APRIL 3, 2015
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With the conclusion of state legislative session on April 2, Creating Influence will resume its biweekly publication schedule. The next issue will be published on April 17, 2015.

Calendar State Legislature Adjourns! (Issue 1 of 5)
The Georgia Legislature wrapped up an intense 2015 session that saw the introduction of more than 2,400 pieces of legislation, including more than 200 that were actively monitored because of their potential impact on the credit union industry.

  State Legislature Passes Bill to Provide Opportunity
for Georgia Credit Unions (Issue 2 of 5)

Legislators passed and sent to the Governor a bill that would allow real estate agents to deposit escrow funds in financial institutions other than banks, a move that could provide new opportunities for credit unions.

  CU-Supported TNC Insurance Standards Bill
Passes State Legislature (Issue 3 of 5)

A bill that would clarify insurance issues concerning transportation network companies such as Uber and Lyft passed a final procedural hurdle in the state House and went to the Governor for his consideration.

  Congress: Cyber Info-Sharing Bill Passes Committee
(Issue 4 of 5)

A U.S. House committee passed a bill intended to promote the voluntary sharing of information on cyber-threats in the private sector, for purposes of cybersecurity.

  Another Reason Why Judicial Foreclosure Is Opposed
in Georgia (Issue 5 of 5)

The New York Times reported that homeowners in several states who have not paid their mortgages in several years may get to keep their homes without further payments because statutes of limitations on foreclosure have passed.

Sine dieState Legislature Adjourns!
(Issue 1 of 5)

This week the state Legislature held marathon hours for the final two days of the session, adjourning as of midnight on Thursday, April 2nd amid a flurry of activity with multiple attempts to amend bills still traveling through the process. From a credit union perspective, this was an intense state session with various legislation lobbied for passage, bills amended to make them palatable to the industry, and bills opposed to protect credit unions and the members they serve.

There were many issues of interest addressed not just in this final week, but in the entirety of the state session which began on January 12th. In all, there were more than 2,400 pieces of legislation introduced during this first year of the two-year session that were reviewed, and more than 200 of these required active monitoring due to their potential impact on credit unions in Georgia. Below are some of the high-profile bills of importance to the industry, and please see last week’s edition of Creating Influence for credit union-supported HB 184, which passed earlier and was not caught up in the unpredictability of the last days of the session. As of press time all the activity is still being analyzed as it may take days for the state Legislature itself to reflect precisely what they did in the final hours; please watch for the next edition of Creating Influence for a wrap-up for all the issues of credit union interest.

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State Legislature Passes Bill to Provide Opportunity for Georgia Credit Unions (Issue 2 of 5)

Georgia CapitolOn Thursday, April 2nd the full House approved a bill that will create new opportunities for credit unions to serve their members. SB 95 by Sen. Michael Williams (R-Cumming) seeks to expand where real estate agents can deposit escrow funds, and would broaden the law to include credit unions as one of the entities in Georgia that can provide this service. This legislation passed the full Senate earlier in the session, and cleared the House in the final two days; it now heads to the Governor’s desk for his consideration to become law.

Paving the way for this state legislation was recent Congressional action: The credit union-, League- and CUNA-supported Credit Union Share Insurance Fund Parity Act that was signed into law in December of 2014 by President Barack Obama (please click here for December 19th CUNA News Now article). This federal law provides deposit insurance parity for credit unions by directing NCUA to extend share insurance coverage to trust accounts and other similar accounts. With the new federal law outlining the insurance coverage, the state bill, SB 95, secures the ability of Georgia credit unions to offer these escrow accounts to their members if they so choose.

Senator Williams reached out to the credit union lobbying team before introducing the bill to discuss, and has been in regular communication with GCUA to help move it forward through the state process. On the final passage of the legislation, Sen. Williams shared his thanks for the Georgia credit union support and lobbying efforts, and highlighted his motivation for the bill. “This bill removes burdensome regulations placed on Realtors in Georgia, and opens the door for Georgia credit unions to expand their services provided to these consumers,” said Williams.

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CU-Supported TNC Insurance Standards Bill Passes State Legislature (Issue 3 of 5)

TrafficOn Tuesday, March 31st, the Senate passed its amended version of the credit union-backed 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. The credit union lobbying team has been engaged on this issue since the fall of 2014 to help draft, perfect and pursue legislation. It has been an uphill battle to move this issue forward as both of these TNC companies employed teams of lobbyists and wield significant grassroots power. But on the final day of the session on April 2nd, the bill had its final procedural vote in the House and now moves to the Governor for his consideration!

