June 2, 2017 Radio Commentary

New Laws: Two for Guns, Three for Opioids

Radio Commentary, 90.7, 91.7 New Life FM, June 2, 2017 – By Sue Ella Deadwyler

When Governor Deal signed H.B. 452, the legislation, actually, was two-bills-in-one because S.B. 1 had been amended onto H.B. 452 that passed March 30th and was signed by the governor May 8th.  So, the language of both will become law July 1st.

In its original version H.B. 452 was simple and short, but important.  It added a new Georgia Code section requiring the online posting of information about illegal aliens and others who are turned loose in Georgia after being released from federal custody.  Such information must be posted for the public to see within 12 hours after it’s received by the Georgia Information Sharing and Analysis Center, and a copy must be sent to the Georgia Sheriffs’ Association, as well.

But, H.B. 452 became a seven-page bill when S.B. 1 was attached to it.  That addition further protects against terrorism by strengthening Georgia’s homeland security and intelligence-gathering efforts and creating a real-time way to communicate intelligence data among local, state, and federal authorities, whenever there’s a suspected terrorist threat or act.H.B. 452 tightens Georgia’s definition of terrorism in all four major authorities directly engaged in combating terrorism.  Those agencies already in place are the Georgia Ministry of Internal Affairs, the Ministry of Defense of Georgia, the Intelligence Service of Georgia, and the Special State Protection Service of Georgia.

Another change required by the final version of H.B. 452 sets the starting point for identifying terrorism at one victim.  That’s a big improvement over current law that will not allow an incident to be labeled “terrorism” unless there are ten victims.  Also, it defines a domestic terrorist as anyone reasonably suspected to be, or has been, engaged in global or domestic conduct that constitutes, prepares for, or aids in an act related to terrorism.

S.B. 160, the “Back the Badge Act of 2017,” was also signed on May 8th.  It identifies two new crimes against public safety officers and revises the jurisdiction, definition, and penalties for current crimes.  The two new criminal offenses are (a) aggravated assault upon an on-duty public safety officer or because of performing such official duties, and (b) aggravated battery upon an on-duty public safety officer or on account of performing such official duties, with appropriate penalties for violators.  Motive can be a determinate factor when off-duty officers are victims of such offenses, simply, because they are employed as peace officers.

It, also, expands the peace officer definition to extend the same protections to correctional officers, emergency health workers, firefighters, highway emergency response operators, officers of the court, and public safety officers.  S.B. 160 becomes effective July 1st.  ForGeorgia Insight I’m Sue Ella Deadwyler, your Capitol correspondent.