MARCH 31, 2017
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With the end of the state legislative session, Creating Influence will resume its bi-weekly publication schedule. The next issue will be published April 14, 2017.

Gold Dome Credit Union Priority Bill to Protect Board Members Passes Legislature! (Issue 1 of 4)
In the waning days of the state legislative session, lawmakers passed a measure that would protect board members of financial institutions, including credit unions, against charges of ordinary negligence in their decision-making.

  State Session Adjourns! (Issue 2 of 4)
A busy legislative session came to an end, with more than 300 bills potentially affecting the credit union industry having been actively addressed and hundreds more analyzed in order to protect credit union interests.

  Early Voting for Federal and State Special Elections Under Way (Issue 3 of 4)
Early voting has commenced in two special elections, one for an open seat in the 6th U.S. Congressional District and one for the state Senate's District 32 post.

  Credit Unions in the News (Issue 4 of 4)
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.

Credit Union Priority Bill to Protect Board Members Passes Legislature! (Issue 1 of 4)

LegislatureIn the evening hours of Friday, March 24th the credit union priority bill to help protect board members passed and heads to the Governor! The Board Member Protection/Business Judgement Bill, HB 192 by Rep. Beth Beskin (R-Atlanta), 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 was 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 actual decision-making process. As credit unions are also subject to the same business judgment law, this legal decision had ramifications for the industry. Put simply, this Georgia court case lowered the personal liability bar of the board member (and increased the chances of them being sued personally), and this bill is the remedy.

GCUA testified in the hearing process, lobbied hundreds of legislators, and was an active member of a coalition group that included the Department of Banking and Finance, the Georgia Banking Association, the Community Bankers Association, the GA Chamber of Commerce, the National Independent Business Association, and the Secretary of State’s office to push this his bill across the finish line against tough opposition. It was no small feat to get this bill to pass, and it took all parties working together to do so (along with other business interests that GCUA encouraged to speak out on the bill). Special thank you to the three credit union board members who serve in the Legislature (Rep. Brooks Coleman R-Duluth, Rep. Howard Mosby D-Atlanta, and Rep. Brian Prince D-Augusta) who were very instrumental in lobbying the issue among their fellow legislators in the House. And this bill would not have been possible without the tenacity of the bill sponsor, Rep. Beskin, who never gave up on the issue despite multiple chances to do so. To share your thanks with Rep. Beskin, please email her here.

In a year in which many high-profile bills have failed, HB 192 has been heralded as a hard-fought collective success at the Capitol. GCUA is pleased to see this priority bill pass the entire process to firm up the personal liability level for Georgia credit union board members and officers.

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AdjournmentState Session Adjourns! (Issue 2 of 4)

As of 1:00 a.m. on Friday, March 31st, the state Legislature has adjourned! There were more than 300 bills that were actively addressed and monitored throughout the session to protect and promote credit unions out of 2,300 plus bills introduced that were analyzed (and several issues that did not get introduced that required work!). This work includes hours of lobbying, research, testimony and engagement with legislators and lobbyists each week to advance issues for the industry and prevent negative changes. And credit unions saw significant wins in the state session with the above HB 192, and the positive operational changes that passed for credit unions in HB 143.

Please note that a final wrap-up of the state Legislature with be provided in the next edition of Creating Influence after analysis is complete as bills were in play and changing rapidly as late as 11:59 pm last night. Below is some of the activity of note:

