Georgia Legislative Update 2018

The Georgia Legislature just wrapped up for 2018. What did they do? Sometimes it is more about what they didn’t do. I’ll cover both. All of these laws are subject to a Governor’s veto.

They passed bills to address “hands free” cell phone usage in the car, to change bail bonds and to change fireworks laws. I need more time to study those in depth, so I’ll do a column about them soon.

MARTA (now to be called “The ATL”?) will now be able to expand to 13 counties instead of the 2 “Atlanta” counties of Fulton and DeKalb. The Legislature gave MARTA $100 million to study the process, which doesn’t go as far as it used to, but still buys a lot of votes in population dense Metro Atlanta.

Georgia will be replacing carrier pigeons with high-speed Internet in rural areas, well on paper at least. There’s no money for it (but there was for MARTA), however the legal mechanism is there should money ever appear. That’s good to know when your last pigeon is gasping for breath. Were rural Georgia as population dense as Atlanta, I’m guessing they’d get $100 million too.

A bill to give you proof of your vote at the ballot machine died as did a bill to allow you to pay your taxes with BitCoin. A bill was passed to give speakers at college campuses the right to speak. Seems silly, I know, but the law puts in place penalties for denying someone the ability to speak. And while on education, they fully funded the state’s public education formula for the first time in 16 years. Funny how election years work.

They dropped the state income tax rate from 6.0% to 5.5% over the next two years. The standard deduction doubled from $3,000 to $6,000. Every little (stress LITTLE) bit helps.

They rejected a crony deal for Delta, keeping a $40 million jet fuel tax in place, albeit for the wrong reason.. They were mad that Delta discontinued a discount for 13 flying NRA members, so no tax cut for rich jet owners. But Amazon, if they move here, will get $1 BILLION in freebies.

Sunday Brunch booze is now an option, as cities and counties can approve letting people exercise liberty in their drinking habits as early as 11 a.m. on Sunday. Egads. The Legislature has decided that even Jesus would now be able to go to early service and then get a meal with a glass of wine. As long as the Sadducees and Pharisees approve the law change, that is. And even Jesus doesn’t understand BitCoin, so he’ll pay with regular coin.

They pulled back the grant of liberty by letting locals invalidate the State’s firework laws. People and dogs with PTSD will surely fill up city hall soon seeking relief from the liberty carnage of a fireworking populace. Next they will want government to ban thunderstorms.

Speaking of PTSD, now Mary Jane (slang for marijuana if you are unhip) is available for PTSD. That will come in handy on the nights when the Legislature lets liberty reign on high (a rare double entendre).

Adoption was made a bit easier and now allows for adopting parents to pay the birth mother’s living expenses. I’ve always thought that the prohibition on paying the mother’s bills was contrary to public policy. If you want fewer abortions, make adoption easier methinks.

They didn’t grant Georgians religious liberty found in 31 other States and under the Federal laws.  RFRA can’t be passed because it might scare away Kalifornia’s Amazon liberals, whom Georgia’s conservatives are trying to attract for some odd reason. Amazon grew to the behomouth it is despite being in RFRA loving Kalifornia.

Next week, I’ll cover Constitutional Amendments being proposed.

Kelly Burke, master attorney, former district attorney and magistrate judge, is engaged in private practice. He writes about the law, rock’n’roll and politics. These articles are not designed to give legal advice, but are designed to inform the public about how the law affects their daily lives. Contact Kelly at kelly@burkelasseterllc.com to comment on this article or suggest articles that you’d like to see and visit his website  www.kellyrburke.com to view prior columns.

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