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Wednesday, February 7, 2024 - Day 16
Prior Legislative Updates for this Year

The deadline to register to vote for the March 12th Georgia presidential primary is Monday
.  You can register to vote online at: https://mvp.sos.ga.gov/s/voter-registration?IsRegisterNow=true 

House Ed subcommittee meets

The House Education Committee's Subcommittee on Curriculum met this afternoon to hear two bills, HB 914 and HB 995.

HB 914, entitled the "Safe Teens Act," authorizes an elective driver's education course of one-half unit of elective credit for any high school student, the cost of which is to be paid by state funds, local funds, or student fees unless the payment of student fees presents an "economic hardship."  There was extended discussion of what would constitute an "economic hardship."  There was no vote on this legislation, but the bill could be brought back to subcommittee next week with changes.

The subcommittee did give its unanimous approval to HB 995, a bill that would require schools to make available a nationally recognized, multiple-aptitude battery assessment that measures and helps predict future academic and occupational success in the military.  The sponsor indicates that the test likely would be the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery or ASVAB exam.  The bill will now be heard by the full House Education Committee tomorrow at 1 p.m.

Immediately following, the House Education Committee's Subcommittee on Policy also took up two bills.

One is a GAE-endorsed measure, HB 148, to provide compensation for student teachers.  A substitute was introduced to limit its application to aspiring educators whose family income is 200% or less of the income required to qualify for a Pell Grant.  The bill received a warm reception from Republicans and Democrats and could be back in committee next week to consider additional possible amendments.

Chair Scott Hilton, R-Peachtree Corners, takes time to pose with Rep. Becky Evans, D-Atlanta, and members of the Georgia Association of Educators Aspiring Educators program.  Students attending (two spoke at the hearing) included: Destinee Jackson (Fort Valley State), Breonna Robinson (Clark Atlanta), Donye Wright (Clayton State), Amara Jackson (Clark Atlanta), and Rayven Bryant (Spelman).
The second bill heard in the Education Policy Subcommittee was HB 579, a voucher bill, which makes changes to the qualifications required of a student for the existing Georgia Special Needs voucher.  Passage of this bill would result in an expansion of this voucher program by allowing any student who previously had an Individualized Education Programs (IEP) or 504 plan to qualify, even if the IEP or 504 expired years ago.

It ostensibly cleans up language regarding the voucher and requires the Department of Education to provide parents with calculations on estimated voucher amounts.  Further, the bill allows parents to appeal the amount of the taxpayer-paid voucher.

The Senate Retirement Committee meets tomorrow to discuss SB 206, legislation that would codify in state law a requirement that school systems participate in the Social Security System for education staff whose retirement benefits are derived from the Public School Employees Retirement System (PSERS).  School districts may offer another retirement plan that must be comparable to Social Security benefits.  PSERS was specifically established for school bus drivers, cafeteria works, custodians, and maintenance personnel.

Senate committee debates library bill 

The Senate Committee on Government Oversight held a hearing this evening on SB 390, a bill that states: "The board of regents shall not use any public funds on any materials, services, or operations offered by the American Library Association or any of its affiliates."  The bill has 22 sponsors.  No vote was taken today.  The findings in Section 1 of the bill include:

"(1) The present state requirement that only certified librarians may work as librarians public libraries has not benefitted the residents of this state;

(2) The bureaucracy that has developed around the certification of librarians has become heavily intertwined with and influenced by the American Library Association;

(3) The president of the American Library Association has declared herself to be a Marxist; 

(4) The American Library Association has used the librarian certification process to promote its ideology;  

(5) The vast majority of residents of this state do not want their tax dollars to directly or indirectly support such an ideology;  

(6) The Georgia Library Association is an affiliate of the American Library Association;

(7) The Georgia Library Association should no longer be an affiliate of the American Library Association ... [and]

(10) This state should no longer require the certification of librarians working at public libraries or allow public moneys to be used to support the American Library Association."

Meanwhile state Sen. Elena Parent, D-Atlanta, has filed SB 458, which would require that the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia adopt the American Library Association's Library Bill of Rights.

Confirmed speakers for GAE
2024 Day at the Capitol

State School Superintendent Richard Woods
House Education and House Retirement Committee, David Wilkerson, D-Cobb County
Rep. Chris Erwin, chair, House Education Committee, R-Homer
Rep. Ken Vance, former educator and GAE member, R-Milledgeville
Sen. Nabilah Islam Parkes, D-Duluth, sponsor of GAE's waiver bill, SB 268
Sen. Derek Mallow, D-Savannah

Join your colleagues and fellow GAE members at our 2024 Day at the Capitol

Join your colleagues and friends at the 2024 GAE Day at the Capitol on Thursday, February 22.  Hear and meet from legislators who are influential in the adoption of education legislation and policy.  Click on the photo below to register.
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