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Official Opinions

Opinion In Reference To
2005-4

The additional penalty imposed by O.C.G.A. § 15-21-179 applies, unless there is a specific exception, where a court imposes a fine for a violation of any traffic law and is not limited to violations of those laws that are set forth in Chapter 6 of Title 40 of the Official Code of Georgia

2005-3

Georgia law anticipates a symbiotic relationship between the Office of the Secretary of State and the State Election Board, but does not provide either entity with authority over the day-to-day operations of or the ability to exercise direct control over the substantive or policy-making role of the other agency.

2005-2

Because the promissory notes obtained by the Georgia Student Finance Authority to secure state funded student loans are non-negotiable instruments under the Uniform Commercial Code, the Authority has the discretion to determine the extent to which it will be legally bound by electronically-executed documents and promissory notes; furthermore, a secure electronic signature of a notary will satisfy the requirement, if any, for an official witness.

2005-1

Questions concerning whether a county marshal has authority to operate speed detection devices or otherwise make vehicle stops based on such operation

2004-10

Local governing authorities are not authorized to enact local ordinances that differ from O.C.G.A. § 15-6-95 which establishes an order of priority for the distribution of partial payments toward criminal fines, forfeitures, or costs that are received by clerks of superior court.

2004-9

The Georgia Child Fatality Review Panel and local child fatality review committees are public health authorities as defined by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 and the regulations promulgated pursuant to the Act by the Department of Health and Human Services; they are authorized by law to receive public health information, including reports of child abuse and neglect, in order to carry out their statutory duties; and they are thereby authorized to obtain protected health information from covered entities under the Act’s public health exception.

2004-8

The Georgia Environmental Facilities Authority is statutorily empowered to make the administrative and policy determinations requiring the City of Atlanta to pledge its full faith and credit as security for a loan from the Authority, there are no constitutional prohibitions upon the City of Atlanta pledging its full faith and credit as security for such a loan, and a referendum is not required prior to the City making the pledge.

2004-7

Members of the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia hold fiduciary positions of trust under Georgia law, and business transactions between any Regent and the University System are prohibited absent a statutory exception permitting the transaction, and then only if there is no common law conflict creating a breach of their constitutional fiduciary duty.

2004-6

Current state law governing credit unions that were in existence and validly operating prior to April 1, 1975, allows those credit unions to maintain the fields of membership that they possessed prior to April 1, 1975. The current statutory provisions governing mergers of state-chartered credit unions allow the field of membership of a pre-1975 credit union to be included in a plan of merger and assumed by the surviving credit union.

2004-5

The Georgia Public Service Commission has authority over mobile and wireless providers of telecommunications services to the extent that the laws it administers apply to “telecommunications companies” as defined in O.C.G.A. §§ 46‑5‑162(17) (Supp. 2003) and 46-5-181 (Supp. 2003) and do not exempt mobile or wireless providers; the Georgia Public Service Commission also has authority over “phone-to-phone” internet protocol telephony as this service is described by the FCC, and over cable-based broadband service to the extent that the laws it administers apply to “telecommunications companies” as defined in O.C.G.A. §§ 46‑5‑162(17) (Supp. 2003) and 46-5-181 (Supp. 2003).

2004-4

When so reported by a state agency, the Employees Retirement System should include as a part of earnable compensation conditional pay supplements for duties that are performed as a regular part of an employees duties and compensation that is paid as a part of an approved incentive compensation plan, unless circumstances indicate that the compensation is so unusual that it may fall outside the statutory definition of earnable compensation in the retirement statute.

2004-3

Limitations on the use of state aircraft for other than official business

2004-2

The consumer member for the Georgia Board of Dentistry may vote on any matter before the board without restriction; the dental hygienist member of the Georgia Board of Dentistry may vote on any matter other than one that specifically relates to the practical or scientific examination of dentists for licensure in Georgia.

