2012 Enacted Legislation

Budget

HB 741 - Supplemental appropriations; State Fiscal Year July 1, 2011 - June 30, 2012

HB 741 is the Supplemental Budget for FY 2012. To view the version of the bill as passed by the General Assembly, please click here.

Effective Date: March 15, 2012
Signed by the Governor March 15, 2012

HB 742 - General appropriations; State Fiscal Year July 1, 2012 - June 30, 2013

HB 741 is the budget for FY 2013. To view the version of the bill as passed by the General Assembly,

please click here.

Effective Date: July 1, 2012
Signed by Governor May 7, 2012

Civil

HB 110 - Mortgages and liens; vacant property registry; provisions

HB 110 provides for uniformity in local vacant property registries. If a vacant habitable property is sold and remains vacant, the new owner must register the property within 90 days. Fines for failure to register a vacant property shall not exceed $1,000. The administrative procedures adopted pursuant to a county or municipal ordinance shall include the right to appeal to the municipal or recorder’s court in the city where the vacant real property is located or to the magistrate or recorder’s court of the county in which the property is located.

Effective Date: July 1, 2012                               Amends Code Section: 44-14-1
Signed by Governor May 1, 2012
*See also General*

HB 683 - Garnishment proceedings; filing of certain answers may be done by authorized officers or employees; provisions

HB 683 provides that when a garnishment proceeding is filed in a court under any provision of this chapter involving an entity as garnishee, the execution and filing of a garnishee answer may be done by an entity's authorized officer or employee and shall not constitute the practice of law. If a traverse or claim is filed to the entity's garnishee answer in a court of record, an attorney shall be required to represent the entity in further garnishment proceedings. In addition, an entity's payment into court of any property, money, or other effects of the defendant, or property or money which is admitted to be subject to garnishment, may be done by an entity's authorized officer or employee and shall not constitute the practice of law.

The bill defines "entity" as a corporation, limited liability company, partnership, limited partnership, professional corporation, firm, or other business entity other than a natural person or public corporation. "Public corporation" is defined as the State of Georgia, any department, agency, branch of government, State of Georgia political subdivision, or any public board, bureau, commission, or authority created by the General Assembly.

This bill also requires the method of services of summons of garnishment be made as provided in Code Section 9-11-4.

HB 683 increases the amount of attorney's fees a garnishee may deduct from the sums paid into court from $25.00 to $50.00, or 10 percent of the amount paid into court, whichever is greater, but not to exceed $100.00, as reasonable attorney's fees or expenses.

Effective Date: February 7, 2012                    Amends Code Sections: Title 18,
Signed by Governor February 7, 2012          Chapter 4

HB 822 - Georgia Taxpayer Protection False Claims Act; enact

This bill expands the use of the state Attorney General’s office to investigate individuals and corporations that submit false claims to the State, the Georgia Medicaid program, and local governments.

Effective Date: July 1, 2012                               Amends Code Sections: Title 23 Chapter
Signed by Governor April 16, 2012                 3; Title 49 Chapter 4

HB 1048 - Civil practice; who may serve process; change provisions

While a sheriff may still authorize a certified process server to serve process in his or her county, judges may now also authorize certified process servers to operate. HB 1048 also establishes the filing fee for an application to be appointed as a certified process server to be $58.00.

Effective Date: July 1, 2012                               Amends Code Sections: 9-11-4; 15-6-77
Signed by Governor May 1, 2012

SB 352 - Prosecuting Attorneys; provide; probate courts, municipal courts, and courts exercising municipal court jurisdiction; process of such employment

District attorneys and solicitors-general are specifically authorized to prosecute civil actions to enforce Code Section 40-16-163, relating to vehicles overtaking school buses.

The bill also authorizes municipal courts and courts exercising municipal court jurisdiction to create the office of prosecuting attorney of the municipal court, but only with the approval of the governing authority of the city served by the court. It provides for the appointment, compensation, oath of office, duties, and authority of such prosecuting attorneys. SB 352 also amends Chapter 32 of Title 36 of the O.C.G.A., relating to municipal courts by adding a new section, which grants municipal courts jurisdiction to try and dispose of cases where a person is charged with transactions in drug related objects in violation of Code Section 13-13-32. Any fines arising from the prosecution of such cases shall be retained by the municipality and shall be paid into the treasury of the municipality.

Effective Date: April 11, 2012                       Amends Code Sections: Title 15
Signed by Governor April 11, 2012             Chapter 18; 36-32-6.1
*See also General*

Criminal

HB 237 - Residential mortgage fraud; mortgage lending process; revise definition

The definition of “mortgage lending process” is expanded to include the execution of deeds under power of sale that are required to be recorded pursuant to Code Section 44-14-160 and the execution of assignments that are required to be recorded pursuant to subsection (b) of Code Section 44-14-162.

HB 237 establishes that an offense of residential mortgage fraud shall not be predicated solely upon information lawfully disclosed under federal disclosure laws, regulations, and interpretations related to the mortgage lending process. Neither upon truthful information contained in documents filed with the official registrar of deeds of any county for the stated purpose of correcting scrivener's errors, mistakes, inadvertent misstatements, or omissions contained in previously filed documents.

Effective Date: July 1, 2012                 Amends Code Section: 16-8-5
Signed by Governor May 1, 2012

HB 541 - Obstruction of public administration; threaten or intimidate officer or official; provide for offense

A person who endeavors to intimidate any law enforcement officer or his or her immediate family member in retaliation or response to the officer performing his or her official duties shall be guilty of a felony. Upon conviction, the guilty party shall be punished by imprisonment for 1-5 years, a fine not to exceed $5,000.00, or both.

Effective Date: July 1, 2012                  Amends Code Section: 16-10-5
Signed by Governor May 1, 2012

HB 685 - Animals; dangerous and vicious dogs; extensively revise provisions

HB 685 defines an owner's liability for damages and injuries caused by dogs. It establishes that any superior court judge of Georgia may order euthanasia of a dog found guilty of killing or seriously injuring a human being or which presents danger to human beings. The superior court judge may also order euthanasia if the owner or custodian of a dog is in violation of any state criminal law and the charge is related to the dog. In addition, a superior court judge may order euthanasia if any local government or person has filed a civil action in the court requesting the euthanasia of the dog.

The owner of a vicious dog that violates any provision in this article will be found guilty of a misdemeanor of high and aggravated nature. An owner with a previous conviction for a violation shall be guilty of a felony and punished by imprisonment for not less than one nor more than ten years, a fine of not less than $5,000.00 nor more than $10,000.00, or both.

Effective Date: July 1, 2012                     Amends Code Section: Title 4 Chapter 8
Signed by Governor May 3, 2012

HB 711 - Evidence; privileges; change provisions

This bill narrows the spousal privilege, in that it will no longer apply when: 1. The husband or wife is charged with a crime against his or her spouse or their marital or separate property; 2. The husband and wife are alleged to have acted jointly in the commission of the crime charged; or 3. The alleged crime occurred prior to the lawful marriage of the husband and wife. The bill also adds a confidentiality provision for family or sexual violence counselors (agents).

Effective Date: January 1, 2013               Amends Code Sections: 24-5-503;
Signed by Governor April 16, 2012         24-5-509

HB 827 - Traffic offenses; fleeing or attempting to elude a pursuing police vehicle; modify provisions

Attempting to escape arrest is no longer an element of the felony of fleeing or attempting to elude.

Effective Date: July 1, 2012                     Amends Code Section: 40-6-15
Signed by Governor May 1, 2012
*See also Traffic*

HB 872 - Commerce and trade; secondary metals recyclers; provide comprehensive revision of provision

HB 872 provides for the comprehensive revision of provisions regarding secondary metals recyclers. It shall be illegal to sell regulated metal property in any amount to a secondary metals recycler unless the secondary metals recycler has registered to purchase regulated metal property. It shall also be illegal for any secondary metal recycler to purchase regulated metal property in any amount without the proper registration to purchase regulated metal property. Any person convicted shall be guilty of a misdemeanor of a high and aggravated nature. Each violation shall constitute a separate offense.

HB 872 establishes that any purchaser of scrap metals must employ due diligence to ensure that any person selling burial objects has the proper credentials. Any purchaser of scrap metals who knowingly and intentionally purchase a stolen burial object or objects shall be guilty of a felony with a penalty of not fewer than one to five years.

Effective Date: July 1, 2012                      Amends Code Section: 10-1-14
Signed by Governor April 16, 2012

HB 997 - Crimes and offenses; new crime of false lien statements against public officers; provide

HB 997 establishes the crime of false liens against public officers or public employees, such as those filed by sovereign citizens. Any person who commits this offense shall be guilty of a felony upon conviction and will be punished by a term of imprisonment no less than 1 year but no more than 10 years, no more than a $10,000.00 fine, or both.

Effective Date: July 1, 2012                    Amends Code Section: 16-10-20.1
Signed by Governor April 16, 2012

HB 954 - Abortion; criminal abortion; change certain provisions

The bill restricts the performance of an abortion after the second trimester if the probable gestational age of the unborn child has been determined to be 20 weeks or more, unless the physician and two consulting physicians certify that in reasonable medical judgment the abortion is necessary.

