New State Laws Go into Effect Jan. 1; They Deal with Ethics, Property Assessment and Pet Euthanasia

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Byline: WALTER C. JONES

ATLANTA - New Year's Day 2011 signals the beginning of laws dealing with politicians' ethics, property-tax assessments and ending the use of gas chambers for dispatching unwanted animals, among other matters.

The new legislative session begins Jan. 10, but some of the bills passed in the last session are just now taking effect. During the 40 days of the 2010 session, lawmakers introduced nearly 1,300 bills, passed 361 through both the House and Senate, and Gov. Sonny Perdue signed 330 of them into law.

Most took effect when he signed them on the first day of the fiscal year, July 1.

Thirteen take effect New Year's Day, plus a single section of a 14th. One new law takes effect Dec. 31.

This batch includes a law toughening the reporting requirements for lobbyists and elected officials.

It will mean all local officials will electronically submit reports of their campaign donations to the state Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission instead of paper versions to local clerks.

Ethics became an issue in several campaigns this fall, and advocacy groups say this new law isn't enough.

"I know that the people who pushed this last year are trying to conduct a public-relations campaign where they say this is something significant. I don't agree with that," said Bill Bozarth, spokesman for Common Cause of Georgia.

Having reports for all local politicians in the same place as the state candidates will be handy, he said, but the money needed to process the 10-fold reporting increase will take away from investigations that the commission should be doing. …

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