Last week, SB 415 was introduced in the Senate by Senator Steve Gooch (R), Dahlonega. On Thursday, a large and diverse group of small businesses, health care providers, and trade association (including CBA) held a press conference at the State Capitol along with numerous Senators to applaud the introduction of the bill. Click Here for more information on supporters of the bill
This legislation—which was the result of months of work by the Senate Study Committee on Reducing Georgia’s Cost of Doing Business—aims to reduce frivolously litigation and ensures that small businesses, health care providers, the agriculture industry, and countless others have an even playing field in Georgia’s legal system.
For more information on the bill and the issues that it addresses, please visit https://www.balancethescalesga.com/. We urge you to contact your Senators and ask that they vote for SB 415.
The bill was presented to the Senate Insurance & Labor Subcommittee on Wednesday morning with the Committee hearing approximately two hours of testimony. On Friday afternoon, the Subcommittee heard language from the author of the bill that would amended the bill. The bill as amended received a do pass by committee substitute.
We’ve officially made it halfway through the 40 day session. This week, the legislature completed days 17 through 21 of the session.
HB 488 was presented to the House Judiciary Non-Civil Reeves Subcommittee by Rep. Martin Momtahan (R), Dallas on Thursday. Several proposed amendments were heard by the committee though only one amendment was made to the bill. The amendment does not impact the financial industry. The bill was passed by the Committee. On Friday morning, the bill was presented to the House Judiciary Non-Civil Full Committee and was passed by the Committee. CBA will continue to monitor the progress of this bill.
HB 523 deals with short term rentals and was presented to the House Regulated Industries Committee by Rep. Kasey Carpenter (R), Dalton, and was passed as a committee substitute on February 5, 2020. The changes made relate to equal treatment of all rentals. This is no longer a short term rental bill and relates to any type of rental properties. It will prohibit any additional licenses or registrations of rental properties.
HB 781 was presented to the Senate Banking & Financial Institutions Committee on Tuesday by Rep. Bruce Williamson (R), Monroe. This was a hearing only so no action was taken on the bill. Chairman William T. Ligon, Jr. (R), Brunswick indicated that there would be a vote at next week’s meeting.
HB 785 was presented to the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday by Rep. Joseph Gullett (R), Dallas. This bill deals with electronic notarizations and remote online notarizations. There were several groups that testified in support of the bill and there were several groups opposed to the bill as it relates to real estate closings. Given the number of comments heard during testimony and questions from Committee members, there is a lot of work that needs to be done on the bill before it will be able to advance. The author of the bill committed to working with all parties to draft language that would be amenable to all parties.
HB 955 was introduced in the House by Rep. Chuck Efstration (R), Dacula. The bill was assigned to the House Judiciary Committee. This bill deals with elder abuse and financial exploitation. The bill makes failure to report abuse or exploitation a high and aggravated misdemeanor instead of a misdemeanor. The change in severity of the crime and burden that it places on our institutions (i.e. tellers, CSRs) is troubling and CBA opposes the bill as drafted. CBA is working with the author of the bill to see if language can be tweaked.
HB 968 was introduced in the House by Rep. Chuck Efstration (R), Dacula. The bill was assigned to the House Judiciary Committee. The bill relates to a court of appeals decision relating to warranties. The decision shifted warranties to a mandated eight year expiration instead of the stated warranty given by a company. For example, if someone purchased a new roof with a 25 year warranty, the warranty would no longer be valid after eight years. The bill passed unanimously by the committee on Tuesday and was placed on the House Rules Calendar for a vote on Day 22 of the session.
HB 969 was introduced in the House by Rep. Chuck Efstration (R), Dacula. The bill was assigned to the House Judiciary Committee. The bill relates to fair housing and pertains to the unlawful practice in selling or renting dwellings and the procedures, remedies, and judicial review related to this. The bill was passed by the Committee on Tuesday.
HB 987 was introduced in the House by Rep. Sharon Cooper (R), Marietta. The bill was assigned to the Health and Human Services Committee. The bill relates to the “Disabled Adults and Elder Persons Protection Act”. The bill states that no person shall discriminate or retaliate in any manner again any person who makes a report of elder abuse or financial exploitation or any disable adult or elder person that is the subject of the report. The bill was passed by the Committee. The bill was passed by the House with a vote of 160-1 on Friday.
HB 1008 was introduced in the House by Rep. Joe Campbell (R), Camilla. The bill was assigned to the House Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Committee. This bill deals with factory built building and dwellings. The bill revises language to state that the structure may or may not contain a metal chassis. CBA will monitor the progress of this bill.