  • Anti-Financial Discrimination for Firearms Dealers: HB 292 by Rep. Rick Jasperse (R-Jasper) is the bill that was amended with the anti-financial discrimination language from 2016, with the amendments that GCUA worked to procure to protect credit unions. These amendments state that it is not considered discrimination to follow law, regulation, or for denial of service due to membership restrictions - as well as preemption language(so that if it does not apply to federal charters, state charters would not apply either). The bill passed the full Senate in the afternoon of Tuesday, March 28th and then the full House around 11:30 pm on the 28th with the credit union amendment language intact.
  • Anti-Terrorism: SB 1 by Sen. Bill Cowsert (R-Athens) was a Senate Leadership priority bill covering broad anti-terrorism provisions. This bill had been monitored in the process as it had granted new powers of the Attorney General to subpoena financial accounts and transaction data. This part had been removed last week in a hearing, and cited that the AG does have the authority to prosecute domestic terrorism, obtaining information from service providers with a search warrant. However, the bill failed in the late evening hours of Tuesday, March 28th. Then, in the late hours of Thursday, March 30th, the House added the bill language to HB 452, which did pass.
  • Blighted PropertiesHB 434 by Rep. Wendell Willard (R-Sandy Springs), a bill on eminent domain that is directed at counties and cities seizing blighted properties, passed the full Senate on Tuesday, March 28th. The bill had been monitored closely through the process to ensure that lienholders are not negatively impacted.
  • Homeowner Associations: HB 203 by Rep. Brian Strickland (R-McDonough) seeks to make changes to homeowner/condo association laws to provide the ability of property owners to take control over defunct associations (found in developments that were not completed due to a builder closing). The bill was not selected in the final Senate Rules hearing for a vote; however, the contents of the bill were inserted into an unrelated bill, SB 46, in the late hours of Tuesday, March 28th. This issue is being monitored closely to ensure that the bill does not change into a lien-superseding attempt.
  • Homeowner Solicitations: HB 197 by Rep. Sam Teasley (R-Marietta) on entities that attempt to solicit money from new homeowners by seeking to require that any business trying to sell a copy of the instrument conveying real estate prominently states that it is in fact a solicitation (and not a part of their required documents). It passed the full Senate in the late evening hours of Tuesday, March 28th and now heads to the Governor for his consideration.
  • Motor VehiclesHB 150 by Rep. Alan Powell (R-Hartwell) seeks to allow the state another avenue to collect unpaid tolls (as well as a late amendment with an unrelated gas tax bill). The bill was tabled around 11:45 pm on Tuesday, March 28th, but then resurfaced and passed the full Senate on Thursday, March 30th - but failed to get the last procedural vote in the House. The bill is intended to add toll debts to those that can be recouped through the Department of Revenue through its debt setoff collection via "garnisheeing" income tax refunds, and was monitored closely to ensure that it did not change to implicate the title of the vehicle and auto loan.
  • Power of Attorney ReformHB 221 by Rep. Chuck Efstration (R-Dacula) seeks to reform the power of attorney statue so as to have a uniform procedure and form, and to create a stronger ability for the authorities to investigate and prosecute financial elder abuse and fraud. GCUA has been in dialogue with Rep. Efstration to ensure that it does not create liability for credit unions. The bill received its final vote in the House on Tuesday, March 28th and travels to the Governor for his consideration.
  • Adjournment
  • Prize-Linked Savings: SB 134 by Sen. David Shafer (R-Duluth) seeks to institute the ability for credit unions and banks to offer prize-linked savings accounts and has been pursued by GCUA on behalf of credit unions. However, this bill faced significant hurdles in the final days due to factors outside of the merits of the issue, as many bills did in the last two days of the session, and stalled due to issues with other bills.
  • Real PropertyHB 76 by Rep. Rick Jasperse (R-Jasper) 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. It passed the full Senate on Tuesday, March 28th and then received its final vote in the House on Thursday, March 30th. GCUA learned that the HOA lobbyists were seeking to amend the bill; however, it passed cleanly and without any amendments to impact credit unions.
  • Regulatory Process Review: SB 2 by Sen. Mike Dugan (R-Carrollton) passed the House Small Business Development Committee in a hearing on Monday, March 27th – however, it was drastically different from its original version. This is another one of the Senate leadership’s priority bills titled the regulatory “FAST Act,” and was intended to quicken the process by which new businesses are authorized to operate in Georgia. Of note to credit unions, the original bill sought to ensure that any examinations are done with ample notice – and that any regulatory rule is approved by the Attorney General’s office. The most recent version removed the Attorney General provision, but would require state agencies to report on the economic impact (to the state) for any rule change. However, in the late hours of Tuesday, March 28th the bill was amended in a House Rules hearing to remove any provision applying to city/county governments and was the breaking point that stalled the bill in 2017.
  • TAVT: HB 340 by Rep. Shaw Blackmon (R-Bonaire) has changed frequently, amended to contain language from another bill to alter how the TAVT tax is calculated on used vehicles, and then changing again on how used vehicle tax is calculated (changing it to retail sale minus the trade-in value). The bill passed the full Senate last week, however the House began the procedure to place the bill in a “conference committee” on Tuesday, March 28th and was watched closely to protect credit union auto lending operations.
  • Tax Executions: HB 375 by Rep. Brad Raffensperger (R-Johns Creek) changes minor language surrounding the delivery of tax execution notices, and repeals the ability of a tax commissioner to charge a personal fee for the tax executions, and was monitored to protect the priority lien status of credit unions in mortgage lending. This bill passed the full Senate on Tuesday, March 28th with no issues and no changes.
  • Tax Exemption Study: SR 222 by Sen. John Albers (R-Alpharetta) passed the full Senate on Tuesday, March 28th and will need to be monitored closely in the off session as it seeks to create a study committee to review all tax exemptions in Georgia.
  • Tax ReformHB 329 by Rep. Jay Powell (R-Camilla) seeks to change the state income tax rate to 5.4 percent, and passed the full Senate on Tuesday, March 28th. However, the House began the procedure to place the bill in a “conference committee” late that evening. The bill was monitored closely; however, it failed to move forward by 1:00 am on the last day.
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ElectionsEarly Voting for Federal and State Special Elections Under Way (Issue 3 of 4)

Early voting for the District 6 special election for U.S. Congressman as well as a state Senate seat for District 32 opened on Monday, March 27th. Advance voting options are available until April 14th, with Saturday voting open on April 8th for those in the districts. The actual election day will be held on April 18th, and a runoff is predicted (which would fall on June 20th). The reason a runoff is likely is due to the rules in Georgia, where to win an election one must have 50 percent plus one. With multiple individuals running in both the state and federal race, it reduces the likelihood that one candidate will garner that level of support. Not sure if you are in the above two districts? Please visit the Secretary of State’s My Voter Page to find your district (and if you are in the 6th and/or 32nd federal and state Senate districts, when and where you can vote).

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NewsCredit Unions in the News (Issue 4 of 4)

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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