State Banking Issues - 2018

The 2018 Session of the Georgia General Assembly began Jan. 8 and ended March 29. GBA 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 second session of a 2-year legislative cycle which means essentially that legislation not completed in 2017 was carried over to the 2018 session and all bills not passed by the close of the 2018 session will need to be reintroduced in a subsequent session if the author chooses to move forward.

GBA's Georgia General Assembly Legislation Tracker

Below are the banking and financial services bills we tracked during the 2018 session along with the results: 

Bills Monitored that Passed

Georgia Department of Banking and Finance Housekeeping Bill
HB 780
by Rep. Bruce Williamson (R-Monroe) is GBA’s priority legislation as it continues to tweak some of the major work done by GBA’s three-year public private partnership between the Department and the GBA Bank Counsel Section. Among a number of other issues, included in the 2018 revision are modifications to the parity between state and nationally chartered institutions and additional authority given shareholders to expand liability protections to bank directors and officers. The annual housekeeping bill is designed to ensure the Georgia banking code is among the best in the nation.

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

Administrative Procedures
SB 338 
by Sen. William Ligon (R-Brunswick) amends the Administrative Procedures Act to include a mechanism for the General Assembly to object and potentially stop rules promulgated by agencies covered by the Act. 

Agriculture Machinery/Equipment Sales and Use Tax Exemption
HB 886 by Rep. Sam Watson (R-Moultrie) doubles the sales and use tax exemption from $2,500 to $5,000 for machinery and equipment used in the production of certain agriculture products and livestock.

Broadband Access
HB 887 by Rep. Jay Powell (R-Camilla) would simplify state and local taxes and local franchise fees to make it easier to finance broadband projects. The bill is one of the recommendations from the House Rural Development Council following statewide meetings in 2017.

SB 402 by Sen. Steve Gooch (R-Dawsonville) is similar to HB 887 above and also includes authorizing the state Department of Transportation to deploy broadband technology along interstate highway right-of-way.

SB 426 by Sen. Steve Gooch (R-Dawsonville) outlines the rules local governments may enact related to restricting right-of-way access to broadband infrastructure.

Business Court
HR 993 by Rep. Chuck Efstration (R-Duluth) proposes an amendment to the Georgia Constitution that would establish a business court with state-wide jurisdiction. A state-wide business court would provide specialized resolution of complex business litigation matters. The concept was developed from years of work by interested business interests who felt establishing a business court would create a reliable and effective forum for litigants throughout the state. By removing complex, time-consuming business cases from the general docket, non-business cases should be resolved more efficiently. 

Consumer Credit Reporting Bureau Fees
SB 376 Sen. David Shafer (R-Duluth) removes the statutory authorization for a consumer credit reporting agency to charge a fee to a consumer who chooses to place or remove a security freeze on the consumer’s account. Additionally the bill contains language clarifying that banks chartered in U.S. Territories may issue letters of credit in Georgia.


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.

Healthcare Provider Choice of Payment
HB 818 by Rep. Lee Hawkins (R-Gainesville), in addition to capping certain card transaction fees, allows health care providers to choose the form of payment for services paid by health insurers. At GBA's request, some of the language in the bill as introduced was removed.

Homeowner/Condo Association – Fees
HB 410 by Rep. Alan Powell (R-Hartwell) 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. The bill was amended in committee and now outlines the procedures to be followed and limits the fees a homeowner or condo association may charge to provide documentation related to amounts owed to the association.

Insurance Information Sharing Notices
SB 350 by Sen. Larry Walker (R-Perry) removes the requirement of an insurance company or agent to send an annual privacy notice to consumers if no information has changed relative to the company’s information sharing policy.

Limited Credit Insurance Agency
HB 938 
by Rep. Darlene Taylor (R-Thomasville) authorizes the creation of a new entity called a Limited Credit Insurance Agency designed to provide a licensing alternative to covered entities such as banks so that the agency will be licensed negating the need for individuals to hold a limited credit insurance license from the Insurance Department.

Power of Attorney
HB 897 
by Rep. Chuck Efstration (R-Dacula) continues the significant work accomplished last session revising the state’s Power of Attorney statute. The revisions this year contain additional provisions as well as corrections and amendments to certain provisions previously enacted. 

