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Nearly 200 New Georgia Laws Effective July 1

More than 200 new laws took effect July 1, 2022. Some of those new laws were minor tweaks of a code section while others were complete overhauls. The list below is not all inclusive.

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The new laws are categorized by Free Speech, Second Amendment, Taxation, Tax Credits, New Unlawful Acts, Regulation, Regulation of Government, Teachers, Public Officials, and Healthcare.

The FY 2023 budget takes effect July 1, 2022 and is based on a revenue estimate of $30.2 billion, an increase of 10.8% over original FY 2022 budget. You can read about the budget and what it entails here.

FREE SPEECH
HB 1 – the ‘Forming Open and Robust University Minds (FORUM) Act.’

The bill requires that the unrestricted outdoor areas of the campuses of the University System of Georgia and the Technical College System of Georgia’s institutions be declared public forums for their campus communities. The
institutions are barred from prohibiting expressive activities in those areas or designate any campus areas as a “free speech zone”. Restrictions may only be in place to if narrowly tailored to serve a significant institutional interest and employ criteria that is clear, published, neutral, and provides ample alternative means for expression. Restrictions must also allow the community to assemble spontaneously and to distribute literature.

The new law therefore allows individuals to participate in the activities so long as there is no substantial disruption to institution functions and First Amendment protected functions are not to be deemed ‘disruptive.’

SECOND AMENDMENT
HB 218 – Weapons Carry License Reciprocity

Allows reciprocity for any state’s weapons carry license, as long as the holder carries according to Georgia’s laws. The new law also mandates that the Georgia Attorney General enter into a reciprocity agreement with any state that requires an agreement in order to recognize and give effect to a Georgia-issued license in their state.

TAXATION, FINES, AND FEES
HB 246 – Replacement licenses and permits

Sponsored by Rep. Sam Watson, this law increases the fee for a replacement permit or license from $5 to $10. It also increases the cost of a limited driving permit from $25 to $32 and the replacement fee for the same from $5 to $10.

HB 893 – fees for hazard waste management and reporting

Extends the sunset date for hazardous waste management and hazardous substance reporting fees to July 1, 2027.

HB 1058 – tax returns for corporations

Amends current law on corporate taxation by allowing affiliated corporations to elect to file a Georgia consolidated income tax return without the request or approval of
the Department of Revenue.

HB 1089 – Penalty for motor vehicle registration requirements

Increases the penalty fee from $25 to $145 for each violation of specified motor vehicle registration requirements.

TAX CREDITS & SALES TAX EXEMPTIONS
HB 275 on organ donations includes a $25,000 tax credit.
HB 242 – credits for donations to “foster care support organizations”

Foster care support organizations are defined as organizations that assist in the process of placement when an individual ‘ages out’ of traditional care. Credit is 100% of the donation but, for first six months of each year, donation credits are capped as follows:

  • Individual/head of household – $2,500
  • married couple/individual who is member of LLC/shareholder of S-corp/partnership – $5,000
  • Corporation cap is 10% of corporations income tax liability

Aggregate cap of tax credits is $20 million annually.

HB 469 – Income tax credits on historical building restoration

Amends current credits to:

  • address historic homes and cap the credit at $5 million per year, extend the sunset to
  • address certified structures other than historic homes and cap the credit at $30 million per year, extend sunset to December 31, 2027
HB 1034 – Sales Tax exemptions for some sporting events

Amends current law to include sales tax exemptions for sales of admissions to non-recurring major sporting events to include any match of a FIFA World Cup and by extending the sunset date from December 31, 2022, to December 31, 2031.

HB 1064 – Income tax exemptions on military retirees

Adds an income tax exemption of up to $17,500 of military retirement income for individuals less than 62 years of age and an additional exemption of $17,500 for individuals less than 62 years of age who have at least $17,500 of earned income.

NEW UNLAWFUL ACTS
HB 343 – Game, Fishing, and Hunting

New law dictates that an individual in possession of certain hunting paraphernalia creates a rebuttable presumption that the individual has not obtained permission to hunt on private lands. The bill provides a peace officer with the discretion to enforce this Code section. The fine for a first violation is increased from $500 to $975, a second violation in a two-year period is increased from $1,000 to $2,000, and the fine for a third violation in a two-year period is increased from $2,000 to $3,000.

HB 508 – Advertising performances as productions in Georgia

This makes it unlawful for a person to advertise or conduct a performance/production in Georgia by using any “false, deceptive, or misleading affiliation, connection, or association without authorization.” Each ad/performance/production is a separate infraction.

