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Tuesday, January 31, 2023 - Legislative Day #10
Archives of Past Legislative Alerts

Today at the State Capitol
A joint meeting of the House Retirement and Senate Retirement committees was held this afternoon.  No legislation was discussed.  The committee heard presentations from Dr L.C. "Buster" Evans, Executive Director of the Teachers Retirement System, and Jim Potvin, Executive Director of the Employees' Retirement System of Georgia (ERS.)  ERS overseas the Public School Employees Retirement System (PSERS) for ESPs such as school bus drivers, cafeteria workers, custodians, and school maintenance personnel.
GAE President Lisa Morgan, GAE-Retired President Toni Smith, and GAE-R's Karen Solheim and Lynda Wolfe Smith at today's meeting of the House and Senate Retirement committees.
Immediately prior to the meeting, GAE President Lisa Morgan, Georgia Association of Educators-Retired President Toni Smith, GAE-R Director At-Large Karen Solheim, and GAE-Retired Rapid Response Team Chair Lynda Wolfe Smith met with the new chair of the Senate Retirement Committee, Sen. Rick Williams, R-Milledgeville.

The meeting included a detailed discussion of the both the TRS and PSERS.  GAE was clear on its strong support for TRS and its defined-benefit fund, and Sen. Williams was very supportive.

GAE and GAE-R leaders also spoke with Chairman Williams about the need to address the shockingly low retirement benefits currently afforded ESPs.  Under PSERS, the average monthly retirement benefit $290.

GAE will meet with former Senate Retirement Committee chair, Sen. Randy Robertson about the possibility of legislation to the address the shamefully low retirement benefits under PSERS.  Robertson led hearings last year on PSERS benefits.

Also this afternoon, a joint meeting of the Senate Education Committee and the Senate Higher Education Committee was held on literacy education.  A similar meeting of the House Education Committee is scheduled for Thursday, February 2 at 1:00 p.m. in Room 506 of the Coverdell Legislative Office Building.  The meeting may be watched live at: https://vimeo.com/showcase/8988912?autoplay=1

Today's meeting featured presentations from State School Superintendent Richard Woods and the Department
's Chief of Staff Matt Jones.  Much of the discussion concerned third grade reading scores before COVID and after.
A slide from State School Superintendent Richard Woods' presentation on literacy before a combined meeting of the Senate Education and Senate Higher Education committees.
On Wednesday, the House Higher Education Committee will hold a hearing on HB 39, a bill that would require institutions of high learning in Georgia to issue transcripts even if the student owes a financial debt to the school.  The bill has bi-partisan support.

A couple of new bills filed today:

HB 127, by Rep. Mesha Mainor, D-Atlanta, directs the state Department of Education to:

• Prescribe rules and regulations to ensure that parents and guardians are provided information regarding English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) programs, and

• Establish standards for foreign language interpreters working with students in educational settings.

The bill also requires school systems, in an annual notice to all parents of children with disabilities, and in each notice sent to parents or guardians of an Individualized Education Program (IEP) meetings, provide information related to the availability of an interpreter.

HB 141, also introduced by Rep. Mainor, states that each local school system shall require every student age eight through 18 to undergo a suicide screening at the beginning of each school year.

SB 45, by Sen. Jason Anavitarte, R-Dallas, provides for the creation of a "seizure action plan" to be followed by the school for a student with epilepsy or other seizure disorder.

GAE Facebook Live tomorrow at 6:30 p.m. featuring Sen. Josh McLaurin

State Sen. Josh McLaurin, D-Atlanta, will be the guest of GAE President Lisa Morgan on tomorrow's GAE Facebook Live event.

Mr. McLaurin, a native Georgian, represented north Fulton County in the State House of Representatives until his election to the Senate this past November.  He is a member of the Senate Retirement Committee and three other committees.

McLaurin fought for GAE's position last year against legislation that makes it much easier to ban books from school libraries.  He also has a strong interest in issues pertaining to health care, affordable housing, and equity.

During the legislative session, GAE goes live on the first and third Wednesday of each month.  Tune-in at https://www.facebook.com/gaepresident.


Make a difference in public education.  Introduce yourself to your state legislators today!

As a voter, an educator, and constituent, your legislators value your input.  Your lobbyists at the state Capitol are effective but they are no substitute for the views of a legislator's knowledgeable and engaged constituents.

As a hometown educator - a member of your local community with first-hand experience in public schools - it is critical for your legislators to hear and understand your perspective on education issues.

Take a moment to send a quick note to your representative in the Georgia House and your Senator.  Thank them for their service.  Make yourself available to him or her as a resource on issues affecting our schools, educators, and students.  Set up a meeting with them.  Invite them to your school.

A sample letter is included for you to use as a guide, but your own words and your own experiences will be most effective.  Introduce yourself.  Who are you, where do you work, what is your role in public education?  What are your aspirations for your students?

Your note will be forwarded automatically to your specific individual legislators.  Once you hit "submit," take a moment to note the names of your Representative and Senator if you did not already know them.

As the legislative session moves forward, you will want to follow up with your legislators on issues like TKES/LKES reform, public education funding, educator recruitment and retention, and many other issues that will come up, and GAE will provide you the information you need to do so.
Click Now!
All who value public education in our state will thank you.

Next Legislative Alert will be Wednesday, February 1

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