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Wednesday, March 20, 2024 - Day 37
Three legislative days remain
General Assembly will adjourn on March 28



SB 233, a bill to create a new private school voucher program, which passed the Georgia House of Representatives last Thursday by one vote, passed the Senate this afternoon around 4 p.m.  The Senate agreed to the House amendments to the bill.  The Senate vote was 33-21, split along party lines.  The bill will now go to Gov. Brian Kemp for his signature of approval or veto.  He is expected to sign the bill.
A bill, SB 105, to eliminate the current freeze on retirement benefits for school bus drivers, nutrition workers, custodians, and maintenance personnel, passed out of the House Retirement Committee yesterday in a unanimous vote.

The bill eliminates the current cap in state law that prevents any future increases in monthly pension benefits for members of the Public School Employees Retirement System (PSERS).
  The average monthly pension amount for current retirees is $290.

The bill is now in the House Rules Committee
, which determines which bills are considered and when they are scheduled for consideration on the floor of the state House of Representatives.
The Senate Education and Youth Committee yesterday attached language from several controversial bills onto HB 1104, a bill to allow voluntary mental health screenings for student-athletes who get physicals for sports participation.  HB 1104 previously passed the House by a 159-4 vote.

Added to the bill were provisions from bills that had not passed the Senate by the Crossover Day and that would:

Require that parents and guardians "opt-in" rather "opt-out" students for sex education classes, language that originally appeared in SB 532 and mandate that no sex education may be conducted before the sixth grade.  School systems themselves could opt-out of offering sex education classes,

Resurrect SB 365, which requires that public school libraries notify parents and guardians of any material checked out by their child,

Require students use the restrooms or locker rooms associated with the gender determined at birth and prohibits "any person whose gender is male but whose gender identity is female to participate in any interscholastic athletics designated for females."  This is language previously found in SB 438.  This section of the amended bill defines "sex" as: "the biological state of being male or female, in the context of reproductive potential or capacity, based on the individual's sex organs, chromosomes, naturally occurring sex hormones, gonads, and internal and external genitalia present at birth, including secondary sex characteristics.  An individual's sex can be observed or clinically verified at or before birth."

Provisions of the original bill SB 438 applied to public and private schools.  However, Rep. Greg Dolezal, R-Cumming, stripped out all requirements for private schools, and

Expand the "Parents Bill of Rights" that passed a few years ago to create a new parental complaint process to challenge "instructional material."  The bill now expands to cover "any written or electronic materials made available students in a public school, including classroom materials, school library materials, or any materials made available to a public school student as part of an extracurricular activity offered or supervised by the public school."
Senate Education Committee meets
again tonight at 7:30 p.m.
The Senate Education Committee meets again tonight at 7:30 p.m. to consider six bills.  Legislation to be considered includes a study committee on school bus stop safety, regular notification to educators of retirement benefits available to them, and the establishment of a new QBE weight for school districts with a large number of students living in poverty.

A full report will be in tomorrow's Legislative Update.
The Senate Education Committee also gave a do-pass recommendation to HB 51, which allows school systems to use vehicles other than school buses, such as mini-vans or SUVs, to transport students to school-related activities.
The next GAE Legislative Update will be Thursday, March 21, Day 38.
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