The bill as passed seeks to provide clarification of appropriate insurance parties and coverages, creates a lienholder notification for the TNCs to direct their drivers that they may be in violation of their loan agreement, and help protect consumers regardless of whether they utilize TNCs, drive for TNCs, or happen to be in an accident with a TNC. This bill almost fell by the wayside in the last days of the session due to a national “deal” between Uber and large insurance companies of what all state legislation should entail last week. This national deal did not contain many of the provisions originally sought with HB 190, including the lienholder notification, a state mandate for comp and collision coverage, insurance disclosures, exemptions for other businesses, and livery insurance exclusions.

The U.S. deal resonated with many senators seeking common ground, as the bill has been contentious since its introduction and was amended in the Senate process to reflect the national uniform language. Much effort was put forth to get a bill to pass with protections for consumers and financial institutions and close an insurance gap created when a person drives their personal car for TNCs (as it is a commercial activity, something not typically covered by personal insurance policies). And while the state chose not to be the first in the nation to mandate comp and collision coverage, our thanks to Senate Insurance Chairman Charlie Bethel (R-Dalton), who worked with credit unions to protect and retain the lienholder notification, close an insurance gap and keep the bill moving forward in the final days. His commitment to the industry helped pass a unique bill for our state with provisions to protect the lender (and not standard “deal” language). Our thanks to both Sen. Bethel and bill sponsor Rep. Rich Golick for all of their collective work and support of credit unions through the process to ensure that there is no gap in the state liability coverage.

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Congress: Cyber Info-Sharing Bill Passes Committee (Issue 4 of 5)

U.S. CapitolA bill intended to increase the sharing of information on cyber-threats was passed by the U.S. House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence last week. The Protecting Cyber Networks Act (H.R. 1560) permits only voluntary sharing by the private sector of cyber-threat indicators only for cybersecurity purposes. The bill also:

  • Prohibits the government from forcing private-sector entities to provide information; 
  • Requires companies to remove personal information before information is shared, and the federal agency receiving cyber threat indicators to perform a second check for personal information before sharing it with other relevant federal agencies;
  • Limits the private-to-private sharing to only cyber-threat indicators and defensive measures to combat a threat;
  • Imposes strict restrictions on the use, retention and searching of any data voluntarily shared by the private sector with the government;
  • Does not shield a company from willful misconduct in the course of sharing cyber threat indicators but provides liability protections for companies that share in good faith; 
  • Permits individuals to sue the federal government for intentional privacy violations in federal court; and 
  • Requires a detailed biennial inspectors general report of appropriate federal entities of the government's receipt, use and dissemination of cyber-threat indicators. The Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (a bipartisan agency within the executive branch) must also submit a biennial report on the privacy and civil liberties impact of the act.

A similar bill was passed by the Senate Intelligence Committee last month.

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Another Reason Why Judicial Foreclosure Is Opposed in Georgia (Issue 5 of 5)

ForeclosureFor the past several years credit unions have worked to prevent the concept of judicial foreclosure from taking root with state legislators in Georgia. Much energy has been extended in this state educating legislators on the negative impact of this public policy at Hike at Home meetings, lobbying legislators in the halls of the state Capitol to prevent such bills from moving, and working committee members prior to hearings to oppose bills that would alter the foreclosure process in this state. Publicly and privately, credit unions in Georgia have shared that the expense, time, and procedure surrounding judicial foreclosure (which among other things, is where a judge must sign off on the foreclosure) is one NOT to introduce in this state.

The March 30th edition of The New York Times highlighted one of the many reasons why there is so much effort put forth here in Georgia to prevent it from becoming a judicial foreclosure state: FREE HOMES! The article shared that tens of thousands of homeowners in states such as New York, New Jersey, South Carolina and Florida who have not paid their mortgage in five years may be able to own their homes free and clear because of exceeding the statute of limitations. Essentially, this means that the foreclosure process has been delayed in the judicial process for such a long period of time that the homeowners may own the homes outright without ever having to pay another dime.

In the months to come, please take advantage of Hike at Home opportunities as they come available near you. The time spent in educating state-level legislators on issues and building relationships is instrumental in preventing unwanted legislation such as judicial foreclosure, and promoting issues to help alleviate regulatory burdens on the industry. Our thanks to all those individuals over the past several years who met with state legislators; we are pleased that with another legislative session, Georgia remains a non-judicial foreclosure state!

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