Effective Date: May 1, 2012                      Amends Code Section: 16-15-5; Title 31
Signed by Governor May 1, 2012

HB 1071 - Excise tax; certain tobacco products; change certain provisions

HB 1071 amends Chapter 11 of Title 48 of the O.C.G.A., No tobacco products shall be received in, sold in, or shipped into this state unless lawfully obtained from a person licensed or from an importer with a valid permit. It also provides that any person found, with the intent to evade the tax imposed by this chapter, transporting unstamped tobacco products of more than 20 but fewer than 60 cigars, more than 200 but fewer than 600 cigarettes or little cigars, or more than six but fewer than 18 containers of loose or smokeless tobacco shall be guilty of a misdemeanor. Any person found transporting 60 or more but fewer than 200 cigars, 600 or more but fewer than 2,000 cigarettes or little cigars, or 18 or more but fewer than 60 container of loose or smokeless tobacco shall be guilty of a misdemeanor of a high and aggravated nature. Any person found transporting 200 or more cigars, 2,000 or more cigarettes or little cigars, or 60 or more containers of loose or smokeless tobacco shall be guilty of a felony, and upon conviction shall be imprisoned for 3-10 years.

Effective Date: January 1, 2013              Amends Code Section: Chapter 11 of
Signed by Governor May 1, 2012            Title 48

HB 1093 - Crimes and offenses; removal of shopping carts and required posting of Code section in stores and markets; change provisions

HB 1093 makes it a misdemeanor to remove a shopping cart from the premises of its owner without consent. The bill also removes the provision that requires the owner of the store in which the shopping cart is used to post printed copies of this Code section in his or her store.

Effective Date: April 16, 2012                  Amends Code Section: 16-8-21
Signed by Governor April 16, 2012

HB 1110 - Health; penalties relative to owning or operating of unlicensed personal care homes; revise provisions

Regulatory authorities would be empowered to determine by rule which offenses indicate the unfitness of an individual to provide care to or be in contact with persons residing in a personal care facility. The bill also sets forth that the owning or operating of an unlicensed personal care home in this state constitutes a nuisance that is dangerous to the public health, safety and welfare and that any person who owns or operates an unlicensed personal care home shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and that upon a second violation said person shall be charged with a felony.

Effective Date: July 1, 2012                 Amends Code Sections:30-5-8; Title 31
Signed by Governor April 19, 2012

HB 1114 - Homicide; offering to assist in commission of suicide; repeal certain provisions

Any person who knowingly and willfully assists another person in the commission of that person's suicide shall be guilty of a felony and, upon conviction thereof shall be punished by imprisonment for not less than one nor more than ten years. The bill also sets out specific exceptions and safe harbors for legitimate conduct.

A court may, in its discretion award reasonable litigation expenses to a plaintiff who prevails in a civil action where a death results from a violation of Code Section 16-5-5. A prevailing respondent may be awarded expenses of litigation only upon a showing that the action was frivolous.

Effective Date: May 1, 2012                     Amends Code Section: 16-5-5; 51-4-6
Signed by Governor May 1, 2012

HB 1176 - 2011 Special Council on Criminal Justice Reform for Georgians; enact recommended provisions

Part I – Appeal by the State

Amends OCGA 5-7-1, relating to orders, decisions, or judgments appealable, by allowing for appeals from the State in both Superior and State courts on granted motions for new trial or an extraordinary motion for new trial.

Part II – Accountability Courts

Requires drug and mental health courts to focus work plans on medium and high risk offenders.

Requires the Judicial Council to establish standards and practices for drug and mental health courts. Requires the Judicial Council to certify that courts are following these standards and practices in order for the courts to be eligible to receive state funds, unless Judicial Council grants a waiver for good cause. (15-1-15)

Requires the Judicial Council to conduct peer reviews of drug court divisions on a periodic basis; requires the AOC to maintain an electronic information system capable of aggregating drug court data.

Adds that certified drug courts would be eligible for DATE funding. Expands the offenses for which DATE fines are assessed.

Part III – Crimes and Offenses

Raises felony thresholds in property crimes such as:

  • Burglary – creates two degrees of burglary, applied depending on whether the building was a dwelling (first degree) or non-dwelling (second degree) (16-7-1);
  • Theft – penalty based on value of the stolen property (5K and 25K thresholds) (16-8-12);

Shoplifting – threshold for felony increased from $300 to $500 (16-8-14); A third conviction of a theft offense is a felony, with a sentence of 1-5 years, whether the first two convictions are misdemeanors or felonies

  • Forgery – creates degrees of forgery and of writing bad checks (bad checks are treated as a sort of special case of forgery). Forgery in the first degree occurs when a person passes any writing, other than a check, in a fictitious name and is punishable by 1-15 years. Forgery in the second degree occurs when a person possesses any writing, other than a check, in a fictitious name and is punishable by 1-5 years. Forgery in the third degree occurs when a person passes or possesses a forged check of $1,500 or more or possesses 10 or more blank checks and is a felony punishable by 1-5 years. Forgery in the fourth degree occurs when a person passes or possesses a forged check of less than $1,500 or possesses less than 10 blank checks and is a misdemeanor. (16-9-1 to 16-9-3); and
  • Deposit account fraud – multiple thresholds raised; currently a felony if amount of fraud is $500 or more, felony threshold would be raised to $1500. (16-9-20).

General sentence range for possession or purchase of a controlled substance changed from 2-15 to 1-15 years. Several sentence range and subsequent offense ranges changed throughout the statute. Criminalizes the manufacture, distribution or sale of counterfeit drugs. (16-13-20)

Sets punishment by aggregate weight of controlled substances or mixtures with controlled substances. Once the weight-based punishment for illegal drug possession becomes effective, the doubling of recidivist sentencing begins. Also criminalizes dealings in counterfeit drugs. (16-13-30)

Sets punishment for the code section regarding controlled substances at the applicable mandatory minimum, capped at 30 years imprisonment and a fine not to exceed $1 million. (16-13-31(h))

Would allow “active” or “administrative” probation supervision to be curtailed by the court upon request of a probation supervisor. (17-10-1)

Exempts drug offenses under 16-13-30(j) from 17-10-7 (two and three strikes).

Part IV – Criminal Procedure

Sets the statute of limitations for prosecution for a variety of crimes generally, and for certain offenses involving a victim under 16 years of age. (17-3-1 to 17-3-2)

Part V – Mandatory reporting of child abuse

Expands reporting requirements to nurse’s aides, “child service organizations,” “reproductive health care facilities,” and volunteers and employees of entities covered in the Mandatory Reporting of Child Abuse statute

Part VI – Record Restriction

Restricts the Georgia Crime Information Center (GCIC) from providing records of arrests, charges, or dispositions when access has been restricted pursuant to Code Section 35-3-37. (35-3-34)

Permits GCIC to make an individual's criminal history available upon request and permits GCIC to charge no more than $15 for inspection of those records. (35-3-37)

Permits an individual with a record to request the entity in control to correct any mistakes and allows for the individual, when they find the entity's decision about the alleged mistakes to be in error, the right to an appeal to the court with the original jurisdiction of the charges

Criminal records will be restricted by the GCIC prior to indictment when the matter was never referred for further prosecution, if it was referred to the prosecuting attorney but later dismissed, or if the grand jury returns two no bills

Criminal records will be restricted by GCIC, after indictment if: charges were dropped or nolle prossed; a guilty plea of possession of a controlled substance and successful completion of probation; if the individual has successfully completed a drug or mental health treatment program; or the individual was acquitted on all charges

Part VII – Penal Institutions

It would become a misdemeanor for a penal institution employee to assist inmates with obtaining an attorney. (42-1-11.2)

Requires GDOC to use evidence-based practices, perform risk assessments, collect data and analyze performance outcomes (recidivism) and issue reports to the Executive and Legislative branches. (42-2-11)

Requires sentencing packages to be submitted to the Department of Corrections electronically. (42-5-50)

Probation Options Management (now called “graduated sanctions”) would become an optional condition of probation. (42-8-23 and 42-8-38)

Adds three optional conditions of probation: electronic monitoring, substance or mental health treatment, or imposition of graduated sanctions by agreement of probationer (42-8-35)

Confinement in a probation detention center would be limited to 180 days. (42-8-35.4)

Effective Date: July 1, 2012

Signed by Governor May 2, 2012

SB 231 - Probation; provide additional offenses for which first offender status shall not be granted

SB 231 provides additional offenses for which first offender status shall not be granted probation. The court shall not sentence a defendant under the provisions of this article who has been found guilty of or entered a plea of guilty or a plea of nolo contendere for: Aggravated assault as defined in Code Section 16-5-21; Aggravated battery as defined in Code Section 16-5-24; or Obstructing or hindering a law enforcement officer when the action results in physical harm or injury to the law enforcement officer.

Effective Date: July 1, 2012                  Amends Code Section: 42-8-60
Signed by Governor April 16, 2012

 

 

SB 366 - Juvenile Justice Dept.; revise restrictions; possessions of contraband at juvenile detention centers

SB 366 revises restrictions regarding possession of contraband at juvenile detention centers. The bill restricts an individual from coming onto the grounds of a juvenile detention center to sell, buy, give, provide, barter, exchange, or trade any contraband with any youth assigned to a juvenile detention center. Any person found to be in violation shall be guilty of a felony and, upon conviction punished by imprisonment for not less than one nor more than five years.

Effective Date: July 1, 2012                    Amends Code Sections: 15-11-66;
Signed by Governor May 7, 2012          Title 49 Chapter 4A
*See also Juvenile*

SB 432 - Crimes and Offenses; define a certain term; political subdivision shall not enact any ordinance more restrictive of sale/possession of knife than general law

SB 432 defines a knife as any cutting instrument with a blade and shall include the definitions defined in Code Section 16-11-125.1. No political subdivision shall constrain the possession manufacture, sale or transfer of a knife more restrictively than the provisions provided in this code section.

