Another Slow Day at the Capitol
The House and Senate had another quiet day following the frenzy of Crossover Day earlier this week. Frustration is building in the Senate as the House has yet to act on any Senate bills since Tuesday.
HR 650 by Rep. Matthew Gambill (R-Cartersville), which creates a House study committee on literacy instruction, was approved by the House. Since the study committee is not a joint committee, the Senate does not have to approve the resolution. PAGE successfully advocated for the addition of a teacher specializing in literacy instruction to the list of committee members.
House Bills that Crossed Over
The following education bills were passed by the House prior to Crossover Day, the deadline by which all bills must pass the originating chamber to remain eligible for final approval by the General Assembly:
HB 385 by Rep. Shaw Blackmon (R-Bonaire) which allows retired educators to return to work full-time after a 12-month waiting period following retirement while continuing to draw full Teacher Retirement System (TRS) benefits. Employment is restricted to high-needs areas in each region as determined by Regional Education Service Agencies (RESAs) and to retired educators who have a minimum of 30 years of experience. Unused sick leave can be used to reach the 30-year requirement.
HB 1084 by Rep. Will Wade (R-Dawsonville) prohibits teachers and other school district personnel from acting upon, promoting, or encouraging divisive concepts in curriculum, instruction, or mandatory training. It sets up a complaint process for alleged violation of the prohibition and allows for the suspension of school districts' flexibility waivers. CLICK HERE for more information.
HB 1178 by Rep. Josh Bonner (R-Fayetteville) HB 1178 aims to codify parents’ rights related to their children’s education, including reviewing instructional materials. The bill mirrors SB 449, which passed the Senate on Feb. 22. CLICK HERE for more information on SB 449.
HB 1184 by Rep. Al Williams (D-Midway) allows students to take SAT and ACT college entrance exams in school, up to three times. Schools can opt-in to providing the tests. Students are not required to participate.
HB 1215 by Rep. Brad Thomas (R-Holly Springs) proposes updates to several provisions in state law related to charter schools.
HB 1217 by Rep. Chris Erwin (R-Homer) the “Student Technology Protection Act,” updates definitions of child pornography, content harmful to minors, obscene materials, and technology protection measures. It applies to school internet networks and devices. The bill requires local districts to update internet acceptable use policies, including setting measures for violation of the policies as well as creation of parent complaint processes for alleged violation of the policies. Click HERE to review PAGE’s summary of the bill.
HB 1283 by Rep. Demetrius Douglas (D-Stockbridge) would require recess for all students in grades one through five on days they do not have structured activities or physical education classes.
HB 1292 by Rep. Rick Jasperse (R-Jasper) prohibit districts from counting students as absent when participating in school-sponsored 4-H programs.
HB 1295 by Rep. John Corbett (R-Lake Park) removes “needs improvement” as an evaluation rating that could lead to a teacher losing certification if he or she receives the rating two times within a five-year period.
HB 1303 by Rep. Robert Dickey (R-Musella) which would make permanent an agricultural education pilot program for elementary students. The bill does not require schools to implement the program.
HB 1357 by Rep. Tyler Paul Smith (R-Bremen) would require the Georgia Professional Standards Commission (GaPSC) to consider any out-of-state teacher certification program that meets the requirements of the GaPSC.
HB 1387 by Rep. J. Collins (R-Villa Rica) strengthens punishment for failing to promptly pay fines for passing a school bus in a school zone.
HB 1482 by Rep. Chris Erwin (R-Homer) revises eligibility criteria for project-specific capital outlay grants for low-wealth school systems.
Earlier this session, the Senate disagreed with the House version of HB 517, by Rep. John Carson (R-Marietta), which seeks to expand spending for Georgia’s controversial tuition tax credit private school voucher from $100 million to $200 million over the next five years. Read PAGE’s previous alert of HB 517 HERE. It is not yet clear what will happen to the bill—the House or Senate could withdraw from their respective positions, the bill could languish, or a conference committee could be appointed to mediate differences.