HR 875 was presented to the Special Rules Committee by Rep. Dar’shun Kendrick (D), Lithonia, on Tuesday. This was a hearing only presentation.
HR 933 was presented to the Special Rules Committee by Rep. William Boddie (D), East Point, on Tuesday. The Resolution was passed by the Committee.
HR 1093 was introduced in the House by Rep. Don Parsons (R), Marietta. This Resolution establishes a Joint Study Committee on Cybersecurity. The Resolution was passed by Energy , Utilities & Communications Committee on Wednesday. CBA will monitor the progress of this resolution.
SB 429 was introduced in the Senate by Senator William T. Ligon, Jr. (R), Brunswick. The bill was assigned to the Senate Judiciary Committee. In addition to other areas of the law, this bill makes a few code revisions under Title 7. The bill was passed by the Committee on Wednesday.
SB 442 was introduced in the Senate by Senator William T. Ligon, Jr. (R), Brunswick. The bill was assigned to the Senate Judiciary Committee. This bill prohibits amendments to property owners’ association instruments and covenants that restrict rental of residential lots and plots. CBA will monitor the progress of this bill.
SB 443 was introduced in the Senate by Senator Jesse Stone (R), Waynesboro. The bill was assigned to the Senate Judiciary Committee. This bill relates to procedures for garnishment proceedings. CBA is reviewing the bill in detail and trying to determine if there are any adverse impacts for financial institutions. CBA will monitor the progress of this bill.
SB 462 was in the Senate Hopper on Friday. The author of the bill is Senator John F. Kennedy (R), Macon. At the time of this article, a copy of the proposed bill was not available. The description of the bill states that the bill will transfer duties, powers, responsibilities, and other authority relative to industrial loans from the Industrial Loan Commissioner to the Department of Banking & Finance. CBA will monitor the progress of this bill.
HB 781 was presented on the House Floor on Tuesday by Representative Bruce Williamson (R), Monroe. This is the Department of Banking and Finance’s annual housekeeping bill. The bill passed the House with a vote of 167-0. Now the bill moves to the Senate. We anticipate the bill will be presented to the Senate Banking & Financial Institutions Committee next week.
We will continue to monitor the bill as it progresses.
SB 309 was presented to the State and Local Government Operations Committee on Tuesday by Senator Jesse Stone (R), Waynesboro. This bill establishes the Georgia Municipal and Local Government Infrastructure Finance Authority Act. The bill provides a mechanism through which local governments may finance infrastructure at lower prevailing costs to make such mechanism available to the largest number of local governments feasible.
Prior to the meeting, CBA discussed this bill with our Board of Directors and CBA’s general counsel to determine if there were any major objections to this bill or if any aspects of the bill would have a material impact to community banks. Board members indicated that while this may change the municipal bond market somewhat there were no objections to the bill unless this bill changes anything relating to Tax Anticipation Notes (TAN) that community banks make.
During the hearing, Senator Stone stated that there was no intention of changing the current practices for community banks. If a bank wants to move forward, then they can with existing bond counsel. The bill only relates to revenue bonds not general obligations for municipalities or cities/counties. Bank can continue to use the relationships that they have built over the years to meet the financing needs of the municipalities and cities/counties. While Georgia Bankers Association testified during the hearing that they opposed the bill from a competition standpoint, CBA remained neutral on this bill as we do not believe this bill has a significant impact on the community banking industry. After reviewing research provided by the Georgia Municipal Association, most of the lending that is done on capital expenditures for municipalities is done by big banks. Community banks do not engage in this type of specialized lending on a routine basis. Should your bank have objections to this legislation, then please contact CBA to discuss your concerns. The bill was passed unanimously by the Committee.
HB 847 was presented to the Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Committee Representative John Corbett (R), Lake Park on Tuesday. This Bill relates to hemp farming and establishes certain state requirements in order to comply with federal laws and regulations. This bill is a clean up from HB 213 from last session. The USDA did not come out with rules and regulations until last year. The bill clarifies the ability of a greenhouse grower to sell to a farmer. In addition, clarification was added so that college and universities can conduct research for third parties.