Effective Date: July 1, 2012                    Amends Code Section: 16-11-136
Signed by Governor May 2, 2012

SB 441 - Obstruction of Public Administration; establish the offense of unlawful pointing of a laser device at a law enforcement officer; penalties

SB 441 establishes the offense of unlawfully pointing of a laser device at a law enforcement officer. Any person who knowingly and intentionally points a laser device at a law enforcement officer without the officer’s permission, regardless of whether the officer was in a motor vehicle or building, shall be guilty of a high and aggravated misdemeanor and, upon conviction thereof, be punished by imprisonment for not less than 12 months or a fine of not more than $5,000.00, or both.

SB 441 also prohibits aiming a laser pointer or projecting a laser on or at an aircraft, or in airspace. Any person who knowingly and intentionally violates this code section shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.

Effective Date: July 1, 2012                     Amends Code Sections: 16-10-34; 16-11-45
Signed by Governor May 2, 2012

SB 464 - Fish and Fishing; limit the number of commercial crabbing licenses issued

SB 464 establishes that on and after May 1, 2013, the total number of new commercial crabbing licenses issued shall not exceed 100, and those issued prior to this date shall remain active until they are not renewed. Commercial crabbing licenses may be sold to any person who does not currently have one. An instrument of the court declaring the rightful heir or recipient of the commercial crabbing license may be required for transfers upon a death. In addition to being guilty of a misdemeanor, any person convicted of violating the provisions of this subsection shall be penalized as follows: A) On a first offense, his or her crabbing license shall be suspended for a period of three months; B) On a second offense, his or her crabbing license shall be suspended for a period of six months; and C) On a third or any subsequent offense, his or her crabbing license shall be permanently revoked.

SB 464 also amends Code Section 27-2-23 of the O.C.G.A., relating to licenses, permits, tags, and stamp fees, so as to create a one-day salt-water shore fishing license and assessing a $5.00 fee.

Effective Date: July 1, 2012                  Amends Code Sections: 27-2-23;
Signed by Governor May 2,                  2012 27-4-150; 27-4-151
*See also Fines and Fees*

SB 350 - Crimes and Offenses; disposition of firearms used in burglaries or armed robberies

SB 350 requires that any firearm belonging to a person unaware that the firearm would be used in an unlawful manner be returned to the owner when the firearm is no longer needed for evidentiary purposes. Prior to the disposal of any firearm that has been forfeited to the state, the state shall make its best efforts to determine if the firearm was stolen or otherwise lost by the owner. Should no owner be ascertained, the firearm will be sold through an auction in which no employee of the state can participate. The proceeds from the auction shall be transferred to the general fund of the jurisdiction in which the agency is located, except to cover the costs of administering the auction. All agencies must keep records of these auctions as well as the proceeds gained.

Effective Date: May 3, 2012                     Amends Code Sections: 16-16-2;
Signed by Governor May 3, 2012           Title 17 Chapter 5 Article 3

Compensation/Retirement

HB 250 - Georgia Judicial Retirement System; revised survivor’s benefit option; provisions

HB 250 amends Chapter 23 of Title 47 of the O.C.G.A., relating to the Georgia Judicial Retirement System, so as to provide that a member who rejected survivor's benefits may elect such benefits by paying the actuarial cost. The bill requires that any amount in a retiree’s pension fund leftover following their death be paid to a designated survivor or the estate of the retired person if no survivor was designated. The bill outlines guidelines for the distribution of retirement funds upon the retiree's death to the designated survivor or upon the event of a divorce.

Effective Date: July 1, 2012                               Code Section: 47-23-84; 47-23-105;
Signed by Governor May 1, 2012                     7-23-105.1.

HB 297 - Retirement and pensions; public systems prohibited from expending fund for certain purposes; provide

HB 297 specifically prohibits any public retirement system from having an insurable interest in active or retired members of their system. No public retirement system shall have the authority to expend or obligate funds under their control to purchase life insurance on its members unless the benefits are paid to a member's estate or to a beneficiary designated by the individual member.

Effective Date: May 1, 2012                               Code Section: 47-1-16
Signed by Governor May 1, 2012

HB 351 - Probate Courts Retirement Fund of Georgia; probate court fines and fees; provide

The Judges of the Probate Courts Retirement Fund of Georgia will receive $3.00 for each criminal and quasi-criminal case for violations of state statutes or traffic laws, provided the case was tried before a judge of the probate court. The money shall be collected by the judge, clerk of court, or other collecting authority. This replaces a tiered fee system with a single fee.

Effective Date: July 1, 2012                               Code Section: 47-11-51
Signed by Governor May 1, 2012
*See also Fines and Fees*

SB 402 - “Employees’’ Retirement System of Georgia Enhanced Investment Authority Act”; define certain terms relating to certain types of investments

SB 402 establishes the "Employees' Retirement System of Georgia Enhanced Investment Authority Act”. The bill allows the Employees’ Retirement System to invest retirement assets in certain types of alternative investments, private placements, and other private investments. The alternative investments by the retirement system shall not in the aggregate exceed 5 percent of the retirement system’s assets at any time.

Effective Date: July 1, 2012                               Amends Code Section: 47-20-82;
Signed by Governor April 16, 2012                47-20-87; 50-18-72

Elections

SB 92 - Elections; provide limitations on when in-person absentee balloting may be conducted; period of advance voting

Language from HB 899, 725 and 776 was added to SB 92. SB 92 amends Chapter 2 of Title 21 of the O.C.G.A., relating to primaries and elections. It provides that Justices of the Supreme Court, Judges of the Court of Appeals, judges of the superior courts, and county judicial officers shall be elected in the nonpartisan general election next preceding the expiration of the term of office, and this election shall remain in July. A qualifying petition shall be in the form and manner determined by the Secretary of State and approved by the State Elections Board. Each sheet of a qualifying petition shall bear the affidavit of the circulator. This affidavit shall be subscribed and sworn to before a notary. If any person whose name is not on the list of registered electors maintained by the Secretary of State desires to vote at any special primary or special election, such person may make application by the close of business on the fifth Monday prior to the date of the special primary or special election or, if such Monday is a legal holiday, by the close of business on the following business day.

The board of registrars or absentee ballot clerk shall issue official absentee ballots to all eligible applicants not more than 49 days but not less than 45 days prior to any presidential preference primary, general primary other than a municipal general primary, general election other than a municipal general election, or special primary or special election in which there is a candidate for a federal office on the ballot; 22 days prior to any municipal general primary or municipal general election; and as soon as possible prior to any runoff. In the case of all other special primaries or special elections, the board of registrars or absentee ballot clerk shall issue official absentee ballots to all eligible applicants no earlier than 22 days prior to the election; provided, however, that should any elector of the jurisdiction be permitted to vote by absentee ballot beginning 49 days prior to a primary or election, all eligible applicants of such jurisdiction shall be entitled to vote by absentee ballot beginning 49 days prior to such primary or election.

SB 92 establishes that in any case where an incumbent files notice of candidacy and has paid the qualifying fee in a nonpartisan election to succeed himself or herself, but withdraws as a candidate prior to the end of the applicable qualifying period, the qualifying period will be reopened for candidates other than the incumbent at 9:00 A.M. on the following Monday and shall be closed at 5:00 P.M. on the immediately following Tuesday. In the event of the death of a candidate or the withdrawal of a qualifying candidate after the close of qualifying, but prior to the date of a political party primary, qualification may be reopened for the office sought by the deceased or withdrawn candidate for a period of one to three days. In the case that an elections officer makes a mistake that affects the qualification of a candidate, then such candidate’s qualifying fee shall be refunded.

SB 92 also amends Chapter 2 of Title 21 of the O.C.G.A., relating to primaries and elections, so as to provide that all nonpartisan elections for members of consolidated governments shall be considered county elections and not municipal elections. This act is intended to clarify the intent of the original legislation. The bill also clarifies that all nonpartisan elections for members of consolidated governments shall be considered county elections and not municipal elections.

Effective Date: Section 9 of this Act shall become effective on the first date upon which candidates may begin qualifying for the general primary in 2012; provided, however, that if implementation of Section 9 is not permissible on such date under the federal Voting Rights Act of 1965, as amended, then Section 9 shall become effective on January 1, 2013.

All other sections become effective on July 1, 2012.

Signed by Governor May 2, 2012

Fines and Fees

HB 351 - Probate Courts Retirement Fund of Georgia; probate court fines and fees; provide

The Judges of the Probate Courts Retirement Fund of Georgia will receive $3.00 for each criminal and quasi-criminal case for violations of state statutes or traffic laws, provided the case was tried before a judge of the probate court. The money shall be collected by the judge, clerk of court, or other collecting authority. This replaces a tiered fee system with a single fee.

Effective Date: July 1, 2012                                 Code Section: 47-11-51
Signed by Governor May 1, 2012
*See also Compensation/Retirement*

HB 1025 - DeKalb County State Court; change certain fees

HB 1025 revises the fees charged by the State Court of DeKalb County.

Effective Date: July 1, 2012                                 Amends:  Ga. L. 1951, p. 2401 as amended
Signed by Governor April 11, 2012                                 (see also Ga. L. 2010, p. 3677)
*See also Local General*

HB 1230 - DeKalb County Recorder’s Court; payment of costs in such court; provide

HB 1230 amends an Act that created the Recorder’s Court of DeKalb County by amending Section 21. The bill establishes that any person who is ordered to pay a fine for, is convicted of, or pleads guilty or enters a plea of nolo contender to any violation shall pay court costs of $25.00.

