Official Opinions

Opinion In Reference To

This will thank you for your January 2, 1996, appointment of me as a Special Attorney General. You asked us to render an opinion on the applicability of the United States Department of Defense Joint Ethics Regulation ("JER") to National Guard personnel while in a non-mobilized state status. Your request stems, in turn, from a similar request by Adjutant General William P. Bland, Jr.


Where there is governmental oversight or involvement, a student-run newspaper at a state educational institution is subject to the free speech requirements of the First Amendment and, therefore, may not exclude materials from publication based on their content absent a compelling state interest for doing so.


Teaching of Creationism in Public Schools.


Official Code of Georgia Annotated ¿ 16-11-178 prohibits the receipt of a handgun by a person involuntarily hospitalized within the past five (5) years; that period of time is calculated from the person's release from hospitalization. Official Code of Georgia Annotated ¿ 35-3-34(d.1)(2) requires that judges of the probate courts and clerks of the superior courts advise the Bureau of all persons involuntarily hospitalized after March 22, 1995, the date the bill was signed by the Governor.


The Georgia Ports Authority, as an instrumentality of the State of Georgia, is not bound by a Chatham County ordinance mandating certain environmental reporting requirements to be made to the County.


Local boards of education are not authorized under current law to contract for health insurance with entities other than the State Personnel Board.


Existing law does not authorize the use of voter registration applications which contain an applicant's digitized signature; therefore, express authorization by the General Assembly must be obtained before a system which uses such technology may be implemented.


The prohibition contained in the Georgia Ethics in Government Act against for-hire motor carriers regulated by the Georgia Public Service Commission contributing to political campaigns is still applicable despite the partial preemption provisions contained in the Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act of 1994.


The Department of Transportation may give permits to American MAGLEV Technology, Inc., to cross the rights-of-way of state routes which will be traversed by the proposed MAGLEV trail between the Georgia State MARTA station and the parking lot across Capitol Avenue from Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium provided that substantial consideration is received from American MAGLEV for these permits.


English is the official language of the State of Georgia; therefore, there is no legal mandate for the Department of Public Safety to offer driver's license examinations in any other language.


The provisions of O.C.G.A. ¿ 44-14-361.5, requiring an "owner" of real property who engages a contractor to perform improvements upon the property to file a "Notice of Commencement" of work, are not applicable to a state authority with regard to construction projects on public property; however, a contractor performing a public works contract for a state authority is required to file a "Notice of Commencement," in accordance with O.C.G.A. ¿ 36-82-104(f).


The term "immediate family" which appears in the campaign contributions portion of the Ethics in Government Act refers to a candidate's spouse and children.


Local and independent school systems are authorized to lease school buses to the Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games for the purpose of transporting the public to the Olympic venues, provided that all of the cost of the use of the buses as well as any additional insurance costs are paid from funds other than public school funds.


Within certain parameters and with diligent, good faith supervision of the enterprise, a member of the Board of Directors of the Georgia Housing and Finance Authority acting within the scope of his or her authority in carrying out the Authority's stated powers, may rely upon O.C.G.A. ¿ 50-26-6 for protection from imposition of personal liability.


The Department of Administrative Services' policy prohibiting commercial advertising on state vehicles prevents the Department of Education from operating a donated Toyota van with the slogan "Another Toyota Vehicle Serving the Community" stenciled on the side.


A Regional Development Center is not authorized, pursuant to O.C.G.A. ¿ 45-9-21, to pay one of its employee's attorney's fees which were incurred prior to the commencement of a civil, criminal, or quasi-criminal action against the employee arising out of the performance of the employee's duties.


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


The statutory proviso negating a "conflict of interest" situation for Board of Regents' employees who serve on the governing boards of the various private, nonprofit, educational, athletic and research foundations and associations affiliated with University System institutions is both express, and contained in legislation dealing specifically with "conflicts of interests" in government. This specific proviso in public sector legislation is in no way affected, limited or modified by a more recent amendment of Georgia's general corporation code placing certain "conflict of interest" disclosure requirements upon the directors and officers of private non-profit corporations.


Registration to vote may not be conditioned upon an applicant supplying his race on a registration application, though race may be requested as an optional part of the registration process.


An "approved school" for purposes of tuition equalization grants must have been in existence in Georgia for ten years prior to being eligible to receive grant funds in addition to satisfying other statutory criteria. Further, eligibility also depends upon a school being a baccalaureate degree granting institution on or after July 1, 1995.


Companies providing alternative insurance coverage in lieu of workers' compensation insurance may be required to participate in the Workers' Compensation Insurance Plan by a rule properly promulgated under the Administrative Procedure Act.


The statutory phrase "to procure insurance coverage for participants in its programs," found in O.C.G.A. ¿ 50-12-44, grants the Commission the power to procure insurance only for those actively taking part in the athletic competition, and thus, the Commission has no power to procure insurance for its sponsors.


