March 11, 2022

Crossover Day Next Up for General Assembly

The General Assembly completed Day 27 of their 40-Day session today and will reconvene next Tuesday for Crossover Day, one of the longest works days each session. Floor votes will be taken on dozens of bills as legislators race to get their bills passed by the chamber of origin so the legislation may be considered by the other body. Legislators will be in session Tuesday through Friday next week.
Williams

House Banking Committee Hears About Payment Processing and Digital Assets

Our readers who have been in the industry awhile will remember GBA went to the General Assembly in the late 1980s with legislation that resulted in our state being the worldwide hub for payment processing. Today more than seven out of 10 credit and debit card transactions across the globe travel over Georgia rails. The House Banks and Banking Committee, chaired by Rep. Noel Williams (R-Cordele), held an informative meeting for legislators Wednesday to hear from experts in the field of payments and digital assets. Our member, Synovus, has been a leader in this field and two Synovus executives presented. Tom Bell who heads the company’s third-party payments area explained the role banks have as issuers and settlers for payment cards. Matt Maxey, who heads the innovation area for the company, presented on the developing area of digital assets. Here’s a link to the full committee meeting if you’d like to watch a re-play. Tom’s presentation begins around 26:40 and Matt’s at 46:35. Click here for Tom’s slides and here for Matt’s slides.

Senate Banking Committee Approves Down Payment Assistance Program

The Senate Banking and Financial Institutions Committee chaired by Sen. Matt Brass (R-Newnan) met Monday to consider SB 491 by Sen. Gail Davenport (D-Atlanta). The bill authorizes the creation of down payment assistance accounts to be offered by banks and credit unions. A number of advocates for individuals having difficulty saving for home purchase down payments testified at the hearing. The committee amended the bill to have the Department of Banking and Finance oversee the program and reported the bill for a potential vote by the full Senate. The committee also reported HB 1008 by Rep. Lee Hawkins (R-Gainesville) that reconstitutes the Georgia Achieving A Better Life Experience (ABLE) higher education savings plan.
Brass
Davenport
Hawkins

Banking Industry Bills of Interest Received Action

In addition to the above bills we’ve been monitoring, here’s a list of other bills of interest to our members received action this week.
Legal Notices. The House passed HB 1388 by Rep. James Burchett (R-Waycross). The bill provides an alternative procedure for the designation of the official legal organ for various notices. GBA is monitoring.
Timber Equipment Ad Valorem Taxation. The House Ways and Means Committee amended and reported HB 997 by Rep. Sam Watson (R-Moultrie). The bill would exempt timber equipment from ad valorem taxes if voters approve a constitutional amendment authorizing the exemption. The bill is pending in the House Rules Committee. GBA is monitoring.
Tax Credits – Rural Hospitals. The House Ways and Means held a hearing and reported HB 1041 by Rep. Clay Pirkle (R-Ashburn). The bill would increase the limit for contributions to rural hospitals subject to state tax credits. The bill is pending in the House Rules Committee. GBA is monitoring.
Utility Bonds. With the chairman’s tie-breaking vote, the Senate Regulated Industries and Utilities Committee amended and reported SB 421 by Sen. Chuck Hufstetler (R-Rome). The bill creates the Georgia Utility Rate Reduction Act (GURRA) that, among other things, allows utility companies to issue GURRA bonds that would be repaid by a charge added to utility customers’ bills. The bill authorizes such bonds as legal investments for banks and trust companies. The bill is pending in the Senate Rules Committee. GBA is monitoring.
GAP Insurance. The House Insurance Committee held a hearing and reported HB 733 by Rep. Tyler Smith (R-Bremen). The bill 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 Rules Committee. GBA is monitoring.
Eminent Domain. The Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing and reported SB 227 by Sen. Harold Jones (D-Augusta). The bill relates to eminent domain and provides for an alternative process for counties, municipalities, or consolidated government to condemn certain blighted properties. The bill is pending in the Senate Rules Committee. GBA is monitoring.
Unlawful Assembly. The Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing amended and reported SB 171 entitled the Safe Communities Act by Sen. Randy Robertson (R-Cataula). The bill, among other things, provides for enhanced penalties for certain offenses committed during an unlawful assembly. Federally insured financial institutions are listed among those businesses defined as providing public accommodations that would be covered by the legislation. The bill is pending in the Senate Rules Committee. GBA is monitoring.
Legal Tender - Cash. The House Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Committee held a hearing, amended and reported HB 1152 by Rep. Mesha Mainor (D-Atlanta). The bill prohibits a merchant from requiring a purchaser to use credit for payment for goods and services and provides class action as a remedy for damages. The bill is pending in the House Rules Committee. GBA is monitoring.
Motor Vehicle Titling. The House Motor Vehicles Committee held a hearing and reported HB 1478 by Rep. Jason Ridley (R-Chatsworth). The bill makes voluntary the current mandatory requirement that motor vehicle titles be handled electronically. The bill is pending in the House Rules Committee. GBA is monitoring with concern.
Sales Tax Exemption – Computer Equipment. The House Ways and Means Committee held a hearing, amended and reported HB 1291 by Rep. Vance Smith (R-Pine Mountain). The bill extends the sunset date and increases the spending limit on equipment to $18 million to be eligible for the sales and use tax exemption on the sale or lease of computer equipment by high technology companies. The bill is pending in the House Rules Committee. GBA is monitoring.
Hemp Licensing. The House Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Committee held a hearing but took no further action on HB 1532 by Rep. Jason Ridley (R-Chatsworth). The bill revises current statutory provisions dealing with hemp farming and, among other things, the bill proposes to significantly reduce licensing fees. GBA is monitoring.
Burchett
Watson
Pirkle
Hufstetler
Tyler Smith
Robertson
Mainor
Ridley
Vance Smith

New Bills Added to GBA’s Tracking List

It’s likely too late in the session for new bills introduced to get enacted, and most being introduced are intended to generate discussion. However, we’ve continued to add bills all week to our tracking list. All the bills we’re monitoring can be found on the State Issues page of the GBA website. Here are those that have some connection to the banking industry added this week.
Self-storage Facilities. SB 606 by Sen. Max Burns (R-Sylvania) relates to self-storage facilities and would shorten the time between advertisement and sale of abandoned property. The bill is pending in the Senate Judiciary Committee. GBA is monitoring.
Homeowner Associations. SR 615 by Sen. Donzella James (D-Atlanta) creates a study committee to look into the operation of homeowner associations. The bill is pending in the Senate Rules Committee. GBA is monitoring.
Legal Organ – Government Notices. SB 590 by Greg Dolezal (R-Cumming) would allow a county to designate the official local government website as it’s official legal organ for the publication of any required local government notices. The bill is pending in the Senate Judiciary Committee. GBA is monitoring.
Burns
James
Dolezal

GBA’s Advocacy Team at the Capitol

Led by GBA’s Senior Vice President, Government Relations, Elizabeth Chandler, GBA is at the Capitol advocating on behalf of our members. Also, on the advocacy team 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.