State Banking Issues

Georgia General Assembly 2021 Session

The Georgia General Assembly convened Jan. 11, 2021, for the first session of a 2-year legislative cycle. Legislation not completed during the previous biennial must be reintroduced in 2021 should the sponsor choose to pursue the concept. Legislation not completed during this 40-day session may be considered in 2022.

GBA is represented throughout each session by our Senior Vice President for Government Relations Elizabeth Chandler, 404.372.7893, President and CEO Joe Brannen, 404.401.0274, 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 2021 session.

GBA Priority / Supporting

Department of Banking and Finance Housekeeping Bill (Priority)
HB 111 by Rep. Bruce Williamson (R-Monroe) is the annual bill introduced at the request of the Department of Banking and Finance. GBA’s Bank Counsel Section worked with the Department in an advisory role developing the legislation. The legislation builds off their legislation passed in 2020 related the application process and this year’s bill makes similar improvements related to mergers and conversions. Another significant provision permits bank boards of directors to meet remotely as well as for the shareholder meeting to be conducted remotely in whole or in part. There are other provisions, like extending name reservations from one to six months, that can be reviewed in the section-by-section summary provided by the Department and may be accessed here

SB 65 by Sen. Steve Gooch (R-Dahlonega) allows the Public Service Commission and Department of Community Affairs to utilize a portion of the Universal Access Fund to pay for installation of broadband in unserved areas.

HB 336 by Rep. John Corbett (R-Lake Park) revises the Georgia code to conform with recent changes at the federal level so that the rules promulgated by the Georgia Department of Agriculture related to hemp farming remain in compliance with federal laws and regulations.

Remote Online Notary
HB 334 by Rep. Joseph Gullett (R-Dallas) creates additional ways to notarize documents by electronic means.

Remote Shareholder Meetings
HB 306 by Rep. Stan Gunter (R-Blairsville) provides that a corporation may hold annual shareholders' meetings and special shareholders' meetings by means of remote communication. The bill would apply to bank holding companies and contains permissive language like that included in the DBF housekeeping bill mentioned above that applies to the bank. Similar legislation is SB 168 by Sen. Larry Walker (R-Perry).

Rural Development Council
HR 185 by Speaker David Ralston (R-Blue Ridge) reauthorizes the House Rural Development Council through 2022. 

SAFE Banking Act
HR 249 by Rep. Micah Gravely (R-Douglasville) urges the United States Congress to enact legislation and the State of Georgia to coordinate regarding financial services, insurance, investment, and taxation related to cannabis. The resolution has been assigned to the House Regulated industries. 
Sub S / Partnership Taxation
HB 149 by Rep. Bruce Williamson (R-Monroe) amends the Georgia tax code to provide S corporations and partnerships an election to pay their Georgia state business income taxes at the entity level, thereby restoring the full federal tax deduction for Georgia business income taxes as described in IRS Notice 2020-75.

Tax Conformity
HB 265 by Rep. David Knight (R-Griffin) was adopted unanimously in the House. The bill is the annual legislation that conforms the Georgia tax code to recent changes in the federal tax code. This year’s bill includes language exempting forgiveness payments from income and allowing the deductibility of certain PPP expenses.

Tort Liability Immunity
H.B. 112 by Rep. Trey Kelley (R-Cedartown) extends to July 14, 2022, immunity from liability to certain claims related to COVID-19. 

Bills Opposed

State CRA
HB 522 by Rep. Marvin Lim (D-Norcross) requires the Georgia Department of Banking and Finance to conduct community reinvestment evaluations on state-chartered banks and savings institutions. .

Bills Monitoring

Ad Valorem Tax Exemption – Agriculture
HB 498 by Rep. Sam Watson (R-Moultrie) expands an exemption for agricultural equipment and certain farm products to include entities comprising two or more family owned farm entities and adds dairy products and unfertilized eggs of poultry as qualified farm products with respect to such exemption. 

Border Region Retail Tourism
SB 255 by Sen. Jeff Mullis (R-Chickamauga) establishes the Border Region Retail Tourism Development Program that would award grants to induce businesses to locate in Georgia if the business is currently within 10 miles of the Georgia border.

