March 5, 2021

General Assembly Completes Day 27 of 40 Days

The Georgia General Assembly was in session Monday, Wednesday and Friday this week with Tuesday and Thursday designated as committee workdays. The House and Senate agreed on a schedule calling for this coming Monday to be Crossover Day, which is the day bills must pass their body of origin to be considered by the other body. All the major legislation of interest to our members has already passed one body so none will be caught by Monday’s busy activities. Legislators will be in session each day through Thursday next week. Below is more information about all the goings on at the Capitol this week related to bills we’re monitoring for the industry.

Floor Action in Both Bodies this Week

This week the House and Senate passed several bills of interest to our members.
Remote Shareholder Meetings. The Senate unanimously passed SB 168 by Sen. Larry Walker (R-Perry). 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 Department of Banking and Finance’s housekeeping bill that is now pending in the Senate Rules Committee. SB 168 is similar to HB 306 by Rep. Stan Gunter (R-Blairsville) that has passed the House and is pending in the Senate Judiciary Committee. GBA supports both bills as well as the Department’s housekeeping bill.
Remote Online Notary. The House passed HB 334 by Rep. Joseph Gullett (R-Dallas). The bill creates additional ways to notarize documents by electronic means. The bill is now pending before the Senate Judiciary Committee. GBA supports.
Rural Development Council. The House unanimously passed HB 185 by Speaker David Ralston (R-Blue Ridge). The resolution reauthorizes the House Rural Development Council through 2022. GBA supports.
Economic Development – Projects of Regional Significance. The House passed HB 586 by Rep. Sam Watson (R-Moultrie) extends the sunset date for the exemption from state sales and use taxes for projects of regional significance. GBA is monitoring.
Economic Development – Railroad Infrastructure. The House unanimously passed HB 888 by Rep. Bruce Williamson (R-Monroe). The bill provides for sales and use tax exemptions for certain eligible expenditures for the Georgia Freight Railroad Program. GBA is monitoring.
Medical Cannabis. The House passed HB 645 by Rep. Micah Gravley (R-Douglasville). The bill revises the state medical cannabis statute and among other things, adds credit unions as authorized to open bank accounts for proposed applicants. GBA is monitoring.
Border Region Retail Tourism. The Senate passed SB 255 by Sen. Jeff Mullis (R-Chickamauga). The bill establishes the Border Region Retail Tourism Development Program that would award grants to induce businesses to locate in Georgia if the business is currently within 10 miles of the Georgia border. GBA is monitoring.
Interior Design Liens. The House unanimously passed HB 480 by Rep. Dale Washburn (R-Macon). The bill 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. GBA is monitoring.
Real Property. The House passed HB 554 by Rep. Stan Gunter (R-Blairsville). The bill revises when an action related to a dispute involving real property may operate as a lis pendens. 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.
Earned Wage Access. The House Industry and Labor Committee held a hearing but took no further action on HB 674 by Rep. Tom Kirby (R-Loganville). The bill requires companies providing earned wage access services to employers and employees to register with the Department of Banking and Finance. GBA is monitoring.
Unlawful Assembly. The Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing but took no further action on SB 171 by Sen. Randy Robertson (R-Cataula). The bill is entitled the Safe Communities Act which, among other things, provides for enhanced penalties for certain offenses committed during an unlawful assembly. One amendment being proposed is to add credit unions to the provision listing those businesses defined as providing public accommodations that would be covered by the proposal. Banks are already included. GBA is monitoring.
Workforce Development. The Senate Higher Education Committee held a hearing, amended and reported 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. GBA is monitoring.
Stored Value Cards. A subcommittee of the House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee amended and reported to the full committee 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. 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’re interested in staying in the know. Following are the bills added to our tracking list this week:
Credit Reporting. HB 656 by Rep. Penny Houston (R-Nashville) among other things, would require credit consumer reporting agencies to place a COVID-19 alert along with or accompanying any consumer report or credit score provided by the consumer credit reporting agency in the file of that consumer indicating the consumer has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The bill has been assigned to the House Agriculture & Consumer Affairs Committee. GBA is monitoring.
SAFE Banking Act. HR 249 by Rep. Micah Gravely (R-Douglasville) urges the United States Congress to enact legislation and the State of Georgia to coordinate regarding financial services, insurance, investment, and taxation related to cannabis. The resolution has been assigned to the House Regulated Industries. GBA supports.
Small Business Loans. The House Economic Development & Tourism Committee held a hearing but took no further action on HR 129 by Rep. Yasmin Neal (D-Jonesboro). The resolution is a proposed constitutional amendment to set aside lottery funds to support economic development and fund loan programs for small businesses located in Georgia which are independently owned and operated by Georgia residents. GBA is monitoring.
Financial Literacy. HB 681 by Rep. Bill Yearta (R-Sylvester) required 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 House Education 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.