Advocacy Update 2023 - Legislative Days 32-35

Advocacy Update,
Drama at the Gold Dome
The House and Senate have ticked another four days off their forty-day schedule.  Committees have been active and both chambers have adopted a modest number of bills, but the shadow of political gamesmanship weighs heavy over the Capitol.
Repeatedly this week, Lt. Governor Burt Jones, who presides over the Senate, and Senate Rules Committee Chairman Matt Brass, have chided the House for failing to move more Senate bills out of House Committees.  As a result of this apparent slight, the Senate has slowed the flow of House bills to the Senate floor for consideration.
While this sort of political posturing is common, time is running out to clear the logjam.  Just five legislative days remain as the General Assembly speeds towards Sine Die on March 29.

New Legislation of Interest
House Rural Development Council (HB 91)                                                Rep. Steven Meeks, R-Screven
This resolution reauthorizes the House Rural Development Council.  While CBA has not been active in previous meetings, this could potentially be a good platform for CBA and its members to tout the benefits of community banks.  Members of the committee would be undertaking a study of the conditions, needs, issues, and problems including loss of population, a deficiency in access to health care, aging infrastructure, diminished quality of educational opportunities, limited employment opportunities, inconsistent economic development opportunities, and lack of widespread economic growth.    

Bill Highlights:  H.B. 182 Curing Defective Deeds and Other Instruments
HB 182 was introduced in the House by freshman lawmaker Rep. Matt Reeves, a business and real estate attorney from Duluth. 
The bill comes at the recommendation of the United States Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Pingora Loan Servicing, LLC, v. Scarver (In Re: Lindstrom) and relates to the recording of deeds and other real property transactions, and revises the provisions for curing defective deeds and other instruments.
On April 7, 2022, the court issued an opinion on the most recent line of cases often referred to as the “Gordon” cases, related to residential real estate closings and specifically the effectiveness of the recording of security deeds.  In the opinion, the Eleventh Circuit requests a legislative amendment to cure the current and prior “Gordon” holdings affecting constructive notice, etc. relating to recordation of security deeds in Georgia.  Essentially, the court held that the relevant statutes as currently read could not be the intent of the legislature when the last amendment was enacted in 2015. 
With the decision issued by the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, some banks have been stripped of their liens in bankruptcy court because of improper attestation or witnessing at closings.  This issue could impact you if your bank has originated any residential real estate loans since 2015 and WOULD most likely still be a liability to the originating bank even if the loans have since been sold on the secondary market. 
If adopted by both the House and the Senate, the measure will be eligible for enactment by Governor Brian Kemp or upon its becoming law without his approval.  It will apply to all deeds and other instruments recorded pursuant to Code Section 44-14-61 from July 1, 2015.  In other words, this bill would be retroactive.
The House adopted the bill on Feb-15 by a vote of 171-1.  The Senate Judiciary Committee considered HB 182 on Mar-13.  While the language relating to the Scarver case remained unchanged, the committee added language from an unrelated measure relating to non-judicial foreclosures of time-share estates.  The Senate Judiciary Committee passed the bill in its amended form and it now rests in the Senate Rules Committee, where it is eligible for placement on an upcoming debate calendar.  Senate Judiciary Chairman Brian Strickland, R-McDonough, will present the bill on the Senate floor should it be called for a vote.
Because the bill was amended in the Senate, it faces an additional hurdle before making it to the Governor’s desk.  If it is adopted by the Senate, it must return to the House for those lawmakers to agree to the Senate’s version.  Only bills that are adopted in the exact same form by both the House and Senate are eligible for the Governor’s consideration.
CBA will continue to push for the Senate to take a vote on this important legislation and will then refocus on the House to ensure final passage before sine die on March 29.

