March 15, 2024

General Assembly Completes Day 35 of 40, Session to Adjourn Sine Die on March 28

The Georgia General Assembly was in session three days this week, with Tuesday being reserved as a committee workday. Things are picking up steam under the Gold Dome, with the session set to adjourn Sine Die on March 28. It was a busy week in committees, and the GBA advocacy team provided testimony on two bills Tuesday. Read more about those issues below. Legislators will return to work on Monday next week and will be in session for three days. Tuesday will again be a workday for committees, and they will not be in session Friday.

Interchange Study Committee Moves Forward

The House Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Committee, chaired by Rep. Robert Dickey (R-Musella), heard testimony and reported a substitute version of HR 1135 by Rep. Todd Jones (R-South Fulton). The resolution creates a committee to study interchange on the sales tax portions of transactions. GBA President and CEO Joe Brannen testified at the hearing, giving the committee background on the association's work during the past several decades that led to Georgia being the state where 70% of all U.S. card transactions are processed. The resolution was introduced at the request of retailers that don’t want to pay interchange on sales tax. We expect the retailers will be out in force advocating that the state override the contracts they, the card networks, the processors, and card issuers have entered into. Brannen told the committee that would be a mistake and he encouraged members not to go back to the days when the state set the rates and fees on card transactions. The resolution is pending in the House Rules Committee, chaired by Rep. Butch Parrish (R-Swainsboro), which will decide whether to move it forward to the floor for a vote.
Rep. Robert Dickey
Rep. Todd Jones
Joe Brannen testifying
Rep. Butch Parrish

GBA Testifies in Support of Central Bank Digital Currency Payment Prohibition Bill

GBA SVP of Member Services & Advocacy Bo Brannen spoke again this week in favor of HB 1053 by Rep. Carter Barrett (R-Cumming), which prohibits state government agencies from accepting a central bank digital currency as payment. That bill was reported by the Senate Banking and Financial Institutions Committee, chaired by Sen. Carden Summers (R-Cordele). It has one more stop in the Senate Rules Committee, chaired by Sen. Matt Brass (R-Newnan), before being considered by the full Senate for final passage. The Senate sponsor is Sen. Carden Summers.
Bo Brannen testifying
Rep. Carter Barrett
Sen. Carden Summers
Sen. Matt Brass

Bills to Highlight

Telephone Solicitations. SB 73 by Sen. Blake Tillery (R-Vidalia) provides for class action suits and damages against certain persons for violating provisions relating to telephone solicitations. A Senate Conference Committee has been appointed. The House sponsor is Rep. Tyler Paul Smith (R-Bremen).
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 substitute by the House Judiciary Committee. The House sponsor is Rep. Matt Reeves (R-Duluth).
Covid Liability. SB 430 by Sen. Greg Dolezal (R-Cumming) repeals the requirement for businesses to post COVID liability warnings. The bill passed the House, clearing the bill for the Governor’s signature. The House sponsor was Rep. Carter Barrett (R-Cumming).
Sen. Blake Tillery
Rep. Tyler Paul Smith
Rep. Matt Reeves
Sen. Greg Dolezal
Personal Privacy. SB 473 by Sen. John Albers (R-Roswell) is intended to protect the privacy of consumers' personal data. The bill has been amended again to include the GLBA exemption that was in the original bill and address our concerns associated with that. The bill was heard by the House Technology and Infrastructure Innovation Committee. No further action was taken.
Criminal Records. HB 909 by Rep. Leesa Hagan (R-Lyons) provides for the restriction and seal of First Offender Act sentences until such status is revoked. GBA is helping with an amendment to the bill in the Senate to ensure that financial institutions are not restricted from access to information that the bill would otherwise restrict. The bill was heard by the Senate Judiciary Committee. No further action was taken.
Georgia Firearms Industry Nondiscrimination Act. HB 1018 by Rep. Jason Ridley (R-Chatsworth) prohibits financial institutions from requiring the use of a firearms code for purchases that distinguishes firearms retailers from other sporting goods retailers, prohibits discrimination against firearms retailers by financial institutions through the use of a firearms code, prohibits the disclosure of certain financial records by financial institutions, provides for petitions to the Attorney General to investigate alleged violations and prohibits persons or government entities from keeping registries of firearms or owners of firearms. The bill was reported by the Senate Banking and Financial Institutions Committee. The Senate sponsor is Sen. Carden Summers (R-Cordele). GBA is monitoring with concern.
Sen. John Albers
Rep. Leesa Hagan
Rep. Jason Ridley
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 GBA representative. The bill was reported by the Senate Judiciary Committee. The Senate sponsor is Sen. John Kennedy (R-Macon).
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 the Senate Banking and Financial Institutions Committee. The Senate sponsor is Sen. Mike Hodges (R-Brunswick).
Sen. John Kennedy
Rep. Scott Hilton
Sen. Mike Hodges

