Legislative Update
By Sun Choy, Josh Portnoy


The Georgia General Assembly ended its 2010 legislative session on April 29, 2010. The three main areas addressed by the General Assembly this year were education, transportation, and conservation.

Education

Senate Bill 84 allows the State to find citizens to serve on a school board when the current board is failing and the system's accreditation is threatened. The bill also sets minimum qualifications for school board candidates, delineates the roles of the superintendent and board, and standardizes board member training. Local school boards are required to take steps, by August 1, 2011, to combat the increasing problem of bullying in schools. The law requires every school board to adopt an anti-bullying policy and include the policy in the student code of conduct for each of its schools. The bill also expands the definition of "bullying" to include "[a]ny intentional written, verbal or physical act which a reasonable person would perceive as being intended to threaten, harass or intimidate."

Transportation

Senate Bill 305 doubles to 30 percent of annual projects the amount of design-build projects the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) may fund. The increase, however, is only temporary; after July 1, 2014, GDOT may only contract out 15 percent of its projects as design-build.

House Bill 277, known as the Transportation Investment Act of 2010, establishes 12 special tax regions throughout the State of Georgia and allows each region, through a "Regional Transportation Roundtable" comprised of local mayors and county officials, to create a list of transportation projects. Each region will then hold a referendum on whether to approve the list of projects and adopt a one percent sales tax.

House Bill 23 prohibits anyone under the age of 18 from texting or using a cell phone while driving. Likewise, Senate Bill 360 makes texting while a driving a one-point violation for any driver.

Miscellaneous

Senate Bill 138 requires the General Assembly to directly state whether a bill creates an enforceable statutory right. The Bill is prospective in nature (so it only applies to new laws passed) but should hopefully reduce the number of lawsuits filed by prohibiting claims based on "implied" statutory rights. In response to the federal Healthcare Reform, Senate Bill 411 provides that no law, rule, or regulation shall require any person or employer to participate in any health insurance program.

Two laws passed and signed are aimed at the current problems in the housing market. First, the state will now regulate companies that manage real estate appraisers. House Bill 1050 requires appraisal management companies conducting business in Georgia to obtain licensing by the state board. Second, Senate Bill 346 requires every County Board of Tax Assessors to provide, by July 1, an annual written notice to taxpayers of the current assessment of taxable real property.

A complete list of all the bills signed by Governor Perdue is available at www.legis.ga.gov/legis/2009_10/leg/govsign.htm.



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