Jan. 14, 2022   

General Assembly Convenes

The Georgia General Assembly convened Monday for the second year of its two-year biennial. The first week was mostly devoted to organizational activities, and Gov. Brian Kemp delivered his annual State of the State Address. The General Assembly will be in recess next week to recognize the Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Monday and hold budget hearings the remainder of the week. The schedule has legislators returning for the fifth day of their 40-day session on Monday, Jan. 24.

Williams Appointed Chairman of House Banks and Banking Committee

It’s always a special treat when leaders choose to break good news first to GBA Members. At our Legislative and Economic Forum this week, House Speaker David Ralston (R-Blue Ridge) announced that he has appointed Rep. Noel Williams (R-Cordele) to be chairman of the House Banks and Banking Committee. Williams is a member of a community bank board and its holding company, so he comes to the position with knowledge about the industry. He is a principal with Partners Benefit Group, an insurance agency in Cordele with specific expertise in health and other employee benefit plans. Williams has served as the District 148 Representative since 2019 when the Georgia Chamber of Commerce recognized him as the Rookie Legislator of the Year. “Speaker Ralston chose an excellent leader for this important role. Rep. Williams understands the key issues important to Georgians especially when it comes to banking. He is well-respected and well-liked by his fellow legislators and knows the state’s banking leadership. He is uniquely qualified to help guide the House in making good decisions about legislation affecting the financial wellbeing of Georgians while keeping Georgia the best state for banking,” said Joe Brannen, GBA president and CEO. Read more about Williams here.

GBA Priority Bills Introduced

Our thanks to Rep. Bruce Williamson (R-Monroe) for his leadership in introducing HB 891 and HB 899, the two bills that comprise the Department of Banking and Finance’s annual housekeeping package. Along with other stakeholders, GBA through the association's Bank Counsel Section was instrumental in providing input to the Department as the legislation was crafted. The purpose of HB 899 is to provide a LIBOR fix patterned after New York State legislation passed in 2021 authorizing fallback rate replacement language for LIBOR cessation. HB 891 is the more extensive of the two bills and contains provisions for the streamlining or simplifying of existing statutes to make the Department’s regulations more efficient and ease the regulatory burden on financial institutions, while also ensuring the institutions are safe and sound. The bill contains a number of changes related to acquisitions and changes in control involving banks and bank holding companies and the related application processes. Many provisions in the legislation apply to other non-bank regulated entities such as money service businesses. We expect hearings will be held on the bills shortly.

Follow Bills of Interest to Our Industry

The State Issues page of GBA’s website is updated daily while the Legislature is in session. Thirty-nine bills carried over from the 2021 session that GBA will continue to monitor. One bill continuing to receive a lot of attention is HB 334 by Rep. Joseph Gullett (R-Dallas) that creates additional ways to notarize documents by electronic means. GBA is part of a coalition of interested parties working to pass the bill, although a small group of closing attorneys continue to oppose the concept. Other issues we expect to see this session relate to minor changes to the paperwork for filing deeds and improvements to the garnishment statutes. We will include updates each week in the Legislative Update as bills are introduced, hearings are held and floor votes are taken. This week, we added one bill, HB 894 by Rep. William Boddie (D-East Point) which prohibits a landlord from refusing to rent to a prospective tenant due to a previous eviction during a period of a public health emergency due to COVID-19. This is an example of legislation we follow as it could affect our members financing rental property.

GBA’s Advocacy Team Remains Intact at the Capitol

Led by GBA’s Senior Vice President, Government Relations, Elizabeth Chandler, GBA will be at the Capitol 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. “Georgia bankers are well-represented with one of the longest serving teams at Capitol. This will be Elizabeth’s 26th, Steve’s 31st and Joe’s 41st legislative session representing banking. They are respected for their knowledge, integrity and hard work and we are fortunate to have them working for us again in the 2022 session,” said Rhodes McLanahan, First American Bank & Trust, Athens, who chairs GBA’s Public Affairs Committee. That committee provides input to the GBA Board of Directors on state and federal legislative and regulatory proposals. 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.