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Day 36: Final 2024 Committee Push Underway – Social Media Bill Progresses; Accelerated Career Diploma Program Approved by House

Floor Action on Education Bills 


The House approved two education bills, which both move back to the Senate to agree or disagree on changes:

  • SB 169 by Sen. Chuck Payne (R-Dalton) makes several changes to Georgia’s student disciplinary tribunal process, such as limiting the extension of hearing dates for student tribunals and requiring that suspended students receive appropriate instructional materials.  The bill passed 167-1. 

  • SB 440 by Sen. Matt Brass (R-Newnan) establishes the Accelerated Career Diploma Program. It outlines requirements for students to receive a related high school diploma, including requiring them to complete an associate degree in a program included on the High-Demand Career List published by the State Workforce Development Board. The bill also establishes the ACE Grants program to award accelerated career education grants to students participating in the Accelerated Career Diploma Program. Finally, SB 440 requires all students to complete at least a half-credit course in the foundations of algebra. The bill received strong bipartisan support in comments made by representatives on the floor and was approved 168-0. 



The Senate agreed to the House’s version of SB 50 by Sen. Max Burns (R-Sylvester), allowing schools to provide lifeguarding and aquatic safety instruction for students in grades nine through 12. The bill does not mandate that schools offer the program. The course would count as a half credit for students who complete the program.  The bill moves on to Gov. Brian Kemp for his signature. 


School Safety and Social Media Bills Move Forward 

Immediately following a brief subcommittee meeting, the full House Education Committee met and approved two bills, both of which move forward to the House Rules Committee to be scheduled for a floor vote.


SB 32 by Sen. Jason Anavitarte (R-Dallas), “Alyssa’s Law,” requires school districts to implement a mobile panic alert system capable of connecting in real-time to local law enforcement. The bill was updated since being approved in subcommittee to allow for technology already used by the Georgia Emergency Management Agency (GEMA) in school systems to meet the requirement. The bill was also updated to push back implementation dates to provide more time for schools to meet requirements. 


SB 351 by Sen. Anavitarte seeks to require local school boards to create social media policies prohibiting students from accessing social media through school-owned devices or internet services. The State Board of Education (SBOE) is empowered to review these policies and may withhold funding from non-compliant schools and districts. Additionally, existing local board bullying policies must be expanded to address cyberbullying and provide information on resources and services related to addressing bullying. SB 351 requires social media companies to verify user ages, prevent minors from holding social media accounts without parental consent, and provide additional privacy protection for minor account holders. The bill presented in committee today also includes HB 910 by Rep. Rick Jasperse (R-Jasper), which requires identity and age verification to access pornographic websites. This additional provision also provides penalties for porn providers which fail to make reasonable efforts to verify user age.


During committee discussion, Rep. Rick Townsend (R-Brunswick) expressed concern that SB 351 may impact social media platforms used exclusively in schools, such as Blackboard, and asked if the bill should be amended to protect these platforms. Legislative counsel responded that local boards of education could address this issue when developing district policies. Townsend did not pursue the amendment. 


Rep. David Wilkerson (D-Powder Springs) considered expanding the bill to cover students from Pre-K to 12th grade. Some members expressed concern with providing information on cyberbullying to students at such a young age, and Wilkerson also withdrew his amendment. 


Committee Hears Library Bill 

The House Higher Education Committee heard but did not vote on SB 390 by Sen. Larry Walker III (R-Perry), which bars city, county, and regional library trustees and the State University System of Georgia from using any public or privately donated funds on any materials, services, or operations offered by the American Library Association (ALA) and its affiliates. The bill's current version allows funds to be allocated for the certification of degree programs. It moves the certification of librarians to the Georgia Council of Public Libraries. Committee discussion with Sen. Walker was vigorous, with Democrats pushing back on legislating against specific organizations based on political ideology and the potential impact on affiliate organizations. Committee Chair Chuck Martin (R-Alpharetta) also shared concern about the effect on some ALA affiliate organizations.  


Martin recognized 17 speakers who signed up to either support or oppose SB 390, including librarians.   


Outdoor Classroom Pilot Program Approved by Subcommittee 

The House Education Curriculum Subcommittee approved SB 202 by Sen. Sheikh Rahman (D-Lawrenceville), which enables the Georgia Department of Education to launch and evaluate an outdoor learning spaces pilot program. The bill moves forward to the full House Education Committee for consideration.  


Upcoming Schedule 


Tuesday, March 19 - Committee Workday 

  • Senate Education & Youth Committee, 450 CAP, 9 a.m. 

  • House Governmental Affairs Committee, 406 CLOB, 10 a.m. 

  • House Public Safety & Homeland Security Committee, 506 CLOB, 2 p.m. 

  • Senate Education & Youth Committee, 450 CAP, 2:30 p.m. 

  • House Retirement Committee, 406 CLOB, 3 p.m. 


Wednesday, March 20 - Legislative Day 37 


Thursday, March 21 – Legislative Day 38 




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