Feb. 16, 2024  

General Assembly Passes Halfway Mark, Crossover Day Approaching

The Georgia General Assembly was in session Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday this week, completing day 22 of the 40-day session. Committees stayed busy holding hearings, reporting legislation and floor votes were taken on several bills GBA is tracking. Legislators will return next week on Tuesday, following the President’s Day holiday on Monday, and be in session through Thursday. Crossover Day is currently scheduled for Feb. 29, and the General Assembly is on track to adjourn this year’s session on March 28.

Parrish Named House Rules Committee Chairman

Congratulations to Rep. Butch Parrish (R-Swainsboro) for being named Chairman of the powerful House Rules Committee. Parrish succeeds Rep. Richard Smith (R-Columbus), who died unexpectedly last month. Rep. Parrish began his service in the House of Representatives in 1985 and is well known to bankers, having formerly chaired the House Banks and Banking Committee during the early 2000s. A retired pharmacist, Parrish is also a former community bank director. He served three terms on the Swainsboro City Council and is a past chairman of the Georgia Department of Community Affairs. Health-related issues have been a passion of his, and he has been recognized as the top legislator of the year by organizations ranging from the Georgia Academy of Family Physicians, the Georgia Rural Health Association, the Georgia Public Health Association, the Georgia Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the Georgia Hospital Association. Rep. Parrish’s district is comprised of Emanuel, Candler, Treutlen Counties, and portions of Bulloch County.
L-R Wade Johnson, Durden Banking Company, Carol Parrish and Rep. Butch Parrish at GBA’s Legislative Reception earlier this year

Testimony Heard on Unworkable Veterans Loan Bill

The Senate Banking and Financial Institutions Committee, chaired by Sen. Carden Summers (R-Cordele), held a hearing on SB 451 by Sen. Nabilah Islam-Parkes (D-Duluth), a well-intended but unworkable bill to provide lines of credit for up to $10,000 to eligible indigent veterans. Georgia state-chartered banks and credit unions would apply for certification by the Department of Banking and Finance to participate in the loan program, funding of which would come from taxpayer contributions of up to $5,000 each, with the state granting a tax credit for the amount. GBA has spoken with Sen. Islam-Parkes, thanking her for her support of veterans and suggesting her idea would be better suited to be administered by a state agency. President & CEO Joe Brannen, shown in the photo with Sen. Islam-Parkes, testified at the hearing, sharing GBA’s concerns and suggestions with the members.

Two Bills to Highlight

It’s the time of the session when the most action is taken on bills affecting the industry. Below is a long list of bills that received action and others that were introduced. We wanted to bring two of particular interest to your attention. The resolution creating a study committee on credit card fees and interchange on sales tax is of particular concern.
Interchange. HR 1135 by Rep. Todd Jones (R-South Forsyth) was introduced this week. The bill would create the House Study Committee on Credit Card Fees on State Sales and Excise Tax and Their Impact on Georgia Merchants and Consumers. The resolution has been assigned to the House Agriculture & Consumer Affairs Committee. GBA has opposed Senate legislation prohibiting interchange from being assessed on the sales tax portion of transactions. This study committee will look into that but will also be tasked to look into credit card fees overall and interchange.
Elder Abuse. HB 1123 by Rep. Carter Barrett (R-Cumming) requires the establishment of an Adult Abuse, Neglect, and Exploitation Multidisciplinary Team in each judicial circuit of the state. The bill also creates an elder justice coalition for the State of Georgia, which will include a representative of the GBA. The bill was reported this week by the House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee and now heads to the House Rules Committee. If the bill passes and you’d be interested in being GBA’s representative to this coalition, please let us know.
Rep. Todd Jones
Rep. Carter Barrett

