The start of the month marks the enactment date for a slew of new state laws in Georgia. Here's an update:Among the laws set to take effect July 1:
IMMIGRATION: Portions of Georgia's new law cracking down on illegal immigration kick in, including provisions that: allow local law enforcement to verify the immigration status of a suspect who can't provide an accepted form of identification and to detain illegal immigrants; penalize those who transport or harbor illegal immigrants in certain circumstances; and make it a felony with stiff penalties to use false information or documentation to get a job. A legal challenge is pending and a federal judge could place the law on hold.
SUNDAY SALES: Local governments may authorize referenda allowing grocery, convenience and liquor stores to sell alcohol on Sundays. The first votes are expected to take place in November.
ANTIFREEZE: In an effort to deter pets and children from ingesting the poisonous substance, antifreeze sold in the state must contain a bitter-tasting chemical.
ASSISTED LIVING: Senior citizens will have more options as assisted living centers are allowed to offer additional services. The change will allow some seniors to avoid being funneled into nursing homes once they are unable to take their own medications or become immobile.
BILLBOARDS: Owners may clear-cut many trees on state property blocking motorists from seeing their billboards. Only historic trees, those planted as memorials or trees that are more than 75 years old would be spared. The law also makes those who maintain obscene ads guilty of a misdemeanor with fines of up to $10,000.
MENTAL HEALTH: A new division would be set up within Georgia's court system for defendants suffering from mental illness, developmental disability or substance abuse in an effort to ease prison overcrowding by finding alternatives for some nonviolent offenders.
CHILD RESTRAINTS: Children ages 6 and 7 must use booster car seats. Child restraints had previously been required for children under age 6. Children over 4 feet, 9 inches tall or over 40 pounds are exempt from the new law.
HUNTING: Deer and hog hunters using bait in south Georgia will be allowed to get as close as they like to their prey. They had been required to stay 200 yards away and out of sight.
HUMAN TRAFFICKING: Those convicted of human trafficking will stay in prison longer under a new law that increases minimum sentencing from 1 year to 10 years and adds a fine of up to $100,000 for a conviction. If the victim is a minor, the trafficker would face no less than 25 years in prison.
PRESCRIPTION DATABASE: Doctors and pharmacists will be able to check a patient's history of drug use with a new prescription drug database aimed at curbing abuses by addicts or drug dealers. Law enforcement would need a warrant to access the records.
TAX BREAKS: Georgia business mainstays Delta and Gulfstream are seeing hefty tax breaks continued. The Delta extension applies to jet fuel and will save the air carrier up to $30 million over two years. Another tax break on the sale of aircraft parts on planes repaired or maintained in Georgia applies to Gulfstream. It will cost the state $4.2 million in revenue next year. In an effort to boost tourism, Georgia will also now offer a 25 percent tax break to businesses willing to bring attractions worth at least $1 million to the state.