.

Department of Revenue Data Match Initiative

We’ve been reporting in earlier editions about SB 201, a bill that was introduced by Sen. Chuck Hufstetler (R-Rome)at the request of the Georgia Department of Revenue (DOR). 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 to some extent. We have been engaged with DOR making recommendations for improvement to the bill and some of those recommendations were incorporated in the bill that was reported out of the Senate Finance Committee which Sen. Hufstetler chairs. The full Senate passed the bill last week. We’ve continued to meet with Chairman Hufstetler as well as House members on the Ways and Means Committee who will be involved with the bill now that it’s before that committee. We appreciate the courtesies all have given us in considering additional changes and we will report as we learn more. We understand a dozen or so other states have similar data match programs.

Floor Action in Both Chambers this Week

This week the House and Senate passed several bills of interest to our members.
Forestry Torts. The Senate 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. Our thanks to GBA member bankers and several attorneys from the Bank Counsel Section with experience financing timber and with the nuances of the Uniform Commercial Code. They helped us work through the issue with the Georgia Forestry Association, the organization that asked for the bill to be introduced on behalf of their members. We were able to narrow the scope of the original draft significantly to avoid some apparent unintended consequences and the final version works for all concerned. The Senate vote clears the bill for the Governor’s consideration.
Financial Literacy. The House passed HB 681 by Rep. Bill Yearta (R-Sylvester). The bill requires the Department of Education to develop a comprehensive financial literacy course to be taught to 10th or 11th grade students. The bill is pending in the Senate Education and Youth Committee. GBA is monitoring.
Stored Value Cards. The House passed HB 327 by Rep. Martin Momtahan (R-Dallas). The bill would establish a process intended to prevent the use of stored value cards to commit organized retail crime. The bill is pending in the Senate Judiciary Committee. GBA is monitoring.
Workforce Development. The Senate passed SR 154 by Rep. Nan Orrock (D-Atlanta). The resolution creates the Joint Study Committee for Strengthening Georgia's Future Workforce to study how a needs-based scholarship program could aid in improving workforce development. The resolution is pending in the House Education Committee. GBA is monitoring.

Committees Acted on Several Bills of Interest This Week

Several bills we’re monitoring were either subject to hearings or received favorable votes in committees to move forward this week.
Tort Liability Immunity. The Senate Judiciary Committee 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. The bill is pending in the Senate Rules Committee. GBA supports.
Sub S / Partnership Taxation. The Senate Finance Committee held a hearing and 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 Senate Rules Committee. GBA supports.
Hemp. The Senate Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Committee held a hearing and reported HB 336 by Rep. John Corbett (R-Lake Park). The bill revises the Georgia code to conform with recent changes at the federal level so that the rules promulgated by the Georgia Department of Agriculture related to hemp farming remain in compliance with federal laws and regulations. The bill is pending in the Senate Rules Committee. GBA supports.
Utility Service. The Senate Regulated Industries and Utilities Committee held a hearing, amended and reported HB 150 by Rep. Bruce Williamson (R-Monroe). The bill would prohibit government entities from banning the connection of any utility service based on the type or source of fuel. The bill is pending in the Senate Rules Committee. GBA is monitoring.
Mechanics and Materialmen Liens. A subcommittee of the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing and reported to the full committee SB 143 by Sen. Lindsey Tippins (R-Marietta). The bill relates to lien waiver legislation passed in 2020 and corrects an error in that bill so that the statutory form matches legislative language. GBA is monitoring.

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 want to stay in the know. Bills introduced this late in the session are usually not expected to pass but will carry over to next year’s session of the biennial. Following are the bills added to our tracking list this week:
GAP Insurance. HB 733 by Rep. Tyler Smith (R-Bremen) revises the definition of a guaranteed asset protection waiver to allow a waiver contract to be issued with or without a fee. The waiver may also provide, with or without a separate charge, a benefit that waives an amount, or provides a borrower with a credit, toward the purchase of a replacement vehicle. The bill is pending in the House Insurance Committee. GBA is monitoring.
Workplace Safety. HB 746 by Rep. Marvin Lim (D-Norcross) specifies actions that an employer must take to provide a safe place of employment. The bill is pending in the House Industry and Labor Committee. 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.