Feb. 17, 2023

General Assembly Reaches Halfway Point

The Georgia General Assembly was in session Monday through Thursday this week completing Day 20 of their 40-day session. Legislators will recognize President’s Day Monday and return to the Capitol Tuesday and are scheduled to be in session through Thursday of next week. Committees were busy holding hearings, reporting legislation and floor votes were taken on several bills GBA supports or is monitoring.

Senate Committee Learns About the Transaction Processing Ecosystem

The Senate Banking and Financial Institutions Committee chaired by Sen. Carden Summers (R-Cordele) held a hearing Thursday to hear from representatives involved with one of Georgia’s most important industries – transaction processing. Witnesses were coordinated by West Richards, Executive Director of the Georgia-based American Transaction Processors Coalition. Four witnesses presented short presentations on each of their roles to make debit and credit card processing seamless. Among those were Tom Bell, President and CEO of Maast, a wholly owned subsidiary of Synovus. Bell also serves as Synovus’ Executive Director of Third Party Payments. Other witnesses represented FIS, Mastercard, and Speedchain, a fintech card processor working with governments and the private sector. The panel did an excellent job describing how the international, interconnected, and efficient processing system works and processes millions of transactions every second. Thanks to Sen. Mike Hodges (R-Brunswick) for asking questions and commenting to the panelists that the processing network comes with a cost. To watch a replay of their session, here’s a link to committee’s video archives. Click on the Feb. 16, 2023, hearing to see the processors’ presentation that begins around 9:45 into the hearing.
Carden Summers
West Richards
Tom Bell

Critical Interchange Hearing Coming Up

Next Tuesday, the Senate Banking and Financial Institutions Committee has scheduled a hearing on SB 126, legislation introduced by Sen. Billy Hickman (R-Statesboro) at the request of retailer interests to prohibit the assessment of interchange fees on the sales, use or excise tax portion of a merchant transaction. GBA Chairman Rhodes McLanahan, CEO of First American Bank & Trust in Athens, will provide the GBA testimony. Retailers complain they don’t get a benefit for their role in collecting and remitting taxes, so they shouldn’t have to pay interchange fees on the tax. GBA opposes the legislation as our members are the vast majority of debit and credit card issuers in Georgia and that lost revenue would come from you. You’re doing the work and should be paid for that. Plus, in the case of fraud, you’re on the hook for the entire transaction. In addition to the unfairness of the bill, the transaction processors, and even the retailers, have no way to re-program their software and point of sale terminals to split out tax from the total transaction. Retailers already receive compensation from the state for collecting and remitting taxes, but our view is that if the retailers feel they should be paid more, that’s the state’s obligation. It certainly shouldn’t fall to the banks and card networks to forgo revenue for legitimate services rendered to give retailers a boost in income.
Billy Hickman
Rhodes McLanahan

Working the Ropes

We and the retailer lobbyists have been “working the ropes” educating legislators on our respective positions on SB 126. If you’re not familiar with that term, there are velvet covered ropes attached to stanchions separating the public from legislators as they enter or leave the house or senate floor. Citizens (and lobbyists are citizens!) work through the Page desk to send messages inside the chamber asking an individual member for a few minutes of their time to discuss issues. If you happen to be in the Capitol, look up one of the members of GBA advocacy team and they’ll show you the process. It’s especially important to speak with your Senator if they are on the Banking Committee. Here’s a link to the committee members. Be sure and let Chairman Summers hear your views even if you don’t live in his senate district, so please reach out to him. His email is carden.summers@senate.ga.gov. You can find contact information for all state senators at this link and contact information for all state representatives at this link. If you need more information about the bill, this link has an issue brief we prepared plus several documents the Electronic Payments Coalition prepared with the list of states where similar bills have failed, why the proposal can’t work, and a few of the negative consequences that will happen if the bill passes. Please share what you learn with Elizabeth Chandler, 404.420.2027 or Joe Brannen, 404.420.2026.

GBA Supported Bills Received Action This Week

Two bills GBA supports were voted on this week:
Probate. The House passed HB 91 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 includes 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 Judiciary Committee.
Deed Attestation. The House passed HB 182 by Rep. Matt Reeves (R-Duluth) that 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 is pending in the Senate Judiciary Committee. GBA supports.
Will Wade
Matt Reeves

