State Banking Issues

Georgia General Assembly 2020 Session

The Georgia General Assembly convenes Jan. 13 for the second session of a 2-year legislative cycle. Legislation not completed in the 2019 session may still be considered in the 2020 session.

GBA is represented throughout each session 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. 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.

GBA's Georgia General Assembly Legislation Tracker

Below are the banking and financial services bills we are tracking during the 2020 session.

GBA Priority / Supported

Department of Banking and Finance Housekeeping Bill (Priority)
HB 781 by Rep. Bruce Williamson (R-Monroe) is the annual bill crafted by the Banking Department with input from GBA’s Bank Counsel Section and other stakeholders. Among the major provisions are those that would allow a de novo bank to pay a dividend before becoming cumulatively profitable in certain circumstances; allow the Department to waive director residency requirements; revise the requirements to acquire a trust company; clarify that representative offices may exercise the same powers as other bank offices; and add night depositories as an extension of a bank location.

Director and Officer Liability
SB 373
by Sen. John Kennedy (R-Macon) is patterned after GBA’s legislation from 2018 that gave directors and officers of banks and other business corporations gross negligence protections under the state’s Business Judgment Rule. This bill applies to directors and officers of not-for-profit corporations like those who serve on the Board of Directors of the Georgia Bankers Association.

Electronic and Remote Online Notarization
HB 785 by Rep. Joseph Gullett (R-Dallas) creates additional ways to notarize documents by electronic means. The Georgia Superior Courts Clerks Authority will be empowered to develop and maintain rules and standards. The bill is a unanimous recommendation of the Georgians First Commission. 

Income Tax - Hurricane Michael Relief
HB 105 by Rep. Sam Watson (R-Moultrie) would exempt federal disaster relief payments to victims of Hurricane Michael from state income taxes.

Tort Reform
SB 390 and SB 415 by Sen. Steve Gooch (R-Dahlonega) are comprehensive bills to streamline the process of litigation and reduce costs for Georgia's industries, small businesses and citizens. 

Banking Improvement Zone
HB 552 by Rep. Spencer Frye (D-Athens) would provide an incentive for financial institutions to operate in under-served areas designated as Banking Improvement Zones by the Department of Community Affairs by allowing the local governmental entity to place deposits with a financial institution as long as the fixed rate of interest is at or below the institution’s posted two-year certificate of deposit rate.

SB 20 by Sen. Michael Rhett (D-Marietta) would provide an incentive for financial institutions to operate in under-served areas designated as Banking Improvement Zones by the Department of Community Affairs by allowing the local governmental entity to place deposits with a financial institution as long as the fixed rate of interest is at or below the institution’s posted two-year certificate of deposit rate.

Bills Opposed

Local Government Infrastructure Financing Authorities
SB 309
by Sen. Jesse Stone (R-Waynesboro) creates the Georgia Municipal and Local Government Infrastructure Finance Authority and the Georgia County and Local Government Infrastructure Finance Authority to facilitate the purchase or lease of infrastructure by participating local governments.  The authorities would have broad powers including the ability to issue revenue bonds to finance infrastructure. GBA is opposed as the bill would consolidate into one of these statewide authorities some of the public financing of various types of loan and lease transactions that are currently being facilitated by our members at the local level. 

Elder Financial Abuse
HB 402 by Rep. Houston Gaines (R-Athens) would expand the current statute requiring bankers to report suspected cases of elderly financial exploitation to also report instances of suspected elder abuse and neglect. GBA is opposed as bankers are simply not in a position to spot abuse and neglect. Reports from bankers have risen related to suspected cases of financial exploitation as bankers are better equipped to make those reports.

