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July 1 brings about lawful changes

New laws to take effect in Georgia on July 1. Education Parents will be able to choose which public school their children attend, regardless of district boundaries, as long as the school has room. Eleventh- and 12th-graders can attend college while getting high school credit. Every student in grades 1-12 will take annual fitness tests so parents will learn if their children are out of shape. Starting math and science teachers will begin earning as much as teachers with five years of experience. High schoolers aiming for the HOPE Scholarship will now have to keep a 3.0 grade-point average under a law that makes the eligibility calculation the same statewide rather than previous methods based on the two types of diplomas that are no longer issued, separate college-preparatory and career/technical diplomas. HOPE Scholarship payments for books and fees will be less susceptible to an automatic reduction triggered by slumping lottery sales. Children of active-duty military personnel stationed in Georgia will be considered state residents for the purposes of receiving the HOPE scholarship. Military parents will have an easier time transferring their children into schools with relaxed requirements on paperwork and courses. Health People will be able to adopt an embryo without having to wait until the baby is born, and the “legal embryo custodian” will determine how any unwanted fertilized eggs will be disposed of. It becomes a felony to abuse a disabled adult, which includes a person with Alzheimer’s disease or a resident of a long-term care facility. The Georgia Medical Center Authority now will be able to solicit grants through a separate subsidiary, and it also will be able to own stock in companies it advises in its goal of facilitating medical-technology employment by nurturing start-up enterprises. Public safety Voters who have obtained a restraining order or who are residents of family-violence shelters soon can request that their addresses remain confidential on voter rolls that otherwise are made public. The state must attempt to locate the relatives of any child taken from his or her parents before putting the child in a foster home. Mortgage brokers will be licensed after meeting certain education requirements as a way to help keep borrowers from being fleeced. Business Sales-tax exemptions on jet fuel, flight simulators and replacement parts used on airplanes not registered in Georgia aim to protect high-paying jobs in the aviation industry. Businesses no longer will owe a state property tax on their inventory. Homeowner associations that charge annual fees of more than $500 must provide an expense list to homeowners.

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