Action on Other Legislation GBA is Tracking

A number of bills we’re monitoring this session were considered this week. Below is more information about the bills and what happened.
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, penalties, and interest for the purpose of placing non-revenue generating and tax delinquent property back to effective utilization status. The bill was reported this week by the Senate Banking and Financial Institutions Committee and now heads to the Senate Rules Committee.
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 was reported by substitute this week by the Senate Judiciary Committee and now heads to the Senate Rules Committee. Sen. Brian Strickland (R-McDonough) is the Senate sponsor.
Sen. Carden Summers
Rep. Rob Leverett
Sen. Brian Strickland
Landlord Tenant. SB 125 by Sen. Donzella James (D-Atlanta) is a wholesale rewrite of the landlord tenant code. The bill was withdrawn from the Senate State and Local Governmental Operations Committee this week and recommitted to the Senate Urban Affairs Committee.
Fair Business Practices Act – Store Credits. HB 149 by Rep. Meisha Mainor (R-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 was reported this week by the House Agriculture & Consumer Affairs Committee and has been sent to the House Rules Committee.
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. This week a motion was made on the Senate floor to recommit the bill back to the Senate State and Local Governmental Operations Committee. That motion failed and the bill was sent back to the Senate Rules Committee, as per the rules of the Senate. The Senate sponsor is Sen. Frank Ginn (R-Danielsville).
Sen. Donzella James
Rep. Meisha Mainor
Rep. Steven Sainz
Sen. Frank Ginn
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 was amended and reported this week by the House Judiciary Committee and now heads to the House Rules Committee.
Ad Valorem Tax. SB 349 by Sen. Chuck Hufstetler (R-Rome) revises provisions related to the setting of millage rates. The bill passed the Senate this week by substitute.
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 was reported by substitute by the Senate Judiciary Committee this week and sent to the Senate Rules Committee. The Senate sponsor is Sen. Chuck Hufstetler (R-Rome).
Personal Privacy. SB 414 by Sen. John Kennedy (R-Macon) prohibits nonprofit organizations from releasing personal information to public agencies. The bill was reported by substitute this week by the Senate Judiciary Committee and now heads to the Senate Rules Committee.
Rep. Tyler Paul Smith
Sen. Chuck Hufstetler
Rep. Kasey Carpenter
Sen. John Kennedy
Notaries Public. SB 425 by Sen. Blake Tillery (R-Vidalia) provides for electronic notarization of certain notarial acts using real time audio-video communication technology for some notarial acts, including real estate closing for property in Georgia under certain conditions. The bill has been assigned to the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Tort - Motor Vehicles. SB 426 by Sen. Blake Tillery (R-Vidalia) revises the circumstances in which a motor carrier and insurance carrier can be joined in the same lawsuit action following an accident. The bill passed the Senate this week and has been assigned to the House Judiciary Committee.
Small Business. SB 429 by Sen. Greg Dolezal (R-Cumming) allows for the Governor, Lieutenant Governor or any member of the legislature to request a small business impact analysis from the Office of Planning and Budget and the Department of Audits for any bill introduced during a legislative session. The bill was reported this week by the Senate Regulated Industries and Utilities Committee and is pending in the Senate Rules Committee.
Covid Liability. SB 430 by Sen. Greg Dolezal (R-Cumming) is a repeal of the requirement for businesses to post Covid liability warnings. The bill passed the Senate this week.
Code Revision. SB 448 by Sen. Bo Hatchett (R-Cornelia) is the Georgia Code Revision Commission's annual bill, which makes recommendations for non-substantive changes to Georgia code. There are a number of non-substantive changes to Title 7, which deals with banking and finance. The bill passed the full Senate today.
Wills, Trusts & Estates. SB 450 by Sen. John Kennedy (R-Macon) relates to appeal and error, courts, property, and wills, trusts, and administration of estates, respectively, so as to clarify that neither superior court nor a state court shall have appellate jurisdiction pursuant to Chapter 3 of Title 5 over any nonappealable order of a probate court and other related matters. The bill was reported by substitute this week by the Senate Judiciary Committee and now heads to the Senate Rules Committee.
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 passed the House this week by committee substitute and has been sent to the Senate Finance Committee.
Sen. Blake Tillery
Sen. Greg Dolezal
Sen. Bo Hatchett
Rep. Brad Thomas
Squatters. SB 470 by Sen. Ed Setzler (R-Acworth) creates a notice of vacancy, filed as a written affidavit, stating the owner's intention for the land or tenement to remain vacant for a set amount of time and assigning enforcement of the notice to law enforcement. The bill was amended and reported this week by the Senate Public Safety Committee and now heads to the Senate Rules Committee.
