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Day 23 Report, Part 1: PAGE Day on Capitol Hill, Public School Tax Credit, School Zone Speed Cameras, Georgia Teacher of the Year, Floor Action




Day 23 PAGE Report, Part One of Two 

Today’s report contains details on education-related events which occurred through lunchtime. Tomorrow's Day 23, Part Two report on afternoon committee activity will be combined with the Day 24 Report.  


PAGE Day on Capitol Hill 

Nearly 200 educators from across the state converged on the Capitol for 2024 PAGE Day on Capitol Hill, in partnership with the Georgia Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (GACTE) and the Georgia Association of Educational Leaders (GAEL). House Education Chair Chris Erwin (R-Homer) shared information on his committee’s work and encouraged educators to form relationships with legislators and serve as policy experts for them. Rep. Bethanny Ballard (R-Warner Robins) and Amy Denty, state director of literacy at the Georgia Department of Education (GaDOE), discussed progress on state literacy efforts and why literacy improvement is crucial to the success of students.  Rep. David Wilkerson (D-Powder Springs) shared his experience as a member of the House Education and House Retirement committees. Event attendees were briefed on important education legislation and the state K-12 budget, and many attendees met with their legislators to discuss education policy and to advocate for students, educators, and public education.  


At midday, event attendees gathered for a luncheon at which State School Superintendent Richard Woods provided candid and thoughtful words of inspiration about the teaching profession.  


Many thanks to Superintendent Woods and all PAGE Day speakers and attendees.  We hope you’ll join us next year for our 2025 event on Tuesday, Feb. 18.  


House Passes Bills on Taxes & Testing  

The House of Representatives passed two education bills which move on to the Senate.  


HB 987 by Rep. Chas Cannon (R-Moultrie) revises the definition of “qualified local school system” by reducing the minimum required millage rate or equivalent millage rate from 14 mills to 10 mills. This reduction would allow systems to further lower their millage rates and remain eligible for equalization funding, a billion-dollar state program for which more than 128 of Georgia’s 180 school districts are eligible.


The bill passed 161-12. 


HB 995, sponsored by Rep. Josh Bonner (R-Fayetteville), requires the administration of the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB), a nationally recognized multiple-aptitude battery assessment intended to measure and predict academic and occupational success in the military, to public school students in grades 11 and 12 who choose to participate. Parents and guardians are allowed to opt their children out of test administration. 


The bill passed 173-2. 


Senate Approves Using Impact Fees for Pre-K & Honors Teacher of the Year Christy Todd 

The Senate passed SB 360 by Sen. Billy Hickman (R-Statesboro) which allows school districts that offer Pre-K programs to spend capital outlay funds on these programs. Currently, capital outlay can only be spent on K-12 facilities.  

The bill passed with a vote of 50-0 and moves to the House.  


During its floor proceedings today, the Senate honored Georgia Teacher of the Year, Christy Todd. Sen. Nan Orrock (D-Atlanta), who authored the resolution honoring Todd, praised Todd for her work as both an educator and advocate. Sen. Orrock also wished her luck as a finalist to be the National Teacher of the Year. Addressing the Senate, Todd stated that for Georgia to remain the No. 1 state to do business, it must also become the No. 1 state for teachers to work. She then thanked the Senate for its support of public educators.  


Senate Budget Writers Tweak AFY 2024 Budget Proposal 

The Senate Appropriations Committee made a few revisions to the Amended Fiscal Year (AFY) 2024 budget proposal the House sent to them. The committee’s changes to education spending include: 


  • $1,579,000 reduction for Communities in Schools 

  • $1.7 million reduction in funding for mid-term enrollment growth  

  • $688,924 reduction in funding for testing including AP STEM exams 

  • $2.4 million decrease in adjusted funds for the Local Five Mill Share for eight new State Commission Charter Schools, up from the $1.8 million decrease in the House proposal 

Committee members also directed GaDOE to use $10 million in federal pandemic relief funds to provide 1:1 match for character education programming.  


The committee approved the AFY 2024 budget proposal, which now goes to the Senate Rules Committee on its way to a vote by the full Senate. 


House Committee Approves Bill Banning Use of School Zone Speed Cameras & Considers Addy's Law 

The House Committee on Motor Vehicles passed HB 1126 by Rep. Clay Pirkle (R- Ashburn). This bill would ban the use of automated speed cameras in school zones. Speed cameras were allowed in school districts starting in 2018. The bill now moves to House Rules 

 

The committee discussed but did not vote on HB 1284, by Rep. Lauren Daniel (R-Locust Grove). The legislation is called Addy’s Law in honor of a young student recently killed by a motorist who passed a school bus while its "STOP" arm was deployed. The bill would require schools to consider reconfiguring school bus stops. Drivers violating the law could be charged with a misdemeanor and fined at least $1,000, jailed for at least 12 months, or both. After a second or subsequent violation, the vehicle owner’s insurance carrier will be notified. 


Ways & Means Approves Public School Tax Credit 

The House Ways and Means Committee passed HB 1167 by Rep. Rick Townsend (R-Brunswick), which raises the annual cap on tax credits benefiting the Georgia Foundation for Public Education to $20 million. The legislation removes the requirement that foundation grants go to districts scoring in the bottom 5 percent on the state’s academic accountability index. It now moves to Rules.  


Upcoming Schedule


Wednesday, Feb. 21 -- Legislative Day 24

  • 4 p.m. Senate Finance, Senate Mezzanine 1, Cap

  • 5 p.m. Senate Education & Youth, 450 Cap

Thursday, Feb. 22 -- Legislative Day 25

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