Opinions

Opinion In Reference To
98-14

Local school system employee suggestion programs do not violate the constitutional prohibition against gratuities.

1998-14

Local school system employee suggestion programs do not violate the constitutional prohibition against gratuities.

98-13

A superior court judge who was a member of the Superior Court Judges Retirement System and who paid the requisite contribution to obtain spousal benefits under that system may not recoup those spousal contributions if she subsequently chooses to reject spousal benefits under the new Georgia Judicial Retirement System.

98-17

The Insurance Commissioner has the authority to tax HMO receipts of Medicaid premium payments.

98-12

The governing authority of a county may supplement the salary of a state judicial employee without separate local legislation. Further, a state employee may not contract with a county to perform services during the same forty-hour work week.

98-16

Unless the General Assembly otherwise provides, state agencies should presumptively consider college courses as being beyond the scope of the ordinary training agencies may provide employees in state government, but, in certain narrow circumstances, agencies may train employees in college courses which provide job-specific instruction.

98-11

The City of Atlanta Solicitors office does not have the authority under O.C.G.A. § 35-3-37(d) to approve the expungement by an original agency of a criminal arrest record involving a felony or misdemeanor state offense which is dismissed in municipal court and for which no indictment or accusation has been drawn.

98-15

The criminal investigation records of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation are also part of the prosecutorial file and, therefore, any discovery requests involving those records should be coordinated with the prosecuting attorney who should be the primary source for determining the response.

98-10

Cities that are located in more than one county may be consolidated with a county government. However, in the absence of a change in county lines or some additional general legislation to provide for consolidating governments of a city and more than one county, the city would have to give up some of its territory.

98-14

A licensed used motor vehicle parts dealer can transfer salvage titles without being licensed as a used motor vehicle dealer provided that the used motor vehicle parts dealer complies with Chapter 3 of Title 40, the "Motor Vehicle Certificate of Title Act" and the rules and regulations of the State Revenue Commissioner relating to salvage vehicles, including the requirement that a motor vehicle with a title marked "salvage" be titled in the name of the business prior to the sale of the salvage motor vehicle unless the sale is made to a licensed dealer.

98-13

Counties and school districts have authority to enter into intergovernmental contracts in which the county leases real property to the school board for use as a site for a public school or other educational purpose.

98-9

In light of the 1997 amendments to the School Safety and Juvenile Justice Reform Act limiting the exclusive jurisdiction of the superior courts to the trials of juveniles charged with offenses enumerated in O.C.G.A. § 15-11-5(b)(2)(A), judges of the magistrate court may issue arrest warrants for juveniles charged with such offenses.

98-8

Dual service as a volunteer firefighter and a member of a city council or county commission does not appear to violate the prohibitions of either O.C.G.A. § 36-30-4 or § 45-2-2. However, cities and counties confronted with this situation must determine for themselves, based on the unique circumstances presented by dual service in their particular jurisdiction, whether a common law conflict of interest exists.

98-12

Bonds may be issued by county school boards under applicable provisions of Title 36 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated for school system administration facilities, bus maintenance and storage facilities and warehouse facilities, including facilities for the storage of equipment, paper products, school lunch supplies and food products, upon compliance by the county school board with the notice of purpose and other requirements set forth in O.C.G.A. ¿ 36-82-1 et seq.

98-7

Official Code of Georgia Annotated § 15-21-90 does not prohibit a county from considering a reduction on a citys inmate housing bill in the amount equivalent to the ten percent add on monies paid to the county pursuant to the statute.

98-6

The proposed Columbus ordinance regulating the manner and location in which a firearm may lawfully be placed in a home, building, trailer, vehicle, or boat would be ultra vires in that the ordinance conflicts with the general laws of the State of Georgia and because the regulation of firearms, with exceptions not relevant hereto, has been preempted by the General Assembly.

98-11

Under O.C.G.A. ¿ 21-5-30.1(d), individuals who hold licenses issued by examining boards under the jurisdiction of the Secretary of State are permitted to make campaign contributions from their personal funds to the Secretary of State or a candidate for that office.