Online Marketplace. SB 472 by Sen. John Albers (R-Roswell) revises certain definitions related to third-party sellers that utilize online marketplaces. The bill was reported this week by the Senate Public Safety Committee and now heads to the Senate Rules Committee.
Personal Privacy. SB 473 by Sen. John Albers (R-Roswell) is intended to protect the privacy of consumers’ personal data. The bill was heard this week in the Senate Science and Technology Committee. No further action was taken.
Community Development Districts. SR 533 by Sen. Frank Ginn (R-Danielsville) calls for a constitutional amendment allowing the creation of community development districts. SB 435 is the enabling legislation. The resolution and bill were heard in the Senate Regulated Industries Committee. No further action was taken.
Bankruptcy Exemptions. HB 628 by Rep. Matt Reeves (R-Duluth) relates to exemptions for purposes of bankruptcy and intestate insolvent estates to raise the exemptions for a debtor's aggregate interest in real property or personal property that the debtor or a dependent of the debtor uses as a residence, in a cooperative that owns property that the debtor or a dependent of the debtor uses as a residence, or in a burial plot. The exemptions would be raised from $21,500 to $35,000 for individuals and $43,000 to $60,000 for property held by two spouses. The bill was reported by the House Judiciary Committee and has been sent to the House Rules Committee.
Temporary Loans for Local Governments. HR 804 by Rep. Chuck Martin (R-Alpharetta) changes the date by which temporary loans for counties, municipalities, and other political subdivisions of the state are payable in full from the end of the calendar year to within 12 months of the initial funding date of the loans. The constitutional amendment passed the House this week and now heads to the Senate Finance Committee.
Sen. Ed Setzler
Sen. John Albers
Rep. Matt Reeves
Rep. Chuck Martin
Ad Valorum Tax. HB 808 by Rep. Mike Cheokas (R-Americus) increases the statewide ad valorem tax exemption for tangible personal property from $7,500 to $50,000. The bill was reported this week by the Ad Valorem Subcommittee of the House Ways & Means Committee. No further action was taken.
Criminal Trespass. HB 922 by Rep. Ken Vance (R-Milledgeville) provides that entrance upon property of another without consent shall be an offense of criminal trespass. The bill was heard by the House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee. No further action was taken.
Homestead Exemption. HB 1019 by Rep. Matt Reeves (R-Duluth) would double the state homestead exemption from $2,000 to $4,000. The bill has passed the House and is pending in the Senate Finance Committee.
Ad Valorem Tax. HR 1022 by Rep. Beth Camp (R-Concord) proposes an amendment to the Constitution providing local governments the option to offer a state-wide homestead exemption from ad valorem taxes in an amount equal to any amount by which the current year assessed value of a homestead exceeds the inflation rate from the adjusted base year value of such homestead. The enabling legislation is HB 1185. The resolution and bill were heard this week by the Ad Valorem Subcommittee of the House Ways & Means Committee. No further action was taken.
Farmland Sales. HB 1093 by Rep. David Clark (R-Buford) prohibits certain nonresident aliens from buying agricultural land within 10 miles of a military base. The bill was reported by substitute this week by the House Agriculture & Consumer Affairs Committee and now heads to the House Rules Committee.
Rep. Mike Cheokas
Rep. Ken Vance
Rep. Beth Camp
Rep. David Clark
Personal Privacy. HB 1113 by Rep. Matt Reeves prohibits nonprofit organizations from releasing personal information to public agencies. The bill was heard in the House Governmental Affairs Committee. No further action was taken.
Torts. HB 1114 by Rep. Will Wade (R-Dawsonville) authorizes the collection of data by the Office of Commissioner of Insurance and Safety Fire for the purposes of future tort reform legislation. The bill was reported this week by the House Insurance Committee and now heads to the House Rules Committee.
Historic Home Tax Credit. HB 1116 by Rep. Debbie Buckner (D-Junction City) extends the sunset date from 2025 to 2035 for the historic home portion of the tax credits for the rehabilitation of historic structures. The bill was heard in Public Finance Policy Subcommittee of the House Ways & Means Committee. No further action was taken.
Property Taxes. HB 1120 by Rep. Darlene Taylor (R-Thomasville) excludes certain residential properties from a two-year post-appeal valuation freeze. The bill was heard in the Ad Valorem Subcommittee of the House Ways & Means Committee. No further action was taken.
Tax Code. HB 1162 by Rep. David Knight (R-Griffin) is the annual bill incorporating various new provisions in the federal tax code into the Georgia tax code. The bill passed the House and now heads to the Senate Finance Committee.
Rep. Will Wade
Rep. Debbie Buckner
Rep. Darlene Taylor
Rep. David Knight

