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Unofficial Opinions

Opinion In Reference To
97-10

Restoration of all civil and political rights, excluding the right to receive, possess, or transport in commerce a firearm, is not determinative of whether an applicant for professional bondsperson "is a person of good moral character and has not been convicted of a felony or crime involving moral turpitude."

97-9

The General Assembly must offer to qualified individuals with disabilities appropriate auxiliary aids or services when necessary to provide an equal opportunity to take part in programs and services during the legislative session.

97-8

Questions regarding charter schools.

97-7

Georgia statutes authorizing the Department of Public Safety to require applicants for a driver's license or identification card to submit fingerprints do not violate the constitutional rights of Georgia citizens.

1997-6

There is no irreconcilable conflict between the provisions of the credit repair law set forth at O.C.G.A. § 16-9-59 and the provisions of the debt adjustment law set forth at O.C.G.A. § 18-5-1 et seq. with regard to their effect on the operation of consumer debt counseling services by nonprofit organizations exempt from taxation under § 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.  Although exempt from the credit repair law, such organizations are prohibited from engaging in the activities proscribed by the debt adjustment law

97-5

Under the Constitution, the General Assembly is responsible for appropriating federal funds, but federal funds are continually appropriated.

97-4

The definition of "emergency condition" found at O.C.G.A. § 31-11-81(1) would control over any contrary definition contained in any insurance policy issued in Georgia after the effective date of the Emergency Services Law; further, any managed care plan offered to a Georgia resident after the effective date of the Patient Protection Act of 1996 must contain, as a plan provision disclosed to participants, the definitions of "emergency services" and "emergency care" found at O.C.G.A. § 33-20A-3(2).

97-3

Neither a district attorney nor members of the district attorney's staff should be present for deliberations of the grand jury.

97-2

When requesting a student's social security number, local school districts must tell the student whether disclosure is mandatory or voluntary, what use will be made of it, and by what authority the number is requested.

97-1

Under the Ethics in Government Act, an elected official is not required to report as the receipt of a campaign contribution the estimated "value" of his or her attendance at an event sponsored by a public or private entity, where the purpose of the appearance is not designed to bring about the nomination or election of the official.

96-25

Race-based classifications and gender-based classifications in government disadvantaged business enterprise programs are inherently suspect.

96-24

The Cairo Development Authority may transfer assets, including cash and contract rights, to a joint, city-county development authority in return for services; in activating the joint authority, the governing bodies of the city and county may agree with one another not to appoint elected officials to the new entity.

96-23

The provisions of O.C.G.A. § 3-7-2 authorize validly licensed private clubs to sell alcoholic beverages at any time on Sundays without regard to the laws of local counties and municipalities.

96-22

The provisions of O.C.G.A. § 16-11-127, which prohibit the carrying of deadly weapons to or at public gatherings, while not limited in application to the enumerated places and functions in the statute, do not apply to every place in which the public may be present, but only to those places in which the public is gathered.

96-18

A video slot machine which involves no skill in its operation and offers a ticket value of up to $5.00 in merchandise is a "gambling device."

96-21

A supplemental retirement plan for public employees which does not require substantial benefit to the employer, in the form of new service or otherwise, violates the prohibitions against governmental gratuities and extra compensation for services rendered.

96-20

Pursuant to an act passed in 1996, rape and aggravated sodomy are no longer included within the crimes for which the mandatory minimum term of imprisonment is ten years; for these offenses, the mandatory term is one year in prison. Life without parole remains the mandatory term for repeat offenders.

96-19

Whether the Georgia Lottery for Education Act prohibits the use of lottery funds under the HOPE Scholarship Program for home school student admitted for postsecondary education.

96-17

The Lowndes County Sheriff's Department is authorized to enforce Lowndes County ordinances 94-0493-A and 94-0493-B, which prohibit trucks over ten wheels from using residential roads except when making temporary deliveries.

96-16

A tie vote on consideration of a zoning proposal by the Madison County Board of Commissioners is not a "defeat" of the proposal so as to bar its reconsideration pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 36-66-4.

96-15

Unless it has been formally discharged by court order, a grand jury may recess and reconvene as it sees fit to conduct business during the term of court, and may investigate the operation of county offices by reasonably observing county officials in the performance of their duties.

96-13

ACOG's condition-of-entry rule prohibiting spectators from carrying small flags "other than those of participating countries" is questionable under the Constitution.

96-14

In imposing criminal drug surcharges pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 15-21-100(a), only court costs relating to an offense prohibited by O.C.G.A. § 16-13-30, 16-13-30.1, or 16-13-31 should be included in determining the amount of the original fine.

96-12

The General Assembly may not, through the passage of a Joint Resolution which has the effect of law, infringe upon the Board of Regents' constitutional authority to govern, control, and manage the University System of Georgia.

96-11

O.C.G.A. § 45-7-54(a) authorizes state agencies to provide for automatic voluntary salary deductions to not-for-profit organizations engaged in educational, legislative, or professional development activities related to promoting and enhancing the efficiency, productivity, and welfare of state government services or of state government employees.

96-10

O.C.G.A. § 15-21-75 imposes liability for delinquent payments of sums imposed under the Peace Officer and Prosecutor Training Fund Act of 1983 upon the person, agency, or unit of government having the duties both of collection of those funds and remittance to the Department of Revenue. Georgia law now places that dual responsibility on the clerk of court.