2004-1

A county or municipality may participate as a member for limited purposes in the Atlanta Regional Commission under federal laws and regulations governing metropolitan planning organizations while remaining a member of a regional development center other than the Atlanta Regional Commission.

2003-10

Subsection (a) of O.C.G.A. § 50-17-2 gives agencies, authorities, boards, public corporations, instrumentalities, retirement systems, and other divisions of state government authority to enter into reverse repurchase agreements for certain specified underlying securities.

2003-9

An overdraft fee will not be considered interest when the transaction is readily characterized as a checking account transaction, lacking the legal and economic reality of a loan or extension of credit, and when the fee is not determined based on the amount and time value of overdraft amounts.

2003-8

If a loan or origination fee charged in connection with a non-real estate loan of under $3,000 is not adduced based on the time value of the money involved, if its use merely increases the lenders expectation of collecting in full the principal amount of the loan plus interest or if the fee is attributable to a service or benefit other than the extension of credit, and if the fees factual justification is clearly documented in sufficient detail, such a fee should not be considered prepaid interest.

2003-7

Cockfighting constitutes cruelty to animals in violation of O.C.G.A. § 16 12 4 (b) and is not exempt from prosecution pursuant to subsection (e) thereof under the guise of scientific research by virtue of the fact that blood or tissue samples are taken from some of the game birds and sent to a laboratory for disease testing.

2003-6

A majority of the total number of positions on a given licensing board is required to constitute a quorum as identified in O.C.G.A. § 43-1-2(h), and a majority of such quorum is necessary to conduct board business other than the specific actions set forth in O.C.G.A. § 43-1-19(a), which require an affirmative finding by a majority of the entire board.

2003-5

Miscellaneous questions regarding gubernatorial appointments, the requirements of Senate confirmation and the effect of the lack of Senate confirmation on reappointments and on quorum requirements

2003-4

Miscellaneous questions regarding the imposition, collection, and distribution of additional penalties and surcharges on criminal and traffic fines

2003-3

Updating of crimes and offenses for which the Georgia Crime Information Center is authorized to collect and file fingerprints

2003-2

Employees of community service boards hired after July 1, 1996, are not in the classified service of the State Merit System.

2003-1

The Georgia Board of Dentistry is authorized by O.C.G.A. § 43-11-74 to promulgate rules to permit delegating the administration of local anesthesia to dental hygienists under the supervision of a practitioner, so long as that determination is consistent with the Boards statutory obligation under its rule-making authority to protect and promote the public health and welfare of the citizens of this state and is deemed appropriate by the Board.

2002-7

Updating of crimes and offenses for which the Georgia Crime Information Center is authorized to collect and file fingerprints

2002-6

Emergency medical expenses incurred by the Department of Juvenile Justice on behalf of juveniles detained at Department facilities who have not yet been committed to the Department are properly charged to the counties having jurisdiction over those detainees.

2002-5

Under Georgia law federal forfeiture funds may not be used to pay the salaries, including overtime pay and other benefits, to law enforcement officers.

2002-4

Conflicts of interest questions regarding the service of a member of the State Ethics Commission who is an attorney.

2002-3

Lenders engaged in making payday loans of $3000 or less must be licensed under the Georgia Industrial Loan Act unless exempt under O.C.G.A. § 7-3-6. Payday loans of $3000 or less are subject to the Act notwithstanding the lenders use of a token consideration such as catalog coupons or a purchase-leaseback arrangement.

2002-2

It was not the intent of the General Assembly that the Commission comply with the Fair and Open Grants Act in administering the HOPE Scholarship, HOPE Grant, and other state scholarship and grant programs.

2002-1

The reimbursement provisions of O.C.G.A. § 42-5-51(c) do not apply to probationers awaiting transfer to probation detention centers or probation diversion centers.

2001-11

Updating of crimes and offenses for which the Georgia Crime Information Center is authorized to collect and file fingerprints

2001-10

The Department of Transportation may enter into transportation construction contracts with all or a portion of the financial backing for the contracts coming from a contractual promise from the State Road and Tollway Authority to borrow and provide money to DOT as and when needed to expend on projects that are the subjects of the construction contracts.