PACE Loans

SB 162 by Sen. Matt Brass (R-Newnan) is related to financing broadband services that originally included language prohibiting lenders from accelerating loans under certain circumstances. PACE is the abbreviation for property assessed clean energy financing and the concept is being hawked as an alternative means of financing energy efficiency upgrades, disaster resiliency improvements, water conservation measures, or renewable energy installations of residential, commercial, and industrial property owners. Obviously these types of loans are readily available from traditional lenders. What’s unique about PACE loans is that they are authorized by a public entity (in this case a Downtown Development Authority or other Development Authority), the loan payments are made along with property tax payments, and the loan balance has the same super priority lien status that a tax lien would have should a foreclosure occur. These loans all run with the property and not the borrower, so if a property is sold, the PACE loan obligation remains. GBA is opposed as the bill would create a superlien that has priority over existing liens held by our members.

Bills Monitored

HB 19 by Rep. Sandra Scott (D-Rex) would create a comprehensive state civil rights law protecting individuals from discrimination in housing, public accommodations and employment.

Bank Data Match – State Tax Delinquencies
HB 452 by Rep. Steven Sainz (R-Woodbine) would allow the Department of Revenue access to the child support data match registry to search, levy and seize deposits found of delinquent tax payers.

HR 875 by Rep. Dar’Shun Kendrick (D-Lithonia) would create the House Study Committee on Financing Options for Cannabis-based Businesses. 

Checks for Payroll
HB 110 by Rep. Tom Kirby (R-Loganville) would give employers the discretion to issue payroll for wages in the manner chosen by the employer.

Cybersecurity Study Committee
HR 1093 by Rep. Don Parsons (R-Marietta) creates a committee to better understand whether additional security requirements for privacy protection and increased investments in better internet-of-things related security measures should be considered. 

Cybersecurity Task Force
HB 862 by Rep. Dar’Shun Kendrick (D-Lithonia) creates a cybersecurity task force to study and make recommendations in eight areas related to the security of connected computing devices.
Dedicated Taxes and Fees
HR 164 by Rep. Jay Powell (R-Camilla) would amend the Constitution so as to authorize the General Assembly to provide by general law for the dedication of revenues derived from fees or taxes to the public purpose for which such fees or taxes were imposed.

Dispossessory Proceedings
HB 1022 by Rep. Sharon Cooper (R-Marietta) revises procedures for the initiation of dispossessory actions to require a demand by the owner and a tenant's opportunity to cure.

Elder Abuse Reporting
HB 955 by Rep. Chuck Efstration (R-Dacula) increases the penalty for willfully failing to report cases of elder financial exploitation to a misdemeanor of a high and aggravated nature.

HB 978 by Rep. Bee Nguyen (D-Atlanta) amends the current statute related to mandated reporters including employees of financial institutions to prohibit 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. The bill was amended to remove private right of action language and merged with HB 987 by Rep. Sharon Cooper (R-Marietta) which is a comprehensive bill that increases the oversight of elder care facilities 

Electronic Filing – Courts
SB 38 by Sen. William Ligon (R-Brunswick) would exclude certain filings such as those related to the enforcement of child support orders to be entered into the clerk of court’s electronic filing registry.

Factory Built Buildings and Residential Units
HB 1008 by Rep. Joe Campbell (R-Camilla) removes the requirement that factory-built buildings be permanently attached to a metal chassis.

Fair Housing Discrimination
SB 286 by Sen. Tonya Anderson (D-Lithonia) and HB 1010 by Rep. Kim Schofield (D-Atlanta) are identical bills that among other things, prohibits lenders from discriminating in the making of loans secured by residential real property on the basis of hairstyles historically associated with race.
FDIC Insurance Premium Deductibility
HB 762 by Rep. John Carson (R-Marietta) would restore the deduction of FDIC insurance premiums from state income tax liability for banks that lost the deduction when legislation was adopted to conform with recent federal tax reform legislation. 

FinTech Regulatory Sandbox
HB 763 by Rep. Todd Jones (R-Cumming) empowers the Attorney General to designate a developing financial product or service as innovative and in so doing, that would allow a person, without being licensed or registered as would otherwise be required, to test the products or services for a limited time and on a limited basis. 