Real Estate Recordings
HB 1036 by Rep. Chuck Martin (R-Alpharetta) allows the Fulton County Clerk of Superior Court to adopt a requirement that recordings related to certain real estate filings contain parcel identifying numbers.

Real Property Taxation
HR 1317 by Rep. Andy Welch (R-McDonough) creates a study committee on reforming real property taxation.

Rural Healthcare
HB 769 by Rep. Rick Jasperse (R-Jasper) contains the healthcare recommendations from the House Rural Development Council. Among those are the elimination of the requirement for a pharmacist to be present at all times in a hospital pharmacy; expediting the credentialing process for access to state medical plans; the establishment of the Rural Center for Healthcare Innovation and Sustainability; and the creation of a new entity called a micro hospital. 

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

Statewide Lien Registry
HB 661 by Rep. Bruce Williamson (R-Monroe) reworks the statewide tax lien registry passed last year to correct some unintended consequences. 

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. Synovus Bank's Blake Melton is vice chair of the Section and helped shepherd the legislation through the General Assembly. 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. The bill was amended in committe to include the provisions of H.B. 122 that 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.

Unauthorized Computer Access
SB 315 
by Sen. Bruce Thompson (R-White) creates a new crime of Unauthorized Computer Access to apply to those instances when someone gains access to a computer or network without authority and upon conviction, the individual will be punished for a misdemeanor of a high and aggravated nature.

Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets

SB 301 by Sen. John Kennedy (R-Macon) is a bill recommended by the Uniform Law Commissioners and relates to the fiduciary access to digital assets. The bill is the result of several years of work by the Commissioners and has been adopted by most other states including all those that surround Georgia.

Bills Monitored that Did Not Pass

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 opposed as introduced and testified against the bill in committee.

Ad Valorem Tax - Fair Market Value
HB 741
by Rep. John Corbett (R-Lake Park) amends the income approach to establishing fair market value for ad valorem tax purposes so as to allow the approach to be consider rather than utilized.

Alarm Verifications
HB 826 by Rep. Geoff Cauble (R-Locust Grove) allows alarm companies to auto-dispatch law enforcement without verification when an alarm is triggered as long as the company’s contract with the alarm company provides such a provision. The bill applies to financial institutions, firearms and pharmaceutical companies. 

Appraisal Management Companies
HB 775 by Rep. Alan Powell (R-Hartwell) substantially revises the code as it relates to the regulation of appraisal management companies.

Banking Improvement Zone
SB 358 by Sen. Michael "Doc" Rhett (D-Marietta) and SB 213 by Sen. Josh McKoon (R-Columbus) are identical bills that would provide an incentive for financial institutions to operate in underserved areas designated as Banking Improvement Zones by the Department of Community Affairs by allowing the local governmental entity to place deposits with such financial institution as long as the rate of interest is 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-Savannah). The bill creates a process by which boats and other watercraft will be titled.

Broadband Access
SB 232 by Sen. Steve Gooch (R-Dawsonville) that, among other things, authorizes electric membership corporations to provide broadband access.

SB 426 by Sen. Steve Gooch (R-Dawsonville) outlines the rules local governments may enact related to restricting right-of-way access to broadband infrastructure.

Business Court
HB 998 by Rep. Wendell Willard (R-Sandy Springs) is the enabling legislation that would be needed should the Business Court constitutional amendment mentioned above as HR 993, that was enacted, is approved by the voters. Instead of HB 998, the Senate chose to use HB 185 by Rep. Christian Coomer (R-Cartersville) to include language creating the Georgia Council on the State-wide Budiness Court to provide guidance to establish the court should the constitutional amendment pass. 

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.

Civil Rights
HB 987 by Rep. Sam Park (D-Lawrenceville) amends current and proposes new protections in the Georgia code dealing with housing, public accommodation and employment mostly by adding sexual orientation, gender identity and age to the existing protected classes. 

Consumer Credit Reporting Bureau Fees
HB 866 by Rep. Scot Turner (R-Holly Springs) is similar to SB 376 that did pass that remove the statutory authorization for a consumer credit reporting agency to charge a fee to a consumer who chooses to place or remove a security freeze on the consumer’s account. SB 345 by Sen. Jen Jordan (D-Atlanta) is also similar to SB 376.

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.

Crypto currencies
SB 464 by Sen. Michael Williams (R-Cumming) would require the Department of Revenue to accept crypto currencies in payment of taxes and fees.

