Georgia’s governor Nathan Deal signed more than 50 measures of legislation into law earlier this year, according to a news report by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The bills covered a vast array of issues including addressing alcohol laws, changes to family leave policy and cracking down on crime against law enforcement. The marathon day came before a Tuesday deadline to either approve or veto the legislation. Not surprisingly, many lawmakers wondered why the governor waited until the end of the 40-day bill-signing period to approve much of the bills before him.
Impact on State Policy
Some of the legislation recently signed by the governor includes:
- Beer and Alcohol: Senate Bill 85 allows craft beer breweries and liquor distilleries to sell their products directly to consumers, something that they could not do before.
- Changes in Sick Leave Policy: Senate Bill 201 requires some large employers to allow employees to use sick leave to care for immediately family members;
- Rural Hospital Tax Credit: Senate Bill 180, this bill aims to increase the value of the state’s rural hospital tax credit from 70 to 90%;
- Assault on Law Enforcement Officers: Senate Bill 160 increases the penalties against those who assault law enforcement officers and received widespread support after a provision targeting protesters was removed from the legislation;
- Helping Georgia’s Rural Farmers: Senate Bill 133 combines two elements: tax breaks and help for struggling farm communities, providing $60 million in tax credits for investments in rural Georgia businesses through its complex plan;
- Medical Marijuana Expansion: Senate Bill 16 expands the list of disorders that are eligible for treatment under Georgia’s growing medical marijuana program that presently has just under 2,000 patients and 350 physicians;
- Automobiles and Technology: Senate Bill 219 paves the way for autonomous vehicles to roam the state’s streets and requires operators of self-driving cars to adhere to insurance requirements and register these cars with the state; and
- Georgia’s Space Flight Act: House Bill 1 is designed to launch a space industry program in coastal Georgia and gives commercial spaceports the same legal protections offered by other states housing commercial rocket launches.
Keeping up with State Law
If you are a practicing attorney in Georgia, or even you you are not but reside in the state, it is important to stay updated on the changes in laws to ensure you know your rights and obligations in the particular circumstances.