Feb. 23, 2024  

General Assembly Hits Day 25, Crossover Day is Next Week

The Georgia General Assembly was in session three days this week, completing day 25 of the 40-day session, and things shifted into high gear in committee meetings. Legislators and lobbyists have an eye on the calendar as next Thursday is Crossover Day. After that, any bill that has not passed its chamber of origin will have an uphill battle to make it to the finish line next month before the session adjourns. Legislators will be in session Monday and Tuesday next week before taking Wednesday for a committee work day in preparation for Crossover Day on Thursday. The General Assembly remains on track to adjourn this year on March 28.

GBA Testifies on Bill Prohibiting Payment Acceptance with Central Bank Digital Currency

Our thanks to Rep. Carter Barrett (R-Cumming) for inviting the GBA to testify on Wednesday in support of HB 1053 in the House Banks and Banking Committee. The committee, chaired by Rep. Noel Williams (R-Cordele), favorably reported the bill, which would prohibit state agencies from accepting payments made with a Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC). GBA’s SVP for Member Services & Advocacy Bo Brannen provided testimony outlining our position that any U.S. CBDC threatens the health of our financial system by destabilizing existing banking and payments systems that are the backbone of our economy. Therefore, we think it’s an appropriate step for the State of Georgia to go on record that CBDCs are not acceptable forms of money to make payments. Read Brannen’s testimony here. The bill now heads to the House Rules Committee.
Sen. Tim Bearden

Bearden Joins Senate Banking Committee

Newly elected Sen. Tim Bearden (R-Carrollton) has been appointed to the Senate Banking and Financial Institutions Committee. Bearden was elected to fill the unexpired term of former Sen. Mike Dugan (R-Carrollton), who resigned to seek the congressional seat currently held by Rep. Drew Ferguson (R-The Rock). A former sergeant in the motorcycle division of the Villa Rica police department, Bearden was elected to the Georgia House of Representatives in 2004 where he eventually chaired the Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee. He was appointed by Gov. Nathan Deal to head the Georgia Public Safety Training Center in Forsyth and later served a stint as the late Speaker David Ralston’s (R-Blue Ridge) Deputy Chief of Staff.

GBA Priority Housekeeping Bill Clears Senate Banking Committee

The Senate Banking and Financial Institutions Committee chaired by Sen. Carden Summers (R-Cordele) met on Tuesday and Thursday this week, with the GBA-priority bill HB 876 by Rep. Bruce Williamson (R-Monroe), being reported unanimously at Tuesday’s meeting. Our thanks to Senior Deputy Commissioner Bo Fears of the Georgia Department of Banking and Finance, who presented the bill to the committee, and Rep. Williamson and Senate sponsor Sen. John Kennedy (R-Macon) for their help moving the bill this year. The bill updates language within Title 7 of the Official Code of Georgia related to all the entities regulated by the Georgia Department of Banking and Finance. Of interest to bankers are provisions related to bank formation, filings with the Secretary of State, the definition of subsidiaries, and updates to the Merchant Acquirer Limited Purpose Bank charter.
Sen. Carden Summers
Rep. Bruce Williamson
Sr. Deputy Commissioner Bo Fears
Sen. John Kennedy