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.

Cyber Security
SR 929 by Sen. Bruce Thompson (R-White) creates a study committee on 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. 

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

Financial Institution Tax Credit
SB 432 by Sen. John Albers (R-Roswell) would abolish the financial institution tax credit as of Dec. 31, 2019. The credit was part of a comprehensive rewrite of the bank taxation laws in the early 1980s due to the Supreme Court ruling the method in place at the time was unconstitutional. The tax credit was included to prevent a huge windfall to the state. The bill has been amended to require the state auditor to conduct an economic analysis of the credit including the change in state revenue, the cost to the state to administer the credit, the net changes in economic activity and net change in public benefit resulting from the credit. The report is due Dec. 1, 2022.

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.

Foreclosure - Military Service Members
HB 676 by Rep. Paulette Rakestraw (R-Hiram) would create a state-level protection in the event of foreclosures for military service members on active duty similar to protections already in place at the Federal level.

Fradulent Titles
SB 299 by Sen. Frank Ginn (R-Danielsville) requires that an attorney in good standing with the State Bar of Georgia must sign any documents related to the title of a property and affirm that the document being recorded is both properly prepared and not fraudulent; a notary that has knowingly notarized fraudulent documents shall be guilty of a felony and, upon conviction, subject to imprisonment of up to 5 years and/or pay a fine of $25,000.

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.

Funeral Expenses
HB 689
by Rep. Rick Williams (R-Milledgeville) removes the 90-day waiting period for a financial institution to pay up to $10,000 out of an intestate depositor’s account for funeral expenses and requires funeral expenses to be paid before any other expenses. In certain circumstances, an insurer may pay up to $10,000 of an insured’s life insurance proceeds directly to a funeral home. 

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

Guardians and Conservators
HB 896 by Rep. Chuck Efstration (R-Dacula) revises the guardian, ward and adult conservatorship statute to incorporate language recommended from the Uniform Adult Guardianship and Conservatorship Proceedings Jurisdiction Act.

Higher Education Savings Accounts
HB 664 by Rep. Sam Teasley (R-Marietta) doubles the income tax deduction for contributions to higher education savings trust accounts for individual filers to $4,000 per beneficiary and to $8,000 per beneficiary for joint filers.

Homeowner Community and Condo and Associations
HB 748 by Rep. William Boddie (D-East Point) creates the Community Association Transparency and Protection Act requiring certain documentation be provided as projects are completed and turned over to homeowner-run associations and ongoing requirements for those entities.

Homeowner/Condo Association Fee Disclosure
HB 649 
by Rep. Sam Teasley (R-Marietta) requires any condo or property owner’s association maintaining a website to have a page that discloses fees required of purchasers.

Homeowners 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 Act/Small Consumer Loans
HB 902 by Rep. Earl Ehrhart (R-Powder Springs) transfers the licensing, examination and enforcement of what has heretofore been called the Georgia Industrial Loan Act governing non-bank loans of $3,000 or less from the Insurance Department to the Department of Banking and Finance. 

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.

Letters of Credit
SB 465
by Sen. Ellis Black (R-Valdosta) defines certain charges for letters of credit as fees and not interest for usury purposes on loans between $3,000 and $250,000. 

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.

Low-income Housing Tax Credit
HB 851
by Rep. Dale Rutledge (R-McDonough) sets December 31, 2023 as the expiration date for the state low-income housing tax credit. 

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 Vehicle Titles
HB 761 by Rep. Jason Ridley (R-Chatsworth) removes the requirement that motor vehicle titles transfered to and from dealers must be handled electronically.

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. 

Rural Hospital Tax Credit
HB 827 by Rep. Trey Kelley (R-Rockmart) raises the limitation of an individual’s, couple’s or corporation’s (including Sub S corp’s) qualified rural hospital contribution allowable for deduction from individual, joint or corporate tax returns from 90 to 100 percent and removes the sunset date of the tax. Existing total limits of the deduction remain in place ($5,000 individual, $10,000 couple and 75 percent of corporate tax due). 

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.

Waste Management Fees
HB 693 by Rep. Brett Harrell (R-Snellville) removes the authorization for local governments to collect unpaid waste management fees in the same manner as if these fees were taxes or other assessments. 

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.