96-9

State Board of Education Rules 160-4-4-.10 and 160-4-4-.20 are within the State Board of Education's statutory authority to promulgate rules and are consistent with the statutes regulating textbook adoption.

96-8

Priority of payment of surcharges to and deductions from fines and forfeitures imposed in traffic cases.

96-7

O.C.G.A. § 40-6-395(b)(5)(A); Interpretation to determine if cases are felonies requiring transfer to superior court.

96-6

The Georgia Department of Family and Children Services may request that parents consent to placement of their children by the Department outside the family home, without the Department instituting legal action against the parents, either during the investigation of purported child abuse or after confirming child abuse, as long as the requirements under state and federal law for voluntary placements are met.

96-5

Application of O.C.G.A. § 49-4A-9 to juveniles tried and sentenced as adults.

96-4

The scope of the Fair Use Doctrine, 17 U.S.C. § 107, for making copies for classroom use, for teachers who make copies for research and scholarship, and the potential liability of teachers, librarians, and employees of nonprofit institutions for exceeding the parameters of fair use.

96-3

Whether the scope of practice of dentistry includes certain surgical procedures.

96-2

The Gwinnett County Commission may increase the annual salary supplement for superior court judges beyond the minimum $19,750.00 provided for by local legislation, but a percentage of any such compensation must likewise be paid to the other county officials whose salaries are linked to local supplements paid to superior court judges.

96-1

The "Crime Victims' Bill of Rights," O.C.G.A. § 17-17-1 et seq., is not applicable to juvenile court proceedings.

95-27

While the Ethics in Government Act does not expressly prohibit an incumbent member of the General Assembly from soliciting a pledge or setting goals for contributions during a legislative session, such actions would clearly be contrary to the policies and purposes of the Act and should be avoided.

95-26

There is no per se conflict of interest for an attorney who serves in the General Assembly to represent and provide legal services to a community service board as defined in O.C.G.A. § 37-2-11.1(c)(1) with respect to general matters, as well as in conjunction with employee disciplinary proceedings, as long as the legislator, in his or her capacity as the board's legal representative, does not take any adverse action against the state or any of its agencies.

95-25

Alteration of the by-laws of the chamber of commerce would not work a change in the membership of the Crisp County - Cordele Industrial Development Authority and the appropriate representative to the authority is the chamber chairman who held the position of president at the time of the creation of the authority.

95-24

The General Assembly of Georgia may, within constitutional limitations, enact legislation which requires the public libraries of this state to distinguish between materials which are "harmful to minors" and other materials in order to prevent the exposure of such materials to children.

95-23

When the General Assembly enacted legislation which required the Vidalia Public School System to be brought into conformity with the method of certification and levy of school tax provided in Ga. Const. 1983, Art. VIII, Sec. VI, Para. I(a), it eliminated the Vidalia Public School System's ability to utilize a different method of certification and levy which had been allowed under the "grandfather" provision in Ga. Const. 1983, Art. VIII, Sec. VI, Para. I(d).

95-22

A county board of tax assessors and county board of equalization are subject to the provisions of the Georgia Open Meetings Law, O.C.G.A. § 50-14-1 through 50-14-6.

95-21

Lumpkin County may not enter into a long-term lease with the Georgia Tribe of Eastern Cherokee Indians under the intergovernmental contract provisions of 1983 Georgia Constitution, Article IX, Section III, Paragraph I.

95-20

A magistrate judge may issue an arrest warrant for someone charged with the offense of deposit account fraud, O.C.G.A. § 16-9-20, based on the affidavit of a person working for a company in the business of collecting worthless checks for merchants, provided that the collection company has legally acquired possession, and is entitled to receive payment, of the instruments, or that the company is an agent with express authorization from its principal.

95-18

In the absence of clear legislative authority, a local school board may not appoint a new school superintendent for a term beginning after the terms of a majority of the current board expire.

95-19

A sentencing court may not require an offender to make restitution on those counts of a multi-count indictment which are dismissed pursuant to a negotiated plea agreement. However, where an offender voluntarily agrees to make restitution in a certain amount, even if such amount exceeds the victim's "damages," the sentencing court may incorporate that agreement into its restitution order.

95-16

Resolution 70, 1986 Ga. Laws 529, adopting English as the official language of the State of Georgia has the force and effect of law.

95-17

Under certain circumstances, the Environmental Protection Division may authorize special environmental projects in lieu of unimposed or unaccrued monetary penalties; however, the modification of the Consent Order here in question so as to reduce the amount of unaccrued stipulated penalties and require that an amount equal to the reduction be spent on development of a proposed Chattahoochee River Recreational Park would not appear to be authorized.

95-15

A school board may not close to the public any meeting devoted to the airing of grievances about school personnel by interested members of the public. Further, should the school board conduct an inquiry into the actions of school personnel any evidence or argument presented to the board must be held in an open meeting, but the board may close that portion of the meeting consisting of deliberation or discussion of disciplinary action upon proper compliance with the statutory meeting closure provisions.

95-14

Forsyth County did not establish a county police force when it created a county marshal's office in 1985 and, therefore, the county governing authority must comply with the requirements of O.C.G.A. § 36-8-1(b) before creating a county police force.

95-13

A hospital authority may apply for a certificate of need outside its area of operation and without the permission of the affected governing authority or hospital authority board in the planned service area, provided however that in order to implement the certificate permission to pursue the health care activity would be required.

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