FORSYTH COUNTY -- Though many bills passed in the Georgia General Assembly became law as soon as the governor signed them, there are some going into effect today that impact Forsyth County.
Starting today, Board of Education members no longer have to go mum on topics after a vote is made if they do not agree with it.
Before Senate Bill 275 was passed, board members had to follow a code of ethics that prevented them from “discussing freely the policies and actions of such board outside of a board meeting.”
The bill’s author, state Sen. Michael Williams, whose District 27 represents the majority of Forsyth County, said the original law was enacted in 2010 when a number of counties had board members who were “stirring up issues” to the point that the systems were risking losing accreditation — so the bill was passed to help present a united front.
“We need to let them speak their mind,” Williams said.
This new law does not apply to anything discussed in executive session.
Williams also sponsored a bill that allows counties and municipalities to charge pet owners for the cost of housing animals seized due to animal cruelty charges.
He said this takes the burden off of taxpayers.
A bill that has a direct impact on this weekend but that has been in effect since March is the state’s fireworks law.
House Bill 727 prohibits residents from exploding fireworks after 9 p.m. The exceptions are that they can be used until 1 a.m. on New Year’s and until midnight on July 4.
It also banned anyone from shooting fireworks on streets within 100 yards of a nursing home, prison or hospital.
State Rep. Sheri Gilligan, who finished her first session this year as representative for District 24, said House Bill 34 was is an important law for the community.
Sponsored by state Rep. Mike Dudgeon, who is not seeking re-election in District 25, the law allows people with terminal illnesses to try drugs that have not been approved by the FDA but that are going through the process.
“It’s for those people who have nothing else, instead of exhausting every single resource,” Gilligan said.
She mentioned a bill sponsored by state Rep. Geoff Duncan, who represents District 26, that permits donations to rural healthcare systems to be directly tax deductible.
“It will burden what we have here is [rural healthcare systems] keep closing,” she said.
She also noted House Bill 792, which allows anyone 18 or older to carry a Taser on college campuses, and Senate Bill 309, which permits expression of religious statements on high school athletes’ clothing as long as it is within uniform code.