Georgia laws on spending, elections and safety begin Monday

Many new laws take effect at start of 2025 fiscal year on July 1
Rep. James Burchett (R-Waycross) celebrates at the conclusion of the legislative session in the House Chamber on Sine Die, the last day of the General Assembly at the Georgia State Capitol in Atlanta on Wednesday, March 29, 2023. (Natrice Miller/

Credit: Natrice Miller/AJC

Credit: Natrice Miller/AJC

Rep. James Burchett (R-Waycross) celebrates at the conclusion of the legislative session in the House Chamber on Sine Die, the last day of the General Assembly at the Georgia State Capitol in Atlanta on Wednesday, March 29, 2023. (Natrice Miller/

From a $36 billion state budget to election changes, over 100 Georgia laws go into effect Monday, the first day of the fiscal year.

Other measures cut income taxes, create protections for renters, guarantee patient visitation rights and protect student health.

All of these laws were passed by the Georgia General Assembly and signed by Gov. Brian Kemp earlier this year.

At least 125 bills will carry the force of law starting July 1, according to a summary by the House Budget & Research Office. Other bills became active upon Kemp’s signature, and some required more preparation before they go on the books Jan. 1.

Here’s a look at some of the laws taking effect Monday:

State budget

Georgia state government spending was set at $36.1 billion for the fiscal year beginning Monday and the budget includes extra money for school transportation, school security upgrades and raises for government workers and teachers,

The budget helps fund k-12 schools, colleges, public health care, prisons, policing, roads and many other services.

The spending plan includes 4% raises for rank-and-file state government workers and teachers will get a $2,500 raise.

Credit: John Spink/AJC

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Credit: John Spink/AJC

Legislators also approved a reduction in the income tax rate from 5.49% to 5.39%, saving taxpayers a total of $360 million in the 2025 fiscal year, according to House Bill 1015.

Elections changes for ‘24

A new law sets standards for upholding challenges to voters’ eligibility, putting rules in place ahead of the presidential election.

Conservative activists have filed challenges against more than 100,000 voter registrations since passage of Georgia’s 2021 election law, which allowed voters to contest an unlimited number of registrations.

The challenges target voters who might have moved or registered at a nonresidential address, but some of the challenges have forced members of the military, college students and homeless people to defend their right to vote.

Under the incoming law, Senate Bill 189, voter challenges will be upheld if someone registers in a different jurisdiction, died, or registered at a nonresidential address. National change of address data won’t be sufficient evidence to sustain a voter challenge, and challenges won’t be considered within 45 days of an election.

Additional election laws taking effect Monday add watermarks to ballots, require more audits of statewide elections and guarantee poll watchers close access.

Rental protections

Georgia legislators created minimum requirements for rental properties, mandating that they should be “fit for human habitation.”

The new state standard came in response to the 18-month “Dangerous Dwellings” investigation by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that showed perilous conditions for tens of thousands of renters in the metro area.

But the law, House Bill 404, doesn’t define what it means for a property to be habitable, nor does it make clear what penalties landlords could face for noncompliance.

The law also includes a three-day grace period for tenants to catch up on their rent before landlords file for eviction, and it limits security deposits so they can’t cost more than two months’ rent.

Patient visitation

Caregivers for patients — such as a family member — gain a legal right to see their loved ones in the hospital or nursing home during a public health crisis such as the COVID-10 pandemic.

The law, House Bill 663, is a response to family members who weren’t allowed to see their dying parents after dropping them off at hospitals during the height of the pandemic.

Under the law, patients can designate an essential caregiver who has the right to be with them 24 hours per day, with some exceptions specified by hospitals.

Student safety

The opioid-reversal drug naloxone will be more readily available in schools, college campuses and government buildings, a response to fentanyl overdoses.

The law, Senate Bill 395, allows teachers, visitors or students to carry naloxone and administer the drug to someone experiencing an overdose. Naloxone is now exempt from classification as a dangerous drug when used for overdoes prevention, according to the law.

In addition, naloxone can be sold from vending machines.

Other new education laws require an automated external defibrillator at each public school and increase the penalty for passing a stopped school bus to at least $1,000.