MARCH 3, 2017
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GAC Georgia Credit Unions at GAC (Issue 1 of 5)
Georgia credit union leaders were among the thousands of attendees promoting credit union issues and building relationships with legislators at CUNA's annual Governmental Affairs Conference this week.

  Bill to Protect Board Members Sees Action in State House (Issue 2 of 5)
The Georgia House Judiciary Committee passed a bill that would extend protections for credit union board members against charges of ordinary negligence in their business decisions.

  Bill to Enhance Credit Union Operations Passes Senate Committee Early (Issue 3 of 5)
The Georgia Senate Banking Committee gave its OK to the Department of Banking and Finance's housekeeping bill, which includes a number of measures that would benefit credit union operations in the state.

  Legislatively Packed Crossover Day Happening Now!
(Issue 4 of 5)

Numerous bills of interest to the credit union industry remained in play at the arrival of the state Legislature's Crossover Day, the day by which a bill must have passed its originating chamber to have a chance of passage this year.

  Credit Unions in the News (Issue 5 of 5)
The credit union message continues to spread, as evidenced by coverage of the industry in a wide range of media outlets, from newspapers to magazines to the broadcast media.

GACGeorgia Credit Unions at GAC
(Issue 1 of 5)

Georgia credit union leaders joined over 5,000 people from across the country at CUNA’s annual Governmental Affairs Conference (GAC) in Washington, D.C., this week. This conference culminated in "Hike the Hill" trips to the members of Congress to push for legislative support of industry issues, as well as to highlight the need forcommon-sense regulatory reform in the federal laws that apply to credit unions. These meetings are instrumental in sharing the credit union perspective on issues and pursuing legislation, and the throngs of individuals on Capitol Hill serve as a visual testament to the grassroots capabilities of the industry.

Thank you to all the Georgia credit union leaders who traveled to D.C. this week, and for all their time discussing issues with the members of Congress. These connections are meaningful in growing relationships with the industry, and are vital in shaping legislative issues. The meetings between legislators and Georgia credit unions addressed the protection of the income tax exemption and the need for comprehensive credit union regulatory relief measures, emphasized Congressional action needed to stem the growing tide of merchant data breaches, and sought support of increasing the ability to provide credit to members. To aid the Georgia hikers and provide information to the Congressional staff in a way that maximizes their absorption, a legislative micro site was utilized to help educate members of Congress on the key points for credit unions – a format for sharing information easily that both legislators and credit union hikers enjoy! Please see the microsite for the information shared with Georgia Congressmen, and go to @GCUAGov on Twitter to catch highlights of this hectic yet worthwhile trip!

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Bill to Protect Board Members Sees Action in State House (Issue 2 of 5)

GA LegislatureOn Monday, February 27th a House Judiciary subcommittee held the third hearing for HB 192 by Rep. Beth Beskin (R-Atlanta), and passed the bill after a collective 10+ hours of debate and testimony (and countless lobbying hours). This bill seeks to strengthen the business judgment rule for financial institutions and general business – specifically to strengthen the protections of board members against charges of “ordinary negligence” in their decision-making process. This bill is in reaction to the recent court case (FDIC v. Loudermilk) that decided that the directors of that bank in question could be held personally liable for ordinary negligence committed in the decision-making process. As credit unions are also subject to the same business judgment law, this legal decision has ramifications for credit unions.

The bill was then heard in the full Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, February 28th, passing just in time so as to be eligible for potential consideration of House Rules on Friday (as of press time for a supplemental bill debate calendar for that same evening). The amount of effort for this legislation has been intense given the opposition from the trial attorneys, and much work continues to move the bill forward as it would need to pass the House on Friday to continue – and as of press time, it is still waiting for selection.

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Georgia LegislatureBill to Enhance Credit Union Operations
Passes Senate Committee Early (Issue 3 of 5)

One key bill of note for credit unions is HB 143 by Rep. Bruce Williamson (R-Monroe), which is the Department of Banking and Finance’s housekeeping legislation. This bill was one of the fortunate ones to move out of the House early, and was the first House bill to receive a hearing in the Senate Banking Committee on Wednesday, March 1st. GCUA provided testimony on the need for some of the provisions to help move it forward as this legislation contains multiple positive changes for credit unions that are a direct result of their dialogue with a credit union task force that met in the summer of 2016. This bill is a priority for GCUA to improve operations and enhance membership laws at credit unions. The enhancements include:

  • creating flexibility and enhancements in the audit provisions for smaller credit unions by permitting different forms of audits to be held on a case-by-case basis,
  • modifying the law governing merger votes to reflect what is in practice (and not requiring votes of both merging and merged institutions),
  • outlining that businesses headquartered within the field of membership may be eligible for membership in the same manner as a "person,"
  • adding "working" to the eligible criteria for field of membership (when an individual is working in the approved geographic area),
  • adding whole loans to the permissible items for investment, and
  • improving the law that governs fixed assets/real estate property held by the credit union.

The bill also outlines the ability of financial institutions to charge a convenience fee, outlines that a financial institution may operate on Sundays, permits the department to include third-party providers in their examinations, streamlines the calculation for lending limits, and increases the age at which a minor can open an account with a bank (but makes no changes to the law governing minor accounts at credit unions). The bill now travels to the Senate Rules Committee for consideration and could be up for a full Senate vote as early as next week. If selected, the bill will be in an excellent position timing-wise as there should be scant few House bills eligible for consideration then.

