The state legislative session will begin in Georgia on January 13th, and while those cold temperatures seem far away in the midst of the current dog days of summer heat wave, the work to frame the 2020 issues is happening now. State level hearings are in full swing, with the Speaker of the House David Ralston announcing just last week that they will already begin the budget process for next year. The state session has slowly grown from its days of ending by St. Patrick’s Day to a full-year effort!
From a credit union perspective, the avenues to collect intel and shape the issues include local one-on-one meetings with legislators, in-district events, hearings at the Capitol and around the state, and meetings with industry partners, to name a few. The most recent include:
- On August 13th the House Regulated Industries Committee held a second hearing on the funeral industry in Georgia. The first hearing touched on several financial institution issues, loans, accounts, CDs, trusts, and consistency (or inconsistencies) in financial institution operations, and is being monitored closely to ensure that the changes sought do not impact credit union operations. For the past two years the credit union lobbying team has addressed bills that sought to change the way financial institutions pay funeral expenses out of intestate accounts, with a positive move to remove the onerous language from 2018 and include liability protection for the financial institution as well as a clear system in which to apply for payment. Funeral issues will continue to be monitored to ensure that nothing is changed to remove the protections obtained for credit unions.
- On August 13th GCUA also sat down with State Sen. Michael Rhett (D-Marietta) to discuss the session activity and the political dynamics in the Senate, as well as what issues may be pursued in 2020. Sen. Rhett sits on two committees of key interest to credit unions: Senate Finance (where tax issues are debated) and Senate Judiciary (which consistently addresses lending issues each year). Building relationships with legislators is an all-year activity, and our thanks to Sen. Rhett for having an open door for our issues!
- On August 19th GCUA attended the Gwinnett County Chamber’s lunch to hear from Governor Brian Kemp on his focus for the state in the year ahead, his legislative priorities, and what to anticipate when the state session resumes in January … including his recent announcement that all state departments must cut their budgets by 4 percent. While a focus on expenses is very positive, of note to credit unions is the Department of Banking and Finance and its operations, as the Department is one of the few that bring in more money than they are allocated. In addition to the insight from the Governor, GCUA engaged with the large bipartisan mix of state legislators (including Congressional hopefuls!) and media at the event to help promote credit union interests.
And there are more meetings happening as of press time! Please take advantage of the opportunities to connect with legislators when they arise in your area … the time spent growing a relationship today helps shape the perspective on issues in the future.