MARCH 27, 2015
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Desk Credit Union-Backed Bill on Way
to Governor (Issue 1 of 5)

The Georgia Senate passed the Department of Banking and Finance housekeeping bill, which is supported by the state credit union industry, and sent it to the Governor for his consideration.

  State Legislature Looks to Open New Opportunity
for Georgia Credit Unions (Issue 2 of 5)

The Georgia House Banking and Financial Institutions Committee held a hearing on a bill that would make it possible for credit unions and other non-bank financial institutions to accept deposits of real estate escrow funds.

  GCUA Testifies in Support of Ride-Share Insurance Bill
(Issue 3 of 5)

The Georgia Senate Insurance and Labor Committee heard testimony from Georgia Credit Union Affiliates in favor of a bill that would set insurance standards for Transportation Network Companies such as Uber and Lyft.

  State Legislature in Final Days (Issue 4 of 5)
After meeting for five days this week, the Georgia Legislature is down to the final two days of its 40-day session, but much work remains to be done and legislation must be monitored carefully for unwanted amendments.

  U.S. House Committee Approves 9 Regulatory Relief Bills
(Issue 5 of 5)

Following supporting testimony from CUNA, the U.S. House Financial Services Committee approved nine regulatory relief bills that were among more than two dozen proposals supported by the credit union industry.

State Rep. Bruce Williamson
Credit Union-Backed Bill on Way to Governor (Issue 1 of 5)

On Friday, March 20th the Senate passed the Department of Banking and Finance’s Housekeeping Bill HB 184 by Rep. Bruce Williamson (R-Monroe). The state legislative session is scheduled to adjourn on April 2nd, making this credit union-backed bill one of just a few to completely navigate the legislative process. It now travels to the Governor for his consideration to become law. This bill’s path to the Governor’s desk began last year, and Georgia Credit Union Affiliates worked with the Department on the provisions in the bill on behalf of credit unions through much of the latter half of 2014.

Since the bill’s introduction in February of 2015, the credit union lobbying team has been actively engaged with the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Williamson, and fielding questions from his fellow state legislators throughout the session and multiple hearings to help move the bill forward. Rep. Williamson heralds the bill as a way to help strengthen state-chartered institutions and make Georgia a place for business, stating that “Putting state chartered institutions on the same level playing field as federal institutions in this state will create a positive environment for those operating in Georgia. I am very grateful for the support of Georgia Credit Union Affiliates in helping to pass this legislation.”

If this legislation is approved, it will institute several new provisions for the industry:

  • Provide state-chartered financial institutions stronger parity with federally chartered institutions (beneficial when there are issues on the state level that negatively impact credit unions),
  • Outline in law how a bank could convert to a credit union,
  • Require out-of-state credit unions operating in Georgia to have federal insurance,
  • Provide the Department the ability to conserve a troubled credit union (as opposed to taking a stronger measure) for an added avenue to return a credit union to a positive status,
  • Require that the comprehensive audit of a credit union be done by a licensed, independent public accountant or firm (unless the credit union is less than $15 million in assets, in which case an independent accountant or firm or internal auditors are permitted),
  • Set a minimum standard of conduct of directors by outlining impermissible actions (such as conflict of interest in voting on purchases/sales where they personally benefit, i.e., receiving an “insider” deal), and
  • Provide credit unions the ability to pay the required amount to join the credit union on the members' behalf if they so choose.
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ChamberState Legislature Looks to Open New Opportunity for Georgia Credit Unions (Issue 2 of 5)

On Monday, March 24th the House Banking and Financial Institutions Committee held a hearing on SB 95 by Sen. Michael Williams (R-Cumming). This legislation would create a new opportunity for credit unions to serve their members in a way not presently permitted. The bill seeks to expand where real estate agents can deposit escrow funds outside of just a bank, and would broaden the law to include credit unions as one of the entities that can provide this service. Senator Williams reached out to the credit union lobbying team before introducing the bill to ensure that it would be something that would be positive for the industry, and has been in regular contact with GCUA to help move it forward. It is now in House Rules waiting possible selection for a floor vote.

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TrafficGCUA Testifies in Support of Ride-
Share Insurance Bill (Issue 3 of 5)

On Monday, March 23rd, before the Senate Insurance and Labor Committee, Georgia Credit Union Affiliates testified in support of HB 190 by Rep. Rich Golick (R-Smyrna). HB 190 seeks to provide insurance standards for any ride-share Transportation Network Company (TNC), such as Uber and Lyft, that operates in Georgia. There has been much lobbying on behalf of this issue by the credit union team to help provide clarification of appropriate insurance parties and coverages, require the TNCs to notify their drivers that they should notify their lienholders, and help to protect consumers and the collateral.

This issue has been a tough battle throughout the session in the halls of the Capitol, and a new challenge came this week with a national “deal” between Uber and large insurance companies of what state legislation should entail. The idea of the national deal resonated with many senators seeking common ground, as the bill has been contentious. In the Senate’s effort to find some common ground for this controversial bill, on Wednesday, March 25th Senate Insurance Chairman Charlie Bethel (R-Dalton) presented and passed a substitute for HB 190 in the Insurance Committee. While it removed many of the provisions of the original HB 190, it retained the lienholder notification sought by GCUA, as well as requiring TNCs to carry minimum limits of insurance coverage. However, this bill is still far from over and the timeframe is short - it may be an issue still yet to be decided by day 40!

