ATLANTA - A ban on gender-confirmation surgery for minors, stricter gang sentences, and new changes to how students learn to read are just a few of the new laws that will go into effect as Georgia heads into the month of July.
Gov. Brian Kemp signed the bills into law after they each passed both chambers of the General Assembly earlier this year.
Here's a quick look at the major bills that will go into effect in the Peach State on Saturday, July 1:
Under Senate Bill 140, most gender-affirming surgeries and hormone replacement therapies for transgender people under 18 are banned in the state. Doctors could still prescribe medicines to block puberty under the bill.
Opponents said the measure would hurt transgender children by requiring physicians to violate medical standards of care. They also said it would block parents from doing what they think is best for their children.
Supporters argue transgender youth can decide to pursue further measures after they are adults. But opponents say such an enforced pause is harmful.
House Bill 189 allows trucks carrying logging and farming commodities to weigh more than the current limit of 84,000 pounds. The previous limit on state roads is 80,000 pounds, but trucks are allowed a variance of up to 84,000 pounds.
The greater weight would be allowed only on local roads and state highways, not interstates. The heavier trucks could only travel within a 150-mile radius of their point of origin and wouldn't be allowed in 13 core metro Atlanta counties.
Senate Bill 92 created a commission to discipline or remove district attorneys and county solicitors-general who refuse to prosecute certain crimes.
The Georgia bill parallels efforts to remove prosecutors in Florida, Missouri, Indiana and Pennsylvania, as well as broader disputes nationwide over how certain criminal offenses should be charged. All continue anti-crime campaigns that Republicans ran nationwide last year, accusing Democrats of coddling criminals and acting improperly by refusing to prosecute whole categories of crimes including marijuana possession. All the efforts raise the question of prosecutorial discretion — a prosecutor’s decision of what cases to try or reject, and what charges to bring.
Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis decried the measure, claiming it’s a racist attack after voters elected 14 nonwhite district attorneys in Georgia in 2020.
Georgia state Capitol (FOX 5)
Welfare for pregnant moms
Before, Georgians could only qualify for the welfare service if a child was already born and lived in a home with either one parent or two with one incapacitated.
Gov. Brian Kemp had highlighted his plan for the bill in his State of the State address earlier in the year before the House approved the bill almost unanimously.
"To support new mothers even more, my team is proposing legislation that will allow pregnant women who qualify to receive TANF benefits. Previously, they were unable to apply for such assistance until after the child was born," Kemp said. "I know this measure is supported by many in this chamber, and I am grateful for your backing."
Senate Bill 44 adds a mandatory 10 years to prison sentences for anyone convicted of recruiting minors into a gang and makes it harder for judges to avoid giving anyone convicted of gang activity at least five more years in prison.
"Gangs must recruit in order to survive, and we are sending a strong message with this bill, that if you come into our state and you are recruiting our children, that we will have severe punishment for you," said Soo Hong, a Lawrenceville Republican who carries bills for Kemp as a floor leader.
Students would be required to participate, unless local districts allow parents to opt their children out.
The measure also requires the state Professional Standards Commission to create a safety and anti-gang program for training teachers and other school personnel in improving security and identifying youth gang members and gang recruitment efforts.
At Kemp's urging, lawmakers earlier set aside $115 million to make school safety grants worth $50,000 available to every K-12 school in the state.
The state Department of Education will be required to develop a list of approved instructional materials for local school systems, and each school district must annually certify that it is using proven materials to support reading instruction. The state also must approve one or more screening tests to track reading progress, to be given three times yearly to children in kindergarten through third grade. The state must pay to make one of those tests freely available to all districts.
Children identified as falling behind will get an individualized plan within 30 days to help them catch up.
The reading assessments will begin in the 2024-2025 school year.
Time off to vote
Under previous Georgia law, companies must work with their employees to give them up to two hours to vote on Election Day unless the employee's hours begin at least two hours after the polls open or end two hours before the polls close.
Senate Bill 62 requires localities to enforce bans on homeless people camping in public and says governments and hospitals can’t dump homeless people in other counties without permission.
Crimes against infrastructure:
House Bill 227 makes it a crime to use electronic or physical means to attack systems providing electricity, water, sewer, internet, public transportation, emergency services and health care.
Senate Bill 93 bans TikTok and some other applications from state-owned computing devices.
Outside election funding
Senate Bill 222 makes it a felony for local governments to accept money to fund elections from outside groups, except from the state or federal government.
The measure tightens a provision from a 2021 Georgia law that made it illegal for elections officials themselves to accept outside money after Republicans grew alarmed that Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg donated more than $400 million to election officials nationwide.
Income tax refund
Tax on downloads
Senate Bill 56 imposes sales tax on books, music, movies, pictures, games and other digital goods bought online, although it would not affect rental or subscription items.
Electric vehicles taxation
Senate Bill 146 allows electric vehicle owners to purchase electricity to charge vehicles by the amount of power used instead of the amount of time spent charging, but with new taxes included.
Senate Bill 133 would require juvenile court judges to take additional steps before they could order some children into foster care.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.