2001-9

Interpretation of the Charter Schools Act amendment relating to state charter schools

2001-8

Agencies under the authority, direction, or control of a state-wide elected official other than the Governor may set their own technology policy but must contract through the Georgia Technology Authority for any technology resource purchase exceeding $100,000 pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 50-25-7.2(a).

2001-7

The Used Motor Vehicle Dealers' and Used Motor Vehicle Parts Dealers' Registration Act allows the Used Motor Vehicle Dealers and Used Motor Vehicle Parts Dealers Board to regulate a franchise dealership, who is selling used cars at a temporary location in a county other than the county where the franchise dealership is located.

2001-6

The Board of Technical and Adult Education cannot, without approval of the Employee Benefit Plan Council, extend to all departmental employees the benefit options allowed for former employees of local boards of education or the area postsecondary technical education boards under O.C.G.A. § 20-4-29.

2001-5

Powers of the State Board of Education and the State School Superintendent

2001-4

Campaign contributions prior to January 1, 2001, should not be counted against the new election cycle contribution limits set forth in the revised version of O.C.G.A. § 21-5-41, which became effective on that date.

2001-3

Interest earned on educational purpose sales taxes and on special county one percent sales and use taxes is required to be used exclusively for the purpose or purposes specified in the resolution or ordinance calling for imposition of the respective tax.

2001-2

A member of the Judicial Retirement System who ceases to hold any office or position entitled to coverage in the system is vested with the right to spouses benefits if he or she has made employee contributions for such benefits for a minimum of ten years; however, the right to disability retirement benefits is conditioned upon the disability occurring while the individual is actively holding a position or office covered by the system.

2001-1

There is no legal impediment to a University System institutions allowing a student, upon the students request, to satisfy an internship requirement at a sectarian facility which by policy limits staff and internship employment to persons of its particular religious faith or persuasion, and that disallowance would be in violation of the students First Amendment rights where the permission is denied solely because of the facilitys religious character and exclusivity policies.

2000-11

Updating of crimes and offenses for which the Georgia Crime Information Center is authorized to collect and file fingerprints.

2000-10

Under O.C.G.A. § 43-34-103(e.1), physicians assistants are allowed to prescribe Schedule III, IV, and V controlled substances when acting under the requisite supervision of a physician and pursuant to the requisite job description.

2000-9

Neither O.C.G.A. § 20-2-145 nor O.C.G.A. § 50-3-4.1 on its face violates the separation of church and state provisions of either the Georgia or the United States Constitution.

2000-8

Mobile homes, synonymously referred to as manufactured homes, are subject to the Motor Vehicle Certificate of Title Act and owners of manufactured homes are required to obtain a motor vehicle certificate of title.  Further, in order for liens or security interests in manufactured homes to be valid against subsequent creditors of the owner, subsequent transferees and subsequent holders of security interests and liens, the lien or security interest must be perfected in accordance with the Motor Vehicle Certificate of Title Act.

2000-7

Official Code of Georgia Annotated § 35-2-12 may constitutionally be enforced to prohibit employees of the Department of Public Safety from contributing any money or any other thing of value to any person, organization, or committee for political campaign or election in county or state primaries or general elections.

2000-6

The use of a blind trust does not limit the information required to be disclosed in a public officers financial disclosure statement, and a public officer must disclose the individual assets and interests held in a blind trust to the extent they are otherwise subject to the provisions of the Georgia Ethics in Government Act.

2000-5

The Georgia Constitution prohibits grants to sectarian institutions for the purpose of the Reading Challenge Program.

2000-4

The Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act preempts the provisions of O.C.G.A. § 33-3-23 restricting lending institutions, bank holding companies, and their subsidiaries and affiliates from selling insurance in municipalities with populations exceeding 5,000.

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