New Bills Being Tracked

Be sure and set a web browser bookmark for the State Issues page on the GBA website to track details about specific bills during the session. This week, we added the following:
Hemp. SB 437 by Sen. Randy Robertson (R-Cataula) authorizes the Department of Agriculture to enforce certain criminal laws to regulate consumable hemp products, prohibits the sale of consumable hemp products to individuals under the age of 21, requires the posting of signs concerning the legal age to purchase consumable hemp products, provides penalties for violations and for other purposes. The bill has been assigned to the Senate Regulated Industries and Utilities Committee. GBA is monitoring.
SB 494 by Sen. Sam Watson (R-Moultrie) relates to the Georgia Hemp Farming Act to regulate hemp products. Prohibits persons from performing certain activities without licenses, revises disqualifications for hemp grower licenses and hemp processor permits and other provisions. The bill has been assigned to the Senate Agriculture & Consumer Affairs Committee. GBA is monitoring.
Wills, Trusts & Estates. HB 1218 by Rep. Rob Leverett (R-Elberton) establishes a provision of notice to beneficiaries of a testate estate. The bill has been assigned to the House Judiciary Committee. GBA is monitoring.
HB 1247 by Rep. Rob Leverett (R-Elberton) provides for transfer-on-death deeds, the execution and recording of such deeds and necessary forms. The bill provides that such deeds shall not be revoked by wills. The bill has been assigned to the House Judiciary Committee. GBA is monitoring.
Sen. Randy Robertson
Sen. Sam Watson
Uniform Commercial Code. HB 1240 by Rep. Matt Reeves (R-Duluth) updates and modernizes various statutes in the commercial code relating to commercial transactions in order to maintain uniformity in Georgia’s statutes governing commercial transactions as recommended by the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws. Included is the establishment of commercial law for transactions involving digital assets. The bill has been assigned to the House Judiciary Committee. GBA is monitoring.
Dispute Financing. HB 1244 by Rep. Todd Jones (R-South Forsyth) establishes dispute financing provisions including conflicts of interest in certain circumstances, financier limitations, disclosures with certain foreign entities and for other purposes. The bill has been assigned to the House Judiciary Committee. GBA is monitoring.
Regional Commissions. HB 1247 by Rep. Victor Anderson (R-Cornelia) relates to regional commissions and revises the composition of the governing council for such commissions and how members would be chosen and provides for training for the members. The bill has been assigned to the House Governmental Affairs Committee. GBA is monitoring.
Property Owner’s Associations. HB 1287 by Rep. Eric Bell (D-Jonesboro) relates to regulation of specialized land transaction relative to property so as to repeal the ability of condominium associations and lot owners’ associations to foreclose on liens for assessments. The bill has been assigned to the House Judiciary Committee. GBA is monitoring.
Deeds. HB 1292 by Rep. Gabe Okoye (D-Lawrenceville) requires clerks of the superior courts to obtain photographic identification cards of individuals who present deeds or other instruments for recording. The bill has been assigned to the House Judiciary Committee. GBA is monitoring.
Rep. Victor Anderson
Rep. Eric Bell
Rep. Gabe Okoye

GBA Represented at the Capitol

The association’s advocacy team is hard at work representing the interests of banking at the State Capitol. Reach out to any of them if you need information about a bill, contact information for your representatives, or tips on where to park if you’re coming for a visit. Here’s their contact information:
We will publish future editions of the Legislative Update after the General Assembly adjourns each week. Please let us know if you have questions or comments on issues of interest to you.