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Monday, February 26, 2024 - Day 26
Prior Legislative Updates for this Year

House Education Committee meets

The House Education Committee's Subcommittee on Curriculum met this afternoon to hear three bills.

HB 1131 would require all public school students in grades 6-12 to receive at least one hour of evidence-based suicide awareness and prevention training each school year, beginning in the 2026-2027 school year.  The bill passed the subcommittee and a few minutes later passed out of full committee.

HB 1198 requires the Georgia Department of Education to initiate a three-year pilot program in immersive writing in grades 2-4.  There was no vote on the bill.

HB 1276, the Georgia High School NIL (Name, Image, and Likeness) Protection Act, attempts to add guard rails, structure, and limitations to Georgia's existing NIL rules.  The bill was tabled.

The full Committee met immediately after the subcommittee to consider HB 1104.  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."  The bill passed out of full committee.

This week at the State Capitol

Thursday is Crossover Day, the day that legislation must have passed the chamber of its introduction before it is eligible for consideration by the other chamber.

The General Assembly was in session today and will be Tuesday and Thursday.  Thursday will mark the completion of the 28th day of the 40 day legislative session.

The Senate Education and Youth Committee has scheduled a meeting for 2:30 p.m. on Tuesday.  There is no agenda yet for this meeting.

The House Motor Vehicles Committee will meet at 8 a.m. Tuesday to consider a bill concerning the placement of school bus stopsHB 1284, by Rep. Lauren Daniel, R-Locust Grove, states: "In establishing routes for school buses, a public school system shall consider routes that do not have stops requiring a student entering the school bus to cross a roadway with a speed limit of 40 miles per hour or greater."  A bill in the Senate, by Sen. Rick Williams, R-Milledgeville, SB 492 would 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 full Senate is expected to take up SB 147 tomorrow that pertains to students transferring from one public school district to another.

SB 351, called the ""Protecting Georgia's Children on Social Media Act of 2024," passed the Senate today on a 51-1.  The bill proposes "character curriculum" to include instruction "methods of promoting responsible digital citizenship and the safe and appropriate use of technology, the internet, and social media."  The state Department of Education is charged with developing a model program, which must include, among other things:

•  the social, emotional, and physical effects of social media on users,

•  the negative effects of social media on the mental health of users, including, but not limited to, addiction,

•  the distribution of disinformation and misinformation on social media, and

•  how to maintain personal security and identify cyber-bullying, predatory behavior, and human trafficking on the internet and social media.

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."

"Social media platform" is defined as "an online forum that allows an account holder to create a profile, upload posts, view and listen to posts, and interact with other account holders and users."

School districts that fail to adopt a policy in compliance with the provisions of the bill risk the loss of state funding.  School boards are also required to adopt cyber-bullying policies.

Late bill filings in the General Assembly

HB 1350 states: A student who is performing in "stage, screen, television, internet, digital recording, video tape, audio tape, still photographic or phonographic recording of any kind, open air, or runway modeling" shall not be counted as absent, either excused or unexcused, for all or part of any day missed when performing."  The sponsor of the measure is Rep. Tremaine "Teddy" Reese, D-Columbus.

Rep. Lydia Glaize, D-Fairburn, has proposed HB 1351, which provides additional funding for school districts with a high number of "students living in poverty."  "Students living in poverty" is defined by families receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, families receiving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) benefits, homeless students, foster care students or migrant students."

HB 1328, also by Rep. Glaize, proposed a specific Quality Basic Education (QBE) weight of 1.75 for students living in poverty.  By comparison, QBE basic weights for high school students is 1.00, for middle school students, 1.1218, and for kindergarten students, 1.6601.

HB 1381 would authorize the Professional Standards Commission (PSC) to establish a Georgia Literacy Coach Certification Program.  The bill was introduced by Reps. Becky Evans, D-Atlanta, and Bethany Ballard, R-Houston County.

HB 1384, by Rep. Brent Cox, R-Forsyth County, would increase from three to five the number of "days of any accumulated sick leave for the purpose of absenting themselves from their duties for personal or professional reasons if prior approval of their absence is given by the local school superintendent."

Rep Solomon Adesanya, D-Marietta, has introduced HB 1387, legislation that would include
the teaching of [t]he history of Black Americans, including both struggles and the triumphs of Black Americans throughout the history of the United States and the contributions of Black Americans to American society" under the state's "America’s Founding Philosophy and Principles Act."  The Act requires the teaching of the "founding philosophy, principles, and documents" of the United States.

