The state legislative session in Georgia does not begin until January 13th. However, the Legislature has been a buzz of activity as of late to address just a handful of the issues for 2020 in advance, with multiple hearings in the past few weeks. These hearings are in addition to the private meetings held between members of the LSCU Advocacy Team with legislators and lobbyists to help shape the issues before they arise! Some of the recent hearings and meetings of note to credit unions (outside of the legislator meetings in the adjacent article) include:
- Fraud Issues: On September 10th the House Science and Technology Committee heard testimony on multiple issues surrounding fraud and scams found on the Internet, particularly on gift cards, payments, data breaches, wire fraud and how to protect consumers. While the hearing did not end with a bill to be introduced, it is anticipated that this conversation will continue.
- Expanded Elder Abuse Reporting: On September 6th, members of the LSCU-Georgia Advocacy and Compliance team were a part of a meeting with the other financial trade associations in Georgia and the Department of Human Services on HB 402 from 2019. This bill had sought to expand what type of suspected abuse reporting must be identified to mental, physical, and beyond. And while well intentioned, it placed front-line staff in an almost impossible position at best to identify any and all types of possible neglect or abuse, diverting attention to what they are best apt to catch (financial abuse, which can be a challenge in itself!). The time spent on educating others on the concerns was productive, and the issue was determined not to move forward. Rather, we look forward to continuing to work with DHS on how to keep the process as smooth as possible to protect seniors.
- Rural Development: On September 10th and 11th the House held the first of two study committee meetings on rural development in Georgia. This is a continuation of the study meetings held throughout the state in 2019, which seeks to identify enhancements and/or new issues to move forward to help all of Georgia succeed in the years ahead. And while financial issues are not front and center in these hearings, there are lending issues discussed and monitored.
- Business Regulations: On August 27th the Senate held their first “Cost of Doing Business” hearings which are directed, among other things at the legal climate for businesses in Georgia. The outcome of these hearings will be monitored for any changes as it applies to business operations and the legal environment.
- Senior Living Financing: On September 17th the House Study Committee on Innovative Financial Options held their first hearing to look at the various programs available to assist seniors in housing, and what Georgia may need to do. With the growing aging population, it is anticipated that we will see many bills introduced on the aspect of protecting seniors, whether that is with elder abuse reporting, restrictions in the products/services provided to the elderly, or new programs directed at this population.
And these were in addition to several other hearings, from potentiality legalized gambling to health care to transportation, which all fall against the backdrop of the pending budget hearings in the off session to address potential cuts to the state budget.