Effective Date: April 11, 2012            Amends Ga. L. 1959, p.3093, as amended
Signed by Governor April 11, 2012            (see also Ga. L. 1979, p.3565)
*See also Local General*

HB 1278 - Spalding County Magistrate Court; charge technology fee for each civil case filed and criminal fine imposed; authorize

The Magistrate Court of Spalding County may charge and collect a technology fee for the filing of each civil action or surcharge for each criminal fine paid. The technology fee shall be set by the court, provided that this fee does not exceed $5.00.

Effective Date: July 1, 2012                                 Local Legislation
Signed by Governor April 11, 2012
*See also Local General*

HB 1279 - Spalding County Probate Court; charge technology fee for each civil case filed; authorize

HB 1279 authorizes the clerk of the Probate Court of Spalding County to charge and collect a technology fee for the filing of each civil action. The technology fee shall be set by the court, provided that this fee does not exceed $5.00.

Effective Date: July 1, 2012                                 Local Legislation
Signed by Governor April 11, 2012
*See also Fines and Fees*

HB 1280 - Spalding County State Court; charge technology fee for each civil case filed and each criminal fine imposed; authorize

HB 1280 authorizes the clerk of the State Court of Spalding County to charge and collect a technology fee for the filing of each civil action or surcharge for each criminal fine paid. The technology fee shall be set by the court, provided that this fee does not exceed $5.00.

Effective Date: July 1, 2012                                 Amends Ga. L. 1897, p. 462, as amended
Signed by Governor April 11, 2012
*See also Local General*

SB 50 - Courts; add certain fees for funding of local victim assistance programs

SB 50 establishes that no criminal jury trial shall be conducted in an alternate or additional facility unless the location is a facility owned or leased by the governing authority of the county.

The bill further amends Code Section 15-6-95 of the O.C.G.A., relating to priorities of distribution of fines and fees collected in superior court if a partial payment is collected: Level 6: Amounts for jail construction and staffing; Level 7: Funding for local victim assistance programs; Level 8: Funding for county law libraries; Level 9: Balance of the base fine is owed to the county; Level 10: The amount provided for in cases of driving under the influence for purposes of the Georgia Crime Victims Emergency Fund; Level 11: Application fee for legal defense services; Level 12: The amount provided for in cases of driving under the influence for purposes of the Brian and Spinal Injury Trust Fund; Level 13: The amount provided for in Code Section 15-21-100 for the Drug Abuse Treatment and Education Fund.

Effective Date: July 1, 2012                                 Amends Code Sections: 15-6-18; 15-6-95
Signed by Governor May 2, 2012

SB 464 - Fish and Fishing; limit the number of commercial crabbing licenses issued

On and after May 1, 2013 the total number of new commercial crabbing licenses issued shall not exceed 100; those issued prior to this date shall remain active until they are not renewed. An instrument of the court declaring the rightful heir or recipient of the commercial crabbing license may be required for transfers upon a death.

In addition to being guilty of a misdemeanor, any person convicted of violating the provisions of this subsection shall be penalized as follows: A) On a first offense, his or her crabbing license shall be suspended for a period of three months; B) On a second offense, his or her crabbing license shall be suspended for a period of six months; and C) On a third or any subsequent offense, his or her crabbing license shall be permanently revoked.

SB 464 also amends Code Section 27-2-23 of the O.C.G.A., relating to licenses, permits, tags, and stamp fees, so as to create a one-day salt-water shore fishing license and assessing a $5.00 fee.

Effective Date: July 1, 2012                                 Amends Code Sections: 27-2-23;
Signed by Governor May 2, 2012                      27-4-150; 27-4-151
*See also Criminal*

General

HB 46 - Uniform Interstate Depositions and Discovery Act; enact

HB 46 replaces the Uniform Foreign Depositions Act with the 'Uniform Interstate Depositions and Discovery Act.' Under the new statute, persons seeking to serve a subpoena from a foreign jurisdiction would submit that subpoena to the local clerk of superior court for issuance of a subpoena to be served in that county. When a foreign subpoena is issued by a court, a witness may be compelled by subpoena issued by the clerk of superior court in the county where the witness resides to appear and testify.

Effective Date: July 1, 2012                                Amends Title 24
Signed by Governor May 1, 2012

HB 100 - Tax Tribunal

HB 100 creates the Georgia Tax Tribunal as an independent and autonomous division within the Office of State Administrative Hearings (O.S.A.H.). Tribunal judges shall be appointed by the Governor, with the consent of the Senate, for terms of four years. The Governor may also remove a tribunal judge with the consent of the Senate. Without the approval of the Senate, the Governor may appoint tribunal judges pro tempore for a period of 12 months or less. Each tribunal judge shall be a U.S. citizen, a resident of Georgia, and an attorney who has practiced primarily in the area of tax law for the last eight years. The annual salaries of the tribunal judges shall be no less than that of the administrative law judge of the O.S.A.H. and shall not be reduced during the tribunal judge’s term.

The chief tribunal judge shall have sole charge of the administration of the tribunal. The tribunal shall have concurrent jurisdiction with the superior courts over actions for declaratory judgment that involve a rule of the commissioner that is applicable to taxes administered by the commissioner. Trials before the tribunal shall be de novo and without a jury. The tribunal judges shall adhere to the principle of stare decisis. Within 90 days of filing a petition, a taxpayer may choose to have the small claims division have jurisdiction over his or her proceedings. Any party may appeal a final judgment, except for judgments of the small claims division, to the Superior Court of Fulton County.

Effective Date: July 1, 2012 and shall be applicable to all proceedings commenced on or after January 1, 2013.
Signed by Governor April 19, 2012                    Amends Code Section: Titles 48 and 50

HB 110 - Mortgages and liens; vacant property registry; provisions

HB 110 provides for a vacant property registry. When any vacant real property is acquired by foreclosure under power of sale or acquired pursuant to a deed in lieu of foreclosure, and the deed is filed with the clerk of superior court within 60 days of the transfer, a county or municipal corporation shall not require the transferee to register the vacant real property or the payment of any administrative fees pursuant. If a vacant property is sold and remains vacant, the new owner must register the property within 90 days. Fines for failure to register a vacant property shall not exceed $1,000. The administrative procedures adopted pursuant to a county or municipal ordinance shall include the right to appeal to the municipal or recorder’s court in the city where the vacant real property is located or to the magistrate or recorder’s court of the county in which the property is located.

Effective Date: July 1, 2012                                Amends Code Section: 44-14-1
Signed by Governor May 1, 2012
*See also Civil*

HB 198 - Superior court clerks; real estate or personal property filing fees; extend sunset dates

HB 198 removes the sunset date for real estate or personal property filing fees. It also repeals the sunset dates of the state-wide uniform automated information system and for the collection and remittance of real estate or personal property filings.

Effective Date: July 1, 2012                                Code Section: 15-6-2
Signed by Governor April 16, 2012

HB 397 - State government; open meetings and records; revise provisions

HB 397 amends Title 50 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated, relating to state government, by comprehensively revising the provisions of law regarding open meetings and open records.

Effective April 17, 2012                                      Code Section: Title 50
Signed by Governor April 17, 2012

HB 534 - Eligibility requirements; probate court clerks; modify provisions

HB 534 reduces the population threshold for a Title 6 Probate Court from 96,000 to 90,000, per the 2010 census – This will affect Dougherty County

Effective Date: July 1, 2012                            Code Section: 15-9-4
Signed by Governor May 1, 2012

HB 665 - Clerk of superior court offices; modernize provisions

HB 665 amends Titles 9, 15, and 44, Chapter 18 of Title 50, and Code Section 36-9-5 of the O.C.G.A., relating to civil practice, courts, property, state printing and documents, and storage of documents, respectively. The bill contains many provisions of interest to Superior Court Clerks with the purpose modernizing provisions relating to storage, collection, access, and transmittal of documents housed in clerk of superior court offices, as well as provisions affecting the duties and removal of clerks and the exercise of the courts’ contempt power.

HB 665 includes language from HB 763, the technical amendments to the jury composition reform. These changes clarify who is ineligible to serve and provides for a transition period to the use of the new master jury lists.

Effective Date: July 1, 2012
Signed by Governor April 16, 2012

HB 733 - Family violence; holdover provisions for appointees; add

HB 733 adds, to subsection (c) of the Code Section 19-13-32, that each member of the Georgia Commission on Family Violence shall serve until the date his or her successor is appointed.

Effective Date: April 16, 2012                           Code Section: 19-13-32
Signed by Governor April 16, 2012

HB 744 - Uniform Partition of Heirs Property Act; enact

HB 744 enacts the "Uniform Partition of Heirs Property Act". The Uniform Partition of Heirs Property Act lays out the means by which property, if determined by the court to be 'heirs property,' shall be partitioned in a consistent and economically advantageous manner. 'Heirs property' is defined as real property held in tenancy in common, which satisfies all of the following requirements on the date of filing a partition action:

(1) There is no agreement in a record binding all the cotenants which governs the partition of the property;

(2) One or more of the cotenants acquired the title from a relative; or

(3) Any of the following applies: twenty percent or more of the interests are held by cotenants who are relatives or by an individual who acquired the property form a relative, or twenty percent or more of the cotenants are relatives.