Five Bills to Highlight

Interchange. SR 677 by Sen. Clint Dixon (R-Gwinnett) would create the Senate Study Committee on Credit Card Fees on State Sales and Excise Tax and Their Impact on Georgia Merchants and Consumers. the content of this resolution is identical to HR 1135 by Rep. Todd Jones (R-South Forsyth) on the same subject. The resolution is awaiting committee assignment. GBA is monitoring.
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 was reported by the Senate Judiciary Committee. GBA is monitoring.
Trigger Leads. HB 1040 by Rep. Scott Hilton (R-Peachtree Corners) prohibits unfair or deceptive practices in consumer transactions related to mortgage trigger leads sold by credit reporting agencies. These leads contain contact details of individuals applying for credit, gathered when their credit reports are pulled. The bill was reported by substitute by the House Banks & Banking Committee.
Sen. Clint DIxon
Sen. Blake Tillery
Rep. Scott Hilton
Deeds. SB 474 by Sen. Russ Goodman (R-Cogdell) is intended to combat fraudulent real property deed transfer, but takes a different approach than HB 1292 below. Various changes were made to the original bill. The substitute requires the Clerk’s Authority to develop a credentialling system that could be used to identify the filer versus showing acceptable ID to the Clerk at each deed filing for those not credentialed. The bill was reported by substitute by the Senate Judiciary Committee.
HB 1292 by Rep. Gabe Okoye (D-Lawrenceville) is intended to combat fraudulent real property deed transfers, but takes a different approach than SB 474 above. Various changes were made to the original bill. The substitute bill places greater restrictions and requirements on “self-filers” of deeds or other instruments and makes some changes to the notarization requirements for deeds. The bill was reported by the House Judiciary Committee.
Sen. Russ Goodman
Rep. Gabe Okoye

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.
Landlord Tenant. SB 125 by Sen. Donzella James (D-Atlanta) is a wholesale rewrite of the landlord tenant code. The bill was reported last Friday by the Senate Urban Affairs Committee.
Earned Wage Access. SB 254 by Sen. Matt Brass (R-Newnan) establishes parameters for earned wage access services, provides that such services are non-recourse and are not loans, and provides for fees that are not defined as interest. The bill was reported by substitute by the House Banks and Banking Committee. Rep. Jason Ridley (R-Chatsworth) is the House sponsor.
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 reported by substitute by the House Judiciary 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 last week by substitute and was assigned to the House Ways & Means Committee.
SB 403 by Sen. Frank Ginn (R-Danielsville) relating to ad valorem taxation of property, so as to revise the language required to be included in the notices of current assessment. The bill was reported by the Senate Finance Committee.
Land Ownership. SB 420 by Sen. Jason Anivitarte (R-Dallas) prohibits the acquisition of possessory interest in certain land by certain foreign persons and entities. The bill was reported by the Senate Regulated Industries & Utilities Committee.

Covid Liability Notices. 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 last week and was assigned to the House Judiciary Committee.
Sen. Donzella James
Sen. Matt Brass
Rep. Tyler Paul Smith
Sen. Chuck Hufstetler
Sen. Frank Ginn
Sen. Jason Anivitarte
Sen. Greg Dolezal
Hemp. SB 437 by Sen. Randy Robertson (R-Cataula) relates to offenses against public health and morals to prohibit the purchase, sale, and offering of samples of hemp products by or to any individual under the age of 21 years old. The bill was reported by the Senate Regulated Industries Committee.

SB 494 by Sen. Sam Watson (R-Moultrie) relates to the regulation of 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 was reported by substitute by the Senate Agriculture & Consumer Affairs Committee.

HB 1127 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 was reported by the House Agriculture & Consumer Affairs Committee.

HB 1286 by Rep. John Corbett (R-Lake Park) amends 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 among other things. The bill has been assigned to the House Agriculture & Consumer Affairs Committee.

