For those of us over, say—45 years old–, if you ask us how a bill becomes a law, we will start singing. “I’m just a bill…sitting here on capitol hill…” The Schoolhouse Rock video really did do a good job of explaining how it happens. If you haven’t seen it, or if you want to, here’s a link: https://youtu.be/3eeOwPoayOk
In a nutshell, here’s how it works. Someone decided something ‘oughtta be a law.’ It gets proposed to the appropriate committee as a bill. The committee debates the merits and the language of the bill. If the committee decides that the bill should be a law, then it goes to the whole body, either the House or the Senate. For our purposes, let’s say the House. If the whole House passes the bill, then it goes to the Senate. In the Senate, it starts in the same committee, and the whole process starts again. If it gets past the House AND the Senate, then it goes on to the Governor (in the States) or the President (In the Country). The Governor gets the last chance to either veto the bill (say no to it) or sign it, and then it becomes a law.
In Georgia, this process happens every year, and the ‘start date’ for most laws is July 1. This is the time of year, then, that if you are a law nerd like me that you should check and see what has changed in the state. A great storehouse for all those new laws is the Governor’s list of laws that he signed, which you can find here: 2022 Signed Legislation | Governor Brian P. Kemp Office of the Governor (georgia.gov)
If you look through these laws, you will see that a lot of them are very specific and narrowly focused, and therefore won’t have much effect on your life. The number of people who have to worry about the reinstatement of a lapsed funeral director’s license is probably small, for example. Some of the bills, to compensate individuals for wrongful incarceration, effect only one person. Other laws may likely turn out to be game-changers, like SB 403.pdf, which is the “Georgia Behavioral Health and Peace Officer Co-Responder Act” and attempts to address the number of folks who are arrested who have mental health issues. (I’ll likely do a column on that law alone. Hang on…)
Each of these laws was a passion project for someone – likely a group of someones. I encourage you to go through it and see what is there and what interests you. Something which doesn’t tick my radar might be fascinating to you.
Nothing in this article should be construed as legal advice. It is being offered for informational purposes only.