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Legislatively Packed Crossover Day Happening Now! (Issue 4 of 5)

Georgia LegislatureThere are more than 270 bills being addressed and monitored through the legislative process in addition to the above two priority bills for credit unions. And as of press time, the state Legislature is at day 28 – crossover day, which is the deadline for all bills still in play to pass their originating chamber. If bills do not pass by this point, then they are essentially “dead” for the year (or are creatively amended onto other bills, which is a dicey process at best). As such, it is anticipated that day 28 will go late into the evening hours if not midnight. Given this deadline, which is earlier than previous sessions, it equated to an intense week of hearings for credit unions. Some of the activity of note (in addition to the above HB 143 and HB 192):

  • Abandoned Mobile Homes: HB 381 by Rep. John Corbett (R-Lake Park) has been discussed at length in the halls of the Capitol since the start of the session; however, its first hearing was in the House Judiciary subcommittee on Monday, February 27th. The bill seeks to provide property owners a legal method of disposing of abandoned derelict mobile homes that are titled to someone other than the property owner, and has been monitored closely to ensure that proper notice is provided to any lienholder prior to disposal – something Rep. Corbett wants to protect for financial institutions. However, this bill was slated to be held over for 2018 due to the timing of the first hearing (and how few days are left in the session).
  • Data Breach: HB 499 by Rep. Sherri Gilligan (R-Cumming) was introduced this week, and was the substitute version for her previously debated HB 82 on the same subject – albeit in a much larger version that touches more areas and industries. The original bill was introduced to expand the consumer notice provisions in law where there is a breach of data, specifically to include instances where confidential data was provided to an unauthorized individual. The new version is much broader; however, in discussions with Rep. Gilligan, she shared that there is not enough time to pursue the issue. GCUA will continue to monitor as it could attract any number of amendments surrounding data security.
  • Boat Titling: HB 357 by Rep. Ron Stephens (R-Savannah), which attempts to institute a boat titling process in Georgia, passed the full House on Wednesday, March 1st. Work continues to ensure that this bill could be operationally sound for credit union lending operations.
  • Ignition Interlock Devices: SB 212 by Sen. John Kennedy (R-Macon) received a hearing in Senate Judiciary on Monday, February 27th and has been tabled for later study. This bill seeks to regulate the use of ignition interlock devices as they apply to DUIs, and received a hearing on Monday, February 27th. This bill will be watched closely in the legislative process to ensure that the reach of the legislation only regulates the provisional licenses tied to interlock devices, and not the devices themselves, to protect second-chance auto lending programs.
  • Property Tax Notices: HB 204 by Rep. Brett Harrell (R-Snellville) which seeks to ensure that tax bills only contain taxes, and do not contain any fees for ancillary services, passed the full House on Tuesday, February 28th.
  • Real Property: A Senate Judiciary subcommittee held a hearing on HB 76 by Rep. Rick Jasperse (R-Jasper) on Wednesday, March 1st and then full committee on Thursday, March 2nd. This bill seeks to enhance the law that changed last year on electronic filing of plats as well as condo plans, and is being monitored for multiple property and lien superseding issues. GCUA will continue to watch it through the process to circumvent any issues.
  • Self-Settled Trusts: HB 441 by Rep. Barry Fleming (R-Harlem) passed a House Banking Committee hearing on Monday, February 27th, and seeks to permit a new form of trust account to be offered in Georgia. This issue is monitored closely to ensure that creditors would receive notification if assets were placed under the trust.
  • TAVT: HB 340 by Rep. Shaw Blackmon (R-Bonaire) was amended and then passed a full Ways and Means hearing on Monday, February 27th. This bill now contains language from another bill on altering how the TAVT tax is calculated on used vehicles, clarifying that both new and used vehicles will be calculated in the same manner (and without consideration of trade in value).
  • Tax Liens: HB 337 by Rep. Bruce Williamson (R-Monroe) passed the full House on Wednesday, March 1st and seeks to create a statewide tax lien registry. Previous discussions on the bill wrapped in the possibility of all liens; however, as drafted, it will apply only to tax liens, but will be monitored closely so as to protect lending operations at credit unions.
  • Title Pawn Transactions: HB 353 by Rep. Brett Harrell (R-Snellville) passed the House Regulated Industries Committee on Tuesday, February 28th, and seeks to regulate title pawn transactions and allow for an installment loan that can be paid monthly as opposed to a one-time payment. This bill is being monitored closely to ensure that it does not change to impact credit unions.
There are several other bills of interest to credit unions that are anticipated later in the day on Friday the 3rd, ranging from prize-linked savings to power of attorney reform, motor vehicle issues and tax reform. It’s going to be a long night; stay tuned!
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NewsCredit Unions in the News (Issue 5 of 5)

Credit unions continue to earn media coverage statewide and beyond. Whether it’s in a local newspaper, niche magazine or radio show, the credit union message is shared through a multitude of outlets across Georgia. Click here to see recent coverage of Georgia’s credit unions "In the News."

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