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Monday, January 9, 2023 - Legislative Day #1

Legislative session kicked off today

Members of the Georgia House of Representatives and the state Senate convened this morning to begin for the first day of the two-year 157th Legislative Session.  Members of each body were sworn in, including 43 new state Representatives and ten new state Senators.

Elections were held in each chamber to elect officers.  Rep. John Burns, R-Effingham County, was elected Speaker of the House, that chamber’s top official.  House Democratic Party Leader James Beverly, D-Macon, moved Mr. Burns’ election by acclamation.

Speaker of the House
Jon Burns
Lt. Gov. and President of the Senate
Burt Jones
Under Georgia’s Constitution, the Lieutenant Governor also serves as the Senate’s highest officer, President of the Senate.  As a result, former state Sen. Burt Jones, who will be sworn in as Lieutenant Governor Thursday, will lead the Senate.

There will be a number of new committee chairs, including a new chair of the House Appropriations Committee, Rep. Matt Hatchett, R-Dublin.  The Appropriations Committee determines how much the state will spend on public education and all other state functions and priorities, including the Teachers Retirement System.  Seventeen of the last 20 state budgets have seen cuts in public education funding.

A new chair will also preside over the Senate Retirement Committee.  Other committee chairs and committee assignments will be announced later this week, possibly Wednesday.  Needless to say, there will be many new faces at the Capitol and the composition of the committees will change significantly from the prior session.

Key issues this session for GAE will include ensuring full funding for QBE and the Teachers Retirement System.  TKES reform is also a top priority.  Proponents of taxpayer-funded private-school tuition (vouchers) will be back with their bills to give any and every student in Georgia free private-school subsidies at the expenses of public education.  GAE will once again oppose all vouchers bills.

GAE also will be focusing on improvements to benefits under the Public School Employees Retirement System (PSERS) for school bus drivers, custodians, maintenance personnel, and cafeteria workers.  The average ESP retiree under PSERS receives less than $300 a month in pension benefits.

GAE will also be working to advance a bill to eliminate school district waivers, which allow districts to ignore state laws and standards for schools.  For example, state laws govern how many students may be in a classroom, but class size maximums are easily suspended by school systems that essentially need only to file notice with the Georgia Department of Education. 
Four vacant seats in General Assembly

Three seats in the House and one in the Senate are currently vacant.  Special elections to fill those vacancies will occur on Tuesday, January 31.

The vacant seat of former Speaker David Ralston, who passed away shortly after the November election, will be filled in a runoff election on that day.

In the Senate, District 11 is vacant; Sen. Dean Burke resigned his seat to accept a position as the chief medical officer of the Georgia Department of Community Health.  Senate District 11 includes the following counties: Brooks, Colquitt, Cook, Decatur, Grady, Seminole, and Thomas.

House District 172, within the footprint of Senate District 11, is also vacant.  Rep. Sam Watson resigned from the House to run in the special election for District 11.

Finally, House District 119, in the Winder-Barrow area, is also open due to a resignation .

Legislative Calendar for the week and session
House and Senate leaders announced a schedule for the entirety of the session, through Wednesday, March 29, sine die, or the last day of the session.

This is the first time in recent memory that the legislature has announced its schedule for the entirety of the session so early in the session.

Crossover Day, the day that legislation must have passed the chamber of its introduction to be eligible for further consideration, will be Monday, March 6.

The General Assembly will meet this week on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday.  The only item on the agenda Thursday will be the inauguration of the governor and other statewide elected positions.

Help us help you.

GAE’s “Legislative Contact Team” Aims to
Amplify Educators’ Voices at the State Capitol

GAE is committed to being the most effective, respected advocacy group in the state.  By amplifying the voices of educators across the state, GAE can influence legislation that helps build the highest quality public education system and ensures the needs of our schools, educators, students, and communities are met.

The GAE Legislative Contact Team (LCT), promotes a coordinated, clear message to represent our legislative agenda, by building and maintaining relationships with legislators in each of the 180 House and 56 Senate districts in our state.

The Legislative Contact Team connects hometown voices with hometown legislators.

Legislative lobbyists at the Capitol can accomplish a lot ... but it’s the viewpoints of educators in legislators’ districts that mean the most.  You are a constituent, voter, and educator whose opinion is important to your representative and critical to the legislative process. Your views can’t be considered by your representative if you don’t step forward and speak up.

The LCT pairs our members with lawmakers to establish relationships and foster ongoing dialogue.  You will be asked to use GAE talking points to convey educators’ view on issues and legislation during the legislative session.  The time commitment is minimal but the return is huge.

We'll arm you with the information you need to cultivate your relationships with your legislator to set you up as the local expert on public education.

Will you join GAE’s Legislative Contact Team?  Just send us your name, personal email, cell number and local association to LCT@gae.org.

We look forward to hearing from you today!

GAE Legislative Contact Team Kick-off Event
Thursday, January 12, 2023, 6:30 p.m.
Register today!

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