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New laws go into effect July 1 in Georgia

  • July 2, 2019
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New Georgia Laws 2019

By Elaine Owen, Editor

Governor Brian Kemp signed 21 bills into law April 15 to take effect July 1. These laws cover issues from human trafficking to flag displays. Here is a summary of some of those laws that take effect July 1: HB 25 will provide military service members civil relief concerning certain contractual obligations.

This has been legalized by the Service Members Civil Relief Act. As an example, if a service member is away and cannot get their things out of a storage locker due to deployment, they do not have to be legally fined, and cannot be sued for leaving their things in the storage unit.

SB 158 will provide additional safeguards and protections against human trafficking. It authorizes the Department of Family and Children Services (DFCS) to provide care and supervision to children who are victims of human trafficking, and expands prohibitions against trafficking of persons for labor or sexual servitude.

HB 287 will remove the income tax deduction for certain physicians serving as community-based faculty physicians. The law will create a new income credit for taxpayers who are licensed physicians, advanced practice registered nurses, or physician assistants who provide uncompensated training to medical students, advanced practice registered nurse students, or physician assistant students for certain periods of time.

HB 613: The Municipal Court of Flovilla, Georgia is being dissolved. If you get mail from them after July 1, 2019 it is probably a scam.

All matters which are pending in the Municipal Court of the City of Flovilla on July 1, 2019, will be transferred to the Magistrate Court of Butts County on that date.

SB 170 will now require buildings that display state and national flags to also display the Honor and Remember Flag as the state’s emblem of the service and sacrifice of the members of the armed forces. The flag will only be displayed on designated days.

HB 218 will extend the amount of time a student can receive the HOPE scholarship after graduating from high school. The new rules state that students can be eligible for the HOPE scholarship up to 10 years from their graduation date from high school or the equivalent thereof as determined by the Georgia Student Finance Commission. SB 9 creates more sentencing options and charges for those who have sexually assaulted someone in their care, or to any one who they have disciplinary authority over. Consent can no longer be used as a defense.

SB 6: Anyone caught using a drone to deliver contraband to a Georgia prisoner would face a felony charge and a possible prison sentence of one to 10 years if convicted. Those caught taking pictures of the prisons using drone technology would face up to five years in prison.

SB 31 would exempt law enforcement officers from liability if they are rescuing an animal trapped in a vehicle.

HB 282 requires law enforcement officers to preserve evidence in rape cases indefinitely. Currently, the law allows the evidence to be discarded after 10 years.

HB 118 changes the language regarding false alarms to include unnecessary calls to 911.

HB 530 requires schools to publicly display a sign with a phone number for reporting child abuse.
Medical Marijuana

A bill that will allow marijuana to be legally grown in Georgia for medicinal purposes was approved by lawmakers during the state’s 2019 legislative session. The law goes into effect July 1.

Georgia’s Hope Act will allow six private businesses and two universities to grow marijuana for medicinal purposes. The state passed a measure that allowed the use of medical marijuana in 2015. But patients had nowhere to purchase the drug as the law banned manufacturing marijuana and bringing it across state lines. As part of Georgia’s Hope Act, the Georgia Access to Medical Cannabis Commission will be created consisting of seven members – three appointed by the governor and two each from the speaker of the House and lieutenant governor – to license and regulate the growers. All of the marijuana growth must be done indoors. The state will also establish a Medical Cannabis Commission Oversight Committee to oversee manufacturing facilities. The medicinal marijuana will be dispensed by healthcare providers and pharmacies that obtain a state license.