Effective Date: January 1, 2013                       Amends Code Section: 44-6-7 Part 2
Signed by Governor April 16, 2012

HB 895 - Sexual Offender Registration Review Board; gathering information relating to sexual offenders; provide more effective methods

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation shall acquire, collect, analyze, and provide to the Sexual Offender Registration Review Board any information which will assist the Board in determining a sexual offender’s risk assessment classification in accordance with the board’s duties.

Effective Date: July 1, 2012                               Amends Code Section: 35-3-4;
Signed by Governor May 2, 2012                     42-1-13; 42-1-14

HB 928 - Peace Officer’s Annuity and Benefit Fund; board of trustees authorized to employ a hearing officer; provide

The bill provides for a hearing officer for the Peace Officers’ Annuity and Benefit Fund for the purpose of hearing appeals to the board’s decisions. All decisions made by the hearing officer are subject to review by the courts. The courts may affirm the decision of the hearing officer or remand the case for further proceedings. The court may reverse the decision of the hearing officer if substantial rights of the petitioner have been prejudiced.

Effective Date: July 1, 2012                              Amends Code Sections: 47-17-27; 47-17-81
Signed by Governor May 1, 2012

HB 929 - Judicial circuits; assistant district attorney for certain populations; repeal office

HB 929 repeals the Act creating the office of assistant district attorney in each judicial circuit whose population is no less than 103,000 and no more than 135,000 persons according to the United States census.

Effective Date: July 1, 2012                           Repeals Ga. L. 1976, p. 3584 as amended
Signed by Governor April 11, 2012                     (see also (Ga. L. 5 1992, p. 1679)

HB 930 - Judicial circuits; superior court judge for certain populations; repeal supplemental expense allowance

HB 930 repeals the Act that provides for a supplemental expense allowance for the judges of the superior courts of each judicial circuit within this state having a population of not less than 103,000 and not more than 135,000 persons according to the United States census.

Effective Date: July 1 1, 2012                         Repeals Ga. L. 1977, p. 727 as amended
Signed by Governor May 1, 2012                          (see also Ga. L. 1992, p. 1680)

HB 942 - Official Code of Georgia; revise, modernize and correct errors or omissions

HB 942 amends the Georgia Code to revise, modernize, and correct errors or omissions in the Code as part of the work of the Code Revision Commission.

Effective Date: May 1, 2012
Signed by Governor May 1, 2012

HB 991 - Sheriffs; how vacancies are filled; change provisions

HB 991 changes provisions relating to the way vacancies are filled for the office of sheriff. The office of sheriff shall be filled by the chief deputy sheriff if less than six months of the term remains. If the county has no appointed chief deputy sheriff and the remaining term is less than six months, then the probate judge shall appoint an interim sheriff within three days of the vacancy. If more than six months of the term remains, then the election superintendent shall call a special election to fill the vacancy for the remainder of the term.

Effective Date: July 1, 2012                                Amends Code Section: 15-16-8
Signed by Governor May 1, 2012

SB 136 - Property; provide for transfer of control of a condominium association in certain circumstances

The right to control a condominium association may pass from the declarant to the unit owners prior to the usual expiration of the declarant's right to control the association, if the declarant fails to do any of the following:

(1) Incorporate the association;

(2) Appoint the board of directors and arrange for the election of officers;

(3) Maintain a list of the board members' names and addresses;

(4) Call meetings according to the association's bylaws, at least annually; or

(5) Prepare an annual operating budget, establish the annual assessment, and distribute such to the owners.

Any owner may send the declarant notice of a failure to comply with one of these requirements. If the declarant fails to cure the deficiency within 30 days, the owner may file a petition in superior court for an order granting the owners control of the association. This bill also announces a public policy that the statutory powers of a condominium association cannot be waived, modified nor removed by any contract or document created before the expiration of the declarant's right to control the association.

Effective Date: July 1, 2012                               Amends Code Section: 44-3-101
Signed by Governor May 2, 2012

SB 309 - Taylor’s Law; authorize issuance of special hunting privileges to persons with a terminal illness

SB 309 authorizes the issuance of special hunting privileges to hunt big game or alligators to any person under 21 years of age who has been diagnosed with a terminal illness by a licensed doctor of medicine. A person who receives special authorization to hunt must conduct all hunting under the direct supervision of a licensed adult hunter.

Effective Date: July 1, 2012                              Amends Code Section: 27-2-4.3
Signed by Governor May 1, 2012

SB 351 - Municipal Courts; require same training for all judges of courts exercising municipal court jurisdiction

SB 351 requires all judges exercising municipal court jurisdiction to complete mandatory training, within one year after the date of his or her election or appointment. The reasonable costs and expenses of the training shall be paid by the governing authority where the judge presides using the governing authority's funds. This shall not apply to any magistrate judge or probate judge or any judge of a court of record who presides in a court exercising municipal court jurisdiction.

Effective Date: July 1, 2012                               Amends Code Sections: 36-32-11; 36-32-27
Signed by Governor May 2, 2012

SB 352 - Prosecuting Attorneys; provide; probate courts, municipal courts, and courts exercising municipal court jurisdiction; process of such employment

SB 352 authorizes district attorneys and solicitors-general to prosecute civil actions to enforce Code Section 40-16-163, relating to vehicles overtaking school buses.

The bill authorizes municipal courts, and courts exercising municipal court jurisdiction to create the office of prosecuting attorney of the municipal court but only with the approval of the governing authority of the city served by the court. It provides for the appointment, compensation, oath of office, duties, and authority of such prosecuting attorneys. SB 352 also amends Chapter 32 of Title 36 of the O.C.G.A., relating to municipal courts by adding a new section, which grants municipal courts jurisdiction to try and dispose of cases where a person is charged with transactions in drug related objects in violation of Code Section 13-13-32. Any fines arising from the prosecution of such cases shall be retained by the municipality and shall be paid into the treasury of the municipality.

Effective Date: April 11, 2012                            Amends Code Sections: Title 15
Signed by Governor April 11, 2012                  Chapter 18; 36-32-6.1
*See also Civil*

SB 365 - Property; collected funds; change prov.; residential real property; provide form Acknowledgement and Waiver of Borrower’s Rights

Language from HB 880 was amended into SB 365. SB 365 establishes that any funds collected as a result of a settlement that are held by a settlement agent, who is not a lender, shall be deposited, finally settled, and credited to a licensed Georgia attorney's Interest on Lawyers Trust Account. Any person who violates this provision shall pay to the State Bar of Georgia's Clients' Security Fund an amount equal to $1,000.00 or double the amount of interest payable on the loan for the first 60 days after the loan closing, whichever is greater.

A mortgage on residential real property which provides for power of sale foreclosure shall include a waiver of the borrower's rights, which shall be executed by the borrower, in which the borrower knowingly and voluntarily waives his or her rights to notice and to judicial hearing prior to the exercise by the mortgagee of any right or remedy contained in the mortgage or security instrument.

Effective Date: July 1, 2012                               Amend Code Sections: Title 43; 44-14-13
Signed by Governor May 2, 2012

SB 370 - Controlled Substances; Schedule I and V controlled substance; “dangerous drug”; provisions

SB 370 affects the changes of the annual drug update in which certain drugs are re-classified. Synthetic marijuana was added to the list of controlled substances and language used to include any modification of the basic formula for synthetic marijuana.

Effective Date: March 27, 2012                           Amends Code Section: Title 16
Signed by the Governor March 27, 2012          Chapter 13

SB 383 - ‘Georgia International Commercial Arbitration Code’; repeal Part 2, relating to international arbitration

SB 383 amends Article 1 of Chapter 9 of Title 9 of the O.C.G.A., relating to general provisions for arbitration by repealing Part 2, relating to international transactions; and establishing provisions for court intervention.

Effective Date: July 1, 2012                               Amends Code Section: Title 9 Chapter 9
Signed by Governor May 2, 2012                    Article 1

SB 428 - Administrative Procedure; provide for agency reports regarding federal government mandates and duplicate state/federal regulation

State agency are required to prepare an annual report that specifies those federal government mandates that require agency promulgation of rules and regulations rather than enactment of law by the General Assembly. The report shall also identify state and federal regulatory duplication.

Effective Date: July 1, 2012                            Amends Code Section: 50-13-4.1
Signed by Governor May 1, 2012

Juvenile

HB 247 - Community Health, Department of; fingerprint and investigate emergency medical services personnel; require

The language supported by the Judicial Council in HB 850 was amended into HB 247. That language allows national criminal background checks for persons seeking to become a guardian or conservator.

Effective Date: July 1, 2012                                 Code Section: 29-9-19
Signed by Governor April 16, 2012

HB 1198 - Parent and child; grandparent visitation rights; modify provisions

HB 1198 modifies grandparent visitation rights. In considering whether the health or welfare of the child would be harmed without visitation, the court may consider that harm to the child is reasonably likely to result where:

(1) The minor child previously resided with the grandparent for six months or more;

(2) The grandparent has provided significant financial resources for the basic needs of the child over an extended period of time;

(3) There has been an established pattern of previous regular visitation or child care by the grandparent with the child; or

(4) Any other circumstance indicating that emotional or physical harm is reasonably likely to result.