The author of the bill was very clear that Hemp is not a controlled substance and therefore not subject to civil forfeiture laws. The prosecuting attorney’s council testified that this is indeed true. Numerous questions were raised by several legislators about whether or not the bill may be criminalizing hemp and contradicting with federal law. The core issue during the discussion was presented by the criminal defense attorneys as the lack of willingness or affordability of a test for field officers. Both the author of the bill and the chairman of the committee indicated that as long as the transporter has the proper paper documentation with them as it relates to Hemp, then there should not be any issues.
The bill was passed by the Committee. CBA will continue to monitor the progress of the bill.
This week, the legislature was back from the break last week and completed days 13 through 16 of the 40 day session. The break was designed to allow House members the time to thoroughly review the budget during appropriations meetings. The supplemental budget was presented to the House on Wednesday and HB 792 passed with a vote of 126-46.
HB 865 was introduced in the House by Rep. Mitchell Scoggins (R), Cartersville. While the majority of this bill relates to code revision of the “Revised Probate Code of 1998”, there is a section in the bill that impacts Title 7 as it relates to deposits of deceased intestate depositors CBA has discussed our concerns with the author of the bill. The author and the Georgia Bar have worked to revise the bill to address our concerns related to the process for paying out funds pursuant to an affidavit from heirs, a funeral home, or a medical provider. However, the latest draft of the bill still contains provisions that would alter a bank’s duties upon receipt of notice from a court or other parties. This is a substantial change from the current law. The bill is not yet on the Committee schedule for a hearing. We will continue to monitor the progress of the bill.
HB 969 was in the House Hopper on Friday. The author of the bill is Rep. Chuck Efstration (R), Dacula. The bill relates to fair housing and pertains to the unlawful practice in selling or renting dwellings and the procedures, remedies, and judicial review related to this. CBA will monitor this bill.
HB 978 was in the House Hopper on Friday. The author of the bill is Rep. Bee Nguyen (D), Atlanta. The bill relates to the “Disabled Adults and Elder Persons Protection Act”. The bill prohibits retaliation against a person relating to a report that a disabled adult or elder person is in need of protective services or has been the victim of abuse, neglect, or exploitation. CBA will be monitoring the bill to make sure this does not cause a private cause of action for our bankers.
HR 1093 was introduced in the House by Rep. Don Parsons (R), Marietta. This Resolution establishes a Joint Study Committee on Cybersecurity. CBA will monitor the progress of this resolution.
SB 315 was presented to the Senate Judiciary Committee by Senator Lindsey Tippins (R), Marietta. This bill relates to mechanics and materialmen liens and rights. The bill was passed by the Senate on Friday with a vote of 53-0.
SB 390 was introduced in the Senate by Senator Steve Gooch (R), Dahlonega. This bill is a tort reform bill that would streamline the process of litigation and reduce costs for Georgia’s industries, small businesses, and citizens. The bill was assigned to the Judiciary Committee.
SB 415 was introduced in the Senate by Senator Steve Gooch (R), Dahlonega. This bill is a tort reform bill that would streamline the process of litigation and reduce costs for Georgia’s industries, small businesses, and citizens. This bill is virtually the same as SB 390; however, Part I, Section 1-1 of SB 390 was deleted. This is the priority bill for NFIB that was discussed at CBA’s Small Business Day at the Dome. The bill was assigned to the Insurance Committee.
Days 10 through 12 of the session are now in the books. On Wednesday, the legislature passed SR 712 that outlined a new adjournment and meeting schedule for the legislative session through crossover day. Changes were made to the calendar for the session as the House needed more time to work on the state budget. Now, the legislature will be adjourned until February 18, 2020 in order to have time to work on the budget. The one constitutional mandate for each legislative session is balancing the state budget. Given the budget deficit of $300 million, the legislature is hard at work to determine where cuts are needed for all state agencies. The Governor has provided a proposed amended budget for 2020 and state agencies have been called before the legislature to explain the impact to each of their departments directly.
On Wednesday, the Department of Banking & Finance (Department) presented their budget to the Appropriations General Government Subcommittee. In an effort to illustrate how the state budget impacts a department that is important to our industry, I want to outline the comments made during the meeting by Commissioner Kevin Hagler. The Department’s revenues total $23 million while their budget is $13 million, which means the Department contributes $10 million in revenues to the State of Georgia as they do not have a designated fund for their revenues. The Department is funded 100% by state funds and they do not take any federal funds. Governor Brian Kemp has asked state departments to cut 4% for the current fiscal year (July 1st-June 30, 2020) and 6% for the 2021 fiscal year (July 1st-June 30, 2021). 85% of the Department’s budget is related to personnel costs so there are no easy cuts for them to make. The current headcount for Department employees is 108 positions, but the cuts will result in a headcount of 102 positions. The Supervision Division (insured institutions-banks, credit unions, holding companies) will feel the most impact as four of the positions will come from their headcounts. There is one vacant position that will be eliminated and three retirements and those positions will not be replaced. The Department had a Chief Information Officer position that was vacated a year ago and they will not replace that position either. One employee in support services will be a reduction in force. With all of these changes, the Department had to reallocate the funds that are in their budget. For the 2020 amended budget, the training budget will also be cut.
