New Georgia Laws In Effect Now

Jul 3, 2018
Originally published on July 2, 2018 3:27 pm

July 1 marked the first day many new Georgia laws went into effect.

While the hands-free driving law might be the most well known addition, keep in mind that it's not the only one to be aware of.

  • HB 673, or the "Hands-Free Georgia Act": As GPB previously reported, Georgia drivers are no longer allowed to hold their phones or support them with any part of their body. The law expands on texting while driving, already illegal in Georgia, and generally prohibits most interaction with a phone while driving. Passengers, however, may still operate their devices as normal. 
  • HB 930 created the Atlanta-Region Transit Link Authority, or the ATL, a new board overseeing transit in the region. Among other duties, the ATL will handle transit funding and develop a regional transit plan. MARTA will still exist, but, by 2023, all transit systems must use the ATL logo and brand. Thirteen counties also may hold a referendum on imposing a sales tax funding additional transit.
  • HB 419 modified a variety of fireworks regulations. The governor may ban the use of fireworks in any area under drought, limits use of fireworks to certain dates and times (such as from 10 a.m. on Dec. 31 through all day Jan. 1) and requires fireworks vendors to display certain notices. Use of fireworks is also subject to local noise ordinances.
  • HB 65 allowed access to medical marijuana for patients diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder or "intractable pain."
  • HB 876 prohibited counties or municipalities from prohibiting the use of wood as a construction material, as long as use still conforms to the Georgia State Fire Code and minimum state standards.
  • HB 699 allowed for military firefighter training to be accepted as basic firefighter training.
  • HB 809 allowed for Georgia State Patrol cars to be painted in a single color, as opposed to the previously-required two-tone color scheme. 
  • HB 853 amended the Quality Basic Education Act so that children placed in psychiatric residential facilities under a physician's order may not be charged school tuition. 
  • HB 763 created a "school climate committee" in each county. Each committee's goal is to reduce unexcused absences, increase the number of students present for state-mandated tests and improve the "school climate."
  • HB 718 granted up to five excused absences to students with parents in active military service, and addresses when the absences should be granted.
  • HB 852 allowed students to continue attending the same school, even if they move attendance zones during the school year. 
  • HB 856 added the commissioner of community supervision to the Board of Public Safety as an ex officio member.
  • HB 909 allowed the Department of Public Health to regulate facilites providing perinatal care to new and expecting mothers. 
  • HB 287 granted an additional free license plate to Gold Star Families, up to two from previously one per family.
  • HB 973 required lobbyists to acknowledge having read and agreed to the Georgia Assembly's sexual harassment policy. Complaints about violation of the policy may also sanction a lobbyist.
  • HB 834 allowed tenants to terminate a rent or lease agreement within 30 days if a civil or criminal family violence order is filed. Tenants may leave a residence in order to protect themselves or a minor child.
  • HB 422 allowed the Veterans Service Board to create a nonprofit titled the Georgia Veterans Service Foundation. The foundation may seek funds and goods to promote Georgia's veterans' homes and cemeteries, as well as for other purposes of the Board. Related SR 484 created the Senate Study Committee on Creating a Lottery Game to Benefit Veterans.
  • HB 951 created the Center for Rural Prosperity and Innovation, which will be located at a to-be-determined University System of Georgia school. The Center will be a hub for rural leadership training and practices. 
  • HB 831 created the Employment First Georgia Council, which focuses on competitive employment and how to provide publicly funded services to citizens with disabilities.
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