Feb. 10, 2023

General Assembly Quickens Pace

The Georgia General Assembly was in session Monday through Thursday this week completing Day 16 of their 40-day session. Legislators will return to the Capitol Monday and are slated to be in session through Thursday of next week reaching the halfway point of the first session of the biennial. Committees were busy reporting legislation and floor activity picked up as more legislation is getting voted on, including GBA’s priority bill for the session.

Troubling Interchange Bill Introduced

At the request of retailer interests, Sen. Billy Hickman (R-Statesboro) introduced SB 126, a bill that prohibits the assessment of interchange fees on the sales, use or excise tax portion of a merchant transaction. The retailers’ pitch is they are collecting the taxes for the state, and they realize no benefit from that part of the transaction. Their logic concludes that the card networks should therefore not be allowed to assess interchange fees on the tax. What’s missing is that debit and credit card issuers – our members – are on the hook for the entire transaction. Retailers receive some compensation from the state for collecting and remitting taxes. They’re saying it’s not enough so they’re looking for more. What this boils down to is the General Assembly would be mandating that our member banks and all the others involved in the complex transaction processing system to forgo revenue for legitimate services rendered to give retailers a boost in income. Our view is that if the retailers feel they should be paid more, this legislation is the wrong way to go about it. Interchange, transaction processing, the role of each participant in the transaction, and how we’re all paid is complex and we’ve got some work to do to help legislators understand our position. As we’re talking to legislators, we’re certainly not demonizing the retailers as they are friends and customers of yours. But we strongly disagree on this legislation. The bill has been assigned to the Senate Banking and Financial Institutions Committee chaired by Sen. Carden Summers (R-Cordele). It’s especially important to speak with your Senator if they are on the Committee and let them know this is not the right approach. Here’s a link to the committee members. You can find contact information for all state senators at this link and contact information for all state representatives at this link. A hearing is expected to be scheduled soon, so time is of the essence. Please share what you learn with Elizabeth Chandler, 404.420.2027 or Joe Brannen, 404.420.2026.
Billy Hickman
Carden Summers

GBA Supported Bills Received Action This Week

Four bills GBA supports were voted on this week in the General Assembly:
Department of Banking and Finance Housekeeping Bill. HB 55 by Rep. Bruce Williamson (R-Monroe) is the annual housekeeping bill developed by the department in concert with GBA’s Bank Counsel Section and other stakeholders. The bill passed the House unanimously this week and is pending in the Senate Banking and Financial Institutions Committee. Among the general clean-up provisions are those that: a) revise references to the allowance of loan and lease losses to the allowances for credit losses to align with a change in terminology for GAAP; b) update the rules of construction that any references to laws or rules in the Financial Institutions Code will be to the laws as they existed on January 1, 2023; and c) provide that a bank or trust company can change its name without shareholder approval is allowed by their corporate documents. Other provisions apply to other entities such as credit unions and mortgage companies regulated by the Department.
Probate. HB 91 by Rep. Will Wade (R-Dawsonville) requires personal representatives to send notices to beneficiaries regarding the issuance of letters testamentary or letters of administration. The bill includes GBA-requested language to revise a definition to include financial institutions within the Uniform Transfer on Death Security Registration. Hearings were held by a subcommittee and the full committee which reported the bill. The bill is pending in the House Rules Committee.
Deed Attestation. HB 182 by Rep. Matt Reeves (R-Duluth) relates to recording of deeds and other real property transactions, to revise provisions for curing defective deeds and other instruments and comport with the legislative correction recommended by the United States Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Pingora Loan Servicing, LLC, v. Scarver (In Re: Lindstrom) regarding attestations. The bill was reported out of the House Judiciary Committee and is pending in the House Rules Committee.
Development Authorities – Governance. SB 26 by Sen. Greg Dolezal (R-Cumming) authorizes meetings and public hearings of development authorities and community improvement districts to be held by teleconference. The Senate passed the bill and it is pending in the House Governmental Affairs Committee.
Bruce Williamson
Will Wade
Matt Reeves
Greg Dolezal

