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State House tries to clear up interest

POSTED: February 13, 2014 7:10 p.m.

It was very good to get back to work at the State Capitol after the temporary closure due to the inclement weather two weeks ago. We addressed, and passed, a bill that could potentially affect the pocketbook of every Georgian. Personal finances are always a concern for individuals trying to earn a living for the betterment of their families. Many Georgians have been frustrated with additional fees charged by local financial institutions that were vaguely annotated by our banks as “interest.”

HB 824 was unanimously passed by the House which clarifies the term “interest” and does not include certain fees, including overdraft funds and automated teller machine charges, as agreed upon by financial institutions and their bankers. This should alleviate any hidden fees and allow Georgians to have a clearer picture of their personal and business finances.

On Wednesday, the joint session of the House and Senate met for a state of the judiciary address, reported by Chief Justice Hugh Thompson. Justice Thompson emphasized the need for attorneys outside of the metro Atlanta area, especially in rural counties. He cited that most attorneys live in the five counties that make up the metro Atlanta region and only thirty percent of all lawyers in Georgia reside outside of the city’s capital. He said that this adversely affects the underprivileged of our state and challenged us to find a way to give more people necessary legal representation.

Of particular note this week is a bill that passed in committee that could have an effect on the U.S. Constitution. HB 794 proposes to amend the U.S. Constitution by adding a balanced budget requirement. To create this amendment, the bill creates a compact that would bind Georgia and its legislatures with every other state and their legislatures that agree to be bound by this compact. The amendment would require that our federal government not spend more than its total receipts, unless the excess spending if financed exclusively by government issued debt through “strict conformity with this article.” I strongly support our state and nation adhering to a balanced budget, and to make sound financial decisions just as each citizen must face each day. I will follow this piece of legislation closely as it proceeds through the legislative process and report any progress to you.

I will continue to keep you apprised of important legislation that affects you and your family.  Please let me know if I can be of assistance to you, as we consider legislation that affects your finances, freedoms, and future. I can be reached at (404) 656-0178 or by email at bill.hitchens@house.ga.gov.  My mailing address at the State Capitol is 501 Coverdell Legislative Office Building, Atlanta, GA 30334.

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