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Day 12: House Rules Chairman Dies; Committee Passes Bill Doubling Paid Parental Leave for State Employees & Educators

House Rules Committee Chair Richard Smith Dies

Activity under the Gold Dome began on a somber note Tuesday with news of the sudden death after a brief illness of House Rules Committee Chair Richard Smith (R-Columbus). PAGE express condolences to Smith's family, friends, and colleagues and appreciates his leadership.


More information on Smith’s passing, including words from his colleagues, is available HERE from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.


CLICK HERE to watch Speaker Jon Burns’ and Gov. Brian Kemp’s  memorial for Smith beginning at approximately the 17:15 mark.


Senate Committee Passes Bill Lowering Entry Age for Completion Special Schools

The Senate Education & Youth Committee passed unanimously SB 405 by Committee Chair Clint Dixon (R-Gwinnett). The bill lowers the age of eligibility for completion schools from 18 to 16. The bill also directs the State Board of Education (SBOE), in consultation with the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement (GOSA), to adopt a policy for the Georgia Department of Education (GaDOE) to publicly report cohort graduation rates in completion special schools.


Georgia currently has three completion schools: Mountain Education Charter School, Foothills Charter School, and Coastal Plains High School. A new school will be opening in Zone 7 (Southwest Georgia) this year.


Last year, the General Assembly passed HB 87 by Rep. Chris Erwin (R-Homer), which changed the structure of completion schools. Representatives from the schools report that enrollment is down across all completion schools since HB 87 passed. Lowering the enrollment age would allow the schools to serve more students who have dropped out.


Bill to Double the Paid Parental Leave for State Employees, Including Educators, Passes House Committee

The House Public Health Committee approved HB 1010 by House Speaker Pro Tem Jan Jones (R-Milton), which doubles the amount of paid parental leave offered to state employees, including public school educators, from three weeks to six weeks. Jones said the bill is a needed investment to attract and retain employees at all levels of state government, including in schools. She consulted with the House Budget Office on the cost of the change, and they said it would be a minimal cost to school systems or the state. The bill was approved by all but one committee member, Rep. Jodi Lott (R-Marietta), who argued the state should instead offer short-term disability to all state employees currently without the option. Lott also expressed concern that the benefit would impact the ability of small businesses to find employees.


Democrats and Republicans on the committee all spoke in strong favor of the policy. The bill moves on to the House Rules Committee.


Upcoming Schedule


Wednesday, Jan. 31– Legislative Day 13

  • House Industry and Labor Committee, 3 p.m., 506 CLOB


Thursday, Feb. 1 – Legislative Day 14

  • Senate Retirement Committee, 1 p.m., 310 CLOB


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