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65 new Georgia laws now are in effect
Local reps have ties to prescription database and deer bait laws
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Go to to see a list of the 30 Senate bills and 35 House bills that became law Friday.

When the state’s 2012 fiscal year began Friday, Georgia enacted 65 new laws that cover topics from immigration to mental health.

Gov. Nathan Deal signed the 30 Senate and 35 House bills into law during the past year.

One of the new bills, SB 185, requires a daycare to close immediately after the death of a child at its facility.

Another, SB 88, raises the age and height requirements for children to graduate from car seats to 7 years or 4 feet, 9 inches.

Local mom Aliyah Dastour, who has a 4-year-old daughter and a child on the way, said she supports the new law and that protecting children is more important than convenience.

Another safety-oriented law, HB 40, requires antifreeze sold in the state to have a bitter-tasting chemical to prevent children and pets from ingesting it.

Yet another law, co-sponsored by Rep. Al Williams, D-Midway, legalizes hunting deer with bait. Residents in Liberty and Bryan counties called in large numbers to support HB 277, Williams said.

“It was one of the most sought-after bills I’ve worked on to date,” he said. “I had three calls against it out of about 175.”

The bill satisfies requests from hunters and helps to reduce the abundant and often problematic deer population, he said. It also encourages younger hunters, who are more inclined to use bait, to try their hand at the sport.

Capt. Doug Lewis, regional supervisor for the Georgia Division of Natural Resources, said that allowing bait will not completely solve the deer population issue, but it will help reduce the numbers.

While the change will not alter hunting methods drastically, the lure is likely to create more opportunity for harvest, he said. Hunters will be able to use bait on their own property, at hunting clubs and on other private property with permission of the owner. Bait will remain prohibited on wildlife management areas.   

Williams also said he supports SB 10, a measure that allows local governments to create voter referenda to approve retail sales of alcohol on Sunday afternoons.

“I would not support it at the polls,” he said. “But I like that it gives people the right to decide what they want.”

Hinesville Mayor Pro Tem Charles Frasier agrees with letting voters decide.

“I like that part of it more than letting the city council or government say, ‘This is what we’re going to do,’” Frasier said.

The council is likely to discuss the issue in the near future, he said.

Many young adult voters have expressed interest in Sunday sales, and letting the population vote on the issue finally could provide some closure.
Though it’s not yet up for vote, Liberty Square Package co-owner Karen Ingram said she would be surprised to see people in a town like Hinesville allow Sunday sales, and she’s not sure if there’s enough demand to justify creating Sunday hours.

“We already work six days a week, so seven would be pushing it for us,” she said.

But the measure could be beneficial for grocery stores that already are open on Sundays, she added.

Other business-related laws, including HB 234, continue tax breaks for large corporations Delta and Gulfstream that will cost the state $4.2 million in revenue next year.

The bill also grants a 25 percent subsidy to resort, hotel and amusement park developers in a bid to increase tourism.

Revisions to assisted-living laws will allow centers to offer a wider range of services and give senior citizens more options in nursing homes. SB 39 creates a new courts division for defendants suffering from mental illness, developmental disability or substance abuse in an effort to ease overcrowding.

Sen. Buddy Carter, R-Pooler, a pharmacist at Carter’s Pharmacy in Pooler, sponsored SB 36, a bill that creates a centralized prescription-drug database so doctors, pharmacists and law-enforcement agencies more easily may detect prescription abusers.

“All the states that touch Georgia have it except for Florida, and they’re implementing it now,” Carter said. “What it’s causing is all of those rogue doctors to come to our state, and their patients come with them.”

Under the rule, doctors and pharmacists have specific access to view only their own patients in the database, which will centralize activity. For example, a doctor will be able to see if a patient has been “doctor shopping” — going to multiple physicians with the hopes of getting prescriptions.

Physicians and pharmacists will be required to report drug-abusing patients to their respective governing agencies, Carter said. Law-enforcement officials only will have access to the information by order of a subpoena.

“The benefits are two-fold,” he said. “First of all, it helps to take these drugs off the streets. Second, it also reduces the likelihood that pharmacies will run out of certain in-demand medications.”

HB 200 stiffens the penalty for human trafficking, increasing minimum sentencing to 10 years and a fine up to $100,000. Those convicted of trafficking minors will face at least 25 years in prison.

Officials also chimed in on the controversial immigration bill, HB 87, which a federal judge stripped of some components on June 27.

Some parts of the law took effect immediately, including a portion that makes it a felony to use false information or documentation to get a job. The judge froze other portions of the bill that allow law enforcement to verify the immigration status of a suspect who cannot provide an accepted identification and penalize those who transport or harbor illegal immigrants in certain circumstances.

“That’s a federal problem,” Williams said, adding that he believes the state has enough issues of its own. “It needs to be handled by federal enforcement.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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