ATLANTA, GA — Online buying is going to get more expensive in Georgia in 2019. While most of the new laws passed by the 2018 General Assembly went into effect on July 1 of last year, one new law that goes into effect this month is a state sales tax for online purchases. Georgia was one of a growing number of states to adopt a measure that bases a tax collection obligation on economic activity. The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the tax in a 1992 ruling, but some tax experts expect the court to rule again on the issue of state internet sales taxes.

In the meantime, expect those online purchases made in Georgia to increase a bit in terms of expense. According to Georgia House Ways and Means Chairman Jay Powell, "The state needs to have its law in place to begin collecting money if the Supreme Court rules in favor of internet sales taxes."

MARTA and all of metro Atlanta’s transit partners will also have a new look come January, thanks to a law passed last year but is also, just now, taking effect. The new Atlanta-Region Transit Link Authority (ATL) held its first board meeting in December, and unveiled a new logo that MARTA will be required to display on all its vehicles.

The 16-member board is comprised of six members appointed by state officials with the remaining members elected by local delegations to represent 10 districts across 13 counties.

"We’re committed to being inclusive and wants to collaborate with our regional partners and transit riders," said Charlie Sutlive, ATL board chair. "The newly adopted ATL logo was created with a variety of stakeholder input, including qualitative and quantitative research, and a full creative process." That research included surveying some 500 transit riders with varying ethnicities, incomes and ridership usage, representing the 13 ATL counties. After Jan. 1, 2019, any newly acquired MARTA transit asset worth more than $250,000 must display the ATL brand.

In case you missed some of the laws that went into effect last July 1, here’s a recap:

Hands-Free Georgia Act

As of July 1, it became illegal to hold a phone while driving. But there is an exception: it’s OK to use your phone "while reporting a traffic accident, medical emergency, fire, an actual or potential criminal or delinquent act, or road condition which causes an immediate and serious traffic or safety hazard," according to the law.

New Rules for Schools
No Tuition for Students Placed in Psychiatric Treatment: HB 853/Act 382 amends the Quality Basic Education Act so that children placed in psychiatric residential treatment facilities pursuant to a physician’s order may not be charged tuition.Concerning "School Climate": HB 763/Act 451 gives school attendance committees authority over "school climate." This means the committees will help promote learning growth, morale, community support, and attendance, "while decreasing student suspensions, expulsions, dropouts, and other negative aspects of the total school environment." Certain absences of students with parents in service of the armed forces of the United States. Up to five excused absences per school year are allowed to any student whose parent or legal guardian is currently serving or previously served on active duty, provided the absence is to attend an event related to the parent or guardian’s military service.Moving during the school year? HB 852/Act 431allows a student who moves to a new school attendance zone mid-year to complete the year in the same school.

Sexual Harassment Awareness for Lobbyists: HB973/Act 493 requires registered lobbyists to acknowledge and accept the Georgia General Assembly Employee Sexual Harassment Policy.

Earlier Alcohol Sales on Sunday: SB 17/Act 461 — which carried the legislative nickname "the brunch bill" — authorizes local votes to allow sales of alcoholic beverages starting at 11 a.m. on Sundays.

Taxes for ATL Transit: HB 930/Act 405 allows each of 13 metro Atlanta counties the option to hold a referendum to impose a sales tax to fund additional transit.

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