ATLANTA — From laws increasing penalties for gang activity to new restrictions on gender-based grooming, several new laws are now in effect. Here’s a breakdown of what’s changing:
House Bill 147: The Safe Schools Act modernizes school safety protocols by empowering teachers with student protection skills. It also introduces a voluntary School Safety and Gang Fight Recommendation for teachers to help them identify and prevent gang activity and gang recruitment in classrooms.
House Bill 188: Mariam’s law tightens the requirements for sex offenders upon their release from prison and mandates electronic surveillance as a condition of parole for repeat sex offenders. The law is named in honor of murder victim Mariam Abdulrab. A loophole in the law allowed a repeat sex offender to kidnap and kill Abdulrab on his way home from work.
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House Bill 383: The Safer Hospitals Act provides stronger safeguards to ensure the safety of emergency and healthcare workers in hospitals. It allows hospitals to set up a police department on the hospital campus similar to those found in colleges. It also ensures that hospital workers outside the ER have the same protections from attack as hospital ER workers, teachers, transit drivers, paramedics, and law enforcement.
House Bill 529: This law lowers the minimum amount of insurance coverage that ridesharing and taxi companies are required to pay for each person injured in an accident to $300,000.
Senate Bill 11: The Georgia Fights Terrorism Act allows the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to work concurrently with district attorneys on investigations related to all forms of terrorism.
Senate Bill 44: The Street Gang Terrorism and Prevention Act requires judges to impose a minimum of five years in prison on those convicted of recruiting gang members. It also provides for harsher penalties for recruiting anyone under the age of 17 or with a disability into a gang, requiring a minimum of 10 years in prison.
Senate Bill 46 Requires Physicians and Healthcare Providers to Screen All Pregnant Women at First Prenatal Visit, Week 28-32 tested for HIV and syphilis during the week of pregnancy and at delivery.
Senate Bill 47: Makes vaping in restricted areas a misdemeanor punishable by a fine.
Senate Bill 68: Allows individuals caught participating in dogfights to be charged with racketeering. Adding aerial combat to the activities leading to a racketeering conviction could result in a minimum of five and up to 20 years in prison on the first offense.
Senate Bill 92: Establish the Prosecuting Attorneys Oversight Commission, an eight-member body to investigate complaints filed against prosecutors and hold hearings. The panel has the power to discipline or fire prosecutors for a variety of reasons, including mental or physical incapacity, willful misconduct or failure to perform the duties of the office, conviction for a crime of moral reprehensibility, or conduct that brings the office into disrepute.
Senate Bill 106: The Healthy Moms, Healthy Babies Act will introduce a three-year pilot program administered by the Georgia Department of Community Health to allow pregnant women remote patient monitoring under Medicaid.
Senate Bill 129: Expands an existing law that guarantees workers two hours of unpaid voting time on Election Day. Under the bill, workers would also have the option to take time off to vote during the three-week early voting. Workers requesting time off would need to notify their employer in advance, and the employer could then set a time when workers could be absent, according to the bill.
Senate Bill 140: Prohibits licensed healthcare professionals in Georgia from offering hormone therapy or sex reassignment-related surgery to patients under the age of 18. Violations of the law can lead to the revocation of a naturopath’s license to practice medicine.
Senate Bill 211 and House Bill 538: SB 211 establishes the Georgia Council on Literacy, which will work to ensure better literacy outcomes for students. They will conduct comprehensive reviews of literacy programs from birth through post-secondary to ensure their effectiveness. The council will also conduct research and make recommendations on how to improve literacy rates among students with dyslexia and other learning disabilities, and among students from low-income households. The advice itself is only temporary. The bill states that the council will be abolished and the bill establishing it will be repealed on December 31, 2026. HB 538 — the Georgia Early Literacy Act — aims to increase literacy rates among students between kindergarten and third grade.
EDITOR’S NOTE: A previous version of this article detailed Senate Bill 226, which requires unique barcodes and alphanumeric accountability numbers on individual mail-in ballots for primary and general elections. This bill was not passed in the last session of the Georgia General Assembly.
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