The expectation of some of these laws has already changed behavior. House Bill 87 dealing with immigration is one example.
Immigrant-rights groups say undocumented aliens began moving out of the state long before its effective date, and farmers reliant on them for labor report trouble finding workers to pick crops coming in now. Those same groups are fighting in court to block it.
“If allowed to take effect, Georgia’s HB 87 will create a vehicle for Georgia to subvert federal law and create its own brand of immigration law in each of its 159 counties, which will undoubtedly run afoul of the United States Constitution,” said Sara Totonchi, executive director of the Southern Center for Human Rights.
The federal judge hearing the case is expected to rule soon, but most of the law isn’t being challenged and will go into effect, notes Rep. Matt Ramsey, R-Peachtree City, author of the law.
Asked about its impact already, he was unmoved.
“If I had broken the law and a new law was taking effect that made it more likely my behavior was going to be identified, I would feel some discomfort, too,” he said, adding that farmers can use temporary visas to import all of the Hispanic laborers they need.
Other new laws may not generate the same amount of headlines but could be just as controversial, at least in some circles. For instance, Senate Bill 88 raises from 5 to 8 the age in which children must ride in car seats.
Kids eager to graduate may squawk, but the age extension could cut fatalities in half for young children in accidents, according to Harris Blackwood, director of the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety.
“We know that there are some children the ages of 6 and 7 where that seat belt doesn’t cross at the right place,” he said.
The current car-seat law merits 95 percent compliance, but about 40 percent of those are installed incorrectly, he said. A common error is not using a clip on the car’s seat belt to prevent it from extending and leaving too much slack.
Parents can go by a fire station, health department or State Patrol post for free instructions.
Legislators typically pick one of three dates for a law to kick in, either the date the governor signs it into law, January 1, or July 1. The July date is the start of the state’s fiscal year, meaning the new budget takes hold.
Here is a list of some of the 30 Senate bills and 35 House bills becoming law Friday:
SB 10 - Permits local governments to ask voters to approve the sale of packaged alcohol on Sunday afternoons.
SB 17 - Establishes a commission to advise legislators on which medical treatments to require health-insurance plans sold in the state to offer.
SB 36 - Creates a prescription database to make it easier for doctors, pharmacists and police to detect “pill mills” that over-prescribe pain killers and those people who abuse them.
SB 39 - Channels substance-abuse and mental-health cases to special courts with judges trained in ways to compel treatment rather than focused on expensive punishment like incarceration.
SB 81 - Requires mental and physical exams of people applying to become pharmacists.
SB 88 - Raises to age 8 or 4 ft., 9 inches the cutoff point for children to give up their car seat.
SB 157 - Removes a requirement on cities and counties that they file with the state a plan for handling solid waste. Supporters say the plans were expensive and rarely used.
SB 178 - Licenses assisted-living facilities under a separate category of regulation rather than making them comply with group-home provisions.
SB 185 - Closes any daycare center immediately after the death of a child.
HB 40 - Chief’s Law, named for a dog killed by poisoning, it ensures antifreeze sold in the state tastes bitter.
HB 87 - Imposes fines on employers who don’t verify the citizenship of workers and empowers police to do the same of anyone arrested for a felony.
HB 99 - Takes fingerprints of everyone applying for a nurse’s license.
HB 101 - Revises laws dealing with safety equipment on bicycles and traffic rules for them.
HB 147 - Patient Right to Know Act, requires physicians to disclose if they have no malpractice insurance.
HB 158 - Changes the date for judicial elections to the summer primary.
HB 200 - Imposes stiff penalties for anyone guilty of human trafficking, or kidnapping across international borders.
HB 203 - Notifies a law-enforcement officer’s agency in the event of investigations for unprofessional conduct by the Georgia Peace Officers Standards & Training Council.
HB 214 - Creates the Department of Public Health.
HB 234 - Extends the sales-tax exemption on parts used to repair out-of-state airplanes and grants developers of resorts, hotels and amusement parks a 25-percent subsidy.
HB 277 - Legalizes hunting deer with bait.