New Laws, 2020 Budget Take Effect July 1

Jul 1, 2019

The first day of July marks the beginning of the new fiscal year and when many laws take effect.

We are midway through a whirlwind 2019 that has been full of political news, ranging from the nationwide conversation on abortion and reproductive rights to electoral integrity to numerous visits from the two dozen or so candidates running for president.

July 1 is when the record-setting $27.5 billion state operating budget kicks in, complete with money for a new voting system and pay raises for teachers, school staff and state employees.

While much attention has been given to the state's new strict abortion law (which has now officially been challenged in court), the Living Infants Fairness and Equality Act is not set to take effect until Jan. 1, 2020. Here are some laws that are now on the books:

HB 228 - CHILD MARRIAGE AGE
This bill raises the marriage age from 16 to 17.
Key language: "No license provided for under Article 2 of this chapter shall be issued for the marriage of any party who is under 17 years of age."

HB 12 - REQUIRE NOTICE OF CHILD ABUSE HOTLINE IN SCHOOLS
This bill, passed almost unanimously in the House and Senate, simply requires schools to post the number to the DFCS child abuse hotline.
Key language: "Each public school, including local charter schools and state charter schools, shall post in a clearly visible location in a public area of the school that is readily accessible to students a sign in English and other such languages as may be determined by the local board of education that contains the toll-free telephone number operated by the Division of Family and Children Services of the Department of Human Services to receive reports of child abuse or neglect 24 hours per day and seven days per week."

HB 31 - THE BUDGET
This bill authorizes all of the state's budgetary needs, from the Department of Corrections to the state legislature.
Key language: All of it.

SB 1 - C.J.'S LAW/HIT-AND-RUN
This bill adds language to the Georgia code that increases the penalty for hit-and-run drivers to a 10-year maximum instead of five.
Key language: "(c) Any person who, without malice aforethought, proximately causes an accident that the person knew resulted in bodily harm and leaves the scene of the accident in violation of subsection (b) of Code Section 40-6-270 commits the crime of serious injury by vehicle."

HB 324 - MEDICAL MARIJUANA
This bill authorizes in-state cultivation and sale of low-THC oil. Around 8,400 Georgians are on the state's registry to use medical marijuana.
Key language: "The General Assembly further finds that: (1) Low THC oil can offer significant medical benefits to patients; (2) Low THC oil can only be derived from the cannabis plant; (3) A carefully constructed system of in-state cultivation to benefit only those patients authorized by Georgia law and approved by their physician would benefit patients within 46 the State of Georgia."

HB 282 - PRESERVE SEXUAL ASSAULT EVIDENCE LONGER
This bill requires law enforcement to save evidence from sexual assault cases for up to 50 years instead of 10 years.
Key language: "In cases in which the victim reports an  alleged sexual assault to law enforcement, the investigating law enforcement agency shall maintain any physical evidence collected as a result of an alleged sexual assault that contains biological material, including, but not limited to, stains, fluids, or hair samples that relate to the identity of the perpetrator of an alleged sexual assault, for 30 years from the date of arrest, or seven years from 18 completion of sentence, whichever occurs last, and if no arrests, then for 50 years."