State Banking Issues

The 2017 Session of the Georgia General Assembly began Jan. 9. GBA is represented by our Senior Vice President for Government Relations, Elizabeth Chandler, 404.420.2027, President and CEO, Joe Brannen, 404.420.2026, and our Government Relations Consultant Steve Bridges, 404.420.2037, throughout the session. Contact any of them with questions about legislation, information about your legislator's stance on a particular issue or to request any other information related to the Georgia General Assembly.

Below is a summary bills we are tracking. This is the first session of a 2-year legislative cycle. Bills that didn’t receive final action in 2016 that legislators want to pursue will have to be re-introduced as new legislation in the 2017 session.

GBA's Georgia General Assembly Legislation Tracker

Below are the banking and financial services bills we are tracking for the Georgia General Assembly's 2017 session. We've categorized the legislation as follows: 

GBA Priority Bills

Georgia Department of Banking and Finance Housekeeping Bill - GBA Supports
H.B. 143 by Rep. Bruce Williamson (R-Monroe) includes important provisions that the GBA Code Review Task Force recommended as the culmination of their three-year project to update Georgia’s banking laws. Of note, the bill includes a streamlined calculation for legal lending limits, the ability of the Department to directly examine third party service providers, gives state charted institutions the ability to conduct business on Sundays to give them parity with national banks, adds the option of providing minors electronic access to accounts, streamlines the Department’s subpoena process, authorizes pay-by-phone fees, expands the circumstances for board member removal by the financial institution and modernizes the process for the issuance of subordinated debt. We expect this bill to be introduced early in the Session by Rep. Bruce Williamson (R-Monroe). Our thanks especially to the task force chair, Brad Miller, General Counsel at United Community Banks, Inc., Blairsville, and DBF’s Bo Fears, Deputy Commissioner for Legal Affairs, who served as scrivener, for their hard work to ensure the Georgia banking code is among the best in the nation.

Modernizing Georgia Business Judgment Rule - GBA Supports
H.B. 192 by Rep. Beth Beskin (R-Atlanta) would enhance the liability protection for board members in their decision-making process. In the vast majority of states, the business judgment rule protects both the decision-making process and the actual decisions of directors made in good faith from any second- guessing by courts and juries. The only exceptions are where the directors are guilty of gross negligence, fraud or bad faith. In FDIC v. Loudermilk, however, the Georgia Supreme Court held that directors of Georgia banks and corporations could be liable for ordinary negligence committed in the decision-making process. By allowing ordinary negligence claims to be brought against directors of Georgia banks and corporations, the Court has severely undercut the business judgment rule. The question of whether a bank or corporation has engaged in an appropriate decision-making process is now subject to second- guessing by courts and juries – precisely the result that the business judgment rule was designed to eliminate. There are very strong policy reasons for keeping the decision-making process of directors beyond the review of the courts and juries except in cases of gross negligence, fraud or bad faith.

Support / Amend / Oppose / Monitoring with Concerns

GBA Supports

FAST Act: Fairness, Accountability, Simplification and Transparency (Small Business Support)
SB 2 by Sen. Mike Dugan (R-Carrollton) sets a process in place for local and state governmental bodies to establish time lines for an application approval process and penalties mostly in the form of reduced fees for not adhering to the timeline. The bill is intended to help businesses navigate a sometimes complex and time consuming maze of state and local permitting, licensing, zoning and other requirements in order to do business. Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle is among those behind the legislation.

Trust Code Revisions

HB 121 and HB 122 by Rep. Chuck Efstration (R-Dacula) are the result of the work of the Trust Code Revision Committee of the State Bar’s Fiduciary Law Section and we appreciate David Miraldi of SunTrust Bank who represented GBA in their deliberations. H.B. 121 deals with minor or unborn beneficiaries; changes provisions relating to nonjudicial settlement agreements, the modification and termination of noncharitable trusts, and distribution to another trust; and changes provisions relating to modification or termination of uneconomic trusts. H.B. 122 deals with the Uniform Statutory Rule Against Perpetuities, so as to change provisions relating to the validity of nonvested property interest or power of appointment; and changes provisions relating to reform of disposition by court to approximate transferor's plan of distribution among other things.

GBA Opposes

Foreclosure – Confirmation Waiver Prohibition
SB 86 by Sen. Jesse Stone (R-Waynesboro) adds judgments and levys to the real estate sales subject to a mandatory confirmation process in order to pursue a deficiency. The bill also prohibits contracts from including language to waive the requirement. 

Monitoring with Concerns

Wire Transfer Fee 
HB 66 by Rep. Jeff Jones (R-Brunswick) would mandate a $10 fee for certain wire transfers and allow those paying the fee to recoup the fee when filing their next annual tax return. GBA has serious concerns with the bill and we appreciate Rep. Jones listening and making changes to the bill. 


Abandoned Mobile Homes
HB 381 by Rep. John Corbett (R-Lake Park) establishes a new procedure for the disposal of abandoned mobile homes. 

