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Monday, March 20, 2023 - Day 36
Four legislative days remain in 2023 session
Archive of Past Legislative Alerts

Radical voucher bill passes subcommittee

The Republican leadership of the state House of Representatives packed a subcommittee of the House Education Committee this morning with non-committee members to assure that a radical voucher bill passed on a 7-5 vote.  One Republican, Rep. Rick Townsend of Brunswick, and all Democrats, voted against the bill.  Rep. Townsend is a former teacher, principal, and school superintendent.  GAE President Lisa Morgan was present for the 8 a.m. meeting and explained GAE's opposition to the bill.

Voting for the voucher bill, which takes from the poorest schools to pay for private school subsidies, were:

Rep. Bethany Ballard, R-Houston County,
Rep. Brent Cox, R-Forsyth County and parts of Hall County,
Republican Caucus Chair Chuck Efstration, Dacula/Gwinnett County,
Speaker Pro Tempore Jan Jones, R-Milton/North Fulton,
Rep. Rick Jasperse, parts of Cherokee, Forsyth and Pickens counties,
Rep. Todd Jones, Forsyth County, and
Rep. Will Wade, Dawson and Lumpkin.

GAE would like to express its appreciation to Rep. Townsend, and to Reps. Doreen Carter, Becky Evans, Lydia Glaize, Miriam Paris, and David Wilkerson for expressing their concerns with the legislation and ultimately voting against it in subcommittee.

SB 233 would cost taxpayers and schools in high poverty areas hundreds of millions of dollars each year to subsidize private-school tuition and fees.

The bill now goes before the full House Education Committee tomorrow at 8 a.m.  The committee will be live-streamed at: https://vimeo.com/showcase/8988922?autoplay=1.

Contact Your Legislators Today

Please write members of the House expressing your opposition to SB 233.  Thank you to those who sent letters to House Education Committee.  This link is updated to send messages to all members of the House of Representatives.  You should begin by clicking here, where a sample letter is provided for you to personalize.  By entering some basic information, your message will be sent directly to members of the House.
Bill would increase tax breaks
for donors to private schools

HB 101, hastily passed just before Crossover Day, was the subject of a hearing in the Senate Finance Committee today.  No vote was taken; the measure was tabled.

The bill increases by $10 million annually the amount the state handouts in tax breaks to donors to private schools.  The increase would bring to $130 annually the amount the state spends to encourage and reward donations to private schools.

Five amendments were offered.  Appropriations Committee Chairman Blake Tillery, R-Vidalia, offered an amendment to cap the amount the state spends on broker firms who handled the pass through.

State Sen. Jason Esteves offered several amendments, including an annual audit of the program by the State Department of Audits and Accounts, annual audits of the middlemen (so-called school scholarship organizations, or SSOs) who make money off the program, and to require that $10 million be set aside for students in the lowest performing and poorest schools in the state.

Another amendment was offered that would prohibit legislators from receiving payments from these pass-thru entities.  Langugage was also added to end the program in 2026.

The committee is scheduled to meet again Wednesday when they may take up and vote on the amendments and the bill.
Bill banning gender dysphoria surgery passes House
SB 140, a bill to prohibit gender dysphoria surgery and hormone therapy, passed the House late last week.

Changes were made to the Senate-passed version meaning a vote in the Senate will be needed to agree or disagree with the House changes.  A disagree vote would mean a conference committee of three members each from the House and Senate would be appointed to iron out differences.

The primary differences made to the House version were the additional of civil and criminal lawsuits against physicians who violate provisions of the bill.  The bill passed the Senate on March 6 with a 33-22 vote and passed the House on March 16, 96-75.
Senate Education Committee considers literacy bill tomorrow

The Senate Education and Youth Committee has scheduled two meetings tomorrow.  At an 8 a.m. meeting, the committee will consider a number of bills, including legislation to allow schools to use smaller, alternative transportation for club meets or school competitions, HB 51, and HB 338, which requires internet filters on all school-issued technology devices.

At 2 p.m., the committee will hear HB 538, the "Georgia Early Literacy Act."
House Retirement may hear ESP pension bill tomorrow
The House Retirement Committee has a meeting schedule for tomorrow at 2 p.m. in Room 406 of the Coverdell Building.  There has been no agenda posted but it is possible that SB 240 could be heard.

SB 240 requires that a list be compiled of school systems that do not participate in the Social Security System for school custodians, cafeteria workers, bus drivers, and maintenance personnel, whose retirement pension is administered by the Public School Employees Retirement System (PSERS).

Even if a school district opted-out of Social Security for those in the Teachers Retirement System (TRS), they must still participate in Social Security for ESPs in PSERS or another qualifying plan.  Some, reportedly, are not.
House special election in Clayton County tomorrow

An election to fill a vacancy in the state House of Representatives for District 75 will be held tomorrow.  GAE has endorsed Herman "Drew" Andrews in the race.  The district is mainly within the city of Jonesboro and parts of Lovejoy and Morrow.  Drew will be a strong advocate for educators and students when he is elected.  For more information on Mr. Andrews' campaign, visit his web site at: https://drewandrews4statehouse75.com/Clayton County precincts are open tomorrow from 7 a.m. - 7 p.m.
Next Update will be Tuesday, March 21 - Day 37
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