Franchises. SB 447 by Sen. Randy Robertson (R-Cataula) relates to selling and other trade practices, so as to enact the "Georgia Restaurant Franchise Relations Act." The bill provides that a franchisor may not terminate a franchise except under certain circumstances. The bill was heard in the Senate Regulated Industries Committee. No further action was taken.
Sen. Randy Robertson
Sen. Sam Watson
Rep. Clay Pirkle
Rep. John Corbett
Code Revision. SB 448 by Sen. Bo Hatchett (R-Cornelia) is the Georgia Code Revision Commission's annual bill, which makes recommendations for 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 Senate and has been assigned to the House Code Revision Committee.
Veteran’s Benefits. SB 451 by Rep. Nabilah Islam-Parkes (D-Duluth) creates a voluntary low-interest loan program for financial institutions to assist veterans. A substitute bill which removes most of the banking provisions was heard this week in the Senate Banking and Financial Institutions Committee and passed.
Title Pawn. SB 452 by Sen. Greg Dolezal (R-Cumming) provides for regulations of motor vehicle title pawn transactions. It would require the Department of Banking and Finance to license and regulate title pawnbrokers. The bill was heard this week in the Senate Finance Committee but did not pass.
Personal Privacy. SB 473 by Sen. John Albers (R-Roswell) is intended to protect the privacy of consumers’ personal data. The bill was reported by substitute this week by the Senate Science and Technology Committee. GBA is studying this further as the substitute bill did away with the exclusion for financial institutions covered by the federal Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act.
Peach Save Plan. SB 477 by Sen. Chuck Hufstetler (R-Rome) provides for the creation of the Peach Save plan, a public/private defined contribution retirement plan. The bill was heard this week in the Senate Retirement Committee. No further action was taken.
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 include the furtherance of any social, political, or ideological interests. The bill was reported by substitute by the House Retirement Committee.
Sen. Bo Hatchett
Rep. Nabilah Islam-Parkes
Sen. John Albers
Rep. John Carson
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 bill was heard in the Senate Regulated Industries Committee. No further action was taken.
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 $20,000. The bill was reported by substitute by House Ways & Means Committee.
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 reported by substitute by the House Ways & Means Committee.
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.
Leased Property. HB 1052 by. Rep. Chas Cannon (R-Moultrie) revises the eligibility requirements for conservation use valuation assessments (CUVA). The bill was reported by the House Ways & Means Public Finance & Policy Subcommittee.
Rep. Mike Cheokas
Rep. Beth Camp
Rep. Ken Vance
Rep. Chas Cannon
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 passed by the House.
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 reported by substitute by the House Ways & Means Committee.
Squatters. HB 1153 by Rep. Todd Jones (R-South Forsyth) allows any person who owns property to file a written affidavit with the clerk of the superior court of the county where such property resides stating the intention to not subject such property to a rental agreement. The bill was reported by the House Judiciary Committee.
HB 1017 by Rep. Devan Seabaugh (R-Marietta) is the Georgia Squatter Reform Act that makes inhabiting, occupying, or living on or within any land or premises without the knowledge and consent of the owner a misdemeanor of a high and aggravated nature. The House Judiciary Committee has scheduled a hearing on the bill.
Rep. Will Wade
Rep. Debbie Buckner
Rep. Todd Jones
Rep. Devan Seabaugh
Tax Credit – Carry Forward. HB 1181 by Rep. Chuck Martin (R-Alpharetta) limits the carry-forward periods of certain income tax credits. The bill was reported by the House Ways & Means Committee.
Tax Credit – Low Income Housing. HB 1182 by Rep. Clint Crowe (R-Jackson) provides that low-income housing tax credits shall be called Georgia affordable housing tax credits, reduces the amount of these credits available for certain projects and authorizes the credits in an amount equal to the federal credit for certain projects. The bill was reported by the House Ways & Means Committee.
Wills, Trusts & Estates. HB 1218 by Rep. Rob Leverett (R-Elberton) establishes a provision of notice to beneficiaries of a testate estate. The bill was reported by substitute by the House Judiciary Committee.
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. Includes the establishment of commercial law for transactions involving digital assets. At GBA's request, the bill was amended in committee to clarify the updates do not encourage or promote the adoption of a national digital currency. The bill was reported by substitute by the House Judiciary Committee.
Dispute Financing. HB 1244 by Rep. Todd Jones (R-South Forsyth) establishes dispute financing provisions including conflicts of interest in certain circumstances, financier limitations and disclosures with certain foreign entities among other things. The bill was heard by the House Judiciary Committee, but it did not pass.
Transfer on Death Deeds. HB 1247 by Rep. Rob Leverett (R-Elberton) provides for transfer-on-death deeds, the execution and recording of such deeds and the necessary forms. The bill provides that such deeds shall not be revoked by wills. The bill was reported by substitute by the House Judiciary Committee.
Regional Commissions. HB 1253 by Rep. Victor Anderson (R-Clarkesville) revises the composition of the governing council for regional commissions, provides for the training of commission members, the terms of office, the filling of vacancies and the appointment of successors. The bill was heard in the House Governmental Affairs Committee. No further action was taken.
Rep. Chuck Martin
Rep. Clint Crowe
Rep. Rob Leverett
Rep. Matt Reeves
Rep. Victor Anderson