HB 1393, by Rep. Eric Bell, D-Jonesboro, establishes a state salary schedule for pre-K educators that is equal to that of teachers in grades 1-12.  SB 550, by Sen. Derek Mallow, D-Savannah, has a similar intent.

Rep. Bell also has filed HB 1396, that requires the State Board of Education to adopt content standards for a minimum course of study for an English and Spanish dual language immersion program for students in kindergarten through grade five.  Course would provide at least one hour per day of instruction in the Spanish language.  The bill also requires public school districts to implement the course beginning in the 2025-2026 school year.

SB 509, by Sen. Clint Dixon, R-Gwinnett, prohibits state colleges and universities and technical colleges from asking applicants whether they have been "arrested, charged, or convicted of a crime, except for convictions for any of the felony offenses."

SB 527 is another bill to provide a back-to-school sales tax holiday for school supplies and clothing.

SB 556, by Sen. Sonya Halpern, is a bill that would create a three-year pilot program for robotics, science, technology, engineering, and mathematics for students in public schools that performed in the lowest 50 percent of all public schools based on the cumulative individual school ratings prepared by the Office of Student Achievement (GOSA).  Up to ten schools can qualify.
Georgia Library Media Association
issues call to action to contact Senators

The Georgia Library Media Association (GLMA) is asking educators and others to email their individual Senator opposing four bills that would negatively affect students' access to materials.  Click here to register your concerns with your Senator.

The four bills are:

SB 154 allows possible criminal charges against school librarians, media specialists, teachers, and teacher assistants" of "Offenses Against Public Health and Morals" and "Obscenity and Related Offenses" for furnishing students with certain material.  The bill passed the Senate Education Committee on February 22 and could be on the floor of the state Senate this week.  For a long list of all the different media and materials covered, see Georgia Code 16-12-103.

SB 365 would require schools to notify parents and legal guardians of the right to receive an email notification each time their child obtains school library materials.

The bill also requires "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."  This legislation could be on the floor of the Senate this week,

SB 390 pertains to Georgia libraries and the America Library Association.  The findings 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."

SB 390 states: "Notwithstanding any provision of law to the contrary, dues or fees for membership in the American Library Association shall not be paid from such funds or any other public moneys."  The bill passed out of the committee and could be on the floor of the Senate next week.

SB 394 is tied to the state statutory or legal definition of "harmful to minors."  It also pertains to "instructional material," which is defined in Georgia law, and "sexual material" and "obscenity."  SB 394 also creates the Orwellian "Georgia Council of Library Material Standards," a board to be populated by unelected members who will rate and review books in school libraries.

The phrase "harmful to minors" is defined in Georgia law as: " ... that quality of description or representation, in whatever form, of nudity, sexual conduct, sexual excitement, or sadomasochistic abuse, when it:

(1) Taken as a whole, predominantly appeals to the prurient, shameful, or morbid interest of minors;

(2) Is patently offensive to prevailing standards in the adult community as a whole with respect to what is suitable material for minors; and

(3) Is, when taken as a whole, lacking in serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value for minors.

This bill, which the sponsor calls the "Clean Libraries Act"," was also passed out of Senate Education on February 22 and could be on the floor of the Senate this week.

Senate Committee passes bill to eliminate eliminate automatic voter registration

The Senate Ethics Committee passed out a bill, SB 221, sponsored by Sen. Max Burns, R-Sylvania, to eliminate automatic voter registration.  The bill has passed committee and could be voted on by the full Senate this week.

Other election bills offered this session include SB 367, which would completely eliminate early voting drop boxes.  HB 998 also eliminates ballot drop boxes but also eliminates the use of bar codes, QR codes, and other machine coding on ballots, and

SB 446 would reduce the number of days for early voting by five days.

Neither HB 988, SB 367 nor SB 446 have passed out of committee.

GAE President Morgan addresses House Democratic Caucus

GAE President and kindergarten teacher Lisa Morgan was invited to address the House Democratic Caucus's Education Committee last Thursday.  Morgan spoke of several education-related bills that would be harmful to educators and students.  However, she also address several bills that GAE is supporting, including SB 105, which would eliminate the legal cap on retirement benefits for school bus driver, cafeteria workers, custodians, and maintenance personnel.  Click on the photo below to hear a portion of Morgan's remarks on SB 105.

Qualifying for legislative seats is March 4-8

GAE and NEA offer a program, See Educators Run, for educators who are considering running for elected for school board candidate and the Georgia General Assembly.  See Educators Run is designed to help and support educators run for office ... and win!  Training in fundraising, media training, and public speaking is available.
Next Legislative Update will be Tuesday, February 27 - Day 27
Early, in-person voting has begun for the Presidential Primaries in Georgia
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