Foreclosures, Military
HB 776 by Rep. Billy Mitchell (D-Stone Mountain) would provide protections for military service members in the event of foreclosures or other proceedings to enforce secured obligations.
Fraudulent Transfers
HB 396 by Rep. Dale Washburn (R-Macon) would provide that it shall be unlawful for a person with intent to hinder, delay, impair, or defraud a creditor's rights to deed or otherwise transfer title to real property to another person without the knowledge or consent of such other person.

SB 443 by Sen. Jesse Stone (R-Waynesboro) is a substantial revision to the current garnishment statute with one of the more significant provisions being to extend Georgia’s continuing garnishments from six months to three years.

Gross Receipts
HB 715 by Rep. Shaw Blackmon (R-Bonaire) removes certain references to gross receipts in the tax code.

HB 847
by Rep. John Corbett (R-Lake Park) builds off legislation passed in 2019 setting up a regulatory structure for growing and processing hemp in order for the Georgia Department of Agriculture’s policies and procedures will be in compliance with federal law and regulations.

Homeowner Association
HB 904 by Rep. Jesse Petrea (R-Savannah) changes “lot owner” to “declarant” as a party that may request exemption from assessments.

Homeowner Association Study Committee
HR 933
by Rep. William Bodie (D-East Point) creates a committee to study how homeowners’, condominium owners’ and similar community associations could be better organized to implement requirements and procedures for turnover and transition from
declarants, developers or management companies.

Homeowner/Property Owner Association Statement of Accounts
SB 178 by Rep. P.K. Martin, IV (R-Lawrenceville) would establish a statutory statement of accounts to be used by authorized parties representing homeowner or property owner associations to respond to requests for information needed by mortgage lenders to consider a loan request, including outstanding fees owed by property owners.

Information Security Officer – Covenants
HB 81 by Rep. Todd Jones (R-Cumming) would prohibit restrictive covenants from being included in information technology employee contract agreements.

Infrastructure Financing
SR 793 by Sen. Brandon Beach (R-Alpharetta) that creates a joint House-Senate Study Committee on private financing of infrastructure projects. 

Installment Land Contracts
HB 729 by Rep. Debra Bazemore (D-South Fulton) creates a filing process with the Clerk of Superior Court of a new type of document related to the sale of land over a period of five or more years.

Lien Waivers
SB 315
by Sen. Lindsey Tippins (R-Marietta) intends to address Court of Appeals decisions involving waivers of liens and notices of nonpayment in contractor-subcontractor relationships.  As background, the Courts reversed the customary belief that not perfecting a lien waiver waived a contractor’s lien rights, but did not affect the contractor’s right to bring a subsequent breach of contract action. The proposed bill reverses the Court of Appeals decisions and codifies the industry’s prior understanding. If passed, contractors may bring a breach of contract action (usually for non-payment) even if they do not perfect their lien rights. The bill also adds an additional 30 days for the contractor to perfect their lien to bring the time to 90 days.

Peer-to-peer Vehicle Sharing
HB 337 by Rep. Shaw Blackmon (R-Bonaire) would establish a regulatory structure for peer-to-peer vehicle sharing services. 

Probate Code
HB 865 by Rep. Mitchell Scoggins (R-Cartersville) is a substantial rewrite of the Probate Code that was last revised in 1999.

Property Tax Bills
HB 411 by Rep. Brett Harrell (R-Snellville) would preclude tax commissioners from including on property tax bills nontax related fees or assessments, including, but not limited to, storm-water service fees or solid waste service fees.

Record Restriction
HB 528 by Rep. Mandi Ballinger (R-Canton) allows the convictions of certain crimes to be concealed. 

Restroom Accessibility
HB 828 by Rep. Ron Stephens (R-Savannah) would require retail establishments to allow access to employee restrooms if public restrooms are not available for customers that have written documentation from health professionals of certain illnesses. Exemptions are included for locations where sensitive or federally protected information is stored.

Right to Farm
HB 545 
by Rep. Tom McCall (R-Elberton) seeks to strengthen and protect farmers from loopholes in the existing right to farm statute.

