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Tuesday, July 1, 2014 - 10:51am

Georgia Laws In Effect As Of July 1

New Georgia laws go into effect on July 1. From the controversial gun law to the e-cigarettes bill, here's a list of what these laws do and some of the reactions they've caused so far.

HB 60- Gun Bill:

The Safe Carry Protection Act, also known as the “guns everywhere” bill will allow firearms in many churches, bars and government buildings. The bill will also bar sheriffs from asking someone with a gun if he or she has a license. Under the new bill, schools would have the option of deciding if teachers or administrators should be armed. The state will also have to report within 10 days Georgians’ involuntary commitments to hospitals.

Governor Nathan Deal signed the sweeping gun bill in April. The law allows churches and places of worship to “opt in” to allowing weapons in church. Since the signing, houses of worship around the state have come out on both sides of the issue. The leadership of Berean Baptist Church has decided to opt in, while Bishop Robert Wright of the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta says the 109 parishes he leads will not welcome firearms. Nadim Ali, imam at the Community Masjid Atlanta, also says guns will not be allowed in the sanctuary. State school districts aren’t jumping at the option to allow teachers to carry guns. Attorney Philip Hartley, who represents school districts across the state, says many schools are taking a “wait and see” position.

“ I believe that school boards and school administrators are reluctant about any situation that would place guns in the school setting,” said Hartley. “That is not to say there maybe situations where a board for their district or in a particular school might take advantage of this option. But as a matter across the state, I believe there will be a strong reluctance to place more guns into the school in the hands of staff or other personnel.”

HB 251- E-cigarettes Bill:

This bill prohibits the sale of alternative nicotine products or components to people under the age of 18. It also requires stores to verify the ages of customers before selling e-cigarettes.

Representative Alan Powell (R-Hartwell) sponsored the bill. The Republican from Hartwell says the law may prevent children from becoming addicted to nicotine and perhaps, cigarettes.

Minors convicted of buying e-cigarettes could face up to 20 hours of community service.

HB 459- Slow-poke Bill:

This bill will allow authorities to ticket motorists who drive too slowly in left-hand lanes.

HB 697- Hope Grant Bill:

This bill revises the powers and duties of the Georgia Student Finance Commission. It also revises the functions and compositions of the board of directors of the Georgia Higher Education Assistance Corporation and Georgia Student Finance Authority

HB 697 also changes the distribution of funds contributed by taxpayers to student loan funds and revises amount of Hope grants. The bill also established the Zell Miller Grant, a subprogram of the HOPE Grant that will cover full tuition for students enrolled in a certificate or diploma program who achieve and maintain a minimum 3.5 GPA.

HB 702- Ten Commandments Monument Bill:

Authorizes the building of a historic granite monument depicting the Ten Commandments at the State Capitol. The monument would feature the Ten Commandments on one side and the preambles of the Georgia and U.S. constitutions on the other. Taxpayers won’t pay for the monument. The AJC reports the bill would also require the monument be funded by private donations instead of taxpayer dollars.

HB 772- Drug Testing for Food Stamp Applicants Bill ( NOT GOING INTO EFFECT):

At the end of this year’s legislative session, lawmakers passed a bill that would require drug tests for some food stamps and welfare recipients. The bill would affect any recipient state officials suspected of having a drug problem.

This bill will not go into effect. In a letter last month, state Attorney General Sam Olens said federal law prohibits states from adding their own requirements to the Food Stamp program.

HB 990- Anti-Medicaid Expansion Bill:

This legislative session, lawmakers passed a bill prohibiting the expansion of Medicaid. Gov. Deal backed the bill that would bar a sitting Governor from opting to expand Medicaid. Any governor who wanted to add people to the Medicaid rolls will have to receive legislative approval.

HB 1080- MLK Statue Bill:

This bill will allow the construction of a statue that honors Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The statue can be built on the grounds of the Capitol or another prominent place.

SB 288- GHSA Bill:

This bill requires the Georgia High School Association (GHSA) to publish yearly financial reports in order for schools to participate