98-10

The Development Authority of Fulton County has the power under the Development Authorities Law (O.C.G.A. ¿ 36-62-1 et seq.) to enter into lease transactions and pay the cost of tenant improvements for a project as defined by the Development Authorities Law. A State local assistance grant and the use of such grant by the Development Authority for such a project does not contravene the provisions of Article VII, Section IV, Paragraph VIII of the Constitution of the State of Georgia of 1983.

98-9

State incentive grants under O.C.G.A. ¿ 20-2-290 may be awarded for sixth grades only where they are housed in middle schools also containing the seventh and eighth grades.

98-9

State incentive grants under O.C.G.A. § 20-2-290 may be awarded for sixth grades only where they are housed in middle schools also containing the seventh and eighth grades.

98-8

A Community Service Board that has a contract with the Georgia Department of Human Resources may subcontract with a provider who is a General Assembly member only where there is no impermissible conflict of interest.

98-7

Under the Ethics in Government Act, a public office holder or candidate therefor, who owns more than a 10% or $20,000 interest in a corporation, must disclose that interest but only must disclose an interest in corporately owned real estate if he has a legally enforceable right to use the land for his own personal enjoyment or profit and his interest therein has a fair market value of more than $20,000.

98-5

Marriage ceremonies in Georgia may be performed by any judge, including those from outside the state.

98-6

An employer has the discretion to accept or refuse a letter of resignation that is tendered prior to the effective date of a proposed dismissal.

98-5

It is constitutional for the Board of Regents to prohibit its employees from seeking or holding state or federal elective office while they are actively employed by the University System.

98-4

Corporations which are not otherwise engaged in business activities or professions regulated by the Secretary of State are not regulated entities under O.C.G.A. § 21-5-30.1. Examining boards connected to the Secretary of State which issue professional and business licenses are under the jurisdiction of the Secretary of State for the purpose of the statute.

98-3

Members of the Professional Standards Commission may not continue to serve past their appointed three-year terms as they are appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Senate.

98-4

The Chairman of the Newton County Commissioners has sole authority to hire and fire county employees. In the case of employees who do not work in the road and bridge department, his authority is limited by a provision requiring the approval of the entire Commission.

98-3

The Open Meetings Act generally requires agencies to make official meetings open to the public, but portions of such meetings may be closed or conducted in executive sessions under certain specific circumstances if the proper procedures are followed.

98-2

The Georgia Constitution authorizes the General Assembly to create special schools. Pursuant to that authority the General Assembly may create a statutory mechanism by which one school could serve a multi- district area and provide for its governance by a governing board appointed by the local boards of the affected systems.

98-1

A municipal government may not create rules that make annexations effective prior to the time they are made effective by O.C.G.A. § 36-36-2.

98-2

A plea of nolo contendere to a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence as defined under the Gun Control Act of 1968, 18 U.S.C. ¿ 921 et seq., does not result in the imposition of a civil disability so as to prohibit the right to ship, transport, possess, or receive firearms under the Act.

98-1

A prosecution for a misdemeanor violation of O.C.G.A. ¿ 16-9-20, deposit account fraud, is commenced when a citation meets all the requirements of O.C.G.A. ¿ 15-10-202(b) and O.C.G.A. ¿ 15-10-202(c) including the signing of the citation by a judge or clerk of the magistrate court and proper service of the citation by a law enforcement officer.

97-33

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

97-32

A state universitys recognition of a group of students as an official student organization that requires that its voting members profess its religious beliefs would not violate the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment and a state university's refusal to recognize such a group would violate the group founders First Amendment rights of expressive association.

97-33

The Privacy Act of 1974 (5 U.S.C. § 552a) does not apply to the provisions of O.C.G.A. § 40-5-28, which authorize the Department of Public Safety to require, as a condition of licensing, that applicants submit to fingerprinting.

