ATLANTA, Ga. (Atlanta News First) – New laws taking effect July 1 include banning gender-based tutoring of minors, requiring convicted sex offenders to wear ankle monitors and introducing so-called “rogue prosecutors.”
Also on July 1, the new $32.4 billion state budget will come into effect, providing for a $2,000 pay rise for state employees, public school teachers and employees of Georgia’s public higher education institutions. The budget includes pay increases for nurses and wardens in K-12 schools, as well as a $6,000 increase for state police officers and some other law enforcement officers.
Here are all new laws of Georgia for 2023 and when they come into effect. The more notable include:
Gender Appropriate Care
Senate Bill 140 bans minors from seeking gender-based treatments such as redistribution surgery and hormone therapy. The bill will still allow doctors to prescribe puberty blockers.
Opponents of the law say LGBTQ youth are more likely to commit suicide than others and that the law restricts access to basic health care.
Supporters, including sponsor state senator Carden Summers, R-Cordele said minors cannot make the decision to confirm their gender. “We want them to make their own decision after they turn 18,” he said.
HB 188, or the Georgia Dangerous Sexual Predator Prevention Act, was signed into law by Gov. Brian Kemp earlier this year after a series of investigations by Atlanta News First. That investigation uncovered a loophole that allowed a repeat sex offender to get out of jail only to, prosecutors say, kidnap and kill 27-year-old Mariam Abdulrab on her way home from work.
State Senator John Albers (R-Roswell) said the bill “ensures that all dangerous sex offenders will be monitored for the rest of their lives. We need to make sure that someone who is out of prison is not a danger to society.”
The law requires sex offenders who have not received a risk assessment to be fitted with an ankle monitor. Once at the same level, the most dangerous offenders are required to wear the monitor for the duration of their probation, while lower-level offenders could have the monitor removed if the state’s Department of Community Supervision approves it.
Albers also recognized Atlanta News First’s “proactive approach in this regard; Your in-depth journalism; and to spread the word of a tragedy that we could turn into something positive. I want to thank you and the news channel for making this a priority.”
More protection for children in the Georgia care system
Senate Bill 133 was signed into law by Governor Brian Kemp on May 2nd. The bill was introduced in the Georgia General Assembly earlier this year after a series of reports by Atlanta News First Investigates exposed the office hotel practice: placing teenagers in Department of Family and Children Services (DFCS) offices for weeks or even months without a bed and without going to school. Numerous police reports documented children using drugs, fighting each other, fighting workers and running away.
The new law requires courts to consider the resources available and needed for a child before ever considering placing them in state custody. Supporters of the bill said the goal of the legislation is to minimize the number of children in government care who do not need to be in government care. The bill was introduced in the Georgia General Assembly earlier this year after a series of investigations by Atlanta News First uncovered a pattern in the placement of foster children in government offices.
Lower insurance coverage for ride-sharing companies
House Bill 529 now only requires ride-sharing and cab companies to provide a minimum coverage of $300,000 for people injured in an accident caused by an uninsured or underinsured responsible party. The previous minimum requirement was $1 million. The bill passed with overwhelming support in both the House and Senate and was signed into law by Kemp on May 1.
Oversight Board of District Attorneys
Under Senate Act 92, a Prosecutors Oversight Commission was established with the task of reviewing complaints against local district attorneys and allowing the body to impose any sanctions it deems appropriate.
The law also makes it easier to remove district attorneys from office.
Rep. Houston Gaines (R-Athens) was one of the sponsors of the bill. In Gaines’ home county, Clarke County District Attorney Deborah Gonzalez faces a civil lawsuit alleging her failure to prosecute certain crimes, including possession of marijuana.
Fulton County Attorney Fani Willis has also raised concerns about the proposed legislation. Willis’ office is currently investigating former President Donald Trump’s alleged involvement in the cancellation of Georgia’s 2020 election.
primaries and elections
Thanks to Senate Bill 129, Georgia workers will soon be able to take time off to vote. Workers may take up to two hours of unpaid time off to vote in-person in primary and general elections, either on election day or on a designated early in-person voting day.
Kemp also signed a bill — Senate Bill 222 — that will ensure that all costs and expenses related to election administration are paid for out of public funds. The law also makes it a criminal offense for local election officials to accept direct donations to conduct their elections.
The new law bans so-called “sugar bucks,” named after Facebook founder and CEO of Meta Platforms, Mark Zuckerberg. In 2020, the DeKalb County Board of Elections accepted $2 million in grants from the US Alliance for Election Excellence. The alliance is reportedly backed by the Center for Tech and Civic Life, which has worked with Zuckerberg to spend $45 million on the Georgia election.
Wakesurfing and wakeboarding are prohibited between sunset and sunrise. Vessel operators must maintain a minimum distance of 200 feet from any moored vessel, wharf, jetty, pier, pilings, bridge structure or abutment. You must also steer clear of any shoreline adjacent to a residence, public park, public beach, public bathing area, marina, restaurant, or other publicly used area.
Riders engaging in tow water sports must wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved personal flotation device.
Safer schools and better student literacy
House Bill 147, also known as the Safe Schools Act, requires Georgia classrooms to conduct intruder alert drills and create school safety plans. Schools must report these actions to the Georgia Emergency Management Agency. Parents can withdraw their children from the exercises. The bill also provides training for teachers to identify gang members in the classroom.
Georgian lawmakers also passed two bills aimed at improving the literacy skills of third-graders. Senate Bill 211 creates the Georgia Council on Literacy and House Bill 538, or the Georgia Early Literacy Act. Both are to implement methods and curricula for teaching literacy to students under the supervision of the newly established council. Both bills were part of a legislative initiative to reduce the number of third graders who cannot read at their academic level.
Safer hospitals, vaccines and prenatal testing
The Safer Hospitals Act (HB 383) increases penalties for assault and assaults on healthcare professionals in the workplace and allows hospitals to set up their own police forces, similar to the police forces on college and university campuses.
Senate Bill 46 requires physicians and health care providers to test all pregnant women for HIV and syphilis at the first antenatal visit between 28 and 32 weeks of gestation. House Bill 416 authorizes qualified pharmacy technicians to administer certain vaccines, such as a COVID-19 vaccine.
The Healthy Babies Act authorizes the state Department of Health to conduct a pilot program of home visits to vulnerable and underserved rural communities during pregnancy and early childhood. The bill aims to improve birth outcomes and reduce infant and maternal mortality.
Senate Bill 11, the Georgia Fights Terrorism Act, allows the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to become involved in any incident of biological, chemical, cyber or domestic terrorist attacks.
Smoking e-cigarettes in restricted areas is now a felony punishable by a fine under Senate Law 47.
Wherever you can’t smoke cigarettes, you can’t vape either.
The Street Gang Terrorism and Prevention Act — Senate Bill 44 — raises minimum sentences for those found guilty of violating the state’s gang laws, while Senate Bill 68 adds dog fighting under Georgia’s Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, also known as the RICO Act.
Here’s how RICO law is applied in the Young Thug trial.
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