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Day 36: Senate Committee Passes Divisive Concepts Bill; FY 2023 Budget in Conference Committee

Senate Committee Signs Off on House Version of Divisive Concepts Bill

The Senate Education & Youth Committee approved HB 1084, authored by Rep. Will Wade (R-Dawsonville), which aims to define and prohibit the use of divisive concepts in instruction. Like SB 377, the Senate’s divisive concepts bill, HB 1084 would also establish a complaint process that begins with the principal and extends to the superintendent, local school board, and State Board of Education. Wade asserted that the bill is needed to ensure that children are not pitted against each other based on their race.

Chairman Chuck Payne (R-Dalton) did not take public testimony on the bill even though Sen. Elena Parent (D-Atlanta) and Sen. Lester Jackson (D-Savannah) requested he do so and a speaker signup sheet was circulated by committee staffers as the meeting began. Fourteen individuals, including a group of students (standing in photo) and PAGE Legislative Director Margaret Ciccarelli, signed up to speak about the bill. Payne stated that 12 opposed HB 1084 and two supported it.

PAGE opposes HB 1084 and SB 377 due to multiple concerns, which are outlined HERE and explained HERE.

The committee also approved:

  • HB 1215 from Rep. Brad Thomas (R-Holly Springs), which proposes updates to several provisions in state law related to charter schools.

  • HB 1482 from Rep. Chris Erwin (R-Homer), which revises eligibility criteria for capital outlay grants to expand access for low-wealth school districts.

  • HB 681 from Rep. Bill Yearta (R-Sylvester), which would require local boards of education to implement a program of study in personal financial literacy developed by the State Board of Education. The program could be incorporated into existing courses.

  • HB 1283 by Rep. Demetrius Douglas (D-Stockbridge), which would require recess for all students in grades one through five on days they do not have structured activities or physical education classes. A version of this bill that passed in a previous legislative session was vetoed by Gov. Brian Kemp.

FY 2023 Budget Assigned to Conference Committee

The House disagreed to the Senate’s changes to the FY 2023 budget, which includes the $2,000 educator pay raise, and the Senate insisted on its position. A conference committee comprised of three leaders from each chamber was appointed to work out the differences between their budget proposals. PAGE is following a last-minute change in the Senate’s budget that shifts funding for the Georgia Network for Educational and Therapeutic Support (GNETS) program to the Quality Basic Education (QBE) school funding formula, as well as other areas of the budget. School leaders have expressed concern about the GNETS funding change.

'Student Technology Protection Act' Progresses

The Senate Committee on Science & Technology passed HB 1217 by Rep. Chris Erwin (R-Homer) regarding student internet access and use of school devices.

The bill updates definitions of child pornography, content harmful to minors, obscene materials, and technology protection measures. It requires local districts to update internet acceptable use policies, including setting appropriate measures for violation of the policies as well as creation of parent complaint processes for alleged violation of the policies. HB 1217 incorporates promotion of safe and appropriate use of technology and responsible digital citizenship into student character education programs.

More from PAGE on HB 1217, which now moves to Senate Rules, is available HERE.

Open School Board Meetings and 4-H Absentee Bill Approved

The House approved SB 588 by Sen. Butch Miller (R-Gainesville), which requires local school boards to provide a public comment period during regular monthly meetings, among other changes. CLICK HERE for a review of all changes made by SB 588.

The Senate approved HB 1292 by Rep. Rick Jasperse (R-Jasper), which prohibits districts from counting students as absent when participating in school-sponsored 4-H programs.

Upcoming Schedule

Tuesday, March 29, Legislative Day 37

Wednesday, March 30, Legislative Day 38

  • House Education Committee, 1 p.m., 341 CAP

  • Senate Education & Youth Committee, 2 p.m., 307 CLOB

Thursday, March 31, Committee Work Day

Friday, April 1, Legislative Day 39


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