Action on Other Legislation GBA is Tracking


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 was heard in the Senate Finance Committee. No further action was taken.
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 was reported by the House Agriculture & Consumer Affairs Committee. The House sponsor is Rep. David Clark (R-Buford).
Rep. Noel Williams
Sen. Brandon Beach
Rep. David Clark
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 refers 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 passed the House, clearing it for the Governor’s signature. The House sponsor was Rep. Matthew Gambill (R-Cartersville).
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 was reported by the House Judiciary Committee. The House sponsor is Rep. James Burchett (R-Waycross).
Sen. Max Burns
Rep. Matthew Gambill
Rep. James Burchett
Hemp. SB 437 by Sen. Randy Robertson (R-Cataula) relates to offenses against public health and morals to prohibit the purchase of, sale of, and offering of samples of hemp products by or to any individual under the age of 21. The bill has been reported by the House Agriculture & Consumer Affairs Committee and is now on the House Rules Calendar, awaiting floor action. The House sponsor is Rep. Clay Pirkle (R-Ashburn).
SB 494 by Sen. Sam Watson (R-Moultrie) relates to the Georgia Hemp Farming Act to regulate hemp products. The bill prohibits persons from performing certain activities without licenses and revises disqualifications for hemp grower licenses, processor permits, and other provisions. The bill has been reported by the House Agriculture & Consumer Affairs Committee and is now on the House Rules Calendar, awaiting floor action. The House sponsor is Rep. Chas Cannon (R-Moultrie).
Sen. Randy Robertson
Rep. Clay Pirkle
Sen. Sam Watson
Rep. Chas Cannon
Code Revision. SB 448 by Sen. Bo Hatchett (R-Cornelia) is the Georgia Code Revision Commission's annual bill recommending non-substantive changes to the Georgia code. There are several changes to Title 7, which deals with banking and finance. The bill was passed by the House, clearing the bill for the Governor’s signature. The House sponsor was Rep. Bill Yearta (R-Sylvester).
Wills, Trusts & Estates. SB 450 by Sen. John Kennedy (R-Macon) relates to appeal and error, courts, property, wills, trusts, and administration of estates, respectively, to clarify that neither a superior court nor a state court shall have appellate jurisdiction pursuant to Chapter 3 of Title 5 over any non-appealable order of a probate court and other related matters. The bill passed the House by substitute. The House sponsor is Rep. Rob Leverett (R-Elberton).
Sen. Bo Hatchett
Rep. Bill Yearta
Rep. Rob Leverett
Online Marketplace. SB 472 by Sen. John Albers (R-Roswell) revises certain definitions for third-party sellers that use online marketplaces. The bill was reported by the House Agriculture & Consumer Affairs Committee. The House sponsor is Rep. Houston Gaines (R-Athens).
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 historical, 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 non-pecuniary interests. Such non-pecuniary interests shall include, but not be limited to, the furtherance of any social, political, or ideological interests. The bill was passed by the Senate, clearing it for the Governor’s signature. The Senate sponsor was Sen. Marty Harbin (R-Tyrone).
Rep. Houston Gaines
Rep. John Carson
Sen. Marty Harbin
Administrative Hearing Officers. HB 563 by Rep. Rob Leverett (R-Elberton) amends the Fair Employment Practices Act, making several changes to appointing administrative hearing officers who appear before the administrative law judges. The bill was passed by substitute by the Senate. The Senate sponsor is Sen. Jason Anavitarte (R-Dallas).
Tax Credit – Analysis. HB 581 by Rep. Shaw Blackmon (R-Bonaire) requires the Department of Audits and Accounts to analyze a prioritized list of various tax credits annually. The bill was heard by the Senate Finance Committee. No further action was taken.
Georgia Higher Education Assistance Corporation. HB 985 by Rep. Chuck Martin (R-Alpharetta) would abolish the Georgia Higher Education Assistance Corporation. The bill was amended and passed by the Senate. The Senate sponsor is Sen. Max Burns (R-Sylvania).
Sen. Jason Anavitarte
Rep. Shaw Blackmon
Rep. Chuck Martin
Squatters. HB 1017 by Rep. Devan Seabaugh (R-Marietta) provides for the offense of unlawful squatting violations where a person enters a land or premises for purposes of residing on such land or premises. The bill was reported by the Senate Judiciary Committee. The Senate sponsor is Sen. Ed Setzler (R-Acworth).
Homestead Exemption. HB 1019 by Rep. Matt Reeves (R-Duluth) would double the state homestead exemption from $2,000 to $4,000. The bill was heard by the Senate Finance Committee. No further action was taken.
Corporate Income Tax Parity. HB 1023 by Rep. Bruce Williamson (R-Monroe) aims to reduce the state's flat corporate income tax rate from 5.75% to match the personal income tax rate. The bill was reported by the Senate Finance Committee. The Senate sponsor is Sen. Chuck Hufstetler (R-Rome).
Rep. Devan Seabaugh
Sen. Ed Setzler
Rep. Bruce Williamson
Sen. Chuck Hufstetler
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 substitute by the Senate Finance Committee. The Senate sponsor is Sen. Bo Hatchett (R-Cornelia).
Electronic Notifications. HB 1100 by Rep. Kimberly New (R-Villa Rica) authorizes electronic notifications and communications to motor vehicle owners. The bill passed the Senate, clearing it for the Governor’s signature. The Senate sponsor was Sen. John Albers (R-Roswell).
Data Gathering for Tort Reform. HB 1114 by Rep. Will Wade (R-Dawsonville) authorizes data collection by the Office of Commissioner of Insurance and Safety Fire for future tort reform legislation. The bill was reported by the Senate Insurance and Labor Committee. The Senate sponsor is Sen. John Kennedy (R-Macon).
Tax Credit – Carry Forward. HB 1181 by Rep. Chuck Martin (R-Alpharetta) limits the carry-forward periods of certain income tax credits, including the income tax credit applicable to Sub S banks and their shareholders. The bill was passed by the Senate, clearing it for the Governor’s signature. The Senate sponsor is Sen. John Albers (R-Roswell).
Ad Valorem Tax. HB 1185 by Rep. Beth Camp (R-Concord) provides 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 bill was reported by substitute by the Senate Finance Committee. The Senate sponsor is Sen. Chuck Hufstetler (R-Rome).
Tax Credit - High-Technology Data Centers. HB 1192 by Rep. John Carson (R-Marietta) prohibits the Commissioner of the Department of Revenue from issuing any new sales tax exemptions for certain high-technology data center equipment from July 1, 2024, through June 30, 2026, except for any high-technology data center customer that is subject to an ongoing contract entered into before July 1, 2024, with a high-technology data center that has applied for an exemption before July 1, 2024. The bill passed the Senate, clearing the bill for the Governor’s signature. The Senate sponsor was Sen. John Albers (R-Roswell).
Tax Credit – Historic Structures. HB 1197 by Rep. Penny Houston (R-Nashville) expands revitalization zone tax credits to include rehabilitation of historic residential structures. The bill was heard by the Senate Finance Committee. No further action was taken. GBA is monitoring.
Rep. Kimberly New
Rep. Will Wade
Rep. Beth Camp
Rep. Penny Houston

