The Gist: While you were sleeping Thursday night, your local elected officials were hard at work deciding which new laws and changes to existing laws to present to the governor this year. While every decision lawmakers made will not affect you personally, some of their decisions will impact you starting in July. Governor Nathan Deal still has to sign these actions before they become law, but if your local lawmakers have their way, here is what you can expect this summer.
You’ll need both hands to drive
Once the distracted driving bill becomes law, you’ll need to either use speaker phone or a bluetooth device to talk on the phone while driving. If a police officer sees you with a phone raised to your ear, you’re going to have to talk to a judge. If it is your first offense, you’ll need to show the judge a receipt for a hands-free device. If you don’t have one or it is your second offense, you’re going to pay a fine. You can touch your phone to make a call and use your Waze, but otherwise it’s the hands-free life for you.
You won’t be taking MARTA anymore
If you take MARTA, some big changes are coming. The transit system is going to be re-named The ATL. In addition, a regional transit commission that covers 13 metro-Atlanta counties will make decisions about regional transit options. If you have out-of-town guests, navigating metro Atlanta’s transit options should become a lot easier.
You won’t hear fireworks as much
Fireworks are still legal in Georgia, and anyone with small children or pets is well aware of that fact. If the governor approves, your city or county could decide to tighten the rules about fireworks. They could decide to limit their use only to holidays or they could allow them for a short window of time each evening.
Your child will play outside more
Lawmakers are concerned about the obesity epidemic and they want your children to go outside and play during the school day. If your child attends one of Georgia’s public elementary schools, a daily recess will become mandatory, unless the class had P.E. that day. Also, the teacher won’t be allowed to punish the entire class by not going to recess just because a few kid were misbehaving.
There may be another new city in Georgia
If you live in Stockbridge, you may find yourself living in another city next year. Lawmakers have given residents in Eagle’s Landing the option to vote to become a city. If they choose to do that, about 9,000 residents of Stockbridge will become Eagle’s Landing residents. That is, if the Governor signs off on it first. Unlike cityhood efforts in Fulton County, which carved new cities out of unincorporated areas, this one is a bit more controversial because it takes residents and land from an existing city in order to create a new city.
Online buying may get more expensive
Right now, if you buy online, you don’t have to pay sales tax in Georgia. That may end soon, which will mean less money in your pocket and more money for the state.
Your Child’s education is fully funded
It may come as no surprise to you, but Georgia’s public schools aren’t currently fully funded. Next year they will be. The state uses a formula to allocate funding to schools, and the budget that passed Thursday meets the formula’s requirements. It isn’t a silver bullet that will solve all of the state’s education woes, but at least by the state’s own definition, the schools are no longer under-funded.
You can have a Mimosa on Sunday mornings now
If the governor signs the “brunch bill,” restaurants can start serving alcohol at 11 a.m. on Sundays instead of 1:30 p.m.
Tell us what you think of these proposed new laws in the comments section below.