For the 2021 budget, the Supervision Division will cut another position that will result from a retirement. Funds for real estate will be reduced as the Department has made a decision to close the Loganville field office. Those employees will either work from home or be provided a landing spot at the main office of the Department. While examiners are typically on-site at institutions for the majority of the time, the trend in the regulatory industry has been one of moving to reviewing bank information remotely and electronically, which would actually result in the examiners being in the office more often. This makes the decision to close the Loganville office that much tougher. Telephone and internet charges will be reduced in the 2020 budget as a result of the office closure. One of the other major changes for the 2021 budget would include moving the Georgia Industrial Loan Act (GILA) from the Office of the Insurance Commissioner to the Department. The budget for the GILA transfer would result in an increase of funds to th Department of $487,000. Commissioner Hagler indicated that this transfer is a result of an audit that noted that efficiencies could be realized by moving GILA to the Department. The Department currently licenses 18,000 entities through their non-depository division through the Nationwide Multistate Licensing System & Registry (NMLS). The Department would use NMLS to license the GILA licensees and would likely license the main office instead of all branch offices of GILA companies. In addition, Commissioner Hagler would like to transition to risk focused examinations of GILA licensees instead of the requirement to perform an examination annually. This is consistent with how the Department regulates the other non-depository licensees. The Department is working with legislative counsel on a bill that would move GILA to the Department. The Department will continue with business as usual until the legislation is passed. The expected transition date is July 1st.
Commissioner Hagler was asked whether or not the Department would continue to provide $10 million in excess funds to the State in 2021. He indicated that the BB&T and SunTrust merger would result in a loss of fees totaling $6 million. Therefore, it is expected that the Department will still be accretive to the State Budget by $4 million. Commissioner Hagler was asked clarifying questions by several legislators as to whether the reductions in force were an elimination of vacant positions or an actual reduction in working employees. Hagler clarified that the reductions are a reduction of working employees (retirements or reduction in force not being replaced) and would result in a actual reduction in head count.
HB 488 was presented to the House Judiciary Non-Civil Reeves Subcommittee by Rep. Martin Momtahan (R), Dallas. This bill relates to selling of store value gift cards. During last session, CBA worked with the author of the bill to address concerns that we had with the bill as drafted. The author of the bill worked during the off-session to come up with language that would be amendable to financial institutions. As presented to the Subcommittee this week, the changes made by the author sufficiently address our concerns. The meeting was a hearing only for the bill and no action was taken.
HB 781 was placed on the House Rules Calendar for Day 13 of the session and should be voted upon by the House. This is the Department of Banking and Finance’s annual housekeeping bill.
HB 865 was introduced in the House by Rep. Mitchell Scoggins (R), Cartersville. While the majority of this bill relates to code revision of the “Revised Probate Code of 1998”, there is a section in the bill that impacts Title 7 as it relates to deposits of deceased intestate depositors As written, CBA has concerns with the bill in that it shifts the responsibility of determining the persons entitled to receive any funds, and the priority with which funds are paid to such persons, to the financial institution. This bill was originally assigned to the Code Revision Committee, but was later withdrawn and reassigned to the House Judiciary Committee.
SB 315 was presented to the Senate Judiciary Committee by Senator Lindsey Tippins (R), Marietta. This bill relates to mechanics and materialmen liens and rights. The bill was passed as drafted and no changes were made by the Committee.
While the legislature will not be in session next Wednesday, the event will still go on! We have made changes to the morning schedule for our bankers to include a discussion with State Treasurer Lynne Riley regarding SB 157 that was passed last session and the possibility of placing state deposits using the structure outlined in SB 157.
CBA has Partnered with NFIB to present the Small Business Day at the Dome. This important event is a chance for you to hear from key government leaders as well as network with other small business owners to get a first-hand account to what is happening in the Peach State! Governor Brian Kemp and Vince Dooley are confirmed speakers for our event. Registration is now open for this event.