97-32

The Erosion and Sedimentation Act requires an applicant for a land disturbing permit to obtain certification that there are no past due ad valorem taxes owed on the property for which the permit is requested.

97-31

(1) The Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act of 1994 preempts state legislation concerning the training and licensing of security officers performing pre-departure screening under a contract with an airline or an aircraft carrier. (2) Security officers providing security to most federal facilities on an independent contract basis must comply with state legislation concerning the training and licensing.

97-31

Interpretation of O.C.G.A. 43-10A-7 regarding school counselors using the title "Professional School Counselors."

97-30

A referendum is required before a school board may borrow money for a term longer than twelve calendar months where the loan is to be repaid from expected STEP collections. A school board may, without such referendum, borrow money for a term of one calendar year or less, if certain legal requirements are met.

97-30

Georgia Military College is not a local school system as that term is defined in the Quality Basic Education Act and therefore is ineligible to be a member of a regional educational service agency (RESA). The State Board of Education is not authorized to waive the statutory definition so as to allow Georgia Military College to be a RESA member.

97-29

County school board members who act as subcontractors on school board construction projects generally cannot be criminally prosecuted under O.C.G.A. ¿ 20-2-505. However, under certain circumstances that practice could constitute the crime of bribery or otherwise create an impermissible conflict of interest.

97-29

For the purposes of O.C.G.A. § 16-11-129, marijuana is a controlled substance such that a conviction arising out of the possession thereof should preclude an applicant from obtaining a license to carry a pistol or revolver.

97-28

Georgia law does not permit a certificate of title for a motor vehicle to be held in the name of a business trust.

97-28

The provisions of O.C.G.A. § 15-21-131 which impose an additional penalty of five percent for criminal offenses includes traffic offenses.

97-26

A first-term chief magistrate, who previously completed a four-year term as a magistrate after December 31, 1995, is entitled to a five- percent longevity increase under the provisions of O.C.G.A. § 15-10- 23(j).

97-27

Official Code of Georgia Annotated § 45-2-1, which creates a one- year residency requirement for county office-holders, prevents a county from creating a more stringent residency requirement for its office-holders.

97-25

Residency requirements for the election of local school board members cannot be established by board bylaws.

97-27

Official Code of Georgia Annotated 16-11-126(e) requires that this state recognize and give effect to firearms permits issued by other states whose laws recognize and give effect to a Georgia permit. Only the states of Idaho, Michigan, Mississippi, New Hampshire, and Texas do so.

97-26

Commissions paid state agencies by telephone companies for the privilege of locating pay telephones on state property are not collected pursuant to revenue measures enacted by the General Assembly and are not required to be deposited into the state treasury.

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One of the duties of the Attorney General is to give his legal opinion, when required to do so by the Governor, on any question of law connected with the interest of the state or with the duties of any of the departments. O.C.G.A. § 45-15-3(1). However, to avoid having the Governor endorse all requests for opinions originating within the departments of the state, the Attorney General receives requests for opinions directly from the heads of the executive departments.

The Attorney General will also provide opinions to other state officers, such as legislators, judges or district attorneys. The Attorney General does not generally provide legal advice, opinions or representation to county or municipal governments or officials, but will on request review the written legal opinions and conclusions of counsel for local governments.

Opinions issued to the Governor and the heads of the executive departments are classified as "Official Opinions." Those issued to other state officers (such as legislators, judges or district attorneys) are classified as "Unofficial Opinions." Additionally, from time to time the Attorney General will approve interstate compacts or issue position papers on questions of state law. Those documents are published along with the opinions of the Attorney General.

This presentation of the opinions of the Georgia Attorney General is provided for informational purposes only and should not be considered as legal advice to the general public. From time to time, opinions may be withdrawn, revised or otherwise made obsolete.

Opinions of the Attorney General
1994 - Current

For a copy of a pre-1994 opinion, please contact the Georgia Attorney General's Office at (404) 651-5825 or by e-mail at opinions@law.ga.gov.