While a parent's decision regarding grandparent visitation shall be given deference, such deference shall not be conclusive where a failure to provide grandparent contact would result in emotional harm to the child. A court may presume that a child that is denied any and all contact with a grandparent or who is not provided some minimal opportunity for contact with his or her grandparent shall suffer emotional injury that is harmful to the child's health. This presumption may be rebutted. In no case shall the grant of visitation rights to a grandparent interfere with a child's school or regularly scheduled extracurricular activities. Visitation time awarded to a grandparent shall not be less than 24 hours in any one-month period. If one of the parents of a minor child dies, is incapacitated, or incarcerated, the parent of the deceased, incapacitated, or incarcerated parent of the minor child may have reasonable visitation to the child during his or her minority, if the court in its discretion finds that the visitation would be in the best interest of the child. The custodial parent's judgment as to the best interest of the child regarding visitation shall be given deference but shall not be conclusive.

Effective Date: May 1, 2012                                 Amends Code Section:  19-7-3
Signed by Governor May 1, 2012

 

SB 366 - Juvenile Justice Dept.; revise restrictions; possessions of contraband at juvenile detention centers

SB 366 revises restrictions regarding possession of contraband at juvenile detention centers. The bill restricts an individual from coming onto the grounds of a juvenile detention center to sell, buy, give, provide, barter, exchange, or trade any contraband with any youth assigned to a juvenile detention center. Any person found to be in violation shall be guilty of a felony and, upon conviction punished by imprisonment for one to five years.

Effective Date: July 1, 2012       Amends Code Sections: 15-11-66; Title 49 Chapter 4A
Signed by Governor May 7, 2012           
*See also Criminal* 

Local Compensation

HB 756 - Putnam County; State Court of; law provisions updated and consolidated; provide

Section 4 of the local act now requires the expenses and resources deemed necessary by the judge for the day to day operations of the Putnam County State Court and the expenses of the solicitor be paid for by the county treasury. Section 5 changes terms of court to coincide with superior court. Provisions for jurors have been substantially amended (Section 6). Now the clerk is authorized to assign each warrant a case number. Section 8 now gives the state court concurrent jurisdiction with the Magistrate Court of Putnam County. The clerk shall now pay all costs, fines and forfeitures into the county treasury instead of disbursing directly as called for by state law.

Effective Date: March 5, 2012                  Amends: Ga. L. 1997, p. 3839 as amended
Signed by Governor March 5, 2012
*See also Local General & Local Election*

HB 911 - Putnam County; change compensation for certain officials

HB 911 changes the compensation for the judge of the State Court of Putnam County, the solicitor-general of the State Court of Putnam County, the clerk of the State Court of Putnam County and the sheriff of Putnam County. The judge of the state court of Putnam County shall be a part-time judge and shall be paid an annual salary of $54,000.00. This amount of compensation shall be increased by multiplying the amounts by the percentage which equals five times the number of completed four-year terms of office served by any judge following December 31, 2008, effective the first day of January, 2013, following the completion of each period of service. The minimum compensation for the clerk of the state court and the sheriff shall be an annual base salary of $4,800.00.

On and after January 1, 2013, whenever the employees in the classified service of the state merit system receive a cost-of-living increase or general performance based increase of a specified percentage or a specified amount, the amount of the salaries of these officials shall be increased by the same percentage. If the cost-of-living increase or general performance based increase received by state employees is in different percentages or amounts then salaries shall be increased a percentage or an amount not to exceed the average general increase in salary granted to the state employees. The increase in salaries for aforementioned employees shall become effective on the first day of January following or on the date that the cost-of-living increases become effective for state employees.

Effective Date: Vetoed
Signed by Governor May 7, 2012

Veto Messsage: House Bill 911 contains specific language providing additional compensation for the sheriff of Putnam County and various officials of the Putnam County State Court. I am vetoing this legislation because of the lack of justification provided for such increases in compensation for these officials. Accordingly, I VETO HB 911.

HB 1142 - Gwinnett County Recorder’s Court; clerk’s compensation; change provisions

Section 8 of the Act that established the Recorder’s Court of Gwinnett County is revised so that that the clerk of the recorder’s court shall be appointed by the chief judge of the Superior Court of Gwinnett County and the chief judge of the State Court of Gwinnett County. These judges shall have the duty of keeping a record of all proceedings of said court, collecting all costs, fines and forfeitures and to remit same by the 15th day of the following month to the director of finance of Gwinnett County for deposit in the county depository. The clerk shall be authorized to issue summons, subpoenas, and rules to forfeit bonds. The clerk shall be bonded to Gwinnett County in the sum of $5,000.00 for the faithful performance of the duties of office and for the accounting of all funds coming into the possession of the clerk. The clerks may appoint a number of deputy clerks as may be needed; these deputy clerks shall give bond in the same manner as the clerk.

Effective Date: April 11, 2012                Amends Ga. L. 1972, p. 3125, as amended
Signed by Governor April 11, 2012             (see also Ga. L. 1987, p. 3765)

HB 1217 - Habersham County State Court; provide that January 1, 2015, judge and solicitor shall be full-time positions

This bill amends the Act that created the State Court of Habersham County to provide that beginning January 1, 2015, the judge and solicitor of the court shall be full-time positions. It also establish the compensation of the judge and solicitor and establishes that beginning January 1, 2015, neither the judge nor the solicitor of said court shall be allowed to practice law.

Effective Date: May 1, 2012                 Amends Ga. L. 1941, p. 651, as amended
Signed by Governor April 11, 2012              (see also Ga. L. 2010, p. 3994)
*See also Local General*

Local Elections

HB 638 - Randolph County; board of elections and registration; create

HB 638 creates the Randolph County Board of Elections and Registration and abolishes the board of elections of Randolph County and the board of registrars and the office of chief registrar of Randolph County. The board shall have all the powers and duties of the former Randolph County Board of Elections relating to the conduct of primaries and elections and shall have the powers and duties of the board of registrars relating to the registration of voters and absentee balloting procedures. Each member of the board shall have the right to resign at any time by giving written notice of resignation to the clerk of the Superior Court of Randolph County.

Effective Date: July 1, 2012                                 Local legislation; Repeals Ga.
Signed by the Governor March 5, 2012             L. 2006, p. 3740

HB 751 - Jasper County; Probate Court judge; provide nonpartisan elections

Elections for the office of Probate Court of Jasper County shall be nonpartisan.  Nothing in this Act shall affect the term of office of the judge of the Probate Court of Jasper County, the sitting judge shall serve out the term of office for which he or she was elected and shall be eligible to succeed himself or herself as provided in this Act.

Effective Date: July 1, 2012                                 Local Legislation        
Signed by Governor April 11, 2012

HB 756 - Putnam County; State Court of; law provisions updated and consolidated; provide

Section 4 of the local act now requires the expenses and resources deemed necessary by the judge for the day to day operations of the Putnam County State Court and the expenses of the solicitor be paid for by the county treasury.  Section 5 changes terms of court to coincide with superior court.  Provisions for jurors have been substantially amended (Section 6).  Now the clerk is authorized to assign each warrant a case number.  Section 8 now gives the state court concurrent jurisdiction with the Magistrate Court of Putnam County.  The clerk shall now pay all costs, fines and forfeitures into the county treasury instead of disbursing directly as called for by state law.

Effective Date: March 5, 2012                                 Amends:  Ga. L. 1997, p. 3839
Signed by Governor March 5, 2012                      as amended
*See also Local General & Local Compensation*

HB 904 - Monroe County Probate Court; future elections for the office of judge shall be nonpartisan; provide

Elections for the office of Probate Court of Monroe County shall be nonpartisan.  Nothing in this Act shall affect the term of office of the judge of the Probate Court of Jasper County, the sitting judge shall serve out the term of office for which he or she was elected and shall be eligible to succeed himself or herself as provided in this Act.

Effective Date: July 1, 2012                                 Local Legislation
Signed by Governor April 11, 2012

HB 1082 - Cook County Magistrate Court; future elections for chief magistrate shall be nonpartisan elections; provide

Future elections for the office of chief magistrate of the Magistrate Court of Cook County shall be nonpartisan. Nothing in this act shall affect the term of office of the chief magistrate of the Magistrate Court of Cook County in office on January 1, 2012. Aforementioned chief magistrate shall serve out the term of office and shall be eligible to succeed himself or herself.

Effective Date: July 1, 2012                                 Local Legislation
Signed by Governor April 13, 2012

HB 1119 - Atkinson County; Probate Court judge; provide nonpartisan elections

Elections for the office of judge of the Probate Court of Atkinson County held after January 1, 2013 shall be nonpartisan elections. Nothing in this Act shall affect the term of office of the judge of the Probate Court of Atkinson County in office on January 1, 2013. The sitting judge of the probate court shall serve out the term of office for which he or she was elected and shall be eligible to succeed himself or herself.

Effective Date: July 1, 2012                                 Local Legislation
Signed by Governor April 13, 2012

HB 1120 - Atkinson County; chief magistrate judge; provide nonpartisan elections

Elections for the office of chief judge of Magistrate of Atkinson County held after January 1, 2013, shall be nonpartisan elections. Nothing in this Act shall affect the term of office of the chief magistrate judge of Atkinson County in office on January 1, 2013. The sitting chief magistrate judge shall serve out the term of office for which he or she was elected and shall be eligible to succeed himself or herself.

Effective Date: July 1, 2012                                 Local Legislation
Signed by Governor April 13, 2012

HB 1121 - Coffee County; chief magistrate judge; provide nonpartisan elections

Elections for the office of chief judge of Magistrate Coffee County held after January 1, 2013, shall be nonpartisan elections. Nothing in this bill shall affect the term of the Chief Magistrate Court judge. Nothing in this Act shall affect the term of office of the chief magistrate judge of Coffee County in office on January 1, 2013. The sitting chief magistrate judge shall serve out the term of office for which he or she was elected and shall be eligible to succeed himself or herself.