Vehicle Case Study

Those of you who have followed the goings on at the Capitol have heard the term “vehicle” to describe a bill that’s moving through the process but is amended or even hijacked by a legislator to attach or replace the bill with language from another bill. Sometimes the language added has little to do with the original bill, and we’ve seen that happen to a bill we’ve been following, SB 451 by Rep. Nabilah Islam-Parkes (D-Duluth). The original bill would have created a voluntary low-interest loan program for financial institutions to assist veterans to be overseen and administered by The Department of Banking and Finance and the Department of Veterans Affairs. GBA testified before the Senate Banking and Financial Institutions Committee letting Senators know that while the underlying intent of the legislation was positive, operationally, it was too complicated to implement. The committee delayed action on the bill. At a subsequent meeting of the committee, the entire language was stripped and new language was added that established standards, restrictions, and disclosure requirements applicable to any parties providing compensation and assistance to veterans in applying for benefits and/or applying for increased benefits. That version passed the Senate. This week, all that language was replaced with new language prohibiting pawnbrokers from making title pawns to active-duty military personnel. That version was reported by the House Defense and Veterans Affairs Committee. The House sponsor is Rep. Josh Bonner (R-Fayetteville). It’s anyone’s guess what will happen during the final few days of the legislative session, but we’ll keep following this bill more out of curiosity than for any specific effect on the industry. This is a good case study for students writing papers on how a bill becomes a law. It’s not as straightforward as some textbooks make it out to be.
Rep. Nabilah Islam-Parkes
Rep. Josh Bonner

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.