Feb. 3, 2023

Legislators Moving Efficiently Through Session

Members of the Georgia General Assembly completed Day 12 of their 40-Day session this week. Committees held organizational meetings and began reporting bills for consideration by the House or Senate Rules committees to schedule floor votes. Legislators will return Monday and are slated to be in session each day through Thursday of next week.

Special Elections Fill Three Vacant Seats

Congratulations to three new legislators who were elected in special elections this past Tuesday. Each is expected to be sworn in and begin work Monday. United Community Bank’s Blue Ridge Market President, Johnny Chastain, was elected to fill the seat vacated by the death of former Speaker of the House David Ralston. The district covers all or parts of Fannin, Gilmer and Dawson counties. Colquitt County Administrator Chas Cannon of Moultrie ran unopposed for a House seat that emcompasses Colquitt and parts of Cook and Thomas counties. Cannon is an organizing director of Georgia’s newest bank, Moultrie Bank and Trust. Cannon’s seat was vacated when former Rep. Sam Watson resigned to run for a Senate seat vacated when former Sen. Dean Burke from Bainbridge resigned to become chief medical officer for the Georgia Department of Community Health. Watson is a farmer, and his senate seat covers all or parts of Colquitt, Cook, Seminole, Decatur, Grady, Thomas and Brooks counties. Two small businessmen, Holt Persinger and Charlie Chase, are in a Feb. 28 runoff for a House seat covering Barrow County and part of Jackson County. The seat was vacated when newly elected Rep. Danny Rampey resigned before taking office. All are Republicans. One other seat in the House was vacated when Democrat Mike Glanton from Jonesboro resigned for health reasons. Qualifying was held this week for the election slated for March 21. We welcome these new and returning legislators and look forward to working with them.
Johnny Chastain
Chas Cannon
Sam Watson
Holt Persinger
Charlie Chase
Bruce Williamson and
Bo Fears

GBA Priority Bill Receives Hearing

One of GBA’s priority bills each year is the Banking Department’s annual housekeeping bill developed in concert with GBA’s Bank Counsel Section Board of Directors. This year that bill is HB 55 and was introduced by Rep. Bruce Williamson (R-Monroe). This is the 10th consecutive year Williamson has handled the Department’s legislation. The House Banks and Banking Committee, chaired by Rep. Noel Williams (R-Cordele), held a hearing on the bill Wednesday. After an extensive presentation by Rep. Williamson and Department Counsel Bo Fears, and a robust question-and-answer period, the bill was reported unanimously. The bill contains general clean-up provisions for supervision by revising references to the allowance of loan and lease losses to the allowances for credit losses to align with a change in terminology for GAAP; updating 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 Jan. 1, 2023; and providing that a bank or trust company can change its name without shareholder approval if allowed by their incorporating documents. Other provisions of the bill relate to other entities regulated by the Department. GBA supports the bill as introduced and it is pending in the House Rules Committee where a floor vote should be scheduled soon. Click here for a summary of the major provisions of the bill provided by the Department.

Other Bills GBA is Monitoring Received Action

Bills passing out of various committees ordinarily are assigned next to the Rules Committee of the respective bodies. The following bills GBA is monitoring received action this week.
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 bill was reported by the House Judiciary Committee and is pending in the House Rules Committee. GBA is monitoring.
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 bill was reported from the Senate Economic Development and Tourism Committee and is pending in the Senate Rules Committee. GBA supports.
Greg Dolezal
Rob Leverett

Meet the Members of the House Banks and Banking Committee

In addition to reporting the banking department’s housekeeping bill, the House Banks and Banking Committee adopted rules to operate under during the session. The committee also welcomed several new members, including recently elected Rep. Carter Barrett (R-Cumming), Affinity Bank’s local market president. In addition to Chairman Noel Williams, other committee officers are Vice Chairman Rep. Will Wade (R-Dawsonville) and Secretary Rep. Joseph Gullett (R-Dallas). Wade is senior vice president for River City Bank and Gullett is vice president and a senior IT lead for Truist. Following is a list of all members of the Banks and Banking Committee and their party affiliation. Please join us in reaching out to these members and offer to be of assistance as they consider legislation affecting banking.

