March 18, 2022

General Assembly 2022 Session Nearing Finish

Legislators gathered this past Monday under the Gold Dome for a full day of committee meetings. Tuesday was the self-imposed deadline for bills to pass one chamber to be considered by the other chamber. Commonly called Crossover Day, legislators met late into the evening passing dozens of bills. They were also in session Wednesday through Friday completing Day 31 of the 40-Day session. The General Assembly will convene again Monday and be in session all week with Thursday reserved as a committee workday.

GBA Priority Bill on the Governor’s Desk

Our thanks to Sen. John Kennedy (R-Macon) who ably shepherded GBA’s priority bill of the session through the Senate this week. HB 891 was introduced in the House by Rep. Bruce Williamson (R-Monroe) and was passed unanimously by House members. The Senate vote Wednesday was also unanimous and their action cleared the bill for the Governor’s signature. Along with other stakeholders, the GBA through the association's Bank Counsel Section was instrumental in providing input to the Georgia Department of Banking and Finance as the legislation was crafted and introduced at the request of the Department. The bill contains provisions for streamlining or simplifying existing statutes to make the Department’s regulations more efficient and ease the regulatory burden on financial institutions. The bill contains a number of provisions related to acquisitions and changes in control involving banks and bank holding companies and the related application processes. We worked with the Department on another bill also introduced by Rep. Williamson at their request, HB 899. The purpose of that bill was to provide a Libor fix patterned after New York State legislation passed in 2021 authorizing fall back rate replacement language for Libor cessation. With language applying to all states contained in the Omnibus Appropriations bill Congress passed last week and which President Biden has signed, HB 899 is no longer needed. Our thanks to the past chair of the Bank Counsel Section, Reggie O’Shields, EVP, Director of Enterprise Solutions, General Counsel, and Chief Compliance Officer of the Federal Home Loan Bank of Atlanta, who coordinated our input into that bill for the Department.
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Other Bills of Interest Received Action

