2015 Legislation that Passed in the Georgia General Assembly

Parity for State Chartered Banks
GBA’s priority bill for the session, HB 184 by Rep. Bruce Williamson (R-Monroe) revises and modernizes the banking code in several areas. One of the more important changes broadens the authority of the Commissioner to rule on parity requests to ensure state-chartered banks have competitive equity with nationally-chartered institutions. The parity provision came from a recommendation of the GBA Code Review Task Force.

Transportation Network Companies
HB 190 by Rep. Rich Golick (R-Smyrna) requires rideshare transportation networks such as Uber and Lyft and their drivers to have proper casualty and liability insurance on personal vehicles used for a commercial purpose. In addition to setting coverage minimums and other standards, the bill requires a borrower to notify the lienholder if a personal vehicle is being used for hire. We worked with a variety of network and insurance interests to ensure the notification language remained in the bill.

Fee for Failure to File Deed Following Foreclosure / Deed Witness Process
HB 322 by Rep. Brian Strickland (R-McDonough) would have established a late fee of $500 if the foreclosure deed is not recorded within 90 days of the foreclosure sale. We worked with Rep. Strickland and the requirement is now to file the deed within 90 days of the foreclosure, but the fee would not become effective unless the failure to file was more than 30 days past the 90 day filing requirement. Another bill we’ve been monitoring, HB 267 by Rep. Trey Kelley (R-Cedartown), was amended onto this bill. That language clarifies the process for witnessing deeds, mortgages and bills of sale.

Federal Home Loan Bank / Insurance Companies
HB 624 by Rep. Eddie Lumsden (R-Armuchee) and SB 229 by Sen. Burt Jones (R-Jackson) are identical bills that would provide the Federal Home Loan Bank (FHLB) with a priority position in regard to pledged collateral in the event an insurance company member fails. Having that priority position allows an FHLB to avoid requiring overcollateralization and bigger haircuts on advances to their insurance company members. The language contained in SB 229 was amended onto HB 552 related to Captive Insurance Companies prior to its passage. GBA supported the legislation.

Appraisal Management Companies
HB 253 by Rep. Mandi Ballinger (R-Canton) authorizes the Georgia Real Estate Appraisal Board to adopt regulations on reasonable and customary fees being paid appraisers by Appraisal Management Companies for appraisals done on federally-related transactions. 

Banking Code Revisions
HB 90 by Rep. Wendell Willard (R-Sandy Springs) would make a number of technical revisions to Section 7 of the Official Code of Georgia which governs banking and finance. GBA supported the bill, which Gov. Deal signed into law.

Bankruptcy Exemptions / UCC
SB 65 by Sen. Jesse Stone (R-Waynesboro) relating to exemptions for the purposes of bankruptcy and intestate insolvent estates raises the debtor's aggregate interest from $600 to $1,200 in value plus any unused amount of the exemption is raised from $5,000 to $10,000 in any property. Another bill, HB 197, related to helpful changes in the Uniform Commercial Code was added to the bill. GBA did not oppose the bankruptcy exemption increase but did support the UCC language related to the debtor and creditor section. 

Boards of Directors and Officers
SB 128 by Sen. John Kennedy (R-Macon) was sponsored at the request of the State Bar of Georgia to adjust a variety of code provisions governing how boards of directors operate and their responsibilities. GBA monitored the bill to ensure language associated with director and officer liability language related to process claims was not added. Such language was not offered.

Unauthorized Practice of Law
HB 153 by Rep. Tom Weldon (R-Ringgold) provides a civil action for damages for a party harmed by an individual violating the unauthorized practice of law or similar rulings by the Supreme Court of Georgia. GBA worked with the author to add clarifying language to preserve a lender’s current ability to prepare certain loan documents. 

Certified Process Servers and Court Records
SB 135 by Sen. Charlie Bethel (R-Dalton) provides a variety of protections and disclosure requirements for records held by the clerk of the superior court. 

Condo Association Fee Assessments
HB 245 by Rep. Matt Dollar (R-Marietta) will limit the amount of special assessment fees condo associations can impose to one-sixth of the regular yearly assessment without approval of a majority of unit owners. 

Consumer Affairs
SB 148 by Sen. John Kennedy (R-Macon) transfers the powers and responsibilities of the Governor’s Office of Consumer Affairs to the Attorney General’s office. The bill was introduced at the request of the Governor. Of interest to banking is the oversight of the Fair Business Practices Act that is being moved with the proposed change.

Elder Abuse
HB 72 by Rep. Wendell Willard (R-Sandy Springs) clarifies existing law related to elder abuse and adds investment companies to the list of mandatory reporters that already includes financial institutions. 

Convenience Fees for Industrial Loan Payments
HB 299 by Emory Dunahoo (R-Gainesville) will allow a merchant or lender to charge customers convenience fees for processing credit card, debit cards or other forms of electronic payment for a variety of industrial and other loan or financing arrangements. 

Escrow Fund Account Choice
SB 95 by Sen. Michael Williams (R-Cumming) will allow real estate brokers a wider choice of accounts for their escrow funds by stipulating that such funds shall be maintained in an account at a federally insured financial institution. The current law specifies an account at a federally insured bank checking account.

Local Government Investment Pool Trust Fund
HB 95 by Rep. Kevin Tanner (R-Dawsonville) will allow the state treasurer to establish and administer a trust fund for a local government’s investment pool when it is consolidated with state funds under the control of the state treasurer for investment purposes. 

Nonpublic Post-secondary Educational Institutions
HB 353 by Rep. Carl Rogers (R-Gainesville), among other things, will allow one of the covered institutions that is unable to secure a bond required by the Commission on Higher Education to instead provide a bank standby letter of credit.

Public Private Partnerships
SB 59 by Sen. Hunter Hill (R-Atlanta) establishes a 10-person committee that will provide oversight and guidelines for facilitating public-private partnerships for the financing, construction and/or operation of vertical structures such as schools, dormitories, structured parking, healthcare facilities, offices or other government facilities.

Payroll Cards
SB 88 by Sen. Burt Jones (R-Jackson) allows companies to pay employees with a payroll card. 

Property – Georgia Uniform Civil Property Forfeiture Statute
HB 233 by Rep. Alex Atwood (R-St. Simons Island) would provide a comprehensive civil property forfeiture statute mainly comprised of technical corrections to numerous related parts of the Official Code of Georgia.

Civil Property Forfeiture Procedure
HB 233 by Rep. Alex Atwood (R-St. Simons Island) is a comprehensive rewrite of the current civil property forfeiture statute.

Solar Technology Financing
HB 57 by Rep. Mike Dudgeon (R-Johns Creek) allows third parties, including utilities such as Georgia Power, to provide financing for homeowners to install solar power systems.

State Depositories
SB 104 by Sen. Mike Dugan (R-Carrollton) makes a number of mostly technical changes to the State Depository Board statute.

Taxes – Late Filing Dates
HB 234 by Rep. Dale Rutledge (R-McDonough) will include days on which the Federal Reserve Bank is closed in the list of days that excuse late filing or payment of taxes.

Property Tax Assessments
HB 202 by Rep. Paul Battles (R-Cartersville) is a major overhaul of the property tax assessment process, including various related issues such as the property tax assessment appeals process, the appraisal process for property tax assessment purposes, qualifications for appraisers for assessment purposes and more.