Also creates the Georgia ‘True Origin of Digital Goods Act,’ which requires a person who owns/operates a website/online service that distributes commercial recordings/audiovisuals to consumers to clearly disclose its physical address, phone number, and email address on such website.

HB 1069 – Regulation of mental health treatment facilities

Requires GA Dept. of Community Health to establish standards for statewide implementation. Establishes a per-bed, per-day fine for noncompliance.

HB 1188 – how child molestation cases are charged

Revises the crimes of “child molestation” and “sexual exploitation of children” to specify that each individual violation of the crimes can be charged as its own count in a charging document.

Makes it a crime for any high-risk sex offender to access or use a commercial social networking website to communicate with a person who the offender believes is under 16 years old, impersonate a person under the age of 16 years old, or
gather information about a person who the offender believes is under 16 years of age. The penalty for this crime is a felony with imprisonment of between one to 10 years, a maximum fine of $10,000, or both.

HB 1216 – Enhanced penalties for fleeing from law enforcement

Enhances the penalties for fleeing or attempting to elude a police officer.

  • The minimum fine for a first conviction increases from $500 to $1,000 and a minimum 30-day imprisonment.
  • Second conviction within a 10-year period has an increased minimum fine of $2,500, up from $1,000 and minimum period of imprisonment of 90 days.
  • Third convictions within a 10-year period carry a $4,000 penalty, increased from $2,500 and a minimum imprisonment of 180 days.

All three are high and aggravated misdemeanors.

SB 10 – Impersonation/GPS on person with TPO

Makes it a felony offense to impersonate an officer of the court with punishment
of imprisonment of between one to five years, a maximum fine of $1,000, or both. (This was a vehicle bill converted and gutted from its original content about street racing)

Makes it a crime to intentionally, secretly place or direct someone else to place a global positioning system (GPS) on a motor vehicle when the car owner or lessee has a protective order against the person placing the GPS.

REGULATION
HB 275 – Organ Donations and private insurance companies

This measure bars insurance companies from canceling policies based on organ donor status. Also adds a $25,000 tax credit for organ donation. (This was a vehicle bill converted and gutted from its original content about firefighter drug testing)

HB 342 – Advertising for Plumbers

Under the new law, a person is prohibited from advertising as a master plumber or journeyman plumber without first obtaining a license from the Division of Master Plumbers and Journeyman Plumbers.

HB 389 – Employment & independent contractors

This codifies existing case law on whether work classifies a person as an employee or an independent contractor. Includes GA DOL civil penalties (companies with less than 100 employees are capped at $2,500, while fines for companies with 100 or more employees are capped at $7,500)

HB 412 – New Licensing Board for Individuals in the Practice of Applied Behavior Analysis

Outlines requirements for Behavior Analyst applicants and Assistant Behavior Analyst applicants while outlining $1,000 fines for noncompliance. Also provides terms for temporary licenses up to 30 days.

HB 972 – Regulation & licensing of professional counselors
  • exempts participants in an internship from licensure requirements for practicing professional counseling, social work, or marriage and family therapy but removes ability for them to supervise anyone else
  • sets forth standards for associate professional counselor license applicants
HB 1775 – Raw milk

Establishes a host of new regulations for individuals wishing to sell raw milk and raw dairy products in Georgia, to include permits from the state. Includes language which must be placed on packaging to disclose dangers of the goods. Also places the Georgia Department of Agriculture in charge of enforcing the new rules and regulations.

REGULATION OF GOVERNMENT
HB 383 – Contracts with Israel

Prohibits the state from entering into a contract valued at $100,000 or more with a company without written certification that the company is not and will not be participating in a boycott of Israel.

HB 478 – expert testimony in criminal cases

This changes the evidentiary standard for testimony of expert witnesses in criminal cases to match the standard used in civil cases, which, until this new law, was higher (and therefore more difficult to introduce) than civil cases.

NEW AUTHORITY FOR GOVERNMENT
HB 1334 – New jurisdiction for AG on gang activity

Provides the attorney general with concurrent jurisdiction with prosecutors for certain criminal gang-related crimes across the state. The attorney general may also employ peace officers for investigative purposes.

HB 1446 – Georgia State Patrol vehicle markings

Removes the restriction on the Georgia State Patrol from having more than two vehicles per post without such exterior-mounted roof lights.

TEACHERS AND EDUCATION
HB 385 – Teachers Retirement System of Georgia

Allows retired members of the TRSG who have obtained 30 years of creditable service to return to work full time providing instruction as a certified teacher of pre-K-12, while receiving their full post-retirement benefit. Retired members can return to work in an “area of highest need” as designated by the GA DOE in consultation
with the PSC. School system will pay the employer and employee contribution rate, and the member cannot accrue additional creditable service. May not start before one year from retirement date. Valid from July 1, 2022, to June 30, 2026.

