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Monday, January 29, 2024 - Day 11
Prior Legislative Updates for this Year

Is this the week we
see a new voucher bill?

Rumors are a new voucher bill may be introduced this week.  Senate Republicans held a news conference today to say they are united in their commitment to pass a voucher bill.

Stay tuned, and be ready to act quickly!

GAE bullet points in opposition to the vouchers may be found at: https://gae.org/issues-and-action/legislative-issues/vouchers

House Education subcommittees met today

The two subcommittees of the House Education Committee met today to consider four bills.

The Education Policy Subcommittee heard three of those bills:

HB 846 would require local school systems to annually notify employees whether Social Security taxes will be withheld from their pay and whether they are eligible to be included in any other pension or retirement plan.  The bill is offered by Rep. Rob Leverett, R-Elberton.  GAE supports this legislation.  The bill was held over until next week to make some minor changes to the legislation.

HB 941 would allow pre-kindergarten programs, voluntarily offered by public schools, to be eligible for state funding for capital outlays, such as classroom construction, equipment acquisition, maintenance, renovation, and repair.  The bill passed unanimously and will be the subject of a hearing of the full committee, possibly this week.  This is a bill by Rep. Chris Erwin, R-Homer, who is chair of the House Education Committee, and

HB 987, by Rep. Chas. Cannon, R-Moultrie, revises the definition of the statutory term "qualified local school system school" by reducing the minimum required millage rate or equivalent millage rate from 14 mills to 10 mills.  This measure also passed subcommittee unanimously and will be taken up by the House Education Committee soon.  The bill would benefit mainly those school districts that have seen sharp increases in their tax digest and are seeing property tax revenue growth.

The Education Curriculum Subcommittee heard HB 822, which proposes changes to sex education and AIDS prevention instruction.  The bill has bi-partisan support.  The bill would delete the word "AIDS" from the part of law that establishes the curriculum and replace it with "human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)."  The bill inserts language requiring the curriculum be "age-appropriate and medically accurate" and makes clear instruction must include "consent."  It requires that K-9 instruction include "awareness and prevention" of sexual abuse and assault.  No vote was taken today in subcommittee on this legislation but a vote can be expected next week.

This week at the state Capitol

The Senate Education Committee has a meeting scheduled for Tuesday at 2:30 p.m. in Room 450 of the state Capitol.  No agenda for the meeting has been shared.  Any number of bad bills assigned to the committee could be called.

The Senate Higher Education Committee will meet Wednesday, January 31, at 2 p.m.  No agenda is yet available.

SB 386, which was introduced late last week, will be the subject of a hearing of the Senate Economic Development and Tourism Committee Tuesday morning at 8 a.m.  The bill legalizes betting on sporting events for the benefit of the State Lottery, and, consequently, for the HOPE Scholarship and pre-K programs.  Atlanta's four professional sports teams support the legislation.  The bill has seven Republican co-sponsors and five Democratic co-sponsors.

The Senate Retirement Committee meets Thursday, February 1, at 1 p.m. in 310 of the Coverdell Legislative Office Building.  Among the bills on the agenda are GAE-backed legislation, SB 206, which codifies in state law requirements that school systems participate in the Social Security System for employees who are members of the Public School Employees Retirement System (PSERS).  The bill will be live-streamed at: https://vimeo.com/showcase/9076396?autoplay=1

Lawmakers will meet through Thursday of this week.

Important Bill of the Day: The House Special Rules Committee will hear a bill Wednesday that would designate cornbread as the "official state bread."

New bills introduced

Speaker Pro-Tempore Jan Jones, R-Milton, has filed HB 1010, which states: "The maximum amount of paid parental leave that may be taken by an eligible employee during a rolling 12 month period" is doubled, from 120 hours to 240 hours, "regardless of the number of qualifying life events that occur within such period."  This amends the law enacted on the passage of HB 146 in 2021 that extended, paid parental leave to full-time state employees and educators.  Leave is given for the birth or adoption of a child or when a child enters a foster home.

HB 1036 requires instruction in pregnancy, health, and human development for students in grades 9-12, which would be part of the health and physical education course of study already required.

HB 1045 would require schools to give notice and receive consent prior to providing students with sexual orientation or gender identity instruction.  Notice to parents or guardians is required 30 days before instruction is to have begun.  "No school shall be required to provide sexual orientation or gender identity instruction," the bill reads.  The bill also requires written parental permission to change a student's name in school records as well as a "copy of a court order providing for the change in the student's legal name."

Finally, the legislation states: "No school nurse, counselor, teacher, administrator, or other school personnel shall knowingly:

(1) Encourage or coerce a student under the age of 18 years to withhold from his or her parent or legal guardian that his or her perception of his or her gender is inconsistent with his or her sex; or

(2) Withhold from the parent or legal guardian of a student under the age of 18 years  
information related to his or her perception that his or her gender is inconsistent with his  
or her sex."

SB 405 proposes amendments to state law so as to lower the age of eligibility to enroll in a "completion school" from 18 to 16 years of age.

State Rep. Pedro Marin to retire

State Rep. Pedro (Pete) Marin, D-Duluth, one of the first Latinos elected to the Georgia General Assembly, announced he is retiring after this term.  He was first elected to the state House of Representatives in 2002, serving continuously for 22 years.  Marin has been a dependable and effective friend of public education throughout his political career, and he will be greatly missed by the Georgia Association of Educators.
The next Legislative Update will be Tuesday, January 30
Some members have reported difficulty downloading the nomination form for candidates for delegate positions at 2024 NEA Representative Assembly
Click here to download the form.  Directions for submitting are on the form.  It is not fillable, and you must print and sign.  You can email a scan or a picture of the completed form to gaeelections@gae.org.
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