Citizen Legislators

The General Assembly is comprised of citizen legislators, meaning almost all have full-time jobs outside their legislative duties. There is a long tradition of committee members serving from industries over which the committee has jurisdiction. For example, the Insurance Committee has insurance agents serving, the Judiciary Committee has attorneys serving and the Agriculture Committee has farmers serving. So, it’s helpful to have bankers serving on the Banking Committee. Their subject matter expertise is frequently shared with other members who may not be as familiar with the intricacies of laws, rules and regulations governing the industry. The General Assembly has strict rules about members not voting on issues with which they have a direct conflict of interest, although legislators are expected to vote on bills of general interest to their industry.

Interchange May Be Considered

This week, GBA’s advocacy team met with representatives from big-box retailers, mom-and-pop stores, grocery chains, convenience stores and others who accept debit and credit cards. Like the debate in Washington, D.C., where many retailers and their associations are working to reduce the amount of interchange charged by financial institutions, we may see an interchange bill filed here in Georgia. The approach this session seems to be an attempt to exempt interchange from being charged on the sales tax portion of a transaction. Similar bills have been introduced in other states without success. The complexity of splitting out a portion of every transaction that has a sales tax component is massive, if not impossible for retailers, financial institutions and the transaction processors. Also, the retailers are covered for losses such as fraud on the total amount of the transaction, including the sales tax portion, so there is financial liability for which interchange helps cover. While we appreciate our retailer friends wanting to pay less for services, they are also putting legislators in the position of settling a business dispute between two parties. A bill has not yet been introduced for us to review, but conversations are being held among the retail lobbyists and legislators as we’re getting questions from members. If your legislator asks you about it, please let them know the complexity of what they’re asking for and that this is not something the General Assembly should be weighing in on.