Certified financial statements, financial audits and summary statements of nonprofit contractors who seek to contract with and obtain reimbursement through the Office of Planning and Budget based upon the recommendation of the Georgia Council for the Arts must be made available for public inspection.


The Georgia Housing and Finance Authority's power to continue to make loans pursuant to the United States Department of Agriculture's Farmers Home Administration Intermediary Relending Program until reaching the monetary limit of the existing promissory note is not affected by the "sunset" provision of O.C.G.A. ¿ 50-26-10(i)(2).


The National Guard is a law enforcement agency within the contemplation of O.C.G.A. ¿¿ 16-13-48.1 and -49(u)(4)(B) and is eligible to share in proceeds of drug-related forfeitures with respect to activities under O.C.G.A. ¿ 38-2-10 or a duly declared emergency.


The National Guard is a law enforcement agency within the contemplation of O.C.G.A. § 16-13-48.1 and -49(u)(4)(B) and is eligible to share in proceeds of drug-related forfeitures with respect to activities under O.C.G.A. § 38-2-10 or a duly declared emergency.


The National Guard is a law enforcement agency within the contemplation of O.C.G.A. ¿¿ 16-13-48.1 and -49(u)(4)(B) and is eligible to share in proceeds of drug-related forfeitures with respect to activities under O.C.G.A. ¿ 38-2-10 or a duly declared emergency.


A judicial determination that a person is incompetent is required before a person may be denied the right to vote.


Under O.C.G.A. ¿ 42-8-112(b), the Department of Public Safety is required to deny reinstatement of a driver's license or issuance of a probationary license for failure to provide proof of the installation of an ignition interlock device only when the installation of such a device has been imposed as a condition of probation by a court in a county or municipality which has established a provider center as defined in O.C.G.A. ¿ 42-8-110(b).


Expenditures made independently of a candidate, including expenditures in favor of or opposing a candidate, are not subject to the dollar limitations and reporting and registration requirements of the Ethics in Government Act.


Regents may lease its lands in return for the endowment of a research chair if the endowment is equal to the fair market value of the lease and the term of the lease is reasonable.


The Georgia Housing and Finance Authority does not have statutory power to provide marketing, fund management and underwriting services to a private, nonprofit lending entity


The Office of Consumer Affairs has jurisdiction under O.C.G.A. § 10-1-391 et seq. to address violations of O.C.G.A. § 43-21-16 arising out of direct transactions between "hotel operators" and consumers.


The forgiveness of loans made by the Georgia Housing and Finance Authority under the Economic Development Incentive Loan Program violates state law.


The Georgia State Board of Private Detective and Security Agencies is not required by federal law to modify the frequency of background checks conducted on individuals issued weapon permits pursuant to O.C.G.A. ¿ 43-38-10, but the Armored Car Industry Reciprocity Act of 1993 does preempt licensing requirements for armored car crew members who are carrying weapons based on a federal reciprocity agreement.


Places of worship are not exempt from the requirements of O.C.G.A. § 30-3-1 et seq.


Absent a constitutional amendment, a program to assess the testing of equines for equine infectious anemia cannot be established under the authority of the Georgia Agricultural Commodities Promotion Act or through statutory amendment thereto.


Insurance companies which are exempt from federal taxation pursuant to Section 501(c) of the Internal Revenue Code are subject to premium tax liability unless specifically exempted.


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


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


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


The City of Atlanta may charge the Board of Regents for permitting a fiber optic cable to lie under city owned streets.


A person employed in Georgia who has been penalized for being absent from work for the purpose of attending a judicial proceeding in another state under the conditions set forth in O.C.G.A. § 34-1-3 has a civil cause of action against the employer. Official Code of Georgia Annotated § 34-1-3 does not create a separate criminal offense.


Flood insurance premiums collected by private insurance companies pursuant to the National Flood Insurance Program are not subject to municipal and county taxes as provided in O.C.G.A. § 33-8-8.2(a).


The authority to sit on various state boards may not be delegated to a Deputy Commissioner of Insurance, unless the statute creating the appropriate board provides for a designee.


When a public agency is assembling more than one parcel of real property for a public project, records relative to that "transaction" and "property" as a whole are exempt from public inspection under O.C.G.A. § 50-18-72(a)(6) until all the property to be acquired is acquired or is abandoned or terminated from the project.


A public relations agreement whereby a private company permanently acquires the preeminent right to associate its name commercially with the property of the state violates the "joint ownership" prohibition of the Georgia Constitution.


Request for an Official Interpretation of O.C.G.A. § 43-9-16(b).


Authority of local governments to require contractors licensed by the state to obtain liability insurance or code compliance bonds.


The Department of Children and Youth Services is eligible to receive tuition grants for disabled students whose Individualized Education Programs place them in private residential programs for educational reasons. When the student is committed to the Department of Children and Youth Services pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 49-4A-8, the educational agency responsible for providing a free and appropriate public education under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act is either the Department or the local school district in which the student resides.