Notable House Bills that Failed to Cross Over
Two high-profile private school voucher bills did not pass the House by the Crossover Day deadline. These bills, like others that did not pass, are technically “dead,” or no longer eligible to pass the chamber. However, legislators can attach the language from these bills to other bills that remain viable this session and share similar policy proposals:
HB 60 and HB 999 by Rep. Wes Cantrell (R-Woodstock), similar to SB 601 in the Senate, would create an expensive third private school voucher program in Georgia. PAGE opposes both bills. CLICK HERE for more information on HB 60, and HERE for more information on HB 999.
Senate Bills that Crossed Over
The following Senate bills were passed by Crossover Day and now move forward for consideration in the House.
SB 226 by Sen. Jason Anavitarte (R-Dallas) would require local boards to adopt complaint resolution processes to address parent complaints of student access to obscene materials in schools.
SB 231 by Sen. Jason Anavitarte (R-Dallas) seeks to create a charter school pilot program for adults ages 21-35 who have not completed high school.
SB 266 by Sen. Marty Harbin (R-Tyrone) would prohibit male students from participating in interscholastic or intramural athletics designated for females and outlines a complaint process for alleged or anticipated violations.
SB 267 by Sen. Sheikh Rahman (D-Lawrenceville) originally aimed to allow TRS members to change beneficiaries but this language was removed and the bill now focuses on the Judicial Retirement System.
SB 333 by Sen. Jeff Mullis (R-Chickamauga) seeks to prohibit state agencies as well as school districts and other governmental subdivisions from requiring proof of a COVID-19 vaccination.
SB 357 by Sen. Kay Kirkpatrick (R-Marietta) would allow students in military families to attend any public school in the state provided space is available.
SB 377 by Sen. Bo Hatchett (R-Cornelia) would prohibit divisive concepts, as defined in the bill and relate primarily to race, from being included in curriculum or mandatory training programs and create a complaint process when alleged violations of the prohibitions occur.
SB 397 by Sen. Russ Goodman would update terminology related to General Education Development (GED) diplomas in state law.
SB 435 by Sen Marty Harbin (R-Tyrone) would prohibit public schools and private schools that compete against public schools from permitting male students to participate in interscholastic or intramural athletic programs the schools operate or sponsor for female students and similarly prohibit female students from participating in such programs designated for male students. The bill also outlines a complaint process when alleged violations have occurred.
SB 449 by Sen. Clint Dixon (R-Gwinnett) seeks to codify parental rights related to the education of their children.
SB 456 by Sen. Bruce Thompson (R-White) aims to prevent the distribution of abortion-inducing medication and would prohibit schools from distributing these medications. Schools are prohibited from doing so under current law.
SB 514 by Sen. Clint Dixon (R-White) would prohibit school districts from requiring students to wear masks.
SB 545 by Sen. Sonya Halpern (D-Atlanta) seeks to require schools to include first aid in their health or physical education courses for ninth and tenth graders.
SB 575 by Sen. Lindsey Tippins (R-Marietta) would allow local school boards to review district financial data quarterly instead of monthly, which is the current requirement.
SB 588 by Sen. Butch Miller (R-Gainesville) would require school board meetings to be open to the public.
SB 603 by Sen. Sheikh Rahman (D-Lawrenceville) would enable the Georgia Department of Education to launch and evaluate an outdoor learning spaces pilot program.
Notable Senate Bills that Failed to Cross Over
After a vigorous debate on Crossover Day, SB 601, which would have created the state’s third private school voucher program, was voted down in the Senate. As with the House vouchers bill, SB 601 is technically dead, but its language could be added to another bill that is moving forward. Two bills that would have made significant changes to the organization and governance of high school sports—SB 328 and SB 334—did not move forward.
Monday, March 21 – Legislative Day 32
House Education Committee, 341 CAP, 1 p.m.
Senate Education & Youth Committee, 307 CLOB, 3 p.m.
Tuesday, March 22 – Legislative Day 33
Wednesday, March 23 – Legislative Day 34