Notes from the Senate

by | June 27, 2018 3:42 pm

by SENATOR JACK HILL, 4th District

   LEGISLATION TAKING EFFECT JULY 1

    After the Legislature completes its work, the Governor has 40 days to sign or veto legislation or just allow a bill to become law without signature. Legislation sometimes is written to take effect upon the Governor’s signature or at some future date.  Normally, new legislation goes into effect July 1 of the current year.  If there is no effective date listed in the legislation, July 1 is the effective date.  This week, we offer you a partial list of legislation that goes into effect July 1.   

    PUT THAT CELLPHONE DOWN!

   –HB 673-“The Hands Free Georgia Act” A big change for cellphone users.  Driver can no longer hold and operate the phone while driving. The phone cannot lay in one’s lap and be operated.  The phone can be in a holder, but texting and operating the phone in a holder is now prohibited. Blue Tooth and ear phones are permitted, but driver cannot be operating the phone. 

   –SB 376– Removes the present $3.00 charge for freezing or unfreezing your credit report.

   –SB 371– Allows the Department of Revenue to share with local governments information on a business’s Sales Tax Certificate.  Also allows DOR to validate that a business within the municipality is remitting sales taxes collected to the proper political subdivision.

   –HB 749– Clarifies that income from military retirement will be included as retirement income.  Also adds provision excluding income from state income tax that a surviving member receives based on the service record of a deceased veteran.  

   –SB 370– Excludes the first $25,000 of the estate of a Medicaid recipient from recoupment claim by the state.

   –HB 701– Adds opioids and derivatives to the list of “illegal drugs” already being tested for in some state employment processes.

   –SB 427– Child Support Income Determination.  Part I is effective July 1, 2018.Requires the  court, in making its final child support determination, to take into account the obligor’s earnings, income, other evidence of ability to pay, and the basic subsistence needs of the supported parent and child.  Allows enrollment in PeachCare to satisfy health insurance requirements.

    SMALL CHANGES TO GUN LAWS

   –HB 657– Creates a felony offense for supplying a weapon to a felony first offender or convicted felon.  Punishable by 1-5 years in prison, second conviction, 5-10 years.  Also prohibits furnishing a weapon to a first offender on probation gets 1-5 years.  

   –HB 834– Allows a tenant to terminate a residential rental or lease after a civil family violence order has been issued protecting the tenant or minor child.

   –SB 406– Creates a Central Caregiver Registry for satisfactory and unsatisfactory determinations of individuals applying for employment in long-term care facilities caring for the elderly.  Employers will be able to inquire of the Department of Community Health for status of applicants.

   –HB 419– Sets new times for fireworks usage.  New times are from 10:00 am to 11:59 pm unless a local ordinance makes any noise of a certain level illegal.  Allows an exclusion on the last Saturday and Sunday in May, July 3, 4, Labor Day, December 31 and Jan 1 when they are permitted form 10:00 am to 11:59 pm.    The Governor can suspend all fireworks during drought conditions.

    SCHOOL ZONE CAMERAS

    –HB 978– Allows for the installation of automated cameras in school zones for speed monitoring and ticketing during certain hours.  Allows for a civil procedure for fines resulting from violations and authorizes auto registrations and license renewals suspension for failure to pay these fines.

    –SB 3– The CONNECT Act requires the State Board of Education to begin a course of study in grades 6-12 including participation in work-based learning programs and rigorous industry credentialing.  Establishes an annual grant program for the purchase of equipment to be used in industry-related programs.

   –HB 763– Requires updates and improved school climate plans and for schools to prepare school safety plans to address preparedness for natural disasters, hazardous materials, radiological accidents, acts of violence and acts of terrorism.  Sets up requirements for drills and meshes with SB 457, which sets out requirements in these plans.  Schools may request funding under DOE criteria.  

   HELP FOR OUR GUARDSMEN/ RESERVISTS

   –SB 82– Grants Georgia National Guard members and Reservists stationed in Georgia, in-state status for HOPE scholarship qualification.

   –HB 699– Allows individuals trained as firefighters under any branch of the U.S. Armed Forces, Coast Guard, National Guard or Ga. Air National Guard to be certified as Georgia firefighters upon proof of training in lieu of state required training.  Allows waiver of high school diploma requirement for certification.

    –SB 401– Calls for individual student graduation plans based on student skills, career aptitudes and interests. Also requires postsecondary institutions to provide dual enrollment and student data to the Office of Student Achievement.  DOE is tasked to review and report on each school counselor’s role, workload and program service delivery in grades 6-12.  This bill also included HB 762 which requires age-appropriate sexual abuse and assault awareness and prevention training annually in grades 9-12.

   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 2019 budget (H.B. 684) may be found at http://www.senate.ga.gov/sbeo/en-US/AppropriationsDocuments.aspx. As always, I welcome any questions you may have.

   I may be reached at 234 State Capitol, Atlanta, GA 30334; 404-656-5038 (phone); 404-657-7094 (fax); e-mail at Jack.Hill@senate.ga.gov; toll-free at 1-800-367-3334, day or night; or by phone at my Reidsville office, 912-557-3811.

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