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New laws take effect July 1
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Legislation passed by the General Assembly can take effect upon the signature of the governor or on a date certain as outlined in the legislation. Some new laws are normally made effective at specific times. For example, tax bills normally have a beginning date of Jan. 1 for tax filing purposes.  

Some legislation takes effect in the future for various reasons but usually because some lead time is needed. The majority of legislation takes effect on July 1 after the previous session.

A number of new laws go into effect July 1, as noted in the legislation. Here is a review of some of those:

HB 250 — Expands the reasons for an investigation of a teacher by the Professional Standards Commission to include manufacture or trafficking in marijuana or controlled substances or any sexual offense. Allows an investigation to begin without notification upon submission of a request by a superintendent of an allegation made by a student for a sexual offense.

HB 1031 — Requires high schools to have at lease one defibrillator available at high school athletic events.

HB 1113 — Sets out guidelines for use of government credit cards and increases the penalties for abuse. The bill limits issuance to those necessary for the performance of their jobs, requires receipts, limits purchases to $5,000 without a contract, and prohibits the charging of unrelated personal items, in addition to alcohol and tobacco. Requires review for limiting issuance of cards. For large agencies, sets out a goal of reducing total cards issued by 10 percent by December 2009. Includes parts of SB 548 which makes misuse under $500 a misdemeanor and over $500 a felony with a possibility of 1-20 years confinement and up to a $50,000 fine.

SB 434, 435 — Changes the name of the technical school system from Department of Technical and Adult Education to Technical College System of Georgia.

SB 88 — Amends the Custody Act with a section “Care of a Grandchild Act,” which allows grandparents with legal authority to act on behalf of the grandchild.

SB 421 — Makes it a crime for under age 21 individuals to attempt to gain entry to restricted areas like clubs using false identification. First offense is a misdemeanor, second/subsequent, high and aggravated misdemeanor.

HB 188 — Allows for jury duty exemption for a primary, unpaid caregiver of someone who cannot be left alone or lacks a suitable replacement caregiver. Must be supported by a physician’s statement.

SB 430 — Allows the GBI to attain a DNA sample from a suspect in a criminal investigation.

SB 55 — Dubbed the “Merlot to Go” bill, this bill passed in 2007 and was vetoed by the governor. It simply allows a partially consumed bottle of wine to be corked and carried from a restaurant and transported in the trunk of a vehicle.

HB 1061 — Allows a winery in Georgia to purchase a license and ship up to 12 cases yearly to customers who must be 18 to sign for delivery.  As Georgia residents to order from out of state wineries up to 12 cases a year of wine if the shipper has a special shipping license issued by the state. For the first time, a direct transaction between buyer and seller is allowed.

SB 327 — Allows teachers retired for one year to return to teaching full-time and continue to receive retirement benefits. Also adds bills limiting investment by retirement boards to those classified as retirement bills and requiring a two-year consideration cycle.

SB 328 — Establishes a new retirement plan for state employees hired beginning July 1.  The new plan is a “blended” retirement plan halving the present plan defined benefit to 1 percent of their highest monthly compensation multiplied by years of service. The second part of the new plan establishes a 401K type defined contribution plan into which  the state will contribute 3 percent of salary if the employee contributes 5 percent.

HB 89 — Expands the places a concealed weapon permit holder may carry firearms.  Includes restaurants, public transit, state parks, places of employment parking lots and some local and state public buildings. Continues to require a background check of permit applicants but requires probate judges to expedite the permit issuance process. Permit holders possessing a weapon, cannot consume alcohol.