March 8, 2024

General Assembly Completes Day 32 of 40

The General Assembly was in session four days this week, with Wednesday being reserved as a committee workday. After the flurry of activity last week on Crossover Day, we began to see more bills moving through committees of the opposite chamber, and a few bills made it across the legislative finish line and are now headed to the Governor for his signature. We expect the pace of things to quicken next week. The General Assembly is scheduled to be in session on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday, with Tuesday reserved as a committee workday.

GBA Priority Bill Headed to Governor's Desk for Signature

With a fourth unanimous vote (House Committee, House Floor, Senate Committee, and Senate Floor), the Georgia Department of Banking and Finance's annual housekeeping bill HB 876, received final passage this week and now heads to Gov. Brian Kemp for his signature. Rep. Bruce Williamson (R-Monroe) handled the bill in the House, and Sen. John Kennedy (R-Macon) carried it in the Senate. Provisions of interest to bankers contained in this year's bill related to bank formation, filings with the Secretary of State, the definition of subsidiaries, and updates to the Merchant Acquirer Limited Purpose Bank charter. Special thanks to GBA's Bank Counsel Board of Directors, chaired by Colony Bank's Lee Bagwell with help from the vice chair, Jonathan Hightower with the Fenimore Kay Harrison firm, for their help and input on this year's bill.
Rep. Bruce Williamson
Sen. John Kennedy

Qualifying Week

The Capitol buzzed all week as candidates qualified for local and state offices leading up to the May primaries. Several longtime legislators who have been friends of banking are choosing not to run again. Reps. Penny Houston (R-Nashville), Clay Pirkle (R-Ashburn), and David Knight (R-Griffin) are among those we'll miss. We’ll report more next week once we see the final qualifying tabulation from the Secretary of State.
Rep. Penny Houston
Rep. Clay Pirkle
Rep. David Knight

Bills to Highlight

Foreclosure. SB 13 by Sen. John Albers (R-Roswell) authorizes online public sales under tax levies and executions. In the 2023 session, the bill went to a conference committee, although final action was not taken. This week, the Senate accepted the conference committee report, which restored the bill’s text to the version that was approved by the Senate last year. The bill has now been returned to the House for agreement. The House sponsor is Rep. Tyler Paul Smith (R-Bremen).
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. The House has yet to take action on the conference committee report. The House sponsor is Rep. Tyler Paul Smith (R-Bremen).
Covid Liability. SB 430 by Sen. Greg Dolezal (R-Cumming) repeals the requirement for businesses to post COVID liability warnings. The bill was reported by the House Judiciary Committee. The House sponsor is Rep. Carter Barrett (R-Cumming).
Uniform Commercial Code. HB 1240 by Rep. Matt Reeves (R-Duluth) amends Georgia’s commercial code to adopt recommendations from the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws. The update includes the establishment of commercial law for transactions involving digital assets. The bill was reported by the Senate Judiciary Committee. The Senate sponsor is Sen. John Kennedy (R-Macon).
Sen. John Albers
Rep. Tyler Paul Smith
Sen. Blake Tillery
Sen. Greg Dolezal
Rep. Carter Barrett
Rep. Matt Reeves

Action on Other Legislation GBA is Tracking


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 to place non-revenue generating and tax delinquent property back to effective utilization status. The resolution was heard this week by the House Ways & Means Committee. No further action was taken.
Development Authorities. SB 171 by Sen. Max Burns (R-Sylvania) limits the length of a development authority 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 was reported by the House Governmental Affairs Committee. The House sponsor is Rep. Matthew Gambill (R-Cartersville).
Sen. Carden Summers
Sen. Max Burns
Rep. Matthew Gambill
Hemp. HB 196 by Rep. Alan Powell (R-Hartwell) abolishes the state's cannabis commission, moves its duties to the Department of Agriculture, and restructures the oversight committee. Additional licensees would be authorized, and the Statewide Business Court would be the only court authorized to resolve disputes. In the 2023 session, the bill passed the House, although the Senate took no final action. This week, the bill was sent to a conference committee. The Senate sponsor is Sen. Bill Cowsert (R-Athens).
SB 437 by Sen. Randy Robertson (R-Cataula) prohibits the purchase, sale, and offering of samples of hemp products by or to any individual under the age of 21. The bill was reported by the House Agriculture & Consumer Affairs Committee. 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. Among other things, the bill prohibits persons from performing certain activities without licenses and revises disqualifications for hemp grower licenses and processor permits. The bill was passed by substitute by the Senate. The bill was reported by the House Agriculture & Consumer Affairs Committee. The House sponsor is Rep. Chas Cannon (R-Moultrie).
Rep. Alan Powell
Sen. Bill Cowsert
Sen. Randy Robertson
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 that recommends non-substantive changes to the Georgia code. There are several changes to Title 7, which deals with banking and finance. The bill was reported by the House Code Revision Committee.
Wills, Trusts & Estates. SB 450 by Sen. John Kennedy (R-Macon) clarifies that neither a superior court nor a state court shall have appellate jurisdiction over any non-appealable order of a probate court. The bill was reported by the House Judiciary Committee. The House sponsor is Rep. Rob Leverett (R-Elberton).
Sen. Bo Hatchett
Rep. Rob Leverett
Online Marketplace. SB 472 by Sen. John Albers (R-Roswell) revises certain definitions for third-party sellers that utilize online marketplaces. The bill passed the Senate and was heard by the House Agriculture & Consumer Affairs Committee. No further action was taken. 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 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 nonpecuniary interests. Such nonpecuniary interests would include the furtherance of any social, political, or ideological interests. The bill was reported by substitute by the Senate Retirement Committee. The Senate sponsor is Sen. Marty Harbin (R-Tyrone).
Administrative Hearing Officers. HB 563 by Rep. Rob Leverett (R-Elberton) amends the Fair Employment Practices Act and makesseveral changes to appointing administrative hearing officers who appear before the administrative law judges. The bill was reported by substitute by the Senate Judiciary Committee. The Senate sponsor is Sen. Jason Anavitarte (R-Dallas).
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 the Senate Finance Committee. The Senate sponsor is Sen. John Albers (R-Roswell).
Rep. John Carson
Sen. Marty Harbin
Sen. Jason Anavitarte
Rep. Mike Cheokas
Leased Property. HB 1052 by Rep. Chas Cannon (R-Moultrie) revises the eligibility requirements for conservation use valuation assessments. The bill was reported by substitute by the Senate Finance Committee. The Senate sponsor is Sen. Bo Hatchett (R-Cornelia).
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 Senate and now heads to the Governor for his signature. The Senate sponsor was Sen. Billy Hickman (R-Statesboro).
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 reported by substitute by the Senate Finance Committee. The Senate sponsor is Sen. John Albers (R-Roswell).
Tax Credit - High-Technology Data Centers. HB 1192 by Rep. John Carson (R-Marietta) prohibits 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 was reported by substitute by the Senate Finance Committee. The Senate sponsor is Sen. John Albers (R-Roswell).
Wills, Trusts & Estates. HB 1218 by Rep. Rob Leverett (R-Elberton) establishes a notice provision to a testate estate's beneficiaries. The bill was reported by the Senate Judiciary Committee. The Senate sponsor is Sen. Bo Hatchett (R-Cornelia).
Sen. Billy Hickman
Rep. Chuck Martin

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.