Good news for credit unions – Governor Brian Kemp has signed the four priority bills pursued for the industry during the state legislative session into law! The legislative process was quite challenging this year, and credit unions were engaged on more than 340 bills in the 2019 session – modifying language, removing onerous burdens, and working to outright stop bills that would negatively impact the industry. But in addition to the defensive victories, we are pleased to see these four bills come to pass after much time, energy, testimony, lobbying, sweat and tears:
Charter Enhancements: HB 185 by Rep. Bruce Williamson (R-Monroe) creates operational improvements for the credit union charter that were identified during the summer of 2018 by the credit union task force dedicated specifically to generate ideas for changes to the credit union state law. These improvements include:
- Addressing operational issues when there’s a merger between credit unions,
- Clearing up federal insurance and membership issues if a credit union purchases a bank,
- Outlining a clear and fair process for member expulsion by a credit union,
- Clarifying processes and definitions, including that of purchasing/selling loan participations for credit unions, and
- Renaming supervisory committee to audit committee to avoid confusion that the duties are the same as the duties of a supervisory committee for a federally chartered credit union.
Thank you to the Department of Banking and Finance for its engagement of credit unions in the process, and to all the credit unions who serve on the task force for their time and input in the improvements contained in the bill. GCUA is presently engaged in the rulemaking process to bring about these positive changes.
Encouraging Savings: HB 193 by Rep. Emory Dunahoo (R-Gainesville) was introduced to allow Georgia financial institutions, if they so choose, to offer savings accounts that include a “sweepstakes” component (such as the Save to Win program), and was pursued to give credit unions an option to help encourage savings among members to make a dent in the number of individuals who cannot handle a $400 emergency. Much energy was put forth in keeping this bill afloat amid the multiple challenges in the process, testifying in hearings, lobbying legislators and holding multiple private meetings with key leaders to keep the bill moving forward. The bill was amended in the House to strengthen the bill and make it explicitly clear that it was not “gambling,” and work was put forth to fight back against unwanted pro-gambling amendments (which would have derailed the bill), but GCUA is pleased that it was one of the few to make it through the process and is presently engaged in the rulemaking process.
Protecting the Lending Environment: SB 37 by Sen. William Ligon (R-Brunswick) right-sizes the lending environment by addressing a Georgia Court of Appeals decision that conflicted with the longstanding legal footing surrounding guarantees (Moye decision). GCUA testified in favor of this bill in hearings in the Senate and House, as this decision allowed for the recognition of a verbal (and not written) cancellation of a guarantee, and could have far reaching impacts on lending. This seeks to ensure that any commitment (and change to or cancellation of said agreement) to lend, answer for a debt, default, etc., must be done in writing. This bill is positive for the entire lending process in Georgia, and is a good example of how working in together with other organizations (as the Georgia Bankers Association brought this idea forward in the pre-session industry trade meeting) can benefit all financial institutions.
Boat Titling: After more than 20 years of attempts in the state Legislature, a boat titling process has passed! HB 314 by Rep. Ron Stephens (R-Savannah) creates a boat titling procedure in Georgia regulated by the Department of Natural Resources that will become effective in 2020. GCUA will stay engaged in the rulemaking process to help iron out any wrinkles (as it will be a new process and a department not used to titling). We are pleased to see this bill finally pass to help provide a more secure method in offering boat loans.