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Friday, February 23, 2024
Monday is Day 26 out of 40
Prior Legislative Updates for this Year

Morning at the State Capitol just before GAE's lobby day
275 GAE members flooded
the Capitol yesterday
Legislators were wowed yesterday when 275 members of the Georgia Association of Educators descended on the Capitol to advocate for GAE's legislative agenda.
In the morning, GAE members heard from State School Superintendent Richard Woods, Rep. Gerald Greene, and Rep. Ken Vance.
Superintendent Woods updated members on the work of the Georgia Department of Education.  In 2022, GAE endorsed Woods in his race for state superintendent, largely because of his support of educators.  Woods is a former classroom teacher himself.

Greene, R-Cuthbert, is the most senior member of the Georgia House of Representatives having been a member of that chamber for 42 years.  He was an educator and former member of GAE for 32 years.

Rep. Ken Vance, R-Milledgeville, is also a former GAE member and classroom teacher.

Each gave rousing speeches on the importance of public education that had attendees on their feet.

Rep. David Wilkerson, D-Cobb County
Sen. Derek Mallow, D-Savannah 
Sen. Larry Walker of Perry, Georgia, visits with GAE members "on the ropes" outside of the Senate chamber.
Photos from GAE's 2024  Day at the Capitol

Education bills move in the House

A bill pertaining to the existing Special Needs voucher program passed the House of Representative yesterday 169-0.

The bill, HB 579, ostensibly cleans up language regarding the voucher program 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 taxpayer-paid voucher.  It also provides for electronic transfer of funds directly to private schools participating in the program.

The bill that passed the House also includes language that allows the Georgia Department of Education "to require any pertinent information as it deems necessary from participating schools for the purpose of implementing the program," which may increase accountability and transparency to a program where there is also none currently.  The bill also now includes language to disclose "eligibility for free or reduced price meals under federal guidelines at the time each student commenced participating in the program," which could also provide information as to the utilization of the Special Needs voucher.

The House Education Committee's Subcommittee on Policy met yesterday to hear three bills, including:

HB 936 is a bill that requires elementary and secondary students to use the restrooms, locker rooms, changing rooms, and shower rooms associated with the gender assigned at birth.  The bill also applies to sleeping accommodations on school-sponsored overnight trips.  There was not vote on the bill yesterday,

HB 1186 creates a new school rating system and requires all individual school and school rankings be published on the public web sites of the the Department of Education as well as school and school system web sites.  The bill would require grades of school systems on a scale of 0-100.  The bill was passed out the subcommittee and, later in the day, passed out of the full House Education Committee.  The bill is now eligible for consideration by the full House next week, and

HB 1221 pertaining to student transfers from one public school system to another.  The bill makes such transfers "subject only to approval of the enrolling student and the local unit of administration in which the student seeks to enroll."  The bill passed out of subcommittee, and later that day, passed out of the House Education Committee.

The full House Education Committee yesterday also debated:

HB 1122, which specifies funding for locally chartered and state chartered schools for superintendents and principals.  The bill cleared the committee and could be available for a vote of the House of Representatives next week, and

HB 846, a GAE-backed bill to require local school systems to notify employees at the time of hire whether or not social security taxes will be withheld from their pay, if they are eligible to be included in a plan with coverage for the benefits of Title II of the Social Security Act, and if the employee is eligible to be included in any other pension or retirement plan.  Additional notification is required every five years.

Earlier, in subcommittee, GAE President Lisa Morgan testified before the committee giving GAE's support for the bill, which is sponsored by Rep. Rob Leverett of Elberton.  Morgan suggested the committee amend the bill to include another notification at the time the employee ends their employment with the district.  The author immediately accepted Morgan's idea as a friendly amendment, and the bill was amended with her suggestion.  HB 846 passed the House Education Committee yesterday.

Two other bills were given a "do pass" recommendation by the House Education Committee:

HB 822, which makes changes to the curriculum of sex education and HIV prevention that the sponsor says are "age appropriate" and "medically accurate."  The bill had support from both Republicans and Democrats, and

HB 1027, which requires a computer science course, in an in-person or virtual, as a high school graduation requirement beginning in the 2030-2031 school year.

Next 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 will be in session Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday of next week. 

The House Education Committee has scheduled a meeting Monday at 2 p.m.  No agenda has been published.  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 either.

Next Legislative Update will be Monday, February 26
Early, in-person voting has begun for the Presidential Primaries in Georgia
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