New Bills Being Tracked

Throughout the session we will add bills that affect the industry to the State Issues page on the GBA website.
GBA supports the following bills added this week. See above for a development authority bill GBA supports, which was added and reported from 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 is pending in the House Judiciary Committee. GBA supports.
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. The bill is pending in the House Judiciary Committee. GBA supports.
Matt Reeves
Will Wade
GBA is monitoring the following bills added this week:
Arrest Records. HB 171 by Rep. Gregg Kennard (D-Lawrenceville) restricts access to arrest-only criminal history record information prior to an indictment or other charging instrument. The bill is pending in the House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee. GBA is monitoring.
Computer Software - Sales Tax Exemption. HB 170 by Rep. Kasey Carpenter (R-Dalton) provides a sales tax exemption for certain digital products and pre-written software. The bill is pending in the House Ways & Means 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 is in the House Hopper pending first reading. GBA is monitoring.
Credit Repair. HB 187 by Rep. Rob Leverett (R-Elberton) proposes to allow for-profit credit repair services to operate in Georgia. The bill is pending in the House Agriculture & Consumer Affairs Committee. GBA is monitoring.
Discrimination. HB 108 by Rep. Sandra Scott (D-Rex) provides for a comprehensive state civil rights law protecting individuals from discrimination in housing, public accommodations and employment. The bill is pending in the House Judiciary Committee. GBA is monitoring.
Gregg Kennard
Kasey Carpenter
Steven Sainz
Sandra Scott
Hemp. SB 22 by Sen. Kay Kirkpatrick (R-Marietta) amends the Georgia Hemp Farming Act to, among other things, make it illegal to sell hemp products to anyone under the age of 18. The bill is pending in the Senate Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Committee. GBA is monitoring.
Hemp. SB 39 by Sen. Kim Jackson (D-Stone Mountain) amends the Georgia Hemp Farming Act to allow persons convicted of any misdemeanor or certain felonies to grow industrial hemp. The bill is pending in the Senate Agriculture and Consumer Affairs. GBA is monitoring.
Higher Education Savings Plan; ABLE. HB 122 by Rep. Lee Hawkins (R-Gainesville) relates to the state’s higher education savings plan and Georgia Achieving A Better Life Experience (ABLE), respectively, to provide for the governance of the Georgia ABLE program by the board of directors of the Georgia Higher Education Savings Plan and among other things, removes the maximum amount of contributions currently allowed per beneficiary. The bill is pending in the House Higher Education Committee. GBA is monitoring.
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 is pending in the House Ways & Means Committee. GBA is monitoring.
Kay Kirkpatrick
Kim Jackson
Lee Hawkins
Lauren McDonald
Property Owners' Associations. SB 29 by Sen. Donzella James (D-Atlanta) provides for certificates of good standing for payment of annual assessments; requires associations to offer to participate in alternative dispute resolution prior to the effectuation of a lien on a lot for unpaid assessments and that such a lien shall be inferior to liens for unpaid medical bills; and among other things, provides for alternative dispute resolution policies. The bill is pending in the Senate Judiciary Committee. GBA is monitoring.
Property Owners’ Associations. HB 145 by Rep. Regina Lewis-Ward (D-McDonough) relates to property owners’ associations to provide for certificates of good standing for payment of annual assessments; requires associations to offer to participate in alternative dispute resolution prior to the effectuation of a lien on a lot for unpaid assessments; provided that such a lien shall be inferior to liens for unpaid medical bills; and provides for alternative dispute resolution policies and requirements therefor. The bill is pending in the House Judiciary Committee. GBA is monitoring.
Property Owners’ Associations. HB 220 by Rep. Rob Leverett (R-Elberton) provides for means of enforcement of condominium and property owners' association instruments, rules and regulations, and for compliance with, and means of enforcement of, covenants and instruments for certain planned subdivisions. The bill is pending in the House Hopper awaiting first reading. GBA is monitoring.
Property Seizure/Forfeiture. HB 106 by Rep. Sandra Scott (D-Rex) amends the Uniform Civil Forfeiture Procedure Act and provides for hearings upon the seizure of certain property, provides that certain properties shall not be subject to forfeiture, and the circumstances under which seized property may not be returned to the security interest holder. The bill is pending in the House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee. GBA is monitoring.
Property Seizure/Forfeiture. HB 109 by Rep. Sandra Scott (D-Rex) provides that real property subject to a homestead exemption, currency totaling $541.00 or less, and motor vehicle of less than $5,000.00 in market value, are exempt from seizure or forfeiture under the Uniform Civil Forfeiture Procedure Act. The bill is pending in the House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee. GBA is monitoring.
Property Seizure/Forfeiture. HB 110 by Rep. Sandra Scott (D-Rex) requires the Carl Vinson Institute of Government to create a tracking system for property seized that is subject to forfeiture. The bill is pending in the House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee. 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 so as 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 is pending in the Senate Banking and Financial Institutions Committee. HR 118 by Rep. Bill Yearta (R-Sylvester) is an identical bill and is pending in the House Hopper awaiting first reading. GBA is monitoring.
Donzella James
Regina Lewis-Ward
Carden Summers
Bill Yearta
Sick Leave. HB 78 by Rep. Kimberly Alexander (D-Hiram) requires all employers with more than 25 employees to have paid sick leave for its employees; contains numerous highly prescriptive requirements for an employer’s sick leave policy, including a requirement that an employee be paid for unused sick leave. The bill is pending in the House Ways & Means Committee. GBA is monitoring.
Tax Credits – Rural Physician. HB 82 by Rep. Mack Jackson (D-Sandersville) limits eligibility for the existing rural physician tax credit to persons qualifying as a rural physician on or before December 31, 2023. The bill creates a new tax credit for rural physicians, dentists, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants. The bill is pending in 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 is pending in the Senate Regulated Industries and Utilities Committee. GBA is monitoring.
Timber – Ad Valorem Tax Reduction. HR 96 by Rep. Noel Williams (R-Cordele) proposes an amendment to the Constitution to provide for a reduction in the rate of the ad valorem tax assessment of timber at sale or harvest. The bill is pending in the House Ways & Means Committee. GBA is monitoring.
Kimberly Alexander
Mack Jackson
Blake Tillery
Noel Williams
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. The bill is pending in the House Agriculture & Consumer Affairs Committee. 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. The bill is pending in the House Hopper awaiting first reading. GBA is monitoring.
David Jenkins
Scott Hilton

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.