HR 13 by Rep. Dar’shun Kendrick(D-Lithonia) is a resolution urging the United States Congress to enact legislation removing cannabis from the federal Controlled Substances Act, exempting certain activities related to marijuana, facilitating the full spectrum of private banking services for cannabis related business and encouraging scientific research as related to cannabis products.

Class Action Litigation
HB 183 by Rep. Marvin Lim (D-Norcross) amends the Fair Business Practice Act to all class actions in certain cases.

Credit Reporting
HB 656 by Rep. Penny Houston (R-Nashville) among other things, would require credit consumer reporting agencies to place a COVID-19 alert along with or accompanying any consumer report or credit score provided by the consumer credit reporting agency in the file of that consumer indicating the consumer has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

SB 52 by Sen. Bruce Thompson (R-White) provides standards for cybersecurity programs to protect businesses from liability while providing for affirmative defenses for data breaches of private information.

HB 260 by Rep. Todd Jones (R-Cumming) provides standards for cybersecurity programs to protect businesses from liability while providing for affirmative defenses for data breaches of private information. The bill is similar to SB 52.

Credit Bureaus

HR 53 by Rep. Kim Schofield (D-Atlanta) urges Congress to place a moratorium on the three main credit reporting bureaus, Experian, Trans Union, and Equifax; suspend credit downgrades; and remove other negative impacts on personal or business credit reports during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Development Authorities
HB 148 by Rep. Kim Schofield (D-Atlanta) relates to development authorities directors, officers, compensation, adoption of bylaws, delegation of powers and duties, conflicts of interest and audits to provide for taxpaying business owners to be appointed to the authorities and provides a process for removal of directors from the authorities.

Digital Applications
SB 63 by Sen. Matt Brass (R-Newnan) and HB 229 by Rep. Kasey Carpenter (R-Dalton) are similar bills that prohibit the proprietor of a digital application platform from requiring a developer to use a specific digital application distribution platform, a specific in-application payment system, or to take retribution against a developer for using an alternative application distribution platform or choose to use an alternative in-application payment system.

HB 230 by Rep. Kim Schofield (D-Atlanta) and SB 61 by Sen. Tonya Anderson (D-Lithonia) are similar bills that prohibit discrimination based on hairstyles associated with race, color, or national origin relative to fair housing, education, labor and industrial relations, and fair employment practices.

Dispossessory Proceedings
HB 408 by Rep. Sharon Cooper (R-Marietta) revises procedures for the initiation of dispossessory actions and, among other things, requires a demand by the owner and provides a tenant's opportunity to cure.

HB 301 by Rep. Sam Park (D-Lawrenceville) provides for certain notices to tenants involved in dispossessory proceedings such as sufficiency of notices for termination of tenancies, responses to dispossessory proceedings, and stays of writs of possession under certain circumstances.

Downtown Development Authorities
HB 161 by Rep. Jan Tankersley (R-Statesboro) would remove a provision providing perpetual existence to downtown development authorities.

Earned Wage Access
HB 674 by Rep. Tom Kirby (R-Loganville) requires companies providing earned wage access services to employers to register with the Department of Banking and Finance.

SB 14 by Sen. Tonya Anderson (D-Atlanta) will allow applicants for benefits to obtain their personnel files when their claims are contested by their former employers.

Equitable Gender and Diversity Representation
SR 125 by Sen. Lester Jackson (R-Savannah) encourages equitable and diverse gender representation on the boards and in the senior management of Georgia companies and institutions.

Financial Institution Data Match
SB 201 was introduced at the request of the Georgia Department of Revenue by Sen. Chuck Hufstetler (R-Rome). The bill requires financial institutions to provide certain information related to delinquent taxpayers to the Department of Revenue. A data match program would be set up like the child support payments recovery system currently used by financial institutions to report on those accounts. However, this legislation differs in the areas such as penalties for failure to report and other liability is created for the institution. 

Financial Literacy
HB 681 by Rep. Bill Yearta (R-Sylvester) requires the Department of Education to develop a comprehensive financial literacy course tobe taught to 10th or 11th grade students. 

Foreclosure Resolution
HB 819 by Rep. Marvin Lim (D-Norcross) creates within the Department of Community Affairs a foreclosure diversion program where a neutral party would be appointed to attempt to come to a foreclosure diversion agreement between a lender and a borrower. 

