Lawmakers returned to Atlanta to begin their legislative duties on January 13, 2020. During the first week of the session a few major events happen that signal the start of the legislative session. One is the Georgia Chamber’s annual Eggs and Issues breakfast. It is a rite of passage for league employees and for credit unions to attend the unofficial start to the 40-day legislative session. This year Maureen Bock, Senior Director of Education for LSCU, joined Rachael Martin and Chuck Head of Atlanta Postal CU and James Coltrane of Members First CU, Representative Brian Prince, D-127, a longtime credit union member from Augusta, GA and members of the LSCU Georgia contract lobbying team, JL Morgan Company – Lauren Pollow, Legislative Director, and Graham Segrest, Legislative Assistant – for the event that was held on Jan. 15, 2020 at the World Congress Center.
During the breakfast, Chris Clark, president and CEO of the Georgia Chamber of Commerce, outlined what he sees as top priorities for the Georgia Chamber – addressing the urbanization of rural property, growing environmentally, growing our infrastructure, creating a new healthcare network and upgrading our freight and logistics capability to compete more internationally. Georgia businesses need to focus on talent and tech/innovation, as credit unions know all too well. Georgia embraces the rise of entrepreneurship and small businesses. Focusing on diversity in our workforce/inclusion is key. Clark stated that the Chamber wants to help move people from poverty to prosperity. Again, sounds familiar to credit union folks. Easy to say, hard to do in today’s world of geopolitical polarization.
Gov. Brian Kemp (R) reported that “Georgia has been named the #1 place to do business for the 7th year in a row! That is big, y’all!” Kemp serves as the 83rd Governor of the state of Georgia and ran on a platform of being a political outsider, wanting to shake things up and disrupt the status quo. He feels he has made good progress so far.
Human trafficking is a horrifying fact that is threatening families and communities all over Georgia. First Lady Marty Kemp has started the GRACE (Georgians for Refuge, Action, Compassion and Education) Commission to combat the threat of human trafficking in the State of Georgia. Ivanka Trump joined the Kemps on Jan. 14 to give a voice to voiceless during a roundtable on combating trafficking.
One of the highlights of the first week is always the Governor’s delivery of the State of the State address. During that speech Gov. Kemp outlined his vision for Georgia’s present and future. He discussed Georgia’s strong economy and urged lawmakers to work together for all Georgians. He highlighted his 2020 priorities including improving the state’s K-12 education, continued healthcare reform, and working to make Georgia safer for all who live here. To watch a video of the Governor’s speech, please click here.
While there was not a whole lot of movement on specific legislation related to credit unions during the first week, the Department of Banking and Finance Housekeeping bill does now have a bill number that can be tracked. HB 781 will help strengthen the Georgia state credit union charter by providing clarification on lending limits to one borrower, and adding a new section to clarify how ATMs, cash dispensing machines and point of sale terminals are treated in the Act. During our visit to the State House on January 25th, the House Banks and Banking Committee held a hearing on the Housekeeping Legislation and approved a due pass measure by committee substitute. The slight change was not to the credit union language but to a change in banking language dealing with residency requirements for bank boards of directors.
We are also following several pieces of legislation that can have an impact on credit unions, including HB 488 to combat gift card fraud through regulation of what data is obtained through the sale of cards.
One bill that was introduced last week that has our full attention is SB 302 by Sen. John Albers (R-Roswell). This bill is being called the “Tax Credit Return on Investment Act of 2020.” This bill proposes that on or before May 1 of each year, the chairs of House Ways & Means and Senate Finance may each request up to five economic analyses. Those requests would go to OPB, who may contract with one or more independent auditors to complete each on or before December 1. Each request must be limited to one existing provision of law/proposed law and shall specify one particular exemption, exclusion, deduction from the base of a tax. While this does not appear to be directly related to credit unions, it is certainly something that is on our radar and we will monitor closely.