Other Bills Received Action

Following are bills we’re tracking that affect the industry and were either passed out of committee or got floor votes sending them to the other chamber.
Commercial Financial Transactions. HB 84 by Rep. Trey Rhodes (R-Greensboro) relates to selling and other trade practices similar to factoring to provide for financing disclosures. The bill was reported from the House Banks and Banking Committee and is pending in the House Rules Committee. The reported bill contains GBA-requested language adding holding companies to the exemption of banks from the provisions of the bill. GBA is monitoring. An identical bill, SB 90 by Sen. Clint Dixon (R-Buford), was reported from the Senate Banking and Financial Institutions Committee. The bill is pending in the Senate Rules Committee. The reported bill also contains GBA-requested language adding holding companies to the exemption of banks from the provisions of the bill. GBA is monitoring both bills.
Elder/Disabled Adult Financial Exploitation. SB 84 by Sen. Chuck Hufstetler (R-Rome) amends the Georgia Uniform Securities Act of 2008 to provide for financial protections for elder and disabled adults who may be victims of financial exploitation. A hearing was held and the bill was reported from the Senate Banking and Financial Institutions Committee. The bill is pending in the Senate Rules Committee. GBA is monitoring.
Fair Business Practices Act – Store Credits. HB 149 by Rep. Meisha Mainor (D-Atlanta) requires certain merchants that do not have exact change for overpayments made by cash to provide a store credit for the overage. Sole proprietors and businesses with a single employee, among others, are exempt. The bill is pending in the House Agriculture & Consumer Affairs Committee where a hearing was held this week, although no further action was taken. GBA is monitoring.
Trey Rhodes
Clint Dixon
Chuck Hufstetler
Meisha Mainor
Income Tax Credit. HB 162 by Rep. Lauren MacDonald (R-Cumming) is Gov. Brian Kemp’s proposed one-time $250 tax credit for individual taxpayers who filed tax returns in 2021 and 2022. A subcommittee of the House Ways and Means Committee held a hearing on the bill, although no further action was taken. GBA is monitoring.
Property Taxes, Delinquent – Waive for Returning Property to Effective Utilization Status. SR 82 by Sen. Carden Summers (R-Cordele) proposes an amendment to the Constitution to authorize the tax commissioner, subject to local governing authority approval, to waive certain delinquent ad valorem property taxes, penalty, and interest for the purpose of placing non-revenue generating and tax delinquent property back to effective utilization status. A hearing was held by the Senate Banking and Financial Institutions Committee, but no further action was taken. GBA is monitoring.
Telephone Solicitations. SB 73 by Sen. Blake Tillery (R-Vidalia) provides for class action suits and for damages against certain persons for violating provisions relating to telephone solicitations. The bill was amended and reported by the Senate Regulated Industries and Utilities Committee. The bill is pending in the Senate Rules Committee. GBA is monitoring.
Ungraded Lumber. HB 132 by Rep. David Jenkins (R-Grantville) amends the Georgia state minimum standard codes to include provisions authorizing the use of ungraded lumber in the construction or repair of any accessory structure not containing habitable space on property zoned or primarily used for residential or agricultural purposes. A hearing was held and the bill was reported out of the House Agriculture & Consumer Affairs Committee. The bill is pending in the House Rules Committee for the scheduling of a floor vote. GBA is monitoring.
Lauren MacDonald
Carden Summers
Blake Tillery
David Jenkins

