New Laws, State Budget Went Into Effect July 1 PDF Print E-mail
News - Local News
Monday, 10 July 2017 10:34
By JIMMY ESPY
Staff Writer
More than 120 new laws took effect in Georgia on July 1. The one that has received the most attention is the new law allowing firearms to be carried at colleges and universities in the state, but others may have a much bigger impact.
July 1 was also a welcome day for many state employees, including teachers, law enforcement officers and social workers who should receive pay raises.
The General Assembly approved additional funding for pay raises for teachers, though it is up to local school systems to decide how much if any of that money goes to raises. 
Both Chattooga County and Trion school system officials have said the money will go to local teachers.
State law enforcement personnel and child protective service workers will also see salary increases as the state tries to reduce turnover in those positions.
CAMPUS CARRY
People with firearms permits will now be allowed to carry concealed guns onto public college and university campuses. The General Assembly passed the “campus carry” legislation and it was signed into law by Gov. Nathan Deal, who vetoed a similar proposal last year. The new law bars guns from on-campus child care facilities, faculty and administrative office space, and disciplinary meetings. Dormitories, fraternity and sorority houses, and athletic facilities are also off-limits to gun carriers.
 
LAW ENFORCEMENT
People convicted of certain crimes against police and other law enforcement officials will face stiffer punishment.
Another new law sets a minimum sentence of 1o years in any assault involving firing a weapon; assault without firing a gun but using another object would require a mandatory minimum prison sentence of three years. Prosecutors are allowed to make plea deals for a lower sentence.
 
EDUCATION
Gov. Deal sought and receives from legislators the authority to intervene at “failing” local schools. But most of the process laid out in the new law can't begin until a new employee, dubbed a "chief turnaround officer," is chosen by the state.
The “turnaround officer” will have the authority to select schools for state intervention and the power to put in place plans designed to improve student performance. Schools selected will negotiate contracts with the state, aiming to reverse years of struggles.
 
THE NEW BUDGET
The state’s new $25 billion general fund budget is now in effect. With federal and other funding added, the state has a $49 billion spending plan. That includes:
* $100 million for bridge repair.
* $105 million for a new building for the Georgia Supreme Court.
* $73 million for a new technical college in Hall County, Deal’s home county. That’s in addition to money the project received last year. 
* $60 million in tax credits for companies that invest in rural Georgia. 
* Doctors, dentists and nursing home operators will receive increased Medicaid payments.
* $55 million for improvements to the World Congress Center.
 
HIGHER FEES
 The new budget means more money for some but what the state gives, it also takes away.
* Georgia’s hunters and fishermen will pay more for hunting and fishing licenses. The basic one-year hunting and fishing license will cost $30, up from $17. Hunting or fishing licenses will cost $15, plus an additional $2.50 for something called a “transaction fee.” Formerly the license was $10 plus the transaction fee.
The minimum age for seniors to get a free lifetime hunting and fishing license has been raised from 65 to 70. 
 


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