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Friday, March 1, 2024
Prior Legislative Updates for this Year

Yesterday was Crossover Day, the day by which legislation must have passed out of the chamber where it was introduced to be eligible for consideration by the other chamber.

Bills that do not pass by Crossover Day are technically dead.  However, language from a bill that did not pass by Crossover Day sometimes finds its way as an amendment to other legislation.

The General Assembly returns Monday, March 4 for the 29th day of the session.

Bills that PASSED on or before
Crossover Day and are eligible
for further consideration

HB 282 provides for a minimum course study in career readiness education for students in grades six through twelve.  The bill states: Such a course shall include "instruction and training experiences focused on employability and career readiness skills."

HB 579 ostensibly cleans up language regarding the Special Needs voucher program 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 and allows  for electronic transfer of funds directly to private schools participating in the program.

HB 846 is a GAE-backed bill to require local school systems to notify employees at the time of hire whether or not social security taxes will be withheld from their pay, if they are eligible to be included in a plan with coverage for the benefits of Title II of the Social Security Act, and if the employee is eligible to be included in any other pension or retirement plan.  Notification must also occur every five years and at the time an educator leaves the employ of a school district.  The bill passed 160-1.

HB 995 would require schools to make available a nationally recognized, multiple-aptitude battery assessment (Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery or ASVAB exam) that measures and helps predict future academic and occupational success in the military.

HB 1010 increases the length of paid parental leave for state employees and educators from three to six weeks upon the birth, adoption, or placement in foster care of a child.

HB 1104 provides for voluntary mental health screenings when getting a physical for sports participation.

HB 1122 specifies funding for locally chartered and state chartered schools for superintendents and principals.

HB 1183 states: "If a local board of education provides information on immunizations, infectious diseases, medications, or other school health issues to parents and guardians of students in grades six through 12," then information about Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes shall be included.

HB 1341 designates the white shrimp as official state crustacean.  This measured passed the House 171-0.  Earlier in the session, the House passed HB 1048, which makes cornbread the official state bread.  However, it was a bad day for supporters of collard greens, who wanted to make it the official "state green".  HB 1278 failed to make it to the floor.

SB 105, a GAE bill that eliminates the cap in state law that prevents increases in the state pension fund for school bus drivers, cafeteria workers, custodians, and maintenance personnel.

SB 147 pertains to student transfer between school districts.

SB 180, entitled "Georgia Religious Freedom Restoration Act," passed the Senate.  Proponents say it merely codifies current, existing federal law.  Opponents contend the bill would lead to discrimination against LGBTQ communities.  According to the sponsor, state and local governments would not be permitted to "substantially burden" an individual’s free exercise of religion unless the government could demonstrate it had a "compelling governmental interest" in doing so and that it was using the "least restrictive means" of intrusion.  Senate Minority Leader Gloria Butler, D-Stone Mountain, said passing the bill could hurt the state economically.  "We are telling LGBTQ Georgians and their families to leave our state and take their dollars elsewhere," Butler said.  The bill passed 33-19.

SB 202 states: "The Department of Education is authorized to establish a pilot program, beginning in the 2024-2025 school year, to provide for the development and study of outdoor learning spaces on elementary and secondary school property." The bill passed the Senate 51-0.

SB 208 (SR 189) - This enabling legislation and proposed Constitutional amendment allow "high growth school systems" to impose "educational development impact fees" that could be imposed to pay for a share of the cost of additional educational facilities to serve new growth and development.  The assessment of impact bills is subject to local referendum.  A "high growth" system is defined as one which has seen a total enrollment increase of 20 percent or more in the last ten years and has spent more than $250 million or more on the construction of new educational facilities in the past ten years.  The Constitutional amendment, SR 189, passed by more than the required 2/3rds votes needed for a Constitutional amendment.  SB 208 passed by a 49-2 vote.

SB 233 is the massive and radical private school voucher bill that was defeated in the Georgia House last year.  The bill crossed over from the Senate last year and is expected to be amended and brought back to the House floor for another vote.

SB 351 is a bill concerning the use of social media in schools and education on cyber-bullying.  The bill also directs school systems to "prohibit and prevent students from accessing social media platforms through the use of computer equipment, communications services, or internet access that is operated, owned, leased, or otherwise provided by the local board of education, local school system, or public school, except when expressly authorized by a school administrator or teacher solely for appropriate educational purposes."  Such an effort must include "the use of software programs and other technologies reasonably designed and intended to block access to social media platforms."

SB 360 would provide state funding for voluntary, public school, pre-K construction projects.

SB 386 legalizes betting on sporting events, administered by the Georgia Lottery, and for the benefit of pre-K and the HOPE Scholarship.

SB 390 prevents the use of taxpayer dollars for use on any materials, services, or operations offered by the American Library Association.  The bill passed the Senate 33-20.

SB 395 allows for opioid antagonists (naloxone) in public schools.

SB 464 sets up a web site for teachers to purchase school supplies, supposedly at a discount or with some state funding.  An amendment on the floor of the Senate changed the word "teacher" to "educator."

Bill that DID NOT PASS on or
before Crossover Day
and cannot be considered further

HB 148 would provide compensation for student teachers or interns.

HB 897, weirdly entitled the "Medical Freedom Act," would have banned schools, government entities, and businesses from requiring vaccinations or immunizations for any contagious or infectious diseases.

HB 914, the "Safe Teens Act," concerning drivers’ education in public schools, did not pass out of committee.

