New Year’s Day 2011 signals the beginning of laws dealing with politicians’ ethics, property-tax assessments and ending the use of gas chambers for dispatching unwanted animals, among other matters.

The new legislative session begins Jan. 10, but some of the bills passed in the last session are just now taking effect. During the 40 days of the 2010 session, lawmakers introduced nearly 1,300 bills, passed 361 through both the House and Senate, and Gov. Sonny Perdue signed 330 of them into law.

Most took effect when he signed them on the first day of the fiscal year, July 1.

Thirteen take effect New Year’s Day, plus a single section of a 14th. One new law takes effect Dec. 31.

This batch includes a law toughening the reporting requirements for lobbyists and elected officials.

It will mean all local officials will electronically submit reports of their campaign donations to the state Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission instead of paper versions to local clerks.

Ethics became an issue in several campaigns this fall, and advocacy groups say this new law isn’t enough.

"I know that the people who pushed this last year are trying to conduct a public-relations campaign where they say this is something significant. I don’t agree with that," said Bill Bozarth, spokesman for Common Cause of Georgia.

Having reports for all local politicians in the same place as the state candidates will be handy, he said, but the money needed to process the 10-fold reporting increase will take away from investigations that the commission should be doing.

Commission Chairman Patrick Millsaps has the same concern.

"This commission is underfunded, and it is a question in January whether we’ll be able to do our additional duties," he said at the Dec. 2 commission meeting.

Another new law prohibits the use of gas chambers to destroy animals by the remaining handful of counties that still use asphyxiation. They will be required to use a lethal injection as the larger counties have been doing.

Property owners get some new rights, including documentation so they can appeal valuations any year. Also,

assessments will now have to begin taking into consideration foreclosures and any other forced sales, which usually pull neighborhood prices downward.

The point of the new law is to better reflect the actual market value, said the law’s author, Sen. Chip Rogers, R-Woodstock.

"As a taxpayer, all you can ask for is that the numbers be accurate," he said.

If you’re still unhappy with your local assessors or don’t like your local government, you no longer have to display the name of your county on your car tag. A new law lets you put a sticker reading "In God We Trust" in place of the county name.

Other new laws exempt boat dealers from inventory taxes, prohibit out-of-town companies from using online ads portraying them as being local and streamline sales-tax collection to better catch retails who don’t comply.

Read more: – New laws begin in Georgia on Jan 1