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New Georgia laws take affect in July

Starting July 1, several new laws will go into effect in the state of Georgia. The new laws will affect the police, the courts, the schools and even our health.

Here’s a list of some of the more popular laws garnering the most attention.

House Bill 965 – The Honorable Jimmy Carter Cancer Treatment Access Act

Inspired by President Jimmy Carter after his recent bout with cancer, this new law prohibits insurance companies from limiting coverage for advanced drugs for Stage 4 cancer patients. Prior to this law, some cancer patients were forced to try alternative treatments prior to being allowed to receive more aggressive drugs, which reportedly saved President Carter’s life.

House Bill 34 – Georgia Right to Try Act

This new law allows terminally ill patients the right to use experimental drugs. Due to patients reportedly dying while waiting on the FDA’s drug-approval process, this will allow patients to try drugs, which are not approved by the FDA.

House Bill 941 – Procedures for grand jury proceedings when a law enforcement officer used deadly force

Starting July 1, officers cannot be present for the entire grand jury proceeding and will now face questioning on the stand. Prior to this law, officers were allowed to sit in on their own grand jury proceedings, in cases where they were charged with using deadly force, without being questioned or challenged.

House Bill 792 – Allowing students to carry electroshock weapons on college campuses

Starting July 1, 18-year-old college students will be allowed to carry tasers and stun guns on college campuses in the state of Georgia. This bill was manufactured after Governor Deal vetoed the Campus Carry Bill, which would allow students to carry guns on college campuses.

House Bill 152 – Michael’s Law

Starting July 1, you now have to be 21 to enter any bar in the state of Georgia. This includes bouncers and bartenders. The reason this law is called Michael’s Law is because an 18-year-old named Michael Gatto died after he was assaulted by a 20-year-old bouncer shortly after Michael began college.

Persons under the age of 21 are allowed to enter bars only if accompanied by a parent or spouse who is at least 21 years old. Persons under 21 can also enter the bar if they’ve paid to see some type of concert or performance at the bar. Many bars already have such a rule, and will issue appropriately colored wristbands or hand stamps to anyone who is not of age.

HB 727: Local Control Over Fireworks — Local governments will have more control over the use of fireworks and ability to enact or enforce noise ordinances to prohibit the use of fireworks.

SB 193: Stricter Penalties for Repeat Domestic Abuse Offenders — This bill allows for harsher sentences to repeat domestic abusers by allowing prosecutors to issue felony convictions rather than misdemeanors. This bill passed unanimously in the Senate.

SB 364: Quality Basic Education Act — Under current law, student test results count for 50% of a teacher’s evaluation. This bill drops that weight to 30%. 

HB 767: Move Over Law for Utility Workers — This is the expansion of the Spencer Pass Law which includes utility service vehicles and requires drivers to observe the same safety measures of slowing down or moving over when possible if a vehicle is stopped or displaying flashing lights. This bill passed unanimously in the House and received only one “no” vote in the Senate.

HB 831: Protecting Guardmen’s Employment Act — Currently, under certain circumstances, employers are required to rehire any member of the Georgia National Guard if they left their job due to being called to active duty. This bill extends these protections to members of another state’s National Guard who are employed in Georgia. This bill passed unanimously in both chambers.

HB 725: Child Abuse Records Protection Act — Provides greater confidentiality regarding an individual’s child abuse records. This bill will now require a court order before the release of these records are permitted. This bill passed unanimously in both chambers.

For a complete list of laws log on to gov.georgia.gov/legislation/2016.