HB 936 would have required students to use the restroom matching the gender of the individual observed at birth.  The bill never made it out of committee.

HB 941 authorizes the use of state funds for voluntary, public school pre-K construction projects.  It has been reported that this bill will be part of the amended voucher bill, SB 233.

HB 1006 would have required student identification cards to include certain information regarding suicide prevention resources.

HB 1027 would have required students to take a half-credit course on computer science to be eligible for high school graduation.

HB 1082 stated, in part: "No local board of education or other public school governing body, public school administrator, or other public school personnel shall, while acting in an official capacity, prohibit any public school student from voluntarily praying at any time before, during, or after the school day or otherwise engaging in privately initiated religious speech."  The legislation also states: "While on duty, public school personnel shall be permitted to engage in privately initiated religious speech and activities ... to the same extent that such personnel may engage in other comparable private conversations."  The bill never made it out of committee.

HB 1097 would have required that all driver education training be conducted in person.

HB 1221, a bill related to student transfers between public school systems, did not make the House final calendar on Crossover Day.

HB 1128, which the sponsor calls the "Georgia Women's Bill of Rights," stated the term 'sex' means "the biological state of being male or female, in the context of reproductive potential or capacity, based on the individual's sex organs, chromosomes, naturally occurring sex hormones, gonads, and unambiguous internal and external genitalia present at birth, including secondary sex characteristics." The bill further declared: "An individual's sex can be observed or clinically verified at or before birth and in no case is an individual's sex determined by stipulation or self-identification."  The bill further defines the word 'female' as such: "... an individual who has, had, will have, or would have, but for a developmental or genetic anomaly or historical accident, the reproductive system that at some point produces, transports, and utilizes eggs for fertilization."  The bill then stated: "No local school system, public school, or participating private school in this state shall operate interscholastic athletics that permit a person whose gender is male but whose gender identity is female to participate in any interscholastic athletics that are designated for females."  The bill never got a hearing.

HB 1171 and SB 527 would have brought back a state back-to-school sales tax holiday for school supplies and clothing.  Both are dead.

HB 1262 would have allowed law suits against schools for failing to provide an "adequate" education.  The bill was never heard in committee.

HB 1384, which would have allowed for up to five sick days, up from three, to be used as personal days if approved by a school administrator, did not cross over.

HB 1328 and HB 1351 would have created a QBE funding formula weight for school systems with a high number of students living in poverty.  Neither bill made it out of committee.

SB 88 died on Crossover Day.  This bill stated: "No person standing in loco parentis nor the private school which employs him or her shall implement any curriculum or instruction addressing issues of gender identity queer theory, gender ideology, or gender transition, without first providing notice of such curriculum or instruction to and obtaining the express written permission from each parent of each child who will participate in such curriculum or instruction.  Parents shall be informed of the intention of such person or such private school to implement such curriculum or instruction and of the parent's right to inspect the curriculum or instructional material."  Under SB 88, local school boards would have been directed to develop policies regarding gender identity and gender transition affecting name use, pronoun use, restroom use, sports participation, etc.

SB 154, the bill that would have put librarians and educators in jail for furnishing students certain materials, died on Crossover Day.

Under Georgia law, school districts can decide for themselves which state laws and regulations they wish to abide by.  SB 268, a GAE bill to eliminate school district "waivers" for class size, fair dismissal, certification, and teacher's state salary schedule, did not clear the Senate.

SB 365 would have triggered a notification to parents or guardians when their child checked a book out of the public school library.  The bill also would have required "any written or electronic materials made available to students in a public school, including classroom materials, school library materials, or any materials made available to a public school student as part of an extracurricular activity offered or supervised by the public school" be included in the school system's compliant resolution policy for material that is "harmful to minors."

SB 367 would have eliminated ballot drop boxes.  It failed to pass on Crossover Day.  SB 446, which would have reduced the number of early voting days, and HB 1370 to allow local election superintendents to determine the number of voting booths, also died on Crossover Day.

SB 550 and HB 1393, bills that would have tied pre-K lead teachers to the state salary schedule, failed to meet the Crossover deadline.

SB 556, a recent filing from Sen. Sonya Halpern, would have created a state STEAM pilot program.  It will not move forward.

SB 379, a bill which would have allowed voluntary school chaplains to replace trained school counselors, died.

SB 394, the "Clean" Libraries Act, would have created the "Georgia Council of Library Material Standards," a board to be populated by unelected members, who would determine which books are obscene or harmful to minors.

SB 432 would have required recess for students in kindergarten and grades one through eight.  It is ineligible for further consideration this year.

SB 438, another so-called "bathroom bill," that would have restricted the use of school locker rooms, restrooms, etc., to the gender identified at birth.  Schools could have been sued by parents who believed the school was not in compliance with the proposed law.

SB 492 was a bill to require school systems to "ensure that any [bus] stop at which a student is required to enter or exit the school bus is located upon the same side of the roadway as the door to the bus."  The bill died in committee.

SB 501 would have provided for the placement of the Ten Commandments in schools.  The bill passed committee but was not considered by the full Senate and is therefore ineligible for further consideration this year.

SB 532 would have prohibited sex education for public school students in this state before fifth grade.  It died.

SR 575 was a proposed Constitutional amendment to allow up to 15% of E-SPLOST funds to be spent on school supplies.

Already SIGNED into
law by the governor

Gov. Brian Kemp signed a record $37.9 billion fiscal 2023-2024 midyear budget that includes $5.5 billion in new spending.
Next Legislative Update will be Monday, March 4 - Day 29
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