Appraisers, Real Estate Agents, Salespersons – Disciplinary Action
HB 39 by Rep. Alan Powell gives a 10-day period for any of the affected licensees to notify the licensing board of convictions of certain offences and replaces the requirement for automatic revocation of a license to a permissive process.

Bankruptcy – Extinguish Liens

SB 87 by Sen. Jesse Stone (R-Waynesboro) would create a new process to extinguish certain liens against property after the debtor has been discharged from his debts in a bankruptcy proceeding 

Bankruptcy Exemptions – HSAs, MSAs
SB 71 by Sen. Jesse Stone (R-Waynesboro) would add Health Savings Accounts and Medical Savings Accounts to the list of property that is exempt from bankruptcy.

Boat Titling
HB 357 by Rep. Ron Stephens (R-Garden City) creates a process by which boats and other watercraft will be titled. 
Civil Proceedings – File Electronically
HB 15 by Rep. Wendell Willard (R-Sandy Springs) would create a new process by which certain civil proceedings will be filed electronically with the courts. Convenience fees for those using credit card or bank drafting service is limited to no more than 3.5 percent of the legislated fees plus $0.30 per transaction. 

Corporate Registrations 

HB 87 by Rep. Brad Raffensperger (R-Johns Creek) would make the current annual corporate registration requirement good for three years.

Credit Checks Employees/Potential Employees
HB 182- by Rep. Winfred Dukes (D-Albany) would prohibit credit checks on certain current and potential employees. Employees of banks and credit unions would be exempt from the prohibition. 

Fair Business Practices – Solicitation of Real Estate Conveyance Instruments
HB 197 by Rep. Sam Teasley (R-Marietta) would require any mail solicitations for services to obtain a copy of an instrument conveying real estate to be in large type and contain specific language indicating the mailing is a solicitation, not a bill. 

Fee collection requirement for wire transfers

HB 66 by Rep. Jeff Jones (R-Brunswick) would require a new state fee to be collected when certain wire transfers are initiated. An early draft of the legislation included banks among the entities that would have been subject to the collection requirement, and our thanks to Rep. Jones for exempting banks as long as the wires are initiated in the normal course of doing business with, or on behalf of, customers.

Foreclosure – Cure Before a Sale
HB 27 by Rep. Billy Mitchell (D-Stone Mountain) creates a process allowing a defaulting borrower to cure the default prior to a sale of the property.

SB 194 by Sen. Jesse Stone (R-Waynesboro) makes several changes to the garnishment code among which are the earnings subject to garnishment, service of garnishments, the time a garnishment may be outstanding and the evidence that may be presented to the court. 

Homeowner Association – Fees
HB 410 by Rep. Sam Teasley (R-Marietta) restricts the initial assessments of new purchasers of lots within a homeowner association to one month of dues and limits the fees that an HOA can charge to provide documentation related to amounts owed to the HOA. 
Home Owners Association Governance
HB 203
by Rep. Brian Strickland (R-McDonough) establishes new procedures for home owners associations may expand their scope and changes certain related governance restrictions.

Homeowner Association Lien Rights
SB 187 by Sen. Donzella James (D-Atlanta) changes procedures by which homeowner associations foreclosure their lien rights for certain outstanding debts.

Industrial Loan Act – Contracts
SB 198 by Sen. Elena Parent (D-Atlanta) prohibits Georgia Industrial Loan Act licensees from using instruments like checks to create contracts under certain circumstances.
Installment Loan Pawn Transactions
HB 353 by Rep. Brett Harrell (R-Snellville) creates a new opportunity for pawn transactions to be handled as installment loans. 

Livestock Dealers and Auctions – Surety Requirement
HB 49 by Rep. Clay Pirkle (R-Ashburn) adds letters of credit, certificates of deposit and other instruments issued by lending institutions to the surety bond options for livestock dealers and licensed auction houses to use as bond to cover losses resulting from the failure to pay the purchase price for animals being sold.

Maps, Plats, Plan Filings
HB 76 by Rep. Rick Jasperse (R-Jasper) makes several changes to legislation passed in the 2016 session creating a more user-friendly system for the filing of maps, plats and plans for real estate. This bill mostly deals with condominium projects and land surveyors.

Motor Vehicle Fair Market Value
HB 327 by Rep. Jay Powell (R-Camilla) changes the method by which the fair market value of certain motor vehicles is determined.

Notaries Public
HB 120 by Rep. Andy Welch (R-McDonough) makes substantial revisions to the Georgia Notary Public code similar to legislation introduced in prior sessions.

Recording of Deeds – Constructive Notice
SB 120
by Sen. William Ligon (R-Brunswick) establishes a procedure for the correction of defects in attestations and acknowledgments to certain filings.

Statewide Tax Lien Registry
HB 337 by Rep. Bruce Williamson (R-Monroe) creates a new process by which state tax liens will be registered at the state level. The bill is a priority of the Department of Revenue. 

Tax Credits – Rural Georgia Revitalization

HB 73 by Rep. Penny Houston (R-Nashville) provides tax credit incentives to promote the revitalization of vacant rural Georgia downtowns by encouraging investment, job creation, and economic growth in long-established business districts.