HB 1084 – ‘Divisive Concepts’ Education

This is the ‘Protect Students First Act,’ which prevents the use of curricula or training programs in state public schools that espouse “divisive concepts.’

HB 1178 – Parents’ Bill of Rights

Requires the no parental right may be infringed upon without the action being reasonable and necessary to achieve a narrowly tailored, compelling state interest. The fundamental rights of parents include right to:

  • direct the moral and religious upbringing of their minor child;
  • review all instructional materials intended for use in the classroom of their minor child;
  • apply to enroll their minor child into a public or private school, or other available options;
  • access and review all records relating to their child unless prohibited by law;
  • access information relating to promotion and retention policies and high school graduation requirements; and
  • consent in writing before a photograph, video, or voice recording of their child is made.
HB 1215 – Charter schools

Allows students to withdraw without penalty from a local school and enroll in a charter school with available classroom space when the local school is teaching virtually.

HB 1283 – Recess required

Requires recess every day for students in kindergarten and grades one through five beginning in the 2022-2023 School Year, except on any day o which a student has had physical education.

HB 1303 – Agricultural education in public schools

Converts a once pilot program for agricultural education in elementary schools to
transition the pilot to an optional ongoing program.

PUBLIC OFFICIALS
HB 409- Judicial Legal Defense Fund Commission

Establishes the Judicial Legal Defense Fund Commission to facilitate state-funded legal representation to justices of the Supreme Court, judges of the Court of Appeals, the Georgia State-wide Business Court, and superior courts when these judges are sued for actions taken pursuant to their official duties.

This will be used when a suit is filed against a judge and the attorney general does not provide representation and the costs of litigation are not covered by an insurance policy maintained by the GA DOAS. Commission will evaluate requests for representation and determine if the suit seeks relief from actions taken pursuant to the judge’s official duties. Commission will keep a list of attorneys who will represent the judges (approved by Governor).

HB 824 – Increasing Legislative Retirement Contribution for Georgia Lawmakers

Increases the member contribution rate for the Legislative Retirement System (LRS) from 8.5% of the member’s monthly salary to $165 each month, and the “presiding member” of the House will now contribute $660 each month. Also changes the monthly benefit to $50 for each year of creditable service for any individual that was a contributing member on January 1, 2022, and an additional $200 for each year of a member’s presiding creditable service.

HB 1391 – Salaries for Public Defenders

Sets the salary of the circuit public defenders to the same salary as district attorneys. The maximum salary for an assistant public defender IV is raised to 95% of the circuit public defender salary.

HEALTHCARE
HB 752 – Creates a Psychiatric Advance Directive Act

The bill allows patients to establish their wishes related to treatment and medications, and to establish an agent to make decisions on their behalf if they are unable to do so. The directive is effective upon signature of the patient as witnessed by two competent adults and can be revoked under certain circumstances.

HB 918 – Georgia Rare Disease Advisory Council

Creates the new council under GA DPH with purpose to advise legislature on needs of those with rare diseases in Georgia.

HB 937 – mammogram coverage for those on Medicaid

Requires the Department of Community Health to provide Medicaid coverage for mammograms at no cost to the patient as long as the screening is recommended based on the patient’s health status.

HB 1013 – The highly-publicized Mental Health Parity Act
HB 1042 – Creating grant program for primary care medical facilities in health professional shortage areas

“Primary care medical facility” is defined as any facility where the majority of the services provided are primary care, dental, or mental health services. Award amounts shall not to exceed $200,000 and are determined by care, what the local community will invest, feasibility, and cost estimates.

HB 1086 – Offering flu vaccines

Reduces the age from 65 to 50 years old for hospitals to offer an inpatient the influenza vaccine prior to discharge

For additional legislation effective as of July 1, 2022, visit the House website.

Jessica Szilagyi
Written By

Jessica Szilagyi is Publisher of The Georgia Virtue. She focuses primarily on state and local politics as well as issues in law enforcement. She has a background in Political Science with a focus in local government and has a Master of Public Administration from the University of Georgia. Jessica is a "Like It Or Not" contributor for Fox5 in Atlanta, a commentator on the 'Let Me Tell You Why You're Wrong Podcast,' and she has two blogs of her own: The Perspicacious Conservative and "Hair Blowers to Lawn Mowers." Sign up for her weekly newsletter: http://eepurl.com/gzYAZT

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