Laws Taking Effect July 1, 2019

Summary of laws taking effect July 1, 2019

By Morgan Worthy and Jared Cooper

Economic Development

H.B. 242 (Effective May 6, 2019) Expands the powers of the Georgia Board of Massage Therapy to regulate the educational programs and practice of massage therapy.

H.B. 315 Requires consultants entering into contracts with local governments to disclose any conflict of interest.

H.B. 373 (Effective May 6, 2019) Authorizes the Commissioner of Labor to obtain fingerprint-based criminal background checks of employees or applicants with direct access to federal returns and allows the GBI and FBI to retain records of fingerprints and applicants’ backgrounds. )

H.B. 493 Requires local governments to post the fees and requirements for development/ building permits. Stipulates that the applicant can contract with a private firm to perform inspections if government officials cannot do so in a timely manner. 

S.B. 66 (Effective October 1, 2019) Allows for local governments to retain discretion over the deployment of small cell wireless technology. Incentivizes co-location of new small cell equipment on existing infrastructure and increases local authority over the process. 


H.B. 130 Allows the Georgia Foundation for Public Education to establish a nonprofit corporation branch that qualifies as a public foundation.  

H.B. 218 Extends scholarship eligibility for HOPE scholarships from seven years after graduating from high school to 10 years.

H.B. 530 Prohibits parents from withdrawing children from the school system in an attempt to evade the detection of child abuse or neglect outside of school authority. Requires a declaration of intent to pursue a home study program if the child is removed from the school system.

S.B. 48 Requires the State Board of Education to develop policies for the identification and assistance of students with dyslexia and dyslexia training for teachers. Requires screenings for learning impairments for all grade school students beginning with kindergarten.

S.B. 108  Requires computer science courses as part of middle- and high-school curriculum. Authorizes grants to fund professional development programs for computer science teachers.

Health and Human Services

H.B. 186  Targeting Cancer Treatment Centers of America, this law eases the certificate-of-need restriction on the hospital that at least 65 percent of the Newnan hospital’s patients be from out of state. It also allows the 50-bed cancer hospital to apply for additional beds like other hospitals. 

H.B. 217 Amends Georgia Code to decriminalize hypodermic needle exchange programs for employees of syringe services programs.

H.B. 324 Georgia’s Hope Act, allows for the production, manufacturing and dispensing of low THC cannabis oil in Georgia and creates the Georgia Access to Medical Cannabis Commission to oversee and coordinate the process. It authorizes the University of Georgia and Fort Valley State University as research facilities and licenses private companies to grow medical marijuana. 

H.B. 514 Creates the Georgia Mental Health Reform and Innovation Commission to review behavioral health services in Georgia, including in the education system and criminal justice system. The Commission will conclude on June 30, 2023.

S.B. 115 Amends the Medical Practice Act of the State of Georgia to allow the Georgia Composite Medical Board to issue telemedicine licenses to out-of-state physicians.

Natural Resources and the Environment

H.B. 220 Extends to June 30, 2022, the collection of tire disposal fees that were to sunset in 2019 and lowers the fee from $1 per tire to 38 cents.  Reduces and extends the surcharge collected for the Hazardous Waste Trust Fund and the Solid Waste Trust Fund. 

Public Safety

H.B. 118 Replaces the crime of “transmitting a false public alarm” with “making an unlawful request for emergency services.” and knowingly and intentionally doing so without reasonable grounds.. 

H.B. 282 Increases the amount of time law enforcement agencies must keep evidence from sexual assault cases: 30 years from the date of arrest, or seven years from completion of sentence, whichever occurs last, and if no arrests, then for 50 years.

H.B. 551 (Effective April 26, 2019) Establishes kratom as a controlled substance and creates regulations for its sale, including creating a misdemeanor offense for providing it to anyone under age 18. 

S.B. 6 Makes it a crime to use drones with the intention of committing a criminal offense  near detention centers or to photograph or record such a center with such intentions. 

S.B. 9 Creates the crime of “sexual extortion,” in which someone coerces another party into sending explicit images or videos of themselves. Expands the ban on sexual activities between students and all those working in the school system in some capacity.

S.B. 158 Expands authority of the Department of Family and Child Services to in protecting and safeguarding s abducted and forced into human trafficking. Increase penalties for various sexual crimes and misconduct.

Revenue and Taxes

H.B. 352 Extends to June 20, 2021, the sunset date for a sales-tax exemption for goods used in the construction of a “competitive project of regional significance,” as determined by the Georgia Department of Economic Development.

H.B. 379 (Effective May 7, 2019) Extends the annual reporting requirement for local government SPLOST projects in local newspapers to 180 days after the end of the fiscal year.  


H.B. 454 Establishes definitions and regulations for electric assisted bicycles (“e-bikes”) and restricts riders to age 15 and up. E-bikes are subject to the same rules of the road as traditional bikes and local governments have discretion of restriction of use on bike paths. 


H.B. 228 Changes the minimum age for marriage from 16 to 17 years old. Requires that any 17-year-old getting married has been emancipated.

H.B. 387 Establishes a new property lien that benefits private, non-profit, volunteer fire departments for debts originating from the use of their services as requested by property owners. 

S.B. 95 Authorizes local governments to enter into contract utility services such as electric, natural gas and water for up to 20 years. The limit was previously 10 years.

Morgan Worthy and Jared Cooper are 2019 summer interns at the Georgia Public Policy Foundation.

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