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.
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 reported out of the House Government Affairs Committee. GBA is monitoring.
Credit Repair. HB 187 by Rep. Rob Leverett (R-Elberton) proposes to allow for-profit credit repair services. A hearing was held by the House Agriculture & Consumer Affairs Committee, but the committee took no further action. GBA is monitoring.
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. The bill passed the Senate and is pending in the House awaiting a committee assignment. GBA is monitoring.
Foreclosure. SB 13 by Sen. John Albers (R-Roswell) authorizes online public sales under tax levies and executions. The Senate Rules Committee scheduled the bill for a floor vote. GBA is monitoring.
Steven Sainz
Rob Leverett
Chuck Hufstetler
John Albers
Income Tax Credit. HB 162 by Rep. Lauren McDonald (R-Cumming) is Gov. Brian Kemp’s proposed one-time $250 tax credit for individual taxpayers who filed tax returns in 2021 and 2022. The bill was reported out of the House Ways & Means Committee and is pending in the House Rules 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 House Rules Committee has scheduled the bill for a floor vote. 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 was reported out of a subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee. GBA is monitoring.
Minimum Wage. SB 25 by Sen. Gloria Butler (D-Atlanta) requires certain employers to pay a $15 minimum wage with a cost-of-living adjustment. The Senate Insurance and Labor Committee held a hearing on the bill but took no further action. GBA is monitoring.
Lauren McDonald
Matthew Gambill
David Jenkins
Gloria Butler
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. The bill was reported out of the Senate Banking and Financial Institutions Committee and is pending in the Senate Rules Committee. GBA is monitoring.
State Retirement Fund Investing - Social Political Ideological. HB 481 by Rep. John Carson (R-Marietta) would require those who invest state retirement assets to take into account only fund historic, current and potential future returns and not subordinate the interests of the participants and their beneficiaries or sacrifice investment returns or accept increased investment risks in the promotion of any nonpecuniary interests. Such nonpecuniary interests shall include, but shall not be limited to, the furtherance of any social, political or ideological interests. The bill is pending in the House Ways & Means Committee. GBA is monitoring.
Tax Code. HB 95 by Rep. David Knight is the annual bill incorporating various new provisions in the federal tax code into the Georgia tax code. The bill was reported out of the House Ways & Means Committee. 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 was further amended and passed the Senate. The bill is pending in the House Energy, Utilities & Telecommunication 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 passed the House and is pending in the Senate Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Committee. GBA is monitoring.
Unsworn Declarations. HB 80 by Rep. Rob Leverett (R-Elberton) creates the Uniform Unsworn Declarations Act and provides that unsworn declarations shall have the same effect as sworn declarations in certain circumstances. The House Rules Committee has scheduled the bill for a floor vote. GBA is monitoring.
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. A hearing was held by a subcommittee of the House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee and the subcommittee is working on a substitute to consider at its next meeting. GBA is monitoring.
John Carson
David Knight
Blake Tillery
Scott Hilton