Forestry Torts
HB 90 by Rep. Bruce Williamson (R-Monroe) limits damages for certain causes of action brought for conversion of timber and is intended to align the tort statute with the UCC and protect good faith buyers in the ordinary course of business.  

GAP Insurance
HB 733 by Rep. Tyler Smith (R-Bremen) revises the definition of a guaranteed asset protection waiver to allow a waiver contract to be issued with or without a fee. The waiver may also provide, with or without a separate charge, a benefit that waives an amount, or provides a borrower with a credit, toward the purchase of a replacement vehicle. 

Georgia Agribusiness & Rural Jobs Act
HB 500 by Rep. James Burchett (R-Waycross) extends the Act by providing for a second round of funding. HB 504 by Rep. Bruce Williamson (R-Monroe) also extends the Act with a second round of funding and additionally authorizes tax credits for medical equipment and supplies manufacturers, pharmaceutical and medicine manufacturers, and other tax credit programs dealing with high-impact aerospace defense projects, Georgia ports and railroads.

Georgia Uniform Mediation Act
SB 234 by John Kennedy (R-Macon) provides for uniform laws governing mediation and participants in mediation.

Homeowner Association Study Committee
HR 117 by Rep. William Boddie (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.

Interior Design Liens
HB 480 by Rep. Dale Washburn (R-Macon) adds to the mechanics and materialman lien statute a new category of liens for labor, services, or materials performed or furnished by registered interior designers. 

Landlord / Tennant
SB 206 by Sen. Nikki Merritt (D-Grayson) provides that prospective tenant shall not be refused a rental based on previous eviction during COVID-19 public health emergency.

Mechanics and Materialmen Liens
SB 143 by Sen. Lindsey Tippins (R-Marietta) was introduced to correct legislation passed in 2020 related to lien waivers to correct an error in legislation passed last session so that the statutory form matches legislative language.

Medical Cannabis
HB 645 by Rep. Micah Gravely (R-Douglasville) revises the state medical cannabis statute and among other things, adds credit unions as authorized to open bank accounts for proposed applicants. Language from this bill has been added to SB 195.

Military Fair Housing Act
HB 299 by Rep. Sandra Scott (D-Rex) would prohibit discriminatory housing practices directed toward current and formers members of the military.

National Infrastructure Bank
SR 267 by Sen. Shekh Rahman (D-Lawrenceville) calling on Congress to pass legislation creating a national infrastructure bank. 

Property Association Assessments
SB 154 by Sen. Donzella James (D-Atlanta) restricts property association assessments to no more than 20% of mortgage costs.

Property Transfer

HB 74 by Rep. Dale Washburn (R-Macon) provides 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.

Real Estate Transfer Tax
HB 416 and HB 417 by Rep. Shaw Blackmon (R-Bonaire) are related to the imposition and collection of the real estate transfer tax.

Real Property
HB 554 by Rep. Stan Gunter (R-Blairsville) revises when an action related to a dispute involving real property may operate as a lis pendens

Residential Eviction Diversion
HB 818 by Rep. Marvin Lim (D-Norcross) would allow courts overseeing dispossessory proceedings to establish a residential eviction diversion program to include mediation between landlords and tenants, with mandatory participation by landlords in any scheduled mediation proceedings. 

Sales & Use Tax – Digital Goods
HB 594 by Rep. Kasey Carpenter (R-Dalton) expands sales and use taxation to encompass certain transactions of digital goods and services. Stored monetary products are specifically excluded.

HB 153 by Rep. Marcus Wiedower (R-Watkinsville) amends the "Fair Business Practices Act of 1975" to require those soliciting services for corporate filings required by the Secretary of State who are other than government officials to clearly show there is no relationship to the governmental entity on the solicitation. SB 86 by Sen. Larry Walker (R-Perry) contained similar provisions prior to be bill being used as a vehicle to deal with parental rights and child custody.

Small Business Innovation
HB 611 by Rep. Mike Cheokas (R-Americus) adds three tiers to the definition of small businesses in Georgia based on number of employees, requires state agencies to provide small businesses with non-confidential data upon request, and charges the Department of Economic Development to provide services to new businesses with promising innovations in products and services including technology. 

