Friday, June 26th marks day 40 and the end of the 2020 legislative session, and it also represents the last day of a two-year legislative cycle. What a session it has been! During this session, the legislature has been faced with a unique set of circumstances much like the rest of the state and nation. COVID-19 and the state of emergency that we have been a part this year have made this 40 day legislative session more prolonged than usual. Legislators returned to the Capitol wearing masks, facing protests and riots, and making hard decisions to accommodate budget cuts that were required as a result of the pandemic. When all was said and done, the legislature came together and got a lot accomplished in the last eleven days of the session. From a bankers perspective, the priority bills that CBA was monitoring all passed and made it through the process.
Upon adjournment, legislators will return to their homes and full-time jobs. What is ahead? Run-off elections for the primary will be held on August 11, 2020. Then, the General Election is scheduled for November 3, 2020. There are 23 open positions in both the House and Senate that will be filled in the upcoming general election.
On Tuesday, HB 167 was passed by the Senate with a vote of 31-19. The bill must go back to the House for an agree/disagree vote. At the time of the writing of this article, the House had not taken up the vote on this topic. This bill is the Georgia Pandemic Business Protection Act. The bill addresses liability for both businesses and health care providers in response to COVID-19 pandemic.
On Thursday, the House Special Committee on Access to the Civil Justice System passed SB 359. The language of the original Senate Bill was deleted and the language in the bill that was passed by the Committee is a limit of liability for businesses and health care providers in response to COVID-19 pandemic. The bill was sent to the House Rules Committee. At the time of the writing of this article, the bill remains in the Rules Committee. If the bill were to be selected by the Committee for the Rules Calendar and passed by the House, then the bill would have to go back to the Senate for an agree/disagree vote before going to the Governor for signature.
HB 781 Department Housekeeping the House agreed to the Senate substitute with a vote of 157-0 on Thursday. The bill now goes to the Governor for signature.
HB 847 Hemp Farming was passed by the Senate with a vote of 34-13 on Monday. The bill now goes to the Governor for signature.
HB 865 Probate Revisions was passed by the Senate as a substitute with a vote of 50-0 on Monday. The House agreed with the Senate substitute with a vote of 154-0 on Thursday. The bill now goes to the Governor for signature.
HB 987 Disabled Adults and Elder Persons Protection Act the House agreed to the Senate substitute with a vote of 140-0 on Wednesday. The bill now goes to the Governor for signature.
HB 1008 Manufactured Homes was passed by the Senate with a vote of 45-5 on Tuesday. The bill now goes to the Governor for signature.
SB 20 Banking Improvement Zones was amended in the House Rules Committee on April 2, 2019. The amended bill related to fertilizers, liming materials, and soil amendments. The Senate disagreed with the House substitute to the bill on February 4, 2020. On Thursday, the House receded from their position and the bill reverted to what was passed by the Senate on February 27, 2019. At the time of the writing of this article, no action had been taken on this bill by the House.
SB 162 PACE Financing was presented to the House Energy, Utilities, and Communications Committee. The language from the Senate bill was deleted and the language in the bill that was passed by the Committee on Monday related to short term rentals. On Thursday, the bill was withdrawn from the Rules Committee and recommitted to the House Energy, Utilities, and Communications Committee.
SB 429 Code Revision was passed by the House with a vote of 166-0 on Wednesday. The bill now goes to the Governor for signature.
SB 442 Property Owner Associations was passed by the House as a substitute with a vote of 123-27 on Tuesday. The Senate agreed to the House substitute with a vote of 36-14 on Wednesday. The bill now goes to the Governor for signature.
SB 443 Garnishment Revisions was passed by the House with a vote of 142-0 on Saturday. The bill now goes to the Governor for signature.
SB 462 GILA was passed by the House as a substitute with a vote 136-0 on Friday. The Senate agreed to the House substitute with a vote of 50-0 on Wednesday. The bill now goes to the Governor for signature.
On Wednesday, June 24th, ICBA sent this letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy. In it, ICBA presents recommendations that urge Congress to take into consideration for inclusion for the next legislative package to address the fallout from the current pandemic on small businesses and jobs. These recommendations were developed in consultation with community bankers from across the country representing rural, suburban, and urban markets. As you well know, community bankers have a critical stake in finding solutions that will help their communities survive the crisis and rebound strongly once restrictions are lifted.
