New GA Laws Enacted on January 1, 2009

New Laws Enacted on January 1, 2009

SB 488: Driver’s licenses
The law allows foreigners who are temporarily in the United States to keep their home country driver’s license after they obtain a Georgia license. Previously, a visitor had to surrender the foreign license. This cuts down on bureaucracy for business travelers and other legal visitors who want to drive in Georgia, but will need their original license when they go home, said bill sponsor Sen. Chip Rogers (R-Woodstock.) The law also allows refugees and other legal immigrants who are in the country indefinitely to renew their license once every three years instead of every year. This cuts down on unnecessary paperwork, Rogers said.

SB 474: Sex offenders
Registered sex offenders must hand over Internet passwords and screen names. While federal law requires authorities to track Internet addresses, Georgia goes further and wants passwords, too.

HB 977: Health care
This law relates to health plans with high deductibles and associated health savings accounts. The idea is to give health coverage to more uninsured Georgians. Under such plans, consumers pay high deductibles, but get tax breaks for putting money into savings accounts to be used for health care. The new law exempts insurers from paying taxes on premiums in the sale of the high-deductible savings account plans. That would save health insurers $146 million in tax breaks over the next five years, according to consumer groups. Proponents say the law will spark competition among insurers to sell the plans, making them cheaper. Critics said the new law is essentially a tax giveaway to insurance companies that sell the plans.

HB 426: Railroad crossings and school buses
Local school districts are to provide the Department of Transportation with information regarding rail crossings without active warning devices that are crossed by school buses. School districts are to use their best efforts to reroute buses to minimize the use of such rail crossings.

ALL information is from Representative Stephanie Benfield’s newsletter, The Benfield Beat, 12/31/08 – 1/4/09.

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