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Thursday, January 25, 2024 - Day 9
Prior Legislative Updates for this Year

ESP pension bill passes committee today!

SB 105, priority GAE legislation, passed the Senate Retirement Committee this afternoon on a unanimous vote.  The bill now moves to the Senate Rules Committee and is eligible to be brought to the floor of the Senate for a vote, possibly as early as next week.  Expect to be asked to contact your state Senator to ask for their support of this legislation next week.

The legislation would provide for an immediate but small increase in the monthly pension amount that school bus drivers, cafeteria workers, custodians, and school maintenance personnel receive from the Public School Employees Retirement System (PSERS).  Under current law, the maximum pension benefit an individual with 30 years of service can receive is $495 a month.  The average current benefit is only $290 a month.  This bill would allow benefits, which are capped in state law, to increase.  GAE hopes to see PSERS benefits to double within five years.

Mary Jo Treccia, a school bus driver for 18 years in Cobb County and a GAE member, and GAE President Lisa Morgan thank Sen. Larry Walker, sponsor of SB 105, which passed the Senate Retirement Committee today.

<<< Click on the graphic to access
GAE's two-click process and
tell legislators you oppose
private school vouchers

Rumors at the Capitol today suggest that a new private school voucher bill or amendments to SB 233, which is in the House Education Committee after being voted down last session, could be unveiled next week.

Stand ready for a "call to action" next week asking you to use GAE's two-click process to express your strong opposition to the bill.

GAE bullet points in opposition to the vouchers may be found at: https://gae.org/issues-and-action/legislative-issues/vouchers

New bills introduced that affect public schools

State Rep. Bethany Ballard has introduced a bill, HB 1027, that would make a half-credit computer science course a condition of high school graduation by the 2026-2027 school year.
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Rep. Steven Sainz has filed HB 1022, which creates new penalties for the offense of cruelty to children against a disabled minor ... 15 to 30 years in prison for offenses of the first degree and ten to 30 years in the second degree.

"Disabled minor" is defined in the bill as any person under the age of 18 who has a physical or mental impairment, who has a record of such impairment, and whose impairment substantially affects one or more of the following:

A) Such person's ability to perform two or more activities of daily living at an age-appropriate level;

(B) Such person's mobility to the extent that daily assistance from another person is required and would otherwise not be required but for the impairment;

(C) Such person's cognitive ability or brain development to the extent that daily assistance from another person is required and would otherwise not be required but for the impairment; or

(D) Such person's physical or cognitive development to the extent that he or she is or will be permanently and profoundly disabled.
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SB 390 is a bill filed yesterday that states: "The board of regents shall not use any public funds on any materials, services, or operations offered by the American Library Association or any of its affiliates."  The bill has 22 sponsors.  The findings in Section 1 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."

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In 2022, the General Assembly passed and the governor signed into law SB 266, requiring school districts to establish new procedures for parents to challenge "material" provided or available to students that parents considered "harmful to minors."

The chair of the Senate Education Committee, Sen. Clint Dixon, R- Gwinnett, has new filed legislation, SB 394, to expand the state law to include "primary instructional material," "locally approved instructional materials and content, and "supplementary instructional material" "in any medium, including physical, electronic, visual, and audible."

Dixon's bill also states: "Obscenity in any medium, including physical, electronic, visual, and audible, in public school primary instructional materials, supplementary instructional materials, and school library collection materials is not protected under the Georgia Constitution  or the First Amendment to the United States Constitution."

The construction of the bill would appear to allow private schools to provide material considered to be "harmful to minors" as they are not covered by the legislation.
* * *

Sen. Dixon also filed SB 395, which states, in part: "No student, visitor, or school employee shall be prohibited from possessing an opioid antagonist on school property or at a school sponsored activity."  The bill defines "opioid antagonist" as "a drug that binds to opioid receptors and blocks or inhibits the effect of opioids acting on those receptors, including, but not limited to, naloxone, hydrochloride, or any other similarly acting drug."

General Assembly schedule for next week

Monday, January 29 - Day 11
Tuesday, January 30 - Day 12
Wednesday, January 31 - Day 13
Thursday, February 1 - Day 14

As of this writing, very few committee meetings have been posted for next week, and none directly affecting education.

The next Legislative Update will be Monday, January 29
Some members have reported difficulty downloading the nomination form for candidates for delegate positions at 2024 NEA Representative Assembly
Click here to download the form.  Directions for submitting are on the form.  It is not fillable, and you must print and sign.  You can email a scan or a picture of the completed form to gaeelections@gae.org.
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