New Bills Added to our Tracking List

Legislators continue a frenzied pace introducing more bills affecting the industry than we’ve ever seen. We added the following bills to our tracking list this week.
Ad Valorem Tax – Breach of Covenant. HB 449 by Rep. David Knight (R-Griffin) repeals an exception to the breach of a covenant for bona fide conservation use related to the solar generation of energy. The bill will be assigned to a committee next week. GBA is monitoring.
Agriculture – Soil Amendments. HB 477 by Rep. Rob Leverett (R-Elberton) require notices for the application of soil amendments to land with requirements as to form, included information, and delivery method and provide for related rules and regulations and for construction of a state-wide notification website for persons or firms applying soil amendments. The bill will be assigned to a committee next week. GBA is monitoring.
Business and Occupation Tax – Regulatory Fees. HB 461 by Rep. Brad Thomas (R-Holly Springs) relates to general provisions regarding specific, business, and occupation taxes to require that the proceeds of local government regulatory fees be used to pay for regulatory activity and not general operations and removes certain provisions authorizing calculation of regulatory fees for renovation and other construction projects and provide for refunds in certain circumstances. The bill is pending in the House Ways & Means Committee. GBA is monitoring.
Condominiums – Unit Insurance Deductibles. HB 389 by Rep. Martin Momtahan (R-Dallas) revises the maximum amount of insurance deductibles payable by unit owners to be not more than the association’s master policy deductible per casualty loss. The bill is pending in the House Insurance Committee. GBA is monitoring.
Criminal History Records. HB 334 by Rep. Tyler Paul Smith (R-Bremen) provides for criminal history record information restrictions for certain persons cited with or convicted of certain criminal offenses, mostly related to pardons and first offenders. The bill is pending in the House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee. GBA is monitoring.
Cybersecurity. SB 161 by Sen. John Kennedy (R-Macon) ensure that counties, municipalities and state agencies are protected from cyber-attacks directed at contractors and suppliers by requiring certain provisions in county and municipal contracts and contracts with the Georgia Technology Authority. The bill is pending in the Senate Science and Technology Committee. GBA is monitoring.
Brad Thomas
Martin Momtahan
Tyler Paul Smith
John Kennedy
Development Authorities. SB 171 by Sen. Max Burns (R-Sylvania) relates to development authorities to limit the length of a director's hold-over period following expiration of term of office, requires directors to do yearly continuing education and relates to mechanics and materialmen liens to provide that such liens may attach to the usufruct interest of properties owned by or titled in a development authority or downtown development authority. The bill is pending is the Economic Development and Tourism Committee. GBA is monitoring.
Employee / Employer Relations. HB 411 by Rep. Debra Bazemore (D-South Fulton) prohibits an employer from seeking salary history information about an applicant during the hiring process and, among other things, require employers to make certain disclosures in job postings such as the hourly or salary compensation or a range of the hourly or salary compensation and a general description of all benefits and other compensation to be offered to the hired applicant; and prior to making a promotion decision, an employer shall make reasonable efforts to announce, post, or otherwise make known to all current employees on the same calendar day any opportunities for promotion. The bill is pending in the House Industry and Labor Committee. GBA is monitoring.
Fair Business Practices Act – Brokerage Engagements. HB 471 by Rep. Clint Crowe (R-Jackson) adds an example of an unfair or deceptive practice regarding brokerage engagements and options to enter into brokerage engagements to the "Fair Business Practices Act", and relating to telephone solicitations to residential, mobile, or wireless subscribers, requires the Public Service Commission to establish and maintain list of certain subscribers and develop a schedule of fees. The bill will be assigned to a committee next week. GBA is monitoring.
Hemp. HB 458 by Rep. Clay Pirkle (R-Ashburn) relates to offenses against public health and morals to prohibit the purchase of, sale of, and the offering of samples of hemp products by or to any individual under the age of 21 years old. The bill will be assigned to a committee next week. GBA is monitoring.
Max Burns
Debra Bazemore
Clint Crowe
Clay Pirkle
Income Tax – Sub S. HB 412 by Rep. Bruce Williamson (R-Monroe) repeals a limitation on the certain types of partnerships such as Subchapter S that may elect to pay income taxes at the entity level. The bill is pending in the House Ways & Means Committee. GBA is monitoring.
Insurance Discount – Windstorm Events. SB 158 by Sen. Randy Robertson (R-Cataula) 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 Senate Insurance Committee. GBA is monitoring.
Land Ownership. SB 132 by Sen. Brandon Beach (R-Alpharetta) prohibits the acquisition of possessory interest in certain land by nonresident aliens from a country designated as a “Country of Particular Concern” by the U. S. Secretary of State. The bill is pending in the Senate Veterans, Military, and Homeland Security Committee. GBA is monitoring.
Landownership. HB 452 by Rep. Clay Pirkle (R-Ashburn) prohibits the acquisition of possessory interest in certain land such as that for agricultural use or within 25 miles of a military installation by certain nonresident aliens. The bill will be assigned to a committee next week. GBA is monitoring.
Landlord Tenant. HB 329 by Rep. Mesha Mainor (D-Atlanta) amends the Fair Business Practices Act and landlord and tenant in general, respectively, to provide that certain landlords shall provide notices to existing and prospective tenants about certain crimes occurring on the premises being leased. The bill is pending in the House Judiciary Committee. GBA is monitoring.
Bruce Williamson
Randy Robertson
Brandon Beach
Mesha Mainor
