Valdosta Daily Times

July 7, 2013

New laws on the books

A brief look at a few of Georgia’s newest ordinances

Dean Poling
The Valdosta Daily Times

-- — Georgia introduced more than 100 new laws on July 1. Some of which will affect everyone but many that will affect only specific individuals.

These new laws reflect bills introduced during the past General Assembly session and were signed by Gov. Nathan Deal. Some went into effect earlier in the year; some will not become law until later in the year. The lion’s share of new laws, however, an estimated 130, became law last week.

These laws include students who earned a 2.0 or higher are now eligible for the state HOPE grant when attending Georgia technical schools. Eligibility had been set at the higher 3.0 grade point average.

Non-violent juvenile offenders can now be supervised at home instead of being incarcerated in a state youth detention center.

New limitations have been placed on worker’s compensation benefits.

Judges now have some discretion in handing down sentences below what had been “mandatory minimums” in specific violent crimes and drug cases.

If you assume another person’s identity in order to receive medical treatment, that’s now a crime.

Home brewers can legally produce twice as much beer as before and can take their homemade beer to competitions.

The state is making it easier for returning military personnel to transfer their armed services technical training into a civilian livelihood. For example, if a veteran was a trained electrician or plumber in the service, this training automatically qualifies them for a state license in a similar position as a civilian.

Additional businesses and government contractors must verify the citizenship status of their employees.

Other new laws pertain to adjustments in the continuing education requirements for “physicians, acupuncture, physician

assistants, cancer and glaucoma treatment, respiratory care, clinical perfusionists, and orthotics and prosthetics practice,” etc.; revisions in court cases regarding the protection of disabled or elderly people in long-term care facilities; arrest and search warrants may more easily be granted via video conferences in Georgia; removal of “the ability to expunge (remove, erase, strike out) an arrest off of a criminal record ... the information will be available only to judicial officers and criminal justice agencies for law enforcement or criminal investigative purposes or to criminal justice agencies for purposes of employment in accordance with procedures established by the center and shall not be disclosed or otherwise made available to any private persons or businesses pursuant to Code Section 35-3-34.”

Meanwhile, repeat DUI offenders must give breath samples for 12 months rather than eight to start their cars.