On July 1st of every year, a series of new laws go into effect. Let’s take a look at some of the hundreds of bills and resolutions adopted this year in Georgia.
In a previous article, we had discussed Georgia’s new Hands-Free Driving law, but that isn’t the only new law that has been enacted over the summer.
HB 930 has created a new board overseeing transit in Atlanta called the Atlanta-Region Transit Link Authority (ATL). Consisting of 16 appointed members, ATL will be responsible for handling federal and state funding and the planning and coordination of the new transit system.
With the bill’s approval, counties are now able to collect transit sales tax for up to 30 more years. The bill will also impose a 50-cent fee on all transportation rides, including taxi, ride-sharing and other ground transportation methods. Along with Senate Bill 386, another transportation bill passed, HB 930 will raise hundreds of millions of dollars for transit expansion.
According to the U.S. Census results, Atlanta is projected to have 2.5 million more residents moving into the area. As the metro Atlanta area continues to grow in population, these new bills will ensure that the transportation system will be ready for such a growth.
New HB 65 has expanded the legal use of medical marijuana in Georgia. The new law allows those suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and “intractable pain” to use medical marijuana in treatment.
The definition of “intractable pain” is taken directly from the bill itself and is described as “pain that has a cause that cannot be removed and for which, according to generally accepted medical practice, the full range of pain management has been used for at least six months without adequate results or with intolerable side effects”.
Prior to this expansion, Georgia’s existing medical marijuana law created in 2015 covered about a dozen illnesses, including cancer, Parkinson’s disease and AIDS.
HB 853 modifies the Quality Basic Education Act to allow children in psychiatric residential treatment facilities (from a physician’s order) to waive tuition fee.
HB 763 relates to compulsory attendance for students in elementary and secondary education. It creates student attendance protocol committees with protocols and penalties for non-compliance and seeks to increase attendance rates.
HB 718 allows children of parents in active military service to have five excused absences and explains the conditions in which those are given. With these new attendance policies, HB 852 ensures that students can continue to go to their current school even if they moved to a different attendance zone.
Under HB 419, a few changes have been made to the existing regulations on fireworks in Georgia. Fireworks have been legal in Georgia since 2015. Technically, you can set off fireworks whenever, but now local authorities are allowed to modify their noise ordinances. When you’re purchasing fireworks, the vendor is also required to inform you about local ordinances and remind you to be courteous of pets and military veterans, who may be sensitive to the noise, in your use.
You cannot set off fireworks within 100 yards of an electric plant, water treatment plant, health care facility, waste-water treatment, gas station, jail or prison, helipad, refinery or within any park, state property. The law also bans use of fireworks in any area under a drought.
You can still use fireworks on public holidays, such as New Year’s Eve, New Years’, the weekend before Memorial Day (but not the actual day), July 3, July 4 and Labor Day.