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Day 21: House Votes to Double Parental Leave and Require Career Readiness Course, New Rules Chair, Education Bills Considered

House Passes Parental Leave & Career Readiness Bills 

The House passed HB 282 by Rep. Mesha Mainor (R-Atlanta) , which would require districts to offer a course on career readiness. On the House floor, Rep. Mainor explained her bill is aimed at developing soft skills and is supported by both the Georgia and Atlanta Metro chambers of commerce.   

 

The bill passed with a vote of 165-0 and moves to the Senate.

 

The House also passed HB 1010, which had been postponed from Tuesday. The legislation, sponsored by House Speaker Pro Tempore Jan Jones (R-Milton) doubles the amount of paid parental leave offered to state employees, including public school educators, from three weeks to six weeks. Jones said the change is necessary to continue attracting and retaining skilled employees. She also noted that taking short-term disability is not an option for many teachers, as most school systems do not offer this benefit. Jones claimed that the budgetary impact to the state and local school systems will be minimal and that schools are already paying for the needed substitutes since many teachers do not return after only three weeks of paternity leave. Several other representatives from both parties spoke in favor of the bill, citing the ability of parental leave to improve health outcomes in both infants and parents. Democratic representatives also voiced support for similar benefits to be extended beyond state employees.  

 

HB 1010 passed with a vote of 153-11 and moves to the Senate.

 

New House Rules Chairman Named 

Rep. Butch Parrish (R- Swainsboro) has been named as the new chair of the House Rules Committee. This position was vacated following the death of Rep. Richard Smith (R-Columbus).  

 

House Higher Education Committee Hears Revised Student Teacher Payment Bill 

On Wednesday, Feb. 14, the House Higher Education Committee considered HB 148 by Rep. Carolyn Hugley (D-Columbus), a PAGE-supported bill that provides stipends to student teachers as they complete their student teaching program. The bill was updated from the version heard in a House Education subcommittee last week, before being recommitted to the Higher Education Committee, to add a scholarship component to HOPE that would provide $7,500 to the student for the duration of their student teaching assignment. If a student fails to complete the student teaching experience, they would be required to pay back the scholarship. PAGE spoke in support of the bill last week and provided comments in support of the bill to both the bill author and Rep. Chuck Martin (R-Alpharetta), chairman of the Higher Education Committee.  

 

Hugley highlighted PAGE’s 2023 legislative survey data on teacher student loan debt to support the bill. She provided information on the Promise Scholarship and Teacher Scholarship that lost funding in 2011. The Promise Scholarship provided financial support to college juniors and seniors going into teaching, and the Teacher Scholarship was for students pursuing advanced degrees in shortage areas such as math and science. 

 

Rep. Clay Pirkle (R-Ashburn) expressed concern that, while this is an important step to support teachers, the bill is providing opportunity for potential teachers who have made it far into the teacher training process. He does not feel the bill would attract teachers into the profession. He also expressed concern that the same type of stipend is not provided to other professions, like nurses or architects. Rep. Robert Dickey (R-Musella) also expressed this concern. Martin, whose son trained be a teacher and has student teaching experience, provided perspective that, since student teachers are often off campus and unable to maintain jobs on campus or possibly use meal plans, it is different to compare student teachers to other professions.  

 

Rep. Kasey Carpenter (R-Dalton) said that internships in general have changed to a pay model, and student teaching needs to follow a similar model by which funding is distributed to school systems to provide a stipend to student teachers assigned in their schools.  

 

The committee did not vote on the bill. Martin said the committee will continue to discuss the bill as the session progresses.   

 

House Public Health Passes Multiple Relevant Bills 

Two bills impacting public educators and schools passed out of the House Public Health Community. Both bills now move to House Rules.

 

HB 1183 by Rep. Katie Dempsey (R-Rome) requires all local school systems that provide information on immunizations, infectious diseases, medications, or other school health issues to parents and guardians of students in grades six through 12 to also provide information on Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. Della Stoner, wife of Rep. Doug Stoner (D-Smyrna) and a diabetes advocate, spoke in favor of the bill, stating that the number of children with diabetes is projected to double.  

 

HB 174 by Rep. Patty Marie Stinson (R-Butler), requiring schools to provide information to the parents and guardians of sixth graders about meningococcal meningitis, human papillomavirus (HPV) and tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (TDAP) vaccines. At the request of Rep. Pirkle, the bill was amended to allow this information to be given by either print or electronic means or both. The original version of the bill required both methods. Relevant dates within the bill were also updated.  

 

House Committee Considers Bill Protecting Charitable Donors, Including Donors to School District Non-Profit Foundations  

HB 1113 by Rep. Matt Reeves (R-Duluth) is intended to prohibit the state from compelling production of information about charitable donors. The bill would also protect donations to some non-profits, including donors to school foundations. When presenting the bill, Reeves explained it would not impact political action committees (PACs) or political campaign transparency requirements. The bill inspired a robust debate, and several committee members expressed concern that the legislation could be used to inappropriately hide political activity. Concluding discussion, the chair announced that HB 1113 would be held for later discussion.  

 

State School Superintendent Woods Announces Placement of Literacy Coaches  

As outlined in a press release, GaDOE announced plans to place 60 full-time literacy coaches in elementary schools across the state. Focus will be on the lowest performing 5 percent of schools. The press release indicates that Georgia will also adopt the proven literacy coaching standards utilized with success by the Florida Department of Education. Find the full list of schools receiving literacy coaches HERE


Upcoming Schedule


Friday, Feb. 16: Legislative Day 22

8 a.m. House Education, 506 CLOB


Tuesday, Feb. 20, Legislative Day 23/PAGE Day on Capitol Hill

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