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Monday, June 24, 2019

NOTES FROM THE SENATE, JUNE 24, 2019

NEW LAWS TAKING EFFECT JULY 1

Every legislative bill or resolution either has an effective date which can be upon signature of the governor or a date certain or automatically becomes law at the beginning of the Fiscal year July 1. Sometimes an effective date is set in the future to allow time for certain actions to take place in writing regulations or for tax purposes, for example.

So, here are some of the bills passed in the last General Assembly that will become part of the Georgia Code on July 1.

--HB 490-Raises the amount a financial institution can provide a family member for funeral and other last illnesses for a deceased who did not leave a will. Presently that amount is $10,000 but would be increased under HB 490 to $15,000 but shortens the time a family has to apply from 90 to 45 days.

--SB 60-Requires guidelines be established and materials provided for students participating in interscholastic athletic activities about the warning signs of cardiac arrest. Also requires schools to hold informational meetings on the warning signs and requires a student be removed from participation in athletic activities for signs of cardiac issues.

--HB 12-Requires public schools to post a widely visible sign with a 24/7 phone number to report child abuse

--HB 530-Requires schools to report to DFCS parents who have withdrawn children from school and not filed an "Intention to Homeschool." Declaration.

--SB 138-Provides a free initial license plate and annual revalidation decals to first responders disabled in the line of duty and exempts them from TAVT transfer fees for vehicle valued at less than $50,000. Also creates a special license plate to support the Sickle Cell Foundation.

--HB 183-Clarifies that a property taxpayer who does not return taxes for one year but paid them for a previous year will be determined to have paid them at the same value. Also, a taxpayer has a right of appeal regardless of whether they filed to return real property.

--HB 456-Expands the exclusion of a finance report by local governments to eliminate the report by communities with under $500,000 in expenditures.

--HB 62-"Margie's Law" requires health care facilities conducting mammograms to notify patients that their mammogram reveals dense tissue which may obscure tumors.

--HB 218-Extends eligibility for HOPE Scholarship to 10 years after high school graduation and clarifies that military duty does not count as non-enrollment.

--HB 63-Health benefit plans would be required to exclude step therapy protocol if provider submits justification and supporting documentation.

--SB 167-Spells out specific requirements of DFCS that the court must consider when determining if the DFCS response was complete and appropriate to placement of a child. Allows the court to excuse DFCS from being required to consider a relative for placement of the child if the relative fails to express an interest.

--HB 118-Changes current law on the offense of "transmitting false public alarm" for offense to "making an unlawful request for emergency services assistance" to combat false 911 calls and requests.

--HB 228-Raises minimum age to get married to 17 years from the present 16 years. Limits age difference of the two with a minor to 4 years.

--HB 281--Increases the penalty for pimping and pandering

--HB 282-Increases the length of time law enforcement must retain evidence in a sexual assault case that would help identify the assailant.

--HB 543-Allows the Court to declare an individual an "equitable caregiver" and confers some rights to that individual.

--SB 72-Updates the Hunting and Fishing Code and removes the requirement for a hunting license to hunt a Wildlife Management Area. Gives DNR Board authority to extend bow hunting deer season to end of January. New bag limit is 12 of either sex. Removes dual area state season for deer.

--SB 99-Allows hunting and fishing license applicant to donate body organs similar to driver's license procedure.

--HB 223-Clarifies that pesticides applied in accordance with specified instructions do not require notification of EPD.

--HB 382-Update of Georgia Outdoor Stewardship Act allowing DNR to retain an administrative fee.

--SB 6-Prohibits the use of drones around prisons or jails that are used to transmit contraband or take photographs of the facility.

--SB 31-Provides addition to exemption from liability by law enforcement in an emergency situation to include the removal of a trapped pet in an auto.

--HB 226-Extends the present 1.5% surcharge on each traffic citation to continue funding for the Georgia Driver's Education Commission until June 30, 2022.

--HB 339-Creates several new license plates including Alabama A&M University, a plate promoting autism awareness, a plate honoring Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. and a special plate for the Georgia Aquarium.

--HB 459-Requires local school boards to submit to the Department of Public Safety the name and driver's license number of school bus drivers to determine if they are still qualified to drive.

--SB 177-Requires local bills revising the districts of county boards of commissioners, all boards of education and municipal governing authorities to submit plans to the Legislative Reapportionment Office prior to introduction or have that office draw the plans.

--HB 324-Legalizes the growing, manufacturing and dispensing of low THC oil, Medical Marijuana.

--SB 73-Allows the Clerk of Court to deduct the present $5.00 assessment of the diversion or pretrial intervention fee and remit to the Peace Officers' Annuity and Benefit Fund.

--HB 319-Allows a Firefighters' Pension Fund members' death benefit to be paid to his or her estate if there is no living or named beneficiary.

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 2020 budget (H.B. 31) may be found at http://www.senate.ga.gov/sbeo/en-US/AppropriationsDocuments.aspx. As always, I welcome any questions you may have.

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