Rural Capital Investment
HB 930 by Rep. John Corbett (R-Lake Park) amends the Georgia Agribusiness and Rural Jobs Act to add $100 million of additional credits to be available for eligible capital investment purposes in counties having population less than 75,000. The bill has been assigned to the House Ways and Means Committee. GBA is monitoring.

Self-settled Spendthrift Trust
SB 186 by Sen. Bill Cowsert (R-Athens) creates a new trust in Georgia that allows the creator of the trust to also be the beneficiary of the trust.

Stored Value Cards
HB 488 by Rep. Martin Momtahan (R-Dallas) would establish a process intended to prevent the use of stored value cards to commit organized retail crime.

Student Loan Defaults – Professional Licenses
HB 42 by Rep. Scot Turner (R-Holy Springs). The bill would prohibit the state’s professional licensing boards from refusing to issue a license or suspending or revoking the license of a person who is a borrower in default under an educational loan issued through the Georgia Higher Education Assistance Corporation or through a federal agency. Among other licensees, those for money transmitters, check cashers and mortgage brokers are included.

SB 92 by Sen. Brandon Beach (R-Alpharetta) would prohibit a professional licensing board from revoking licenses due solely to a student loan default.

Subpoenas, GBI
HB 641 by Rep. Eddie Lumsden (R-Armuchee) authorizes subpoena powers for the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, upon the approval of the Attorney General, to investigate alleged violations of the Georgia Computer Systems Protection Act. Ransomware attacks would be the most likely type of crimes covered by the new subpoena powers.

Tax Credits, Deductions and Exemptions
SB 302
by Sen. John Albers (R-Roswell) creates a process to review various state tax credits, deductions and exemptions. GBA has provided Sen. Albers an analysis of the Bank Tax Credit developed by GBA’s Tax Advisory Committee explaining the background of the credit and that it is neither an incentive nor transferable credit.

Timber Harvesting

HB 897 by Rep. James Burchett (R-Waycross) requires the State Forestry Commission to develop a website to provide a state-wide notification platform for persons or firms harvesting standing timber to utilize as a uniform system of notification to local governing authorities.

Timber Loss Tax Deduction
HB 919 by Rep. Matt Hatchett (R-Dublin) provides for a deduction from Georgia taxable income for casualty losses of timber in an amount based on the diminution of value.

Title Pawn
SB 329 by Sen. Randy Robertson (R-Cataula) provides for the regulation of the title pawn industry and places oversight in the Department of Banking and Finance. The lenders are being authorized to make loans up to $3,000 for three years or less with an APR not to exceed 36%. The Department is authorized to charge fees to cover the cost of supervision. Banks are specifically exempted.

HB 968 by Rep. Chuck Efstration (R-Dacula) and SB 451 by Sen. John Kennedy (R-Macon) are identical bills that would overturn Court of Appeals decisions that ensure existing warranties in contracts would remain in effect.

Wire Transfers
HB 532 by Rep. Jeff Jones (R-Brunswick) would require the collection of a defined fee to be remitted to the state for sending certain wire transfers.

Special Recognition
HR 826 by Rep. Alan Powell (R-Hartwell) recognizes Margaret Ayers of Northeast Georgia Bank, Lavonia, for 75 years of service at the bank.

HR 912 by Rep. Ron Stephens (R-Savannah) recognizes former GBA Chairman Jimmy Burnsed for his leadership to the State of Georgia and especially Bryan County. The resolution also calls for an interchange on I-95 to be named in his honor.

HR 913 by Ron Stephens (R-Savannah)  recognizes Jimmy Burnsed and another local leader, Harold Fowler, and calls for a bridge to be named in their honor. Congratulations, Jimmy!

SR 746 by Sen. Butch Miller (R-Gainesville) recognizes Ron Quinn, president and CEO of Peach State Bank, Gainesville, for his years of community service and recently being recognized with the prestigious 2020 Gainesville Rotary W. Lee Arrendale Vocational Excellence Award.