New Bills Added to our Tracking List

Legislators are introducing more bills affecting the industry than any time in the past. We added the following bills to our tracking list this week. To see all bills we’re tracking, check out the State Issues page on the GBA website.
Ad Valorem Taxation. HB 311 by Rep. Lynn Smith (R-Newnan) provides for optional temporary tax relief to certain properties located in nationally declared federal disaster areas. The bill is pending in the House Ways and Means Committee. GBA is monitoring.
Ad Valorem Taxation. HB 322 by Rep. Sandra Scott (D-Rex) provides that property tax bills shall not include any nontax related fees or assessments. The bill is pending in the House Ways and Means Committee. GBA is monitoring.
Age Discrimination. HB 256 by Rep. Kim Schofield (D-Atlanta) change the age of individuals protected by age discrimination in employment statute from between the ages of 40 and 70 to 40 years of age or older. The bill is pending in the House Industry and Labor Committee. GBA is monitoring.
C-PACE. HB 206 by Rep. Steven Sainz (R-St. Marys) provides for the creation of Commercial Property Assessed Conservation, Energy, and Resiliency Development Authorities in counties and municipalities that have adopted implementing ordinances. The bill was first read this week and assigned to the House Government Affairs Committee. GBA is monitoring.
Lynn Smith
Sandra Scott
Kim Schofield
Steven Sainz
Cyber Command. SB 97 by Sen. Jason Anavitarte (R-Dallas) creates the Georgia Cyber Command Division under the Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency. This Division will handle all of the duties formerly handled by the Georgia Technology Authority regarding cyber security for the state and state agencies. The bill is pending in the Veterans, Military, and Homeland Security Committee. GBA is monitoring.
Fair Business Practices Act – Active Service Members. HB 247 by Rep. Lee Hawkins (R-Gainesville) makes it a violation of the Fair Business Practices Act to charge over 6% interest on a mortgage, credit card or other loan made by a bank or industrial loan company to service member incurred after the service member is on active duty. The bill is pending in the House Judiciary Committee. GBA is monitoring.
Hair Texture and Hairstyles. SB 82 by Sen. Tonya Anderson (D-Lithonia) amends fair housing, education, and labor and industrial relations to add hairstyles as a protected class and expands the definition of race to include hair texture and protected hairstyles. The bill is pending in the Senate Insurance and Labor Committee. GBA is monitoring.
Insurance Discount – Windstorm Events. HB 279 by Rep. Matthew Gambill (R-Cartersville) provides for an insurance premium discount or rate reduction for property owners who build a new residential or commercial property or who retrofit an existing residential or commercial property that better resists tornado, hurricane, or other catastrophic windstorm events. The bill is pending in the House Insurance Committee. GBA is monitoring.
Jason Anavitarte
Lee Hawkins
Tonya Anderson
Matthew Gambill
Landlord Tenant. HB 304 by Rep. Yasmin Neal (D-Jonesboro) would enact the Uniform Landlord and Tenant Act, a total rewrite of the existing landlord and tenant statutes. The bill is pending in the House Judiciary Committee. GBA is monitoring.
Landlord Tenant. SB 125 by Sen. Donzella James is a wholesale rewrite of the landlord tenant code. The bill is pending in the Senate State and Local Governmental Operations Committee. GBA is monitoring.
Legal Organ. HB 254 by Rep. David Jenkins (R-Grantville) relates to the requirements for the local official legal organ and provides as an alternative to newspaper posting in certain counties with limited newspaper coverage that legal notices may be posted on county or municipal managed websites. The bill is pending in the House Judiciary Committee. GBA is monitoring.
Military Housing. HB 323 by Rep. Sandra Scott (D-Rex) among other things, adds veteran or military status as protected classes in fair housing for real estate sales and rentals and lending for housing purchase. The bill is pending in the House Judiciary Committee. GBA is monitoring.
Minimum Wage. HB 241 by Rep. Dewey McClain (D-Lawrenceville) provides for an increase in the minimum wage to $15 per hour; provides a credit toward the minimum wage for employers of tipped workers; and eliminates various eligibility exemptions from the minimum wage such as domestic and farm worker employers. The bill is pending in the House Industry and Labor Committee. GBA is monitoring.
Pay Stubs. HB 261 by Rep. Regina Lewis-Ward (D-McDonough) requires employers to contemporaneously provide a pay stub or other documentation communicating certain information such as rate of pay, number of hours works, deductions and other information when compensating employees. The bill is pending in the House Industry and Labor Committee. GBA is monitoring.
Yasmin Neal
Donzella James
Dewey McClain
Regina Lewis-Ward
Property Acquisition. HB 246 by Rep. Martin Momtahan (R-Dallas) prohibits China, Iran, North Korea and Russia, their citizens and companies from acquiring title to property in Georgia. The bill is pending in the House Judiciary Committee. GBA is monitoring.
Property Owner’s Association. HB 303 by Rep. Viola Davis (D-Stone Mountain) is a significant rewrite of the statutes governing condominium home owner and property owner associations, among many other things, creates an ombudsman to register all community associations under the Secretary of State. The bill is pending in the House Governmental Affairs Committee. GBA is monitoring.
Tax Credit – Remote Work. HB 263 by Rep. Mandisha Thomas (D-South Fulton) provides for a tax credit for certain remote work expenses incurred by employers that enter into remote work agreements with their employees. The bill is pending in the House Ways and Means Committee. GBA is monitoring.
Time-shares. HB 292 by Rep. Matt Reeves (R-Duluth) revise procedures regarding nonjudicial foreclosure of time-share estates and relates to notice, interests of mortgagees, trustees, recording of time-share interests, sales of encumbered time-share estates and proceeds, and transfer of title. The bill is pending in the House Judiciary Committee. GBA is monitoring.
Unclaimed Property. SB 103 by Sen. Russ Goodman (R-Cogdel) related to unclaimed property, sets requirements for wills found in safety deposit boxes. Among other things requires the development of a searchable data base of unclaimed property and sets certain requirements for individuals serving as another party’s representative in claiming unclaimed property. The bill is pending in the Senate Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Committee. GBA is monitoring.
Martin Momtahan
Viola Davis
Mandisha Thomas
Russ Goodman
Venue - Money Laundering/Theft of Money. HB 219 by Rep. Scott Hilton (R-Johns Creek) relates to records and reports of currency transactions to provide for venue for the offense of money laundering. The legislation also relates to theft to provide for venue for the offense of theft of money held in a financial institution. The venue would be the county or counties of the victim. The bill was first read this week and is pending in the House Judiciary Non-civil Committee. GBA is monitoring.
Wage and Employment Benefit Mandates. HB 245 by Rep. Stacey Evans (D-Atlanta) removes the state preemptions of wage and benefit mandates, requirements for contractors to provide certain wage and benefits to employees and other requirements of local governments. The bill is pending in the House Industry and Labor Committee. GBA is monitoring.
Wage Withholding. HB 267 by Rep. Tyler Paul Smith (R-Bremen) authorizes private causes of action for equitable relief regarding the failure of employers to comply with revenue provisions regarding employees, such as failure to properly withhold. The bill is pending in the House Judiciary Committee. GBA is monitoring.
Scott Hilton
Stacey Evans
Tyler Paul Smith

GBA’s Advocacy Team at the Capitol

Led by GBA’s Executive Vice President for Government Relations & Advocacy 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, GBA Senior Vice President, Member Services & Advocacy Bo Brannen, GBA Insurance Trust President and CEO Tripp Cofield 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, Bo at 404.420.2014, Tripp at 404.420.2016, or Joe at 404.420.2026.