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 From time to time, opinions may be withdrawn, revised or otherwise made obsolete.

 

Opinion In Reference To
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.

97-26

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.

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.

97-25

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

97-23

Under O.C.G.A. § 42-1-12, as effective July 1, 1997, the sheriff must release relevant information relating to sexually violent predators and is given the authority to determine what information and in what manner such information will be released.

97-24

Covered multifamily dwellings are not subject to the 2% cap on fully accessible or adaptable rental apartment complexes of 20 units or more which is found in O.C.G.A. § 30-3-2(8).

97-25

The language of O.C.G.A. ¿ 50-13-4(a)(4) would not prohibit the Board of Natural Resources and the Director of the Environmental Protection Division from adopting regulations and taking such actions as are necessary to ensure that Georgia's regulatory authority to administer its environmental programs is at least as stringent as federal regulatory authority established pursuant to the federal environmental laws and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency regulations promulgated pursuant thereto.

97-24

Owners and insurers are required to surrender to the State Revenue Commissioner license plates of vehicles which become salvage or total loss vehicles.

97-22

The geographic jurisdiction of a city housing authority established under the Housing Authority Law is governed primarily by the definition of "area of operations" in O.C.G.A. § 8-3-3(1).

97-23

The essential intent of Code Subsection 12-8-21(c) is the reduction of solid waste by 25 percent; this goal remains effective in applying related provisions of the "Georgia Comprehensive Solid Waste Management Act," notwithstanding that the goal was originally expressed in terms of a calendar date which has passed.

97-21

When sheriffs hold cash bonds, and when clerks of superior court, state court and magistrate court hold funds paid in for security or judicial disposition, the funds must be placed in interest-bearing trust accounts, and the interest must be remitted to the Georgia Indigent Defense Council unless otherwise provided by law.

97-22

(1) Peace officers are exempt from licensure by the Georgia Board of Private Detective and Security Agencies in very limited circumstances. (2) A peace officer engaged in the private detective or security business may not employ other peace officers, unless those individuals are licensed or registered by the Board. (3) All peace officers, licensed by the Board and intending to carry firearms, must obtain a Board-issued weapons permit.

97-21

A person may not be employed simultaneously with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation Division of Forensic Sciences and as a county deputy coroner.

97-20

The Secretary of State, Attorney General, State School Superintendent, Commissioner of Insurance, Commissioner of Agriculture and Commissioner of Labor must be elected by a majority vote.

97-17

A chief clerk need not be reappointed after the reelection of the probate judge, but continues on as an employee of this county officer and is therefore eligible to assume the duties of the probate judge under O.C.G.A. § 15-9-11.1 should a vacancy occur in that office.

97-18

A coroner may not serve as a deputy sheriff. A deputy coroner should not serve as a deputy sheriff. A coroner or deputy coroner also should not serve as a city police officer.

97-19

The salary of a sheriff may be supplemented by the General Assembly through local law or by the board of commissioners when the board has been delegated that authority through local law enacted by the General Assembly.

97-16

Official Code of Georgia Annotated § 27-3-1(a) applies to persons engaged in hunting who enter upon property of others without permission, but does not apply to intrusions by hunting dogs.

97-20

Applicability of the Open Records Act to records of the Fraud and Compliance Division of the State Board of Workers' Compensation.

97-19

The magistrate court relinquishes its authority to set and amend bonds when an indictment or accusation is filed in the superior court; however, the superior court may delegate its authority, as appropriate, under O.C.G.A. ¿ 17-6-1(h) or O.C.G.A. ¿ 15-1-9.1(e).

97-14

In order for a publication to become a countys official legal organ, under the recently amended O.C.G.A. § 9-13-142, an independent audit must show that the publication has had an 85% paid circulation rate for the twelve months prior to its being declared the official legal organ.

97-15

The one mill tax limitation of O.C.G.A. § 48-5-220(20) limits the amount of ad valorem tax funds a county may pay to a county development authority for certain purposes.

97-18

The executive directors and members of the State Examining Boards, as well as other public officers defined in O.C.G.A. ¿ 21-5-3(15)(A)-(E), must file the financial disclosure reports required under the Ethics in Government Act, O.C.G.A. ¿ 21-5-50.

97-17

The effect of the statutory provisions regarding involuntary separation retirement benefits on consolidation and redirection efforts of the state agencies.

97-17

The effect of the statutory provisions regarding involuntary separation retirement benefits on consolidation and redirection efforts of the state agencies.

97-16

The Department of Agriculture's authority to inspect scales used exclusively for weighing packages to be shipped by the United Parcel Service, Inc. has been preempted by the Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act of 1994.

97-15

The State may recover from local school systems any overpayments occasioned by the school system's inaccurate count of students eligible for the special instructional assistance program and for any other overpayment caused by an inaccurate student count.

97-14

The Department of Transportation must receive in return for the disposal of access rights under O.C.G.A. ¿ 32-6-133(b), the fair market value of such rights or other substantial benefit in aid of the performance of the Department's governmental mission. A gift of any portion of access rights to the property owner would be a prohibited gratuity under the Georgia Constitution, Article III, Section VI, Paragraph VI.

97-12

Local school board members may not provide professional services for compensation to the school systems they represent.

97-11

The State Board of Education has the authority to provide for exemption of students with disabilities from the graduation assessments. In addition, pursuant to a State Board rule, local school systems may modify the administration of the test to accommodate students with disabilities.