A number of other bills we’ve been monitoring on behalf of the industry received action this week.
Probate. The House passed HB 1350 by Rep. Will Wade (R-Dawsonville). The bill requires personal representatives to send notices to beneficiaries regarding the issuance of letters testamentary or letters of administration. The bill was amended to include GBA-requested language to revise a definition to include financial institutions within the Uniform Transfer on Death Security Registration. The bill is pending in the Senate Special Judiciary Committee. GBA supports.
Political Subdivision Loans. The House passed HR 732 by Rep. Chuck Martin (R-Alpharetta). The resolution proposes a constitutional amendment to provide that temporary loans for counties, municipalities and other political subdivisions shall come due within twelve months of the initial funding date of the loan. The bill is pending in the Senate Finance Committee. GBA is monitoring.
Down Payment Assistance Savings Plan. The Senate passed SB 491 by Sen. Gail Davenport (D-Atlanta). The bill calls upon the Department of Banking and Finance to create a down payment savings program to be administered by banks and credit unions. The bill has been assigned to the House Ways and Means Committee. GBA is monitoring.
Mortgage Broker/Lender Licensing. The Senate passed SB 470 by Sen. Randy Robertson (R-Cataula). The bill relates to the licensing of mortgage lenders and mortgage brokers to, among other things, provide for different categories of felony convictions for purposes of investigations of mortgage loan originator applicants. The bill has been assigned to the House Banks and Banking Committee and a hearing has been scheduled for next Wednesday to consider it. GBA is monitoring.
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Eminent Domain. The Senate passed 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 has been assigned to the House Governmental Affairs Committee. GBA is monitoring.
Veterans Health ID Card. The Senate passed SB 96 by Sen. Lester Jackson (D-Savannah). The bill provides that the identification of persons for whom notaries perform notarial acts shall be evidenced satisfactorily by a valid Veterans Health Identification Card issued by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs. The bill has been assigned to the House Defense & Veterans Affairs Committee. GBA is monitoring.
GAP Insurance. The House passed 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 has been assigned to the Senate Insurance and Labor Committee. GBA is monitoring.
Development Authority Governance. The House passed HB 923 by Rep. Mary Margaret Oliver (D-Decatur). The bill caps the per diem allowance for development authority board members at no more than the per diem allowed for the General Assembly members and adds the Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission to those who may enforce an existing prohibition against a director of a development authority providing legal services to the authority. The bill has been assigned to the Senate Ethics Committee. GBA is monitoring.
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Motor Vehicle Titling. The House passed 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 affects the Electronic Title Registration (ETR) program. ETR is the system dealers use to apply for registration and titling. The bill does not affect the Electronic Lien and Title (ELT) program. The bill has been assigned to the Senate Science and Technology Committee. GBA is monitoring.
Tax Exemptions – Data Center Equipment. The House passed HB 1187 by Rep. Noel Williams (R-Cordele). The bill extends the sales and use tax exemption for certain high technology data center equipment until the year 2038. The bill has been assigned to the Senate Finance Committee. GBA is monitoring.
Sales Tax Exemption – Computer Equipment. The House passed 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 has been assigned to the Senate Finance Committee. GBA is monitoring.
Rural Hospital Tax Credits. The House passed HB 1041 by Rep. Clay Pirkle (R-Ashburn). The bill increases tax credits for contributions to rural hospital organizations. The bill has been assigned to the Senate Finance Committee. GBA is monitoring.
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Williams
Smith
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Timber Ad Valorem Taxation. The House passed HB 997 by Rep. Sam Watson (R-Moultrie). The bill would exempt timber equipment and timber products held by timber producers from ad valorem taxes. The bill has been assigned to the Senate Finance Committee. GBA is monitoring.
Timber Ad Valorem Tax – Constitutional Amendment. The House passed HR 686 by Rep. Sam Watson (R-Moultrie). The resolution proposes a constitutional amendment to reduce the rate of ad valorem tax assessment of timber sales or harvest and requires the Georgia General Assembly to appropriate monies, per a formula, to each county, municipality, and school district that experienced an ad valorem tax reduction in the preceding year due to the change in the manner of assessment for timber. The bill has been assigned to the Senate Finance Committee. GBA is monitoring.
Development Authority Governance. The House passed HB 1382 by Rep. Ron Stephens (R-Savannah). The bill requires development authority directors to receive annual continuing education training for the authority to access funding from or administered by OneGeorgia Authority. The bill has been assigned to the Senate State and Local Government Operations Committee. GBA is monitoring.
Unlawful Assembly. The Senate amended and passed 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. A bank is listed among those businesses defined as providing public accommodations that would be covered by the proposal. The bill has been assigned to the House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee. GBA is monitoring.
Lottery Game for Small Business Loans. The House Regulated Industries Committee held a hearing, amended and reported HR 581 by Rep. Yasmin Neal (D-Jonesboro). The resolution proposes a Constitutional Amendment to authorize the General Assembly to provide the net proceeds of one or more lottery games to support economic development by providing loans to support small businesses located in Georgia. The businesses must be independently owned and operated by Georgia residents who are current students at a Georgia school of higher education. The bill was included on the Crossover Day agenda, but was not considered. GBA will continue to monitor.
Time-share Foreclosures. The House Judiciary held a hearing and reported SB 493 by Sen. Jeff Mullis (R-Chickamauga). The bill provides for a nonjudicial foreclosure process of time-share estates. A similar bill, HB 1088 by Rep. Stan Gunter (R-Blairsville), has passed the House and is pending in the Senate Judiciary Committee. Our thanks to the authors for incorporating GBA recommended language in both bills to recognize the position of the lienholder. SB 493 is pending in the House Rules Committee. GBA is monitoring.
Trusts & Estates – Forfeiture of Interest. The House Judiciary Committee held a hearing and reported SB 543 by Sen. Sonya Halpern (R-Atlanta). The bill relates to wills, trusts and administration of estates and among other things, provides for the forfeiture of an intestate share of an estate under certain circumstances. The bill is pending in the House Rules Committee. GBA is monitoring.
Freedom to Farm. The Senate Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Committee held a hearing but took no action on HB 1150 by Rep. Robert Dickey (R-Musella). The bill seeks to provide protection to farmers from frivolous and nuisance lawsuits. GBA supports.
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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. All the bills we’re monitoring can be found on the State Issues page of the GBA website. Here are two bills we added this week that’s of interest to the banking industry.
Economic Develop Funding. HR 1026 by Rep. Yasmin Neal (D-Jonesboro) would create the House Study Committee on Economic Development Opportunities and Alternative Sources of Investment Funding. The bill has been assigned to the House Economic Development & Tourism Committee. GBA is monitoring.
Eviction Diversion Programs. HR 1041 by Rep. Karen Bennett (D-Stone Mountain) urges the Supreme Court of Georgia to establish rules and best practices for the creation of eviction diversion programs to be implemented by courts throughout the state. The bill has been assigned to the House Judiciary Committee. GBA is monitoring.

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.