Effective Date: July 1, 2012                                 Local Legislation
Signed by Governor April 13, 2012

HB 1245 - Franklin County; board of elections; stagger terms of members

The board of elections shall be composed of five members and each member must be an elector and resident of Franklin County. Two out of the five members will be appointed by the political party that received the highest number of votes within the county for its candidate for governor in the general election. Two other members of the board will be appointed by the political party that received the second highest number of votes in the general election for the governor of the county. The fifth member of the board will be appointed by the most senior judge of the Northern Judicial Circuit whose primary office is located in Franklin County. Each political party appointment will serve a two year term. The fifth appointment will serve a 4 year term.

Effective Date: July 1, 2012                                 Amends Ga. L. 2008, p. 3632
Signed by Governor April 11, 2012

HB 1250 - Murray County Board of Elections and Registration; create

This bill creates the Murray County Board of Elections and Registration. The combined board will replace the present board of elections and the board of registrars beginning on January 1, 2013. The members of the board in office on July 1, 2012, shall serve until December 31, 2012, and then there terms will end. No later than December 2, 2012 the chief judge of the Conasauga Judicial Circuit will appoint five upstanding residents of Murray County to the new combined board of elections and registration.

In addition, the judge appointing the members must file an affidavit with the clerk of the superior court stating the name and address of the person appointed and certify that the member is duly appointed according to this act. Furthermore, each member of the board has the right to resign at any time as long as written notice is given to the chief judge of the Conasauga Judicial Circuit and to the clerk of the superior court.

Additionally, the Conasauga Judicial Circuit chief judge has the authority to remove any of his/her appointments to the board at any time. The chief judge also has the authority to appoint a successor if a member of the board is removed, dies, or resigns.

Effective Date: April 11, 2012                                 Amends Ga. L. 1984, p. 4009
Signed by Governor April 11, 2012     

HB 1297 - Jeff Davis County; nonbinding advisory referendum by electors to ascertain if judge of Probate Court will also serve as chief magistrate

HB 1297 provides for a nonbinding, advisory referendum for the purpose of ascertaining whether the judge of the Probate Court of Jeff Davis County shall also serve as the chief magistrate judge of the Magistrate Court of Jeff Davis County.

Effective Date: April 11, 2012                                 Local Legislation
Signed by Governor April 11, 2012                                

SB 413 - Probate Court of Glascock County; provide elections; office of judge

Elections for the office of judge of the Probate Court of Glascock County conducted after January 1, 2012, shall be nonpartisan elections and shall be held in conjunction with the nonpartisan general election held immediately preceding expiration of the term of office. The sitting judge of the probate court on January 1, 2012, shall serve out the term of office for which he or she was elected and shall be eligible to succeed himself or herself.

Effective Date: April 12, 2012                                 Local Legislation
Signed by Governor April 12, 2012

SB 462 - Board of Elections and Registration of Rockdale County; revise procedures; appointment of the at-large member

In the event the other two members of the board fail to appoint the at-large member at least 30 days preceding the date on which the at-large member is to take office, then the at-large member shall be appointed by the chief judge of the Superior Court of Rockdale County. Within two days of the expired period to appoint the at-large member, the other two members may each submit to the chief judge a summary of qualifications of his or her preferred choice to fill the position. In the case of a vacancy, the chief judge of the Superior Court shall appoint an interim at-large member.

Effective Date: April 13, 2012                                 Amends Ga. L. 1995, p. 3929
Signed by Governor April 13, 2012

SB 533 - Floyd County; provide for nonpartisan elections

Elections for the office of judge of the Probate Court of Floyd County and for the chief magistrate of Floyd County shall be nonpartisan, which shall be held at the nonpartisan general elections immediately preceding the expiration of the term of office.

Effective Date: April 12, 2012                                 Local Legislation
Signed by Governor April 12, 2012

Local General

HB 571 - McIntyre, Town of; incorporate; grant new charter

HB 571 incorporates and grants a new charter for the Town of McIntyre, Georgia. It establishes a municipal court and provides for appointment, jurisdiction, powers, and duties of a municipal court judge.

Effective Date: April 11, 2012                                 Local Legislation
Signed by Governor April 11, 2012

HB 636 - Brookhaven, City of; provide a charter

Incorporates the city of Brookhaven and provides a charter for the city. It establishes a court to be known as the Municipal Court of the City of Brookhaven and the judge or judges thereof. The bill has a provision which restricts a member of the General Assembly at the time of the enactment of this charter from being eligible to serve as city attorney during the first four years of the city’s existence.

Effective Date: April 16, 2012                                 Local Legislation
Signed by Governor April 16, 2012

HB 756 - Putnam County; State Court of; law provisions updated and consolidated; provide

Section 4 of the local act now requires the expenses and resources deemed necessary by the judge for the day to day operations of the Putnam County State Court and the expenses of the solicitor be paid for by the county treasury.  Section 5 changes terms of court to coincide with superior court.  Provisions for jurors have been substantially amended (Section 6).  Now the clerk is authorized to assign each warrant a case number.  Section 8 now gives the state court concurrent jurisdiction with the Magistrate Court of Putnam County.  The clerk shall now pay all costs, fines and forfeitures into the county treasury instead of disbursing directly as called for by state law.

Effective Date: March 5, 2012                                 Local Legislation
Signed by Governor March 5, 2012
*See also Local Elections & Local Compensation*

HB 1025 - DeKalb County State Court; change certain fees

HB 1025 revises the fees charged by the State Court of DeKalb County.

Effective Date: July 1, 2012                                 Amends:  Ga. L. 1951, p. 2401 as amended
Signed by Governor April 11, 2012                                 (see also Ga. L. 2010, p. 3677)
*See also Fines and Fees*

HB 1118 - Trion, Town of; provide new charter

HB 1118 provides a new charter for the Town of Trion and for all aspects of the Town’s day-to-day functions. It provides for a municipal court and judge or judges and all matters relative to those judges including the court’s jurisdiction, powers, practices, and procedures.

Effective Date: July 1, 2012                                 Local Legislation
Signed by Governor April 11, 2012

HB 1177 - Cobb County; Magistrate Court; provide for collection of law library fees

The chief magistrate or the clerk of the court shall collect a fee of up to $5.00 for each case filed and shall remit such fees to the treasurer of the board of trustees of the Cobb County law library. The amount of the fee shall be determined by the chief judge of the Superior Court of Cobb County.

Effective Date: May 1, 2012                                 Amends Ga. L. 1988, p. 4451
Signed by the Governor April 11, 2012

HB 1185 - Cochran, City of; provide new charter

This bill creates a new charter for the City of Cochran which provides for a municipal court. The municipal court shall have a chief judge and any other judges that are provided for by ordinance. All judges shall be appointed by the city council and may be removed from office at any time by the city council. Compensation of judges will be as set forth by ordinance. The municipal court shall have jurisdiction over violations of this charter, all city ordinances, and such other violations as provided by law. with the approval of the city council, the judge shall have full power and authority to make rules and regulations for administration of the municipal court.

Effective Date: April 11, 2012                                 Local Legislation
Signed by the Governor April 11, 2012

HB 1217 - Habersham County State Court; provide that January 1, 2015, judge and solicitor shall be full-time positions

This bill amends the Act that created the State Court of Habersham County to provide that beginning January 1, 2015, the judge and solicitor of the court shall be full-time positions. It also establish the compensation of the judge and solicitor and establishes that beginning January 1, 2015, neither the judge nor the solicitor of said court shall be allowed to practice law.

Effective Date: May 1, 2012                                 Amends Ga. L. 1941, p. 651, as amended
Signed by Governor April 11, 2012                                 (see also Ga. L. 2010, p. 3994)
*See also Local Compensation*

HB 1226 - Springfield, City of; provide new charter

HB 1226 provides a new charter for the City of Springfield and for all aspects of the Town's day-to-day functions including a municipal court and its judge or judges and all matters relative to those judges. The bill also provides for the court's jurisdiction, powers, practices, and procedures.

Effective Date: April 11, 2012                                 Local Legislation
Signed by Governor April 11, 2012

HB 1227 - Gainesville, City of; provide new charter

HB 1227 provides a new charter for the City of Gainesville and for all aspects of the Town’s day-to-day functions. It provides for a municipal court and judge or judges and all matters relative to those judges. The bill also provides for the court’s jurisdiction, powers, practices, and procedures.

Effective Date: April 11, 2012                                 Local Legislation
Signed by Governor April 11, 2012

HB 1230 - DeKalb County Recorder’s Court; payment of costs in such court; provide

The Act that created the Recorder’s Court of DeKalb County, Section 21 is amended. The bill establishes that any person who is ordered to pay a fine for, is convicted of, or pleads guilty or enters a plea of nolo contender to any violation shall pay court costs of $25.00.

Effective Date: April 11, 2012                                 Amends Ga. L. 1959, p.3093, as amended
Signed by Governor April 11, 2012                                 (see also Ga. L. 1979, p.3565)
*See also Fines and Fees*

HB 1249 - Lyerly, Town of; provide new charter

HB 1249 provides a new charter for the town of Lyerly and a municipal court, appointment of judges of the municipal court, removal by the city council, regular intervals of convening of the court, the jurisdiction and powers of the municipal court, a process for the appeal of decisions of the municipal court and the adoption of rules of the municipal court.

