When the Georgia General Assembly concluded its legislative session at the end of March, a litany of bills passed over to Gov. Nathan Deal’s office. Georgia law gave him until May 8 to review all bills and either affix his signature or provide a veto. With the deadline passed, here are some of the bills he signed into law.
HB 657 makes it a felony for an individual to knowingly and intentionally provide a firearm to any person who has been convicted of a felony. Upon conviction, the weapon provider shall be imprisoned for between one and five years. State Representatives Jesse Petrea (166) and Ron Stephens (162) sponsored the bill.
HB 673 prohibits actions which distract a driver while operating a motor vehicle. Drivers may no longer physically hold a wireless telecommunications device, write, send or read text messages, watch video, or record video. Drivers may utilize Bluetooth functionality to make calls or operate their phones. Drivers caught violating the law will be assessed a progressive fine of $50, $100 or $150 depending on the number of violations.
HB 834 provides several protections and definitions for individuals seeking relief from family violence. Chief among them, landlords may not charge a lease breaking fee or any other penalties for individuals who are leaving an abusive situation pursuant to their having the proper court documents.
SB 118 concerns coverage for autism spectrum disorders. Beginning Jan. 1, 2019, policies or contracts providing coverage for assessments, evaluations or tests by a licensed psychologist to diagnose an individual for an autism spectrum disorder will cover individuals ages 6 to 20. The policy may limit coverage for applied behavior analysis to $35,000 per year, up from $30,000.
SB 17, also known as the Brunch Bill, provides an opportunity for counties or municipalities to hold a referendum that would allow the start time for sales of alcoholic beverages on Sundays to change from 12:30 p.m. to 11 a.m. The change would only apply to a licensed establishment that derives at least 50 percent of its total gross sales from sale of prepared meals or food.
SB 82 allows for members of the Georgia National Guard or reserve members of the armed forces located in Georgia to be eligible for HOPE scholarships and grants.
SB 331 allows lottery award winners of $250,000 or greater to keep their information confidential if they submit a written request to that effect.
HB 65 creates the Joint Study Commission on Low THC Medical Oil Access. The 10-member committee shall study quality control, security, and safeguards surrounding the state’s use of medicinal cannabis oil. In addition, the law modifies the list of applicable conditions to include post-traumatic stress disorder and intractable pain.
HB 658 extends timeline for excise taxes on rooms, lodging and accommodations to be collected until Dec. 31, 2053.
HB 816 requires mandatory fingerprinting and criminal record checks for prospective employees of the Department of Revenue as well as any current employees who have not had a background check in the past 10 years. Contractors and subcontractors who would have access to confidential information would be subject to the background checks as well.
HB 840 states that no taxpayer shall be liable for penalty or interest if he or she incurred the fine while serving as a member of the armed forces in a combat zone and the error was not due to gross of willful neglect of the law. Upon return from service the individual will have 60 days to provide proof of the service and make full payment of taxes due.
For a full list of bills signed into law including their full texts please visit https://gov.georgia.gov/legislation/2018