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Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Update on bill signings

GOVERNOR SIGNS ADDITIONAL BILLS AFFECTING PUBLIC EDUCATION

The 40-day window in which Georgia's governor may sign or veto legislation passed during the past legislative session has closed. 
The first year of the two-year, 156th Session of the Georgia General Assembly convened on Monday, January 11, 2021.  The session concluded on Wednesday, March 31, 2021.

Among the most recent bill signings was, unfortunately,  SB 47.  SB 47 adds 7000 additional medical conditions as qualifying events for students to become eligible for the existing state voucher plan.  Students with 504 plans also now qualify for the vouchers.  The legislation was signed into law on May 6.  It narrowly passed by a 10-vote margin in the 180-person state House of Representatives.  Three other voucher bills were defeated during the session.

The governor also signed SB 42, which allows home-schooled students to participate in their local public school's athletic programs and extra-curricular activities.  This bill originally sought to remove discipline data from school climate ratings but in the final version the reporting of discipline data was restored.

SB 159 will allow school districts to utilize motor vehicles other than school buses for the transportation of school children to and from school and school activities.  Allowed vehicles must have a capacity of eight or less.  "Local boards of education may authorize the use of vehicles other than school buses for the transport of students who are documented in an Individualized Education Program as recipients of special education."


Kemp also signed the state budget for the 2021-2022 fiscal year, HB 81, which cuts $400 million from QBE and public education, this on top of another $400 million that was cut from the current year.

Education-related bills that
Gov. Brian Kemp has signed


PREVIOUSLY REPORTED BILL SIGNINGS

HB 32 - Provides for a $3,000-a-year, refundable tax credit for teachers who sign a new, first-time contract in a rural or low-performing school district teaching subjects area identified as the three content areas with the highest unfilled positions as determined by each RESA (Regional Education Services Area) district.  Participation is limited to one-thousand teachers.  The bill does not offer the tax credit to teachers who are or have been teaching in such districts. Signed April 21, 2021.

HB 146 - Provides employees three weeks of state-paid parental leave after the birth, adoption or foster placement of a child.  Almost 134,000 K-12 educators and 46,000 University System of Georgia employees will be covered as well as "classroom aides, paraprofessionals, and non-certified administrative and clerical personnel."  Signed May 5, 2021.

HB 287 - Includes tobacco and vaping products in the course of instruction regarding alcohol and drugs required each year for all students in grades kindergarten through 12.  Signed April 28, 2021.

SB 59 - A bill that increases QBE funding for locally chartered schools and also prohibits the Department from approving district-requested waivers for early intervention programs.  Signed May 4, 2021.

SB 66 -
Permits the Georgia Foundation for Public Education to accept private donations to be used for grants to public schoolsSigned May 4, 2021.

SB 88 - Aims to address the shortage of educational professionals in Georgia with a number of programs, including involving the armed services and Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) in the recruitment, training, and retention of teachers.  The measure also provides that the Georgia "Teacher of the Year" shall be invited to serve as an advisor ex-officio to the State Board of Education.  Signed May 4, 2021.

SB 153 - The Graduation Opportunities and Advanced Learning (GOAL) Act seeks to support students returning to school who have previously dropped out.  Signed May 4, 2021.

SB 159 - Allows school districts to utilize motor vehicles with a capacity of eight persons or less, operated and marked for the transportation of school children to and from school activities.  Signed May 4, 2021.

SB 213 - Allows school systems to use E-SPLOST funds to install equipment that reduces energy or water waste.  Signed May 4, 2021.
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