Effective Date: July 1, 2012                                 Amends Ga. L. 1976, p. 4051, as amended
Signed by Governor April 11, 2012

HB 1259 - Milner, City of; provide new charter

HB 1259 provides a new charter for the City of Milner and for all aspects of the Town’s day-to-day functions. It provides for a municipal court and judge or judges and all matters relative to those judges. The bill also provides for the court’s jurisdiction, powers, practices, and procedures.

Effective Date: April 11, 2012                                 Local Legislation
Signed by Governor April 11, 2012

HB 1276- Richmond Hill, City of; provide new charter

HB 1276 provides a new charter for the City of Richmond Hill and for all aspects of the Town’s day-to-day functions. It provides for a municipal court and judge or judges and all matters relative to those judges. The bill also provides for the court’s jurisdiction, powers, practices, and procedures.                    

Effective Date: April 11, 2012                                 Local Legislation
Signed by Governor April 11, 2012

HB 1278 - Spalding County Magistrate Court; charge technology fee for each civil case filed and criminal fine imposed; authorize

The Magistrate Court of Spalding County may charge and collect a technology fee for the filing of each civil action or surcharge for each criminal fine paid. The technology fee shall be set by the court, provided that this fee does not exceed $5.00.

Effective Date: July 1, 2012                                 Local Legislation
Signed by Governor April 11, 2012
*See also Fines and Fees*

HB 1279 - Spalding County Probate Court; charge technology fee for each civil case filed; authorize

HB 1279 authorizes the clerk of the Probate Court of Spalding County to charge and collect a technology fee for the filing of each civil action. The technology fee shall be set by the court, provided that this fee does not exceed $5.00.

Effective Date: July 1, 2012                                 Local Legislation
Signed by Governor April 11, 2012
*See also Fines and Fees*

HB 1280 - Spalding County State Court; charge technology fee for each civil case filed and each criminal fine imposed; authorize

HB 1280 authorizes the clerk of the State Court of Spalding County to charge and collect a technology fee for the filing of each civil action or surcharge for each criminal fine paid. The technology fee shall be set by the court, provided that this fee does not exceed $5.00.

Effective Date: July 1, 2012                                 Amends Ga. L. 1897, p. 462, as amended
Signed by Governor April 11, 2012
*See also Fines and Fees*

HB 1291 - Sandy Springs, City of; executive and judicial officials; modify provisions

HB 1291 amends an Act that provided for a new charter for the City of Sandy Springs in Fulton County by creating the position of clerk/administrator of the municipal court.

Effective Date: April 11, 2012                                 Amends Ga. L. 2005 p. 3515, as amended
Signed by Governor April 11, 2012

HB 1304 - Southern Judicial Circuit; director of pretrial release program and other staff members make arrests and certain other powers; provide

The director of the pretrial release program for the Southern Judicial Circuit, or any county within such circuit shall have the same power to make arrests and to execute all warrants, rules, orders and processes as a sheriff. Other staff members of the aforementioned organization as is deemed necessary for the proper functioning of the pretrial release program shall have similar power to make arrests and to execute all warrants, rules, orders and processes.

Effective Date: April 11, 2012                                 Local Legislation
Signed by Governor April 11, 2012

SB 356 - Superior Courts; provide additional judge of the Bell-Forsyth Judicial Circuit; initial appointment; election and term of office

Additional judgeships are created for the Bell-Forsyth and Piedmont Judicial Circuits and provides for additional court reporters and personnel and their compensation for both circuits. SB 356 also provides for the process for selecting the chief judge of the Gwinnett Judicial Circuit.

Effective Date: For purposes of making the initial appointments of the judges to fill the superior court judgeships created by this Act, this Act shall become effective April 16, 2012. For all other purposes, this Act shall become effective on January 1, 2013.
Signed by Governor April 16, 2012                                 Amends Code Section: 15-6-2

SB 436 - Magistrate Court of Webster County; provide the terms of office of magistrates other than the chief magistrate

SB 436 provides for the appointment of magistrates other than the chief magistrate in Webster County. Upon the conclusion of the term of any other magistrate, he or she shall thereafter be nominated by the chief magistrate at the commencement of the chief magistrate’s term of office and be approved by the governing authority of Webster County for an annual term which shall expire at the end of each calendar year during the term of the chief magistrate. An appointment of a magistrate shall be automatically renewed for a subsequent annual term during the chief magistrate’s term absent written notice from the chief magistrate of intent not to renew the appointment of the magistrate at least 30 days prior to the conclusion of the annual term of office of the magistrate. The governing authority of Webster County shall not appoint more than one other magistrate to assist the chief magistrate.

Effective Date: April 12, 2012                                 Amends Ga. L. 1984, p. 4451 as amended
Signed by Governor April 12, 2012                                 (see also Ga. L. 1996, p. 3834)

SB 477 - Baker County; board of elections and registration; reconstitute and change the composition

SB 477 reconstitutes and changes the composition of the Baker County board of elections and registration and the selection and appointment of its members. On December 31, 2015, the positions of the current board members shall expire. On January 1, 2016, the board shall consist of three members appointed by the governing authority of Baker County who shall have staggered terms, and those appointed thereafter shall serve terms of four years. The governing authority shall also appoint a chairperson.

Effective Date: March 23, 2012                                 Amends Ga. L. 2009, p. 3716
Signed by Governor March 23, 2012

SB 520 - Troup County; create board of elections and registration; powers and duties

SB 520 creates the Troup County Board of Elections and Registration. The board is empowered with the powers and duties of the judge of the probate court/election superintendent and the powers, duties, and responsibilities of the board of registrars of Troup County. The judge of the Probate Court of Troup County shall call the first meeting of the board in January, 2013.

Effective Date: April 12, 2012                                 Local Legislation
Signed by Governor April 12, 2012

SB 523 - Recorder’s Court of Gwinnett County; provide for the appointment of the judges of such court

There shall be three judges appointed by a majority vote of the judges of the State Court of Gwinnett County. Each judge shall serve for a term of four years. The judge who has served as a recorder’s court judge for the longest continuous period of time shall be chief judge. The chief judge shall be responsible for the administration and expeditious disposition of the business of the court and shall make rules necessary for this purpose, which are binding on the other judges of the recorder's court. The judges of the recorder's court serving on the effective date of this Act shall continue to serve for the remainder of their terms and until successors appointed.

Effective Date: April 13, 2012                                 Amends Ga. L. 1972, p. 3125 as amended
Signed by Governor April 13, 2012                                 (see also Ga. L. 1987, p. 3765; Ga. L. 2001 Ex. Sess., p. 203)

SB 530 - Mansfield, City of; provide a new charter

SB 530 provides a new charter for the City of Mansfield which creates the Municipal Court of the City of Mansfield. The court shall be presided over by a chief judge and other judges shall be added according to ordinance. The charter covers matters relative to the judges and for the court’s jurisdiction, powers, practices, and procedures.

Effective Date: July 1, 2012                                 Local Legislation
Signed by Governor April 12, 2012

Study Committees

HR 1151 - Joint Human Trafficking Study Commission; create

The commission shall undertake a study of the conditions, needs, issues, and problems of human trafficking in Georgia and recommend any action or legislation which it deems necessary or appropriate. The commission will be composed of 13 members. The Senate Committee on Assignments shall appoint three members of the Senate as members of the commission. The Speaker of the House of Representatives shall appoint three members of the House of Representatives as members of the commission. One member shall be a local police chief appointed by the Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police. One member shall be a district attorney appointed by the Prosecuting Attorneys' Council of the State of Georgia. One member shall be a juvenile court judge appointed by the Council of Juvenile Court Judges. One member shall be a superior court judge appointed by the Council of Superior Court Judges of Georgia. One member shall be a public defender appointed by the Georgia Public Defender Standards Council. One member shall be an individual with expertise in advocacy for children who are sexually exploited appointed by the Governor's Office for Children and Families. One member shall be an individual with expertise in advocacy for adult victims of human trafficking appointed by the Governor's Office for Children and Families.

Effective Date: March 29, 2012

HR 1731 - House Comprehensive Motor Vehicle and Traffic Reform Study Committee; create

The committee will comprehensively study Title 40 and how best to modernize and organize Georgia's motor vehicle and traffic provisions into a more equitable manageable system, and recommend any action or legislation deemed necessary or appropriate.

Traffic

HB 827 - Traffic offenses; fleeing or attempting to elude a pursuing police vehicle; modify provisions

Attempting to escape arrest is no longer an element of the felony of fleeing or attempting to elude.

Effective Date: July 1, 2012                                 Amends Code Section: 40-6-15
Signed by Governor May 1, 2012
*See also Criminal*

SB 236 - Driver’s Licenses; persons convicted under the influence; allow certain drivers with suspended licenses; limited driving permits

SB 236 allows a judge, at his or her discretion, to allow a participant in a Drug/DUI Court program a limited driving permit. The bill expands the places that a person with a limited driving permit may drive. It also reduces the time a participant in a Drug/DUI Court program must use an interlock device, at the Judge’s discretion, and provides for penalties for violating the limited driving permit or ignition interlock provisions. SB 236 also allows for children of military personnel who have been transferred to the state of Georgia the ability to transfer their driver’s education classes that had been taken in another state.

Effective Date: January 1, 2013                                 Amends Code Sections: 20-2-142;
Signed by Governor April 16, 2012                          Title 42 Chapter 8 Article 7; 42-8-111