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New laws coming July 1

By SARAH FAY CAMPBELL
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Speed camera enforcement could be coming to a school zone near you, under a bill Gov. Nathan Deal signed Tuesday.

Tuesday was the last day for Deal to either sign or veto legislation that was passed in the 2018 Georgia General Assembly session. Legislation that Deal doesn’t take action on, if any, will become law without his signature. Unless otherwise specified in the legislation, new laws take effect July 1.

House Bill 978 allows for automatic traffic enforcement devices – traffic cameras – to be used in school zones.

The cameras can catch people speeding in the school zones, but the tickets will only be civil penalties, not criminal violations. The fine for the first offense will be $75, the second $125 and the third or subsequent will be $125, plus fees of up to $25.

The traffic cameras can be installed in school zones and operated by a law enforcement agency. A permit from the Georgia Department of Transportation will be required.

The bill also allows for cameras to be used on school buses to enforce laws prohibiting passing stopped school buses.

Other bills signed recently include:

• Senate Bill 407 gives judges increased flexibility to set bail amounts in misdemeanor cases, and requires judges to consider the financial circumstances of an accused individual when setting bail amounts. The bill also gives judges more opportunities to utilize community service and educational advancement as alternatives to fines or as a condition of probation. The bill only applies to bail for misdemeanors.

• HB 205 regulates oil and gas exploration, and directs the state Board of Natural Resources to adopt regulations on hydraulic fracturing – fracking – by July 1, 2019. The regulations must include the mandatory disclosure of all chemicals in the fracking liquid to the director of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources and the commissioner of public health. It requires the identification of groundwater sources within a half-mile of the proposed well head and for groundwater quality monitoring before, during and after drilling operations. A 30-day public comment period will be required before a well application can be approved. The bill doesn’t limit the authority of local governments to adopt zoning or land use ordinances limiting the location or timing of oil and gas drilling activities for the protection of natural resources or human health and welfare.

• HB 494 strengthens background check requirements for childcare workers.

• HB 740 puts limitations on expulsion or suspension of students in grades pre-K through 3rd grade. Under the bill, school systems can’t expel or suspend a child for more than five days unless the child has received a “multi-tiered system of supports,” unless the violation relates to weapons or illegal drugs or unless the student’s behavior endangers the physical safety of other students or school personnel.

• HB 834 allows victims of family violence who have either criminal or civil protective orders to terminate residential rental agreements or leases with 30 days notice to a landlord, without penalty. The bill applies to new lease or rental agreements after July 1, or to renewals, modifications or extensions of existing agreements that take place after July 1.

* HB 876 prevents local governments from prohibiting the use of wood in the construction of certain buildings.

• Senate Bill 118 changes the age limit for insurance treatment for autism spectrum disorders. Under current law, insurance plans must provide coverage for autism spectrum disorders for those 6 and under. Under SB 118, the age is raised to 20.

• SB 17, the “brunch bill,” allows local governments to allow alcohol to be served in restaurants starting at 11 a.m. on Sunday instead of 12:30 p.m.

• SB 339 provides for the establishment of free speech policies for Georgia University System institutions.

• SB 401 provides for individual graduation plans and guidance in career oriented aptitudes and career interests.

• Senate Resolution 794 creates the Joint Georgia-North Carolina and Georgia-Tennessee Boundary Line Commission.

• HB 657 makes it unlawful to provide a firearm to someone who is serving probation as a felony first offender.

• HB 150 allows for the State Road and Tollway Authority to place hold on a motor vehicle registration for failure to pay tolls.

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