Active Measures: Banking and Financial Products
Notices to Beneficiaries (HB 91)                                                                Rep. Will Wade, R-Dawsonville
Passed out of the Senate Judiciary Cmte on Mar-13
Requires personal representatives to send notices to beneficiaries regarding the issuance of letters testamentary or letters of administration.  Revises a definition regarding Uniform Transfer on Death Security Registration.
C-PACER Program (HB 206)                                                                       Rep. Steven Sainz, R-Woodbine
Heard in the Senate State and Local Governmental Operations Cmte on Mar-16
Commercial Property Assessed Conservation, Energy, and Resiliency (C-PACER) is a public-private partnership that is intended to enable commercial building owners to invest in their property.  Under these programs, a private lender finances energy-saving building upgrades.  The property owner uses generated savings to repay the lender via a special assessment added to their property tax bill.
Local Government Investment Policy (HB 531)                                       Rep. Carter Barrett, R-Cumming
Heard in the Senate Banking and Financial Institutions Cmte on Mar-14
Provides for local government investment policies.  Authorizes additional investment options for school funds.  CBA is working with the author of this bill along with other proponents to tweak pledging language and eliminate negotiable CDs as a permissive investment.  Meetings have also been held with the State Treasurer to hear his concerns with the bill.
Financial Protections for Elder and Disabled Adults (SB 84)                     Sen. Chuck Hufstetler, R-Rome
Passed out of the House with a vote of 169-0 on Mar-15
*Specific to Retirement Accounts*  Provides for financial protections for elder and disabled adults who may be victims of financial exploitation.  Provides for reporting and notice requirements.  Provides for the delay of disbursements or transactions that may result in such financial exploitation.  Provides for civil and administrative liability protections.  Provides for certain disclosures and access to records.
Commercial Financing Disclosures (SB 90)                                                        Sen. Clint Dixon, R-Buford
Passed out of the House Banks & Banking Cmte as a substitute on Mar-13.  The bill was placed on the House Rules Calendar for Mar-16;however, it was recommitted to the House Rules Committee.
Provides for commercial financing disclosures and requires certain persons who provide commercial financing transactions to make certain disclosures.  The bill was amended in committee to include the language of HB 471 that did not crossover, which provides guidelines and penalties for the unsolicited purchase of real estate.
Requirements for Earned Wage Access Services (SB 254)                             Sen. Matt Brass, R-Newnan
Heard in House Banks & Banking Cmte on Mar-13.
Provides requirements for earned wage access services.  Provides for fees that may be charged for such services.  Provides that earned wage access payments are nonrecourse and are not loans.  Provides that permitted fees are not interest.

Active Measures: General Business
Spam Telephone Solicitations (SB 73)                                                             Sen. Blake Tillery, R-Vidalia
On the agenda for the House Energy, Utilities & Telecommunications Cmte on Mar-13
Provides for class action suits and for damages against certain persons for violating provisions related to telephone solicitations; provides for and prohibits certain defenses in such actions.
Income Taxes Paid at the Entity Level (HB 412)                                  Rep. Bruce Williamson, R-Monroe
Passed out of the Senate Finance Cmte on Mar-15
Repeals a limitation on the types of partnerships that may elect to pay income taxes at the entity level.
Georgia Online Automatic Renewal Transparency Act (HB 528)             Rep. Houston Gaines, R-Athens
Passed out of the Senate Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Cmte on Mar-15
Provides for regulation of certain acts and practices of businesses that offer paid subscriptions or purchasing agreements online subject to automatic renewal or continuous service.  Provides for online cancellation.  Provides that certain automatic online renewal offers and online continuous service offers shall be unlawful. Provides that terms shall be clear and conspicuous. Provides that online businesses shall obtain customers' consent prior to authorizing a charge to any debit card, credit card, or consumer's account with a third party. 
One-Time Tax Credit (HB 162)                                                           Rep. Lauren McDonald, R-Cumming
Passed out of the Senate with a vote of 46-7 on Mar-14.  The bill now goes to the Governor for signature.
Governor’s Bill.  Provides for a one-time tax credit for individual taxpayers who filed income tax returns for both the 2021 and 2022 taxable years.
Criminal Interference with Critical Infrastructure (HB 227)                       Rep. Rob Leverett, R-Elberton
Passed out of the Senate Judiciary Cmte on Mar-16
Provides for the offense of criminal interference with critical infrastructure, defined as a "publicly or privately owned facilities, systems, functions, or assets, whether physical or virtual, providing or distributing services for the benefit of the public, including, but not limited to, energy, fuel, water, agriculture, health care, finance, or communication."
Uniform Unsworn Declarations Act (HB 80)                                               Rep. Rob Leverett, R-Elberton
Passed out of the Senate Judiciary Cmte on Mar-13
Provides that unsworn declarations have the same effect as sworn declarations in certain circumstances, including related to the offense of perjury.  An amended version adds specific references to Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands, and other US territories.
​The final days of the legislative session are rife with mischief as advocates for lost measures manufacture opportunities to advance their cause.  CBA continues to monitor more than 120 active and inactive bills and review all amended measures to ensure nothing of interest to the industry is acted on without our knowledge.