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Tuesday, March 28, 2023
Last Day of Session Tomorrow

Archive of Past Legislative Alerts



Your phone calls and emails to members of the Georgia House of Representatives are working!

As of last evening, pro-voucher advocates had not coerced enough support to assure passage of this year's bill to expand private school vouchers in the state, SB 233 - despite Gov. Brian Kemp's endorsement of the measure yesterday.

If you have not contacted legislators telling them of your opposition to the bill, please do so NOWClick here to send an email to targeted legislators.  If you have already contacted legislators, please do so again.  Please share this link with your colleagues, friends, and family asking them to also reach out to legislators.

As cruel as it seems, SB 233 strips state funding from the poorest 25% of schools in Georgia to help pay the private school bills of more privileged students.

For every tax dollar an "under-performing" public school receives from the state for an enrolled student, two dollars are transferred to the private school that enrolls a student with the voucher.  Homeschooling costs are also covered by the bill, which are on average six times less than the $6,500 voucher.

The bill proposes nothing to address the underlying reasons why schools would be on a list of "under-performing" or poorest schools, just defunds them.

Literacy bills pass in Senate

HB 538 and SB 211, literacy legislation, passed the state Senate yesterday, 48-1 and 55-0, respectively.

HB 538 requires the administration of three universal reader tests each year, with the first to occur in the first 30 days of the start of the school year.  The bill also requires: "tiered reading intervention plans for public school students in kindergarten through third grade who at any time during the school year exhibit a significant reading deficiency."

Further, the bill requires all kindergarten through third-grade teachers, by July 1, 2025, complete a literacy training program.  HB 538 will not be able to be waived by school systems, including local and state chartered schools and school systems.

SB 211 creates the Georgia Council on Literary to review the literacy programs in the state and make recommendations to improve literacy and reading comprehension.  The bill now goes to Gov. Brian Kemp for his signature.
ESP retirement bill passes the House of Representatives last evening
ESP retirement bill passes House
Legislation inspired by GAE's initiative to improve salaries and benefits for Education Support Professionals (ESPs) passed the House of Representatives late last night, 165-1.

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.  These employees' pension 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 provide another qualifying plan.

Meanwhile, a GAE-backed bill, SB 105, earlier was referred for an actuarial study by the Senate Retirement Committee.  This bill would allow retirement benefits for PSERS participants to rise as high as the General Assembly would fund them.  The current average monthly benefit is $290 a month.

Monthly benefits are calculated using a simple formula, a dollar amount multiplied by years of service.  Currently, that multiplier is set at $16.00.  It could rise to $16.50, but no higher, under current state law.

SB 105 eliminates that multiplier cap altogether and creates a $17 minimum.  The multiplier could never drop below that.  SB 105 would be eligible for a vote in the Senate next session after the completion of the actuarial study.

GAE has also worked with legislators in the House and Senate to increase the multiplier to the maximum allowed under current law.  The versions of next year's state budget that have passed the House of Representatives and the Senate include funding to do that.  Retirees would receive the increase in benefits beginning July 1, 2023.

Bills eligible for consideration on last day of session

In addition to the voucher bill described above, other education-related legislation that may be considered tomorrow, the final day of the 2023 legislative session:

HB 51, legislation to allow schools to use mini-vans or SUVs to transport up to eight students to events like sporting and scholastic competitions or events.

HB 338, a bill that requires internet filters on all school-issued technology to prohibit access to web sites that are deemed "harmful to minors."

HB 340, a bill that would protect daily planning periods for educators in grades K-12
Next Update will be Thursday, March 30 - Sine Die Review
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