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New bills filed pertaining to public education
HB 1097 has been introduced by Milledgeville Rep. Ken Vance, which would eliminate the option of virtual driver's education courses, requiring all driver's ed classes to be in person.  The bill has been assigned to the House Motor Vehicles Committee.

HB 1104 provides for voluntary mental health screenings in grades 6-12 for student athletes "when a school or school district has a policy which requires students who participate in extracurricular sports to have a physical examination."

HB 1128 - The obsession of this General Assembly with legislation pertaining to gender identity has been expressed in almost a dozen bills.

The latest is the so-called "Georgia Women's Bill of Rights," which states: "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 presents: "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."

HB 1128 also defines the word 'male' as "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 sperm for fertilization."

SB 438, by Sen. Carden Summers, R-Cordele, author of many bills pertaining to transgender students, defines "gender" as "a person's biological sex [as] recognized solely based on a person's reproductive biology and genetics at birth."

The bill then states: "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."

SB 438 then includes this sentence: "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 to use any multiple occupancy restroom or changing area designated for females in conjunction with any interscholastic athletics."

The bill would create a private right of action permitting parents or guardians to sue schools that violate the provisions in the bill but not individual educators.

SB 445 states: "Beginning in the 2024-2025 school year, the Department of Education shall provide all parents and guardians of students entering the sixth grade with information on recommended adolescent vaccinations for meningococcal meningitis disease, human papillomavirus (HPV), and tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (TDAP)" in print and electronically.  The bill was introduced by Sen. Freddie Sims, D-Dawson.

Committee meetings announced for this week

The House Education Committee's Subcommittee on Curriculum is holding a hearing Wednesday on two bills, HB 914 and HB 995.  The meeting will be live-streamed at: https://vimeo.com/showcase/8988920?autoplay=1

The former, 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."

HB 995 requires schools to make available a nationally recognized, multiple-aptitude battery assessment that measures developed abilities and helps predict future academic and occupational success in the military.

Meanwhile, the House Education Committee's Subcommittee on Policy will discuss two bills immediately following the aforementioned Curriculum Subcommittee meeting.  The hearing may be watched online at: https://vimeo.com/showcase/8988920?autoplay=1

HB 148 is a GAE-backed bill by Rep. Carolyn Hugley, D-Columbus, to provide compensation for student teachers.  GAE aspiring educators will be on hand to testify.

The second bill is 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 voucher.  GAE is watching this bill closely for changes, including the possibility that it becomes the new, big voucher bill.

The Senate Retirement Committee will meet on Thursday, February 8, at 1 p.m. in Room 310 of the Coverdell Building.  SB 206 may be on the agenda.  The meeting may be viewed live at https://vimeo.com/showcase/9076396?autoplay=1

SB 206
codifies in state law a requirement that school systems must participate in the Social Security System for school bus drivers, cafeteria works, custodians, and maintenance personnel in the Public School Employees Retirement System (PSERS) or offer their own retirement plan comparable to Social Security.

The Senate Appropriations Committee's Education and Higher Education Subcommittee will meet Thursday at 2 p.m. to consider changes to the 2023-2024 state budget.

The Senate Education Committee has scheduled a meeting on Friday at 8 a.m.  Any number of bad bills that have been introduced in the Senate could be considered.  The meeting will be live-streamed at: https://vimeo.com/showcase/9027934?autoplay=1

Senate passes completion school bill 

The state Senate today gave its approval to SB 405, which lowers the age of eligibility to enroll in a "completion school" from 18 to 16 years of age.  The bill passed the Senate 45-8, and it now will be transmitted to the House of Representatives.

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.  Superintendent Richard Woods will address attendees.

Georgia Legislative Black Caucus
holds hearing on education

Members of the Georgia Legislative Black Caucus (GLBC) held a public hearing last week on public education issues.  Joe Fleming, GAE lobbyist, presented on private school vouchers.
The next Legislative Update will be Wednesday, February 7
The legislature will be in session through Friday, February 9, 2024
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