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Monday, March 6, 2023 - Day 28
Crossver Day

Archive of Past Legislative Alerts 

Today is Crossover Day.  What does that mean?

Today marked the 28th Day of the 40-day legislative session.  The General Assembly is scheduled to adjourn on Wednesday, March 29.  Today is also "Crossover Day."  Crossover Day is the day on which a bill must pass the chamber of its introduction to be eligible to be heard in the other chamber thereafter.

Senate rejects bill to offer every student in Georgia $6,000 for private school

State Senators, uncomfortable with a radical voucher bill that would have given any student in Georgia a $6,000 state-funded voucher to be used at a private school of their choice, instead adopted amendments that significantly watered it down.  The amended bill, which GAE still opposes vigorously, passed 33-23.

The amended version of SB 233, which is not yet online at the Georgia General Assembly website, proposes instead to give $6,000 to any student attending a school on a list to be compiled of the lowest performing 25% of schools.  It would be the first time vouchers in Georgia are available to students who do not have medical or learning disabilities.

"We are delighted that the majority of the members of the Senate rejected universal private school vouchers today," GAE President Lisa Morgan said today from the state Capitol.  "But the amended version of SB 233 would be the largest expansion of vouchers in Georgia history.  We are adamantly opposed to the amended bill."

More details on the specifics of the amended bill will be available tomorrow.

Morgan thanked members of GAE who wrote and phoned their state Senators.  "We could not have beaten universal vouchers without our members' efforts to reach out to Senators," Morgan added.  "We will need you again to beat back this new version of the bill in the House."

House votes to expand tax breaks
for donors to private schools

A mish-mash of five different tax bills, HB 101, passed the House today 102-73 and includes a $10 million-a-year increase in the amount of money the state will spend on tax breaks for contributors to private schools.  The sponsor of the language had originally sought to raise the limit by $80 million each year to $200 million annually.  Ironically, HB 101 also eliminates the
Public Education Innovation Fund Foundation, which was created in 2017 to receive private donations for public schools.
ESP Retirement Bill Passes Senate, 55-0
SB 240, a bill to require the identification of school districts in Georgia that do not contribute to Social Security for members of the Public School Employees Retirement System (PSERS), passed the Senate late tonight and will be transmitted to the House for consideration.  PSERS is a system that is specifically for school custodians, cafeteria workers, bus drivers, and maintenance personnel.  School districts in Georgia are required to participate in the Social Security System for ESPs covered by PSERS - even if they do not for employees in the Teachers Retirement System.

In addition, the House has approved an increase in the multiplier for calculating benefits in the PSERS.   The FY24 budget would increase the multiplier to the maximum currently allowed by law, $16.50.  A bill, SB 105, to eliminate the cap outright, has been sent out for an acturial study.  The bill can be voted on after receipt of the study in the next legislative session.

Bill providing planning time for
teachers, K-12, moves to the Senate

HB 340, a bill establishing planning time rights for teachers K-12, passed the House 173-0.  While the bill, if it becomes law, could be waived by school systems, it is an important and clear step in recognizing the needs of educators and draws attention to some of the reasons why educators today feel such stress and burnout.  From the measure:

"Every teacher who is employed in grades K through 12 for a period of time of more than one-half of the class periods of the regular school day shall be provided a daily planning period.  "... This planning period shall not be calculated under any circumstances as a part of any daily lunch period or other non-instructional time

Literacy bills pass House and Senate

HB 538, among other things, would direct the State Department of Education "provide a universal reading screener that ... shall be made available for use free of charge to public schools and local school systems" and which would be implemented three-times-a-year.  The bill also tasks the State Board of Education with the approval of high-quality instructional materials to be used for teaching students to read in grades K-3.  The bill passed the House 174-0.

The bill also requires the Department - in consultation with the University System of Georgia (USG), the Professional Standards Commission (PSC), the Governor's Office of Student Achievement (GOSA), Georgia's Regional Education Service Agencies (RESA), and literacy experts - to develop one or more training programs for K-3 teachers on the science of reading, structured literacy, and foundational literacy skills that enable students to develop reading skills required to meet state standards in literacy.

Another literacy bill, SB 211, creating the Georgia Council on Literacy, passed the Senate earlier today, 55-0. 
The Council would be charged with developing best-practices standards and goals, and causing their implementation.  The bill also would require the development of a common metric for literacy scores for kindergarten through grade 12 and improving literacy rates among low-income and ESOL students.  SB 211 contemplates additional QBE (Quality Basic Education) funding for literacy education, among other things.

Bill banning certain treatment of
gender dysphoria passes Senate

Legislation that would ban certain kinds of gender-affirming health care and the treatment of gender dysphoria in minors, SB 140, passed the state Senate about 10:40 p.m, 33-22.

Next Update will be Tuesday, March 7 - Day 29

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