Several new laws have gone into effect this year in Georgia. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, some grant more rights to victims of crime, others expand insurance coverage to include autism services, and still others impose sales taxes on internet purchases. The laws received approval from the Georgia Assembly last spring and were later signed by Gov. Nathan Deal. Below are details on some of the new laws that are on the books in Georgia this year.
Newly Effective Laws
Marsy’s Law: An amendment to Georgia’s Constitution, this law was approved by 81% of the voters in the November general election. Marsy’s Law requires crime victims to receive notification prior to hearings in cases involving defendants who have been accused of harming them. While state laws already impose this requirement, these rights are now embedded in the state constitution.
Marsy’s Law is named after the late Marsy Nicholas, a college student who was stalked and killed by her ex-boyfriend in the early 1980s. One week after her murder, the ex-boyfriend, who was released on bail and Marsy’s family was unaware, confronted her mother and brother in a grocery store.
Sales Tax: As of 2019, many online retailers will begin to charge sales tax on purchases made by Georgia customers. Despite large companies like Amazon already having charged sales tax for years, many other online businesses have not. Now, a Georgia buyer will have to pay the state’s 4% tax along with local taxes – whether they buy at a brick-and-mortar or on the internet. Last June, the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) held that Georgia and other states can collect sales tax for purchases made online; the ruling overturned a 25-year-old decision that prevented state governments from enforcing sales tax unless the company had a physical, brick-and-mortar presence in that state.
Insurance Coverage: A third law increases coverage for autism-related services beyond the age of 6. Now, state law mandates insurance companies provide up to $35,000 of behavioral therapy coverage per year for children up to the age of 20. Prior law limited coverage to $30,000.
Other important changes in Georgia’s laws that go into effect in 2019 include a sales tax exemption on equipment for data centers, allowing Georgia-licensed pharmacists to order prescription drugs for patients from anywhere in the U.S., and a voter-approved tax cut for timberland owners.
Stay in the Know
The law is constantly evolving, and Georgia state law is no exception to this rule. Be sure to stay up to date with changes in the law as well as any cases that may create more nuanced interpretations of laws already on the books.