The 2007 Legislature implemented a number of pieces of legislation affecting public safety and included in the 2008 budget are enhancements that will assist law enforcement officers and help counties with the burden of housing state prisoners.
Legislation passed included several measures dealing with tightening license and tag processes.
• SB 5 - Requires that the Department of Driver Services determine through the federal SAVE Program (Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements Program) that a non-citizen applicant is approved by this program. Effective in FY2008.
• SB 15 - Increases the penalty for the third offense of driving without a license to a felony
• SB 23 - Allows courts to make a determination of the legality of a person’s presence in the U.S. when sentencing for probation, suspension of sentences and parole hearings
• SB 38 - Requires a valid license or state ID to purchase a car tag
• SB 77 - Allows local auto tag agents to accept and process registrations under the International Registration Plan
• SB 100 - Makes it a felony to manufacture and sell or distribute false identification cards and other documents
Other criminal justice legislation includes:
• SB 34 - Prohibits prisoners from possessing photographs of victims
• SB 234 - Allows retiring Correctional Officers with 25 years of service to retain their badges
• HB 314 - Makes it a crime for registered sex offenders to photograph a minor without the parent’s consent and also increases registration requirements to include counties where the offender works or goes to any educational institution
Additionally, legislation was passed limiting trial judges, hiring of expensive trial attorneys and billing counties for the costs, and updated the law assisting law enforcement in pursuing lawbreakers who use computers, cell phones and other electronic devices to prey upon children
Budget increases support for law enforcement:
The Criminal Justice/Law Enforcement portion of the state budget totals $1.7 billion dollars for the six agencies. This accounts for 8.3 percent of Georgia’s $20 billion dollar state funds budget.
The 2008 budget increases the county jail subsidy from $20 per day per inmate to $25 which will be extremely helpful to local governments
Law enforcement officers in DPS, GBI, DNR, DJJ, Pardons & Paroles and Corrections will receive an additional 3 percent cost of living adjustment for those officers in pay grades who did not receive the extra 3 percent COLA in the 2007 budget
A pay compaction package addressing manpower shortages in the State Patrol was included in the ’08 budget. A total of 100 new patrol cars are funded in this year’s budget as well.
New GBI positions include 15 positions for the Meth Task Force, and filled positions as well as new positions for the SecureID Initiative and Child Safety Initiative in addition to funding one-time costs with those new agents.
In the bonds section of the FY2008 budget, funds are provided to create 1,024 new prison beds.
Next week: More on legislation that passed during the 2007 session of the Georgia General Assembly.
Visit the Legislature’s home page at www.legis.state.ga.us
To view the FY2008 budget in its entirety:www.senate.ga.gov - Tab - Budget Reports
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