Friday, May 05, 2017
NOTES FROM THE SENATE, MAY 5, 2017
LEGISLATION AND FUNDING HELP INSURE PUBLIC SAFETY
As new challenges in public safety and law enforcement present themselves, state leaders have responded with legislation to "Back the Badge" and protect our state from new dangers like cybercrime.
SB 160 - "Back the Badge" - Expands the definition of "peace officer" to include "public safety officers" and includes first responders, correctional officers, firefighters, jailers and juvenile correctional officers and criminalizes assault on any of these. Adjusts penalties for violations according to the severity of the offense, but aggravated battery carries a mandatory sentence of three years. Juveniles assaulting a public safety officer with a weapon would be tried as an adult unless remanded to juvenile court by the Superior Court judge. This bill makes it a felony to throw bodily fluids at an officer. SB 160 also increases payments to the surviving family of an officer killed or suffering brain damage in the line of duty from $100,000 to $150,000.
SB 18 - Law enforcement officers with 10 or more years of service who are issued a POST I.D. card for retirees and meet the requirements (yearly qualification) are allowed to carry a weapon anywhere in the state. This includes local and state law enforcement officers. Officers disabled in the line of duty would also be able to retain their weapon and badge.
SB 169 - "Back the Badge" Tag - Authorizes the issuance of an auto tag with the proceeds going to the Peace Officers' Annuity and Benefit Fund.
SB 250 - Bans sex offenders on other states' sex offender lists from loitering at child care, schools or other areas where children congregate.
HB 341 - Updates Georgia's law related to several sex offenses to include making sexual servitude a felony. Also includes soliciting. Depending on age, punishment could run from 5-20 years.
SB 104 - Includes a number of bills. Separates hijacking into first and second degree. Makes upskirting or taking photos under a female's dress clearly a crime and invasion of privacy and makes it a felony which could be reduced by the judge. Also amends current law to increase penalties for counterfeiting insurance documentation. Adds Fentanyl to the list of Schedule I controlled drugs.
HB 86 - Expands the definition of "child abuse" in the child abuse statute to include sex trafficking.
SB 175 - Allows Juvenile Courts to require parents to take actions like monitoring homework, transporting to counseling and completing a substance abuse program.
HB 261 - Allows offenders convicted from 1968 to 1982 to apply for first offender status.
HB 279 - Allows for a name change without public advertising when a judge believes that public disclosure could be harmful to the person changing her name as in a case of spousal abuse.
HB 320 - Criminalizes the selling of counterfeit or nonfunctioning air bags.
FUNDING INSURES SAFETY THROUGH CONSISTENT LAW ENFORCEMENT STAFFING AND NEW TECHNOLOGY
$55.4 million to fund a 20% pay increase for law enforcement officers.
Budget Item 39.3 - $2.8 million for DOAS to purchase cyber insurance for some state agencies.
Budget Item 170.7 - $156,000 in Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security for two new analysts to work in the Georgia Information Sharing and Analysis Center to prevent and discover terrorist threats and to fight terrorism.
Budget Item 208.6 - $855,000 for the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to fund personnel and equipment for eight scientists and four technicians in Forensic Science services.
Budget Item No. 208.4 - $241,000 for GBI Forensic Services to establish a fellowship program to improve retention and recruitment.
Budget Item No. 208.5 - $644,000 for GBI Forensic Scientist Services for six new forensic scientist positions.
Budget Item No. 210.11 - $340,000 for the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council for Juvenile Justice Incentive Grants and one new fidelity manager.
Bond No. 348.391 - $36.375 million for construction of a new GBI Crime Lab in Savannah.
Full transcripts of bills may be found at http://www.legis.ga.gov/en-US/default.aspx . Simply type the bill number into the box at the top left-hand corner of the screen and specify if it is in the House or the Senate. The FY 2018 budget (H.B. 44) may be found at http://www.senate.ga.gov/sbeo/en-US/AppropriationsDocuments.aspx. As always, I welcome any questions you may have.