We urge you to contact your Congressional delegates and ask them to support the items outlined in this letter.
Thank you in advance for your support of community banks!
On June 3, 2020, both Speaker David Ralston and Lieutenant Governor Geoff Duncan issued a letter to the members of the Georgia General Assembly notifying them that the 2020 legislative session would resume on Monday, June 15, the 30th Legislative Day.
This week, the legislature completed days 30 through 34 of the legislative session. Both the Senate and House established guidelines for returning to the Capitol in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result of the procedures outlined, most lobbyist did not return to the Capitol and instead worked remotely by using the live stream options available for both the chamber and committee meetings. Social distancing and masks were required if you did visit the Capitol and the process for testifying at a committee meeting or watching a committee meeting were vastly different than what we have experienced in the past. One thing was evident at the Capitol, legislators were eager to get to work. The one item that is required to be accomplished during the legislative session is the passage of a balanced State budget. Shut downs resulting from COVID-19 have resulted in a large reduction of state revenues; therefore, all state agencies were required to accommodate a 14% cut in their budgets as a result of the reduced revenues. The budget cuts will impact the Department of Banking and Finance.
Commissioner Kevin Hagler of the Department of Banking and Finance (Department) presented his proposed budget reductions to the Appropriations Committee. In his presentation, Commissioner Hagler indicated that the Department’s budget is $13MM while assessments collected total $23MM. The Department is 100% funded by state funds and 85% of the budget relate to personnel expenses. As a result of the 14% reduction, the Department will have a reduction in positions from 108 to 95. Six retirements will not be back filled, six vacancies will be abandoned, and one reduction in force will be made, which is a total reduction of 13 positions. Department staff will be furloughed for four days. There will be reduced funds from operations mainly from travel and training expense and there will be some cuts to information technology funds. The Department will also recognize a reduction in rent expenses from the closure of the Woodstock and Loganville field offices. The Department’s budget does show additional funds of $480M, which reflects the move of the Georgia Industrial Loan Act from the Insurance Commissioner to the Department if SB 462 is passed by the legislature.
At the time of the writing of this blog, the House passed an adjournment resolution establishing Days 35 through 40 of the session as June 22 through June 27th. SINE DIE (or the adjournment of the session for the year) would fall on Saturday, June 27th. If the Senate does not agree to the adjournment resolution presenting by the House, then Day 35 and 36 of the session will be held on Saturday and Sunday and SINE DIE would be Thursday, June 25th.
On Thursday, the Senate Insurance Committee adopted HB 167, the Georgia Pandemic Business Protection Act. The bill addresses liability for both businesses and health care providers in response to COVID-19 pandemic. Talking points for the bill are as follows:
Please consider reaching out to members of the Senate and encourage them to take action on this legislation.
HB 781 – Department Housekeeping was passed by the Senate with a vote of 49-0 on Monday.
HB 847 – Hemp Farming was passed by the Senate Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Committee on Tuesday.
HB 865 - Probate Revisions was passed by the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday as a committee substitute. The Committee passed LC 41 2549S.
HB 969 – Fair Housing was passed by the Senate with a vote of 52-0 on Wednesday.
HB 987 - Disabled Adults and Elder Persons Protection Act was passed by the Senate with a vote of 53-0 on Friday.
HB 1008 - Manufactured Homes was passed by the Senate Economic and Development and Tourism Committee on Thursday.
HR 1525 was introduced in the House by Rep. Joseph Gullett (R), Dallas. The Resolution creates a House Study Committee on Remote Online Notarization. The Resolution was passed by the House Judiciary Committee on Thursday.
SB 38 - Electronic Filings was passed by the House Judiciary as a substitute on Tuesday. The substitute bill resulted in all of the language in SB 38 being stripped out and new language inserted provides a mechanism for abolishing a police department and returning the powers to the sheriff department. The bill was passed by the House with a vote of 152-3 on Friday.
SB 315 – Mechanics and Materialmen Liens and Rights was passed by the House Regulated Industries Committee on Wednesday. The bill was passed by the House with a vote of 147-0 on Friday.
SB 429 – Code Revision was passed by the House Code Revision Committee on Thursday.
SB 442 - Property Owner Associations was passed by the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday.
SB 443 - Garnishment Revisions was passed by the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday.
SB 462 - GILA was passed by the House Banks & Banking Committee on Wednesday. Revisions were made to the effective date of the bill in order to accommodate budget implications.