A new law will prohibit cities and counties from reducing their law enforcement budgets by more than 5% in one year or cumulatively across five years — a move to prevent “defund the police” efforts to redirect money to services such as mental health treatment or education.
Conversations about reducing police budgets arose in response to killings of Black men and women across the country, with activists saying the criminal justice system doesn’t keep them safe.
No local governments in Georgia have followed through with proposals to significantly reduce police funding. Local budgets, similar to the state budget, begin annually on July 1.
Campaign fundraising — Senate Bill 221
State leaders can begin setting up “leadership committees” that can raise campaign money during the legislative session — while lobbyists are trying to gain approval of legislation or stop it from passing.
The measure — pushed by the Republican majority and opposed by Democrats — also allows the new committees backing Gov. Brian Kemp’s reelection and those of legislative leaders to raise and spend unlimited contributions from donors, essentially circumventing current limits on how much individuals, special interests and businesses can give to candidates.
Teen driver education — House Bill 466
Seventeen-year-olds will no longer be exempt from the 30 hours of classroom instruction and six hours of on-the-road training required of younger drivers when a new law goes into effect Thursday.
Under current law, those who wait until age 17 to test for their first license were exempt from the training. The new law requires anyone under age 18 to complete the training before an initial Class D license can be issued.
Hotel/motel tax increase — House Bill 317
Beginning Thursday, most short-term lodging rentals in Georgia will charge their guests a nightly $5 hotel fee.
Previously, only guests at hotels and motels had to pay the additional tax, but the new law extends the expense to those who offer lodging through services such as Airbnb or VRBO. The law makes home rental companies collect Georgia’s $5-per-night lodging tax and local excise taxes, which can reach 8%. The costs will be passed on to renters on their bills.
The measure is the latest effort to tax online companies that do business in Georgia, building on laws passed in recent years that tax Uber, Amazon and other internet retailers.