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State Legislature in Final Days (Issue 4 of 5)

The state Legislature was in session for five days this week, with Friday marking the 38th day of the session and with the final two days falling next week. In the course of a 40-day session, the last 10 days are where almost all control over the issues evaporates as bills become interconnected with the large issues in play between the Senate and House (such as transportation, budget, and the media hot topics of autism coverage and marijuana). Tensions have been high as major issues get amended or delayed. Almost all bills are being amended on the fly, and constant monitoring is required as this window of time is where unwanted changes can happen that could impact credit union operations. As of press time the state Legislature is still addressing bills, but some of the activity of this week included:

  • HourglassThe Senate Banking Committee held a hearing on Tuesday, March 24th on HB 299 by Rep. Emory Dunahoo (R-Gainesville), which seeks to outline in law the ability for additional industries to be permitted to charge a convenience fee on payments made by credit cards. This bill passed the committee, and then passed the full Senate on Thursday, March 26th. It was sought by those entities that fall under the Georgia Industrial Loan Act, and was being monitored closely as it could open up unwelcome amendments on fees, as well as state-level interchange attempts.
  • During the evening hours of Tuesday, March 24th and again on March 25th the Senate Judiciary Committee heard HB 322 by Rep. Brian Strickland (R-McDonough) which seeks to address concerns surrounding abandoned properties by placing a $500 penalty for noncompliance of recording a deed after foreclosure (original penalty was $5,000, with the period in which to file the deed shortened from 90 to 60 days). There are some large out-of-state lenders that are not filing, which prompted the bill. However, the credit union lobbying team helped procure amendments to change the penalty time frame after foreclosure from “recorded” date to “filed” and provide a grace period for inadvertent mistakes. The committee amended the bill to include HB 267 by Rep. Trey Kelly (R-Cedartown) on changing the witness requirements for deeds and mortgages (as this bill was not selected for a vote in the House by Crossover Day).
  • HB 153 by Rep. Tom Weldon (R-Ringgold) passed the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, March 24th and now travels to Senate Rules. This bill seeks to enforce the law requiring that only attorneys close real estate loans (directed at large out-of-state firms that close without an attorney). Prior to this hearing, however, an amendment was procured to help protect financial institutions from having their current operations with lending impacted.
  • The full House passed SB 88 by Sen. Burt Jones (R-Jackson) on Wednesday, March 25th. This bill seeks to provide companies the option to pay employees with a payroll card, and the credit union lobbying team has actively worked with multiple interested parties to address issues. This bill now travels back to the Senate (as it was amended in the House process) and will continue to be watched carefully as it can easily be altered to impact card and general noninterest account fees, as well as where someone holds their primary account.
  • On Wednesday, March 25th the Senate Finance Committee addressed HB 202 by Rep. Paul Battles (R-Cartersville), which is an overhaul of the ad valorem appeal process. This bill was addressed last year, but it failed to pass the Senate by the closing hours on the final day. It was reintroduced for this session, and contains the amended language pursued by the credit union lobbying team that clears up an issue that would have inadvertently required an appraisal before a foreclosure to record the fair market value. 
  • On Wednesday, March 25th the Senate Insurance Committee passed HB 552 on private capture insurance companies by Rep. Bruce Williamson (R-Monroe), but amended it to include HB 624 that was just recently introduced to provide the Federal Home Loan Bank the same priority position with member insurance companies as they have with their member financial institutions.

These last few days will hold many more issues and changes. For additional information you can also follow the activity at the statehouse on Twitter, and access the bills monitored on behalf of credit unions here.

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U.S. House Committee Approves Nine Regulatory Relief Bills (Issue 5 of 5)

U.S. CapitolThe U.S. House Financial Services Committee approved nine regulatory relief bills during a two-day markup on Wednesday March 25 and Thursday March 26th. CUNA testified on regulatory relief before the committee last week, and the bills approved during the markup were part of more than two dozen regulatory relief proposals credit unions are pushing. These bills include:

  1. Capital Access for Small Community Financial Institutions Act (H.R. 299);
  2. Eliminate Privacy Notice Confusion Act (H.R. 601);
  3. Mortgage Choice Act of 2015 (H.R 685);
  4. Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection Advisory Board Act (H.R. 1195);
  5. Helping Expand Lending Practices in Rural Community Act (H.R. 1259);
  6. Bureau Advisory Commission Transparency Act (H.R. 1265);
  7. Mortgage Servicing Asset Capital Requirements Act of 2015 (H.R. 1408);
  8. The SAFE Act Confidentiality and Privilege Enhancement Act (H.R. 1480), which would protect the privilege of information shared between state and federal financial regulations regarding businesses licensed in the Nationwide Mortgage Licensing System and Registry; and
  9. The Community Institution Mortgage Relief Act (H.R. 1529), which would amend escrow and mortgage servicing requirements for smaller financial institutions by providing a safe harbor from escrow requirements for loans held in portfolio for three years. It would also exempt mortgage servicers that service fewer than 20,000 mortgages from certain mortgage servicing requirements.
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