Specialized Land Transactions
HB 470 by Rep. Dale Washburn (R-Macon) relates to the regulation of specialized land transactions to provide that no plans are required when units are not designated by physical structures.

Stored Value Cards
HB 327 by Rep. Martin Momtahan (R-Dallas) would establish a process intended to prevent the use of stored value cards to commit organized retail crime. Sen. John Albers (R-Roswell) introduced similar legislation, SB 151.

Tax Credits

SB 6 by Sen. John Albers (R-Albers) provides for independent economic analyses to be procured by the Office of Planning and Budget for certain tax benefits upon request by the chairpersons of the House Committee on Ways and Means and the Senate Finance Committee. Because the Bank Tax Credit is not well understood by many members, we track legislation like this should legislators choose to review that credit. Here’s a link to a White Paper published by GBA’s Tax Advisory Committee about the credit. Language from SB 148 has been added to this bill.

SB 57 by Sen. Jen Jordan (D-Atlanta) requires economic analyses to be conducted by the state auditor for certain tax benefits upon request by the chairpersons of the House Committee on Ways and Means and the Senate Finance Committee to include summaries related fiscal notes and other matters.

Tax Reform
SB 148 by Sen. Chuck Hufstetler (R-Rome) authorizes the creation of the Special Council on Tax Reform and Fairness for Georgians and the Special Joint Committee on Georgia Revenue Structure. Language from this bill has been included in SB 6.

Timberland Taxation
HB 282 by Rep. Steven Meeks (R-Screven) addresses the ad valorem taxation of qualified timberland property by defining parameters for “contiguous” property, specifying how the appraised value of timberland property is calculated, and clarifies the required documentation landowners must submit to the Commissioner of Revenue for certification.

Tort Liability Immunity
HB 559 by Rep. Matthew Wilson (D-Atlanta) is similar to H.B. 112 by Rep. Trey Kelley (R-Cedartown) related to immunity from liability to certain claims related to COVID-19. However, HB 559 limits protection to health care providers.

Unlawful Assembly
SB 171 by Sen. Randy Robertson (R-Cataula) is entitled the Safe Communities Act which, among other things, provides for enhanced penalties for certain offenses committed during an unlawful assembly. A bank is listed among those businesses defined as providing public accommodations that would be covered by the proposal. The text of this legislation has been added to HB 289.

Utility Service
HB 150 by Rep. Bruce Williamson (R-Monroe) would prohibit government entities from banning the connection of any utility service based on the type or source of fuel. 

Veteran Bill of Rights
HB 299 by Rep. Sandra Scott (D-Rex) requires various state agencies to review policies and procedures related to veterans. The Department of Banking and Finance would review all state licenses for which military members may have relevant training or experience and produce a report recommending steps that can be taken to increase recognition of military training and experience toward licensing.

Veterans Health ID Card
SB 96 by Sen. Lester Jackson (D-Savannah) provides that the identification of persons for whom notaries perform notarial acts shall be evidenced satisfactorily by a valid Veterans Health Identification Card issued by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs.

Wills - Elder Abuse
HB 618 by Rep. Bert Reeves (R-Marietta) relates to execution and attestation so as to allow a determination if there has been undue influence on an elder in regard to the signing of the willA creditor is listed as an interested party and is one of those that could bring such petition to the court.   

Workforce Development
SR 154 by Rep. Nan Orrock (D-Atlanta) creates the Joint Study Committee for Strengthening Georgia's Future Workforce to study how a needs-based scholarship program could aid in improving workforce development.

Workplace Safety
HB 746 by Rep. Marvin Lim (D-Norcross) specifies actions that an employer must take to provide a safe place of employment. GAP Insurance. HB 733 by Rep. Tyler Smith (R-Bremen) revises the definition of a guaranteed asset protection waiver to allow a waiver contract to be issued with or without a fee. The waiver may also provide, with or without a separate charge, a benefit that waives an amount, or provides a borrower with a credit, toward the purchase of a replacement vehicle. 

Friends of Banking Recognition
SR 96 by Sen. Jeff Mullis (Chickamauga) recognizes the contributions of longtime banker Charles Lusk and calls for the naming of an intersection in his honor. Lusk was president of GBA member banks in Fort Oglethorpe and Ringgold during his career. Lusk died in 2015.