Landlord Tenant. HB 344 by Rep. Marvin Lim (D-Norcross) provides for landlord duties regarding rental premises such as agreements regarding repairs, maintenance tasks, alterations or remodeling and provides for tenant remedies. The bill is pending in the House Judiciary Committee. GBA is monitoring.
Landlord Tenant. HB 404 by Rep. Kasey Carpenter (R-Dalton) provides for a duty of habitability for certain rental agreements, notice, maximum security deposit amounts and expedited evictions for certain criminal activity. The bill is pending in the House Judiciary Committee. GBA is monitoring.
Landowner Liability. SB 186 by Sen. Greg Dolezal (R-Cumming) limits landowner liability regarding invitees, licensees, and trespassers, provides for no landowner liability due to alleged constructive notice of prior crimes or violent nature; and provide for apportionment of fault. The bill is pending in the Senate Insurance and Labor Committee. GBA is monitoring.
Lis Pendens. HB 444 by Rep. Matt Reeves (R-Duluth) revises when an action may operate as a lis pendens. The bill is pending in the House Judiciary Committee. GBA is monitoring.
Probate. HB 346 by Rep. Eddie Lumsden (R-Armuchee) provide that certain cases concerning the probate of wills may be removed from a probate court to a superior court upon the petition of the court and agreement of all parties. The bill is pending in the House Judiciary Committee. GBA is monitoring.
Marvin Lim
Kasey Carpenter
Greg Dolezal
Eddie Lumsden
Property Owner’s Associations – Natural Gas/Solar. HB 355 by Rep. Kasey Carpenter (R-Dalton) prohibits property owners' associations from creating or enforcing covenants that infringe upon a lot owner's right to use natural gas or to install or use a solar energy device. The bill is pending in the House Judiciary Committee. GBA is monitoring.
Residential Building Restrictions. SB 188 by Sen. Russ Goodman (R-Cogdell) prohibits local governments from enacting or enforcing any restrictions on land or dwellings that are or are anticipated to be subject to a residential rental agreement of more than 30 days or that would prevent a person from occupying a dwelling for more than 30 days based solely on whether that person owns the dwelling. The bill is pending in the Senate Regulated Industries and Utilities Committee. GBA is monitoring.
Residential Rental Property. HB 490 by Rep. Spencer Frye (D-Athens) eliminates a deduction related to depreciation for single-family residential rental property. The bill will be assigned to a committee next week. GBA is monitoring.
Rural Economic Development. HB 413 by Rep. Noel Williams (R-Cordele) provides for a second round of funding for the "Georgia Agribusiness and Rural Jobs Act." The bill is pending in the House Ways & Means Committee. GBA is monitoring.
Solicitation. HB 149 by Sen. John Albers (R-Roswell) relates to commercial sales to enact the "Georgia Door-to-Door Sales Act." The Act will require sellers to furnish to buyers receipts and copies of any contracts require sellers to provide notice of how to cancel a sale. Some common door-to-door sales calls such as in-home or in-office brokerage calls, are potentially captured by the Act. The bill is pending in the Senate Regulated Industries and Utilities Committee. GBA is monitoring.
Tax Credit – Low Income. HB 476 by Rep. James Beverly (D-Macon) relates to tax credits for qualified low-income buildings to allow an additional amount of the tax credit for certain new single-family homesteads in less developed census tracts sold to low-income individuals or families. The bill will be assigned to a committee next week. GBA is monitoring.
Russ Goodman
Spencer Frye
Noel Williams
James Beverly
Tax Credit – Mortgage Originators. HB 488 by Rep. Matt Reeves (R-Duluth) provides for tax credits for contributions made by taxpayers to defined mortgage loan originators promoting affordable housing. The bill will be assigned to a committee next week. GBA is monitoring.
Tax Credit – New Home Construction. HB 483 by Rep. Jasmin Neal (D-Jonesboro) provides for a tax credit for up to 20% of construction expenses incurred by taxpayers that sell new construction homes to an individual or related individuals with a sales price of up to $200,000. The bill is pending in the House Ways & Means Committee. GBA is monitoring.
Tax Credit – Quality Jobs. HB 482 by Rep. Steven Sainz (R-St. Marys) amends the current income tax credit for establishing or relocating quality jobs such that eligibility for the credit shall be based only on the projects and investments, which are related primarily to such trade or business, and the jobs that qualify solely based on such trade or business. The bill is pending in the House Ways & Means Committee. GBA is monitoring.
Title Pawn. HB 342 by Rep. Josh Bonner (R-Fayetteville) creates a regulatory structure for the title pawn industry. The bill is pending in the House Banks and Banking Committee. GBA is monitoring.
Tort – Hospitals & Nursing Homes/Chiropractic Practice. SB 168 by Sen. Rick Williams (R-Milledgeville) relates to liens of hospitals and nursing homes, to allow a chiropractic practice to have a lien on a cause of action accruing to an injured person for the costs of care and treatment of injuries arising out of the cause of action. The bill is pending in the Senate Health and Human Services Committee. GBA is monitoring.
Utilities. HB 438 by Rep. Victor Anderson (R-Cornelia) prohibits governmental entities from adopting any policy that prohibits the connection or reconnection of any utility service or sales of certain fuels based upon the appliance to be used by a customer. The bill is pending in the House Energy, Utilities & Telecommunications Committee. GBA is monitoring.
Jasmin Neal
Josh Bonner
Rick Williams
Victor Anderson

Two Ways to Track Key Legislation

We’re geared up to help you keep track of all the news and key bills during this year’s legislative session. The Legislative Update will arrive in your inbox on Fridays. Also make sure to set a web browser bookmark for our State Issues page on the GBA website to track details about specific bills during the session. Check in frequently as we add bills as they are introduced. Any bills that fail to pass this session will carry over to the 2024 session.

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.