2017 Summary of State Banking Issues

The 2017 Session of the Georgia General Assembly began Jan. 9 and ended March 30. GBA monitored 45 bills this session and was represented throughout the 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.

This was the first session of a 2-year legislative cycle which means essentially that legislation not completed in 2017 may be carried over to the 2018 session.

Below is a summary of the bills we tracked.

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 that Passed

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 chartered 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. The bill passed the House on a vote of 166 to 1. The bill was handled in the Senate by Sen. John Kennedy (R-Macon) and passed the Senate on a vote of 44 to 8. 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) will enhance the liability protection for board members and bank officers in their decision-making process. In FDIC v. Loudermilk, the Georgia Supreme Court bifurcated the decision-making process from the decision. In simple terms, the results of the case were that directors and officers would be held accountable for their decisions under a gross negligence standard of care, while being held accountable for their decision-making process under an ordinary negligence standard of care. The bill removes the bifurcation, and both the decision-making process and the decision will be judged under a gross negligence standard. The bill passed the House on a vote of 128 to 40. Sen. John Kennedy (R-Macon) handled the bill in the Senate where it passed on a vote of 41 to 10. Click to read an issue brief about the need to adopt this legislation. 

Bills Monitored that Passed

GBA Supported

Power of Attorney
HB 221 
by Rep. Chuck Efstration (R-Dacula) is essentially a rewrite of the current power of attorney statute. Our thanks to Rep. Efstration for making a number of changes we recommended in the legislation.

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.

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.

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. 

Electronic Lien and Title – Commercial Vehicles
HB 412 by Rep. Timothy Barr (R-Lawrenceville) would expand the current electronic lien and title program to certain commercial motor vehicles.

GBA’s 125th Anniversary
Sen. William Ligon (R-Brunswick) and Rep. Greg Morris (R-Vidalia) were the lead sponsors of SR 455 and HR 648, companion resolutions in their respective chambers honoring GBA and recognizing the contributions of our state’s banks to the benefit of all Georgians on the occasion of GBA’s upcoming 125th anniversary.

GBA Monitored

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

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. 

Eminent Domain
HB 434 by Rep. Wendell Willard (R-Sandy Springs) would revise the current statute to include provisions related to blighted property.

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. 

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.

Firearms Licensees Right to Financial Services
HB 292 by Rep. Rick Jasperse (R-Jasper) was introduced to update several provisions of the Georgia code related to firearms. The bill was amended in the Senate Judiciary Committee chaired by Sen. Jesse Stone (R-Waynesboro) to include a provision he requested that establishes for the first time in Georgia law, a protected class for anyone having a federal firearms license. The bill, if signed by the Governor, will require any individual or business to provide financial services to a licensee unless there is a reason not to, other than the fact they are holding a firearms license. Sen. Stone included language we requested last year removing a private right of action and having the Attorney General enforce the statute. He also included preemption language requested by the Banking Department should the provision be ruled inapplicable to nationally-chartered banks by the OCC. GBA monitored.

Bankruptcy – Extinguish Liens/HSAs, MSAs
SB 87 by Sen. Jesse Stone (R-Waynesboro) creates a new process to extinguish certain liens against property after the debtor has been discharged from his debts in a bankruptcy proceeding. Sen. Stone was able to get the House to amend onto this bill, language from another of his bills, SB 71 that adds Health Savings Accounts and Medical Savings Accounts to the list of property that is exempt from bankruptcy.

Others Monitored and Carrying Over

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

Banking Empowerment Zone
SB 213 by Sen. Josh McKoon (R-Columbus) would incent financial institutions to operate in underserved areas designated as Banking Empowerment Zones by allowing the local governmental entity to place deposits with such financial institution as long as the rate of interest in at least equal to the institution’s posted two year rate paid on certificates of deposit.

Boat Titling
HB 357
by Rep. Ron Stephens (R-Garden City). The bill creates a process by which boats and other watercraft will be titled. GBA supports.

Civil Proceedings – File Electronically
HB 15 by Rep. Wendell Willard (R-Sandy Springs). The bill creates 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. GBA supports.

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.

Cyber Challenge Study Committee
SR 318 by Sen. Harold Jones (D) Augusta,  creates a study committee to look into the conditions, needs, issues, and problems with cyber-attacks, cyber threats, and the demand for cyber security.

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. GBA supports.

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 – 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. GBA opposes as introduced

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.

Funeral and Cemetery Services
HR 339 by Rep. Rick Williams (R-Milledgeville) would create a House committee to review of the current code provisions relating to funeral, cemetery, and related services and issue a report of their findings and recommendations.

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.

Georgia Personal Data Security Act
HB 499 by Rep. Sheri Gilligan (R-Cumming) would require certain entities after having experienced a data breach to notify individuals whose personally identifying information has been compromised. Entities such as banks with notification procedures in place would be exempt

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 how 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.

Industrial Loan Licensees – Military Installations
HB 523
 by Rep. Brian Strickland (R-McDonough) would prohibit Industrial Loan Act licensees from having a location within certain distances of a military installation.

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.

Loans Near Military Installations
HB 620 by Rep. Earl Ehrhart (R-Powder Springs) limits industrial loan licensee locations near military installations, requires insurance disclosures and prohibits licensees from selling an insurance product in which they have an interest.

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.

Motor Vehicles - Abandoned
HB 417 by Rep. Wendell Willard (R-Sandy Springs) adds provisions related to motorized and non-motorized trailers to the current abandoned motor vehicle statute.

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.

Property Tax Bills
HB 204 
by Rep. Brett Harrell (R-Snellville) would prohibit any non-tax fees to be included on an ad valorem tax bill.

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. 

Save, Earn, Win Act
SB 134 by Sen. David Shafer (R-Duluth) authorizes banks and credit unions to offer a deposit account with a raffle component to encourage savings. GBA participated in a press conference with Sen. Shafer in announcing the introduction of the legislation. GBA supports.

Self-settled Trusts
HB 441 by Rep. Barry Fleming (R-Harlem) creates a new trust instrument in Georgia that allows the creator of the trust to also be the beneficiary of the trust

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.

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.