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:
Landlord and Tenant. SB 540 by Sen. Nikki Merritt (D-Grayson) requires landlords or managers for certain apartment buildings or complexes to provide services when certain crimes have been reported or investigated on the property. The bill has been assigned to the Senate Judiciary Committee. GBA is monitoring.
Loan Reporting. SB 541 by Sen. Nikki Merritt (D-Grayson) applies to financial institutions supervised by the Department of Banking and Finance to provide for reporting requirements related to loans for the creation, acquisition, or rehabilitation of housing units. The bill has been assigned to the Senate Judiciary Committee. GBA is monitoring.
Cash Acceptance. SB 548 by Sen. Derek Mallow (D-Savannah) prohibits merchants from refusing to accept cash for purchases. The bill has been assigned to the Senate Banking and Financial Institutions Committee. GBA is monitoring.
Ad Valorem Tax – Low Income Building. HR 1115 by Rep. Shaw Blackmon (R-Bonaire) proposes an amendment to the Constitution to provide that qualified low-income building projects may be a separate class of property for ad valorem property tax purposes, and different rates, methods, and assessment dates may be provided for such building projects. The bill has been assigned to the House Ways & Means Committee. GBA is monitoring.
Property Owners Associations. HB 1308 by Rep. El-Mahdi Holly (D-Stockbridge) provides for protections for homeowners, condominium owners, and property owners in community associations. The bill has been assigned to the House Judiciary Committee. GBA is monitoring.
HB1321 by Rep. Eric Bell (D-Jonesboro) prohibits condominium associations, property owners' associations, and homeowners' associations from preventing property owners from installing solar energy devices on common roofs or roof structures. The bill has been assigned to the House Utilities & Telecommunications Committee. GBA is monitoring.
Sen. Nikki Merritt
Sen. Derek Mallow
Rep. Shaw Blackmon
Rep. El-Mahdi Holly
Rep. Eric Bell
Deeds. HB 1299 by Rep. Tremaine Teddy Reese (D-Columbus) provides for a 45-day waiting period when a deed, mortgage, or lien of property is presented for recordation in the office of the clerk of superior court by a person other than the owner or deed holder of record. In addition to the delay it requires in recording a deed, it requires the Clerk to notify the owner of a property about the filing and they have 15 days to tell the Clerk the filing is not legitimate. The bill has been assigned to the House Judiciary Committee. GBA is monitoring.
Hemp. HB 1322 by Rep. Chas Cannon (R-Moultrie) regulates consumable hemp products, provides for the establishment of delta-9-THC concentration, requires such products be packaged in certain containers and outlines other restrictions. The bill has been assigned to the House Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Committee. GBA is monitoring.
Torts. HB 1364 by Rep. Martin Momtahan (R-Dallas) provides that a person, business, or other entity that owns or legally controls a property and prohibits a lawful weapons carrier from possessing a concealed weapon on such property shall assume absolute custodial responsibility for the safety of such lawful weapons carrier from certain threats. The bill has been assigned to the House Judiciary Committee. GBA is monitoring.
HB 1371 by Rep. James Burchett (R-Waycross) relates to the liability of owners and occupiers of land regarding third-party criminal activity and civil cause of action arising from criminal activity. The bill has been assigned to the House Judiciary Committee. GBA is monitoring.
Insurance Payments. HB 1385 by Rep. Martin Momtahan (R-Dallas) provides for an insurer under a liability insurance policy to pay a third party and the senior lienholder under certain circumstances. The bill is awaiting committee assignment. GBA is monitoring.
Credit Card Fees. HB 1386 by Rep. Solomon Adesanya (D-Marietta) would limit the surcharges merchants charge for purchasers' use of credit cards. The bill is awaiting committee assignment. GBA is monitoring.
Rep. Tremaine Teddy Reese
Rep. Martin Momtahan
Rep. James Burchett
Rep. Solomon Adesanya

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.