Several new laws passed last year by the Georgia legislature and signed by Gov. Nathan Deal become effective today, Jan. 1, 2012. Among these new laws are House Bill 87, Senate Bill 240 and House Bill 269.
According to Brian Scott Johnson, deputy director for the Georgia Senate Research Office, some of these bills affect some residents more than others. House Bill 87, called the Illegal Immigration Reform and Enforcement Act of 2011, has a two-fold effect. As previously reported in the Courier, this bill requires Georgia Realtors applying to renew their licenses to provide a “secure and verifiable document” for identification purposes, and a “signed and sworn affidavit” verifying the applicant’s lawful presence in the United States. According to Johnson, this bill also affects other Georgia businesses.
“Georgia businesses with 500 employees or more will be required to check their employees using an online system called E-verify,” he said. “Workers must be U.S. citizens or otherwise authorized to work in the country in order to be hired. The requirement takes place in phases: starting July 1, businesses with 100 or more (employees) must use E-verify, and by Jan. 2013, all businesses with more than 10 employees are required to use the system. Those (businesses) with 10 or fewer employees are exempt.”
Golf enthusiasts may want to learn about Senate Bill 240, which places new safety requirements on some personal transportation vehicles. Johnson said, however, the bill doesn’t specifically apply to golf carts, and it doesn’t apply to any local government that already has enacted ordinances authorizing the use of motorized carts beyond the greens and onto roads and multi-use pathways.
“(Senate Bill 240) defines a new class of motor vehicles,” he explained. “(These) are vehicles with a minimum of four wheels, a max weight of 1,375 pounds, capable of a max speed of 20 mph and capable of transporting not more than eight people.”
Johnson said all-terrain vehicles and mobility aids, like scooters and motorized wheelchairs, are not included in the bill. He said on Jan. 1, those vehicles that are affected must have additional safety equipment, including a braking system, a reverse warning device, a main power switch, headlights, taillights and reflex reflectors, a rearview mirror, safety warning labels, hip restraints and hand holds.
House Bill 269 updates and clarifies several statutes related to scrapped motor vehicles, driver’s licenses, suspensions, renewals, commercial driver’s licenses, driving schools and the Department of Driver Services, Johnson said. Some notable updates include allowing for the driver’s license suspension of anyone convicted of manufacturing, selling or distributing false identification documents; prohibiting the issuance of limited driver’s permits to persons convicted of multiple but separate traffic offenses that resulted in license suspension; and incorporating into state law the federal requirement that prohibits CDL drivers from texting while operating a commercial vehicle.
For more information about new state laws, go to www.legis.ga.gov.