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Day 37: Gov. Kemp Signs Unmask Georgia Students Act; News Conference on Divisive Concepts

Governor Signs 'Unmask Georgia Students Act'

Flanked by school children, legislators, and some educators, Gov. Brian Kemp signed SB 514, the “Unmask Georgia Students Act” sponsored by Sen. Clint Dixon (R-Buford) on behalf of the governor. The law allows parents to opt out of local school mask requirements. It becomes effective today and is slated to sunset in 2027.

Lawmakers Hold Press Conference on Divisive Concepts Bills, Invite Students to Speak

Democratic House and Senate members held a morning news conference about legislation prohibiting the teaching of “Divisive Concepts” in public schools. One such bill passed the Senate Education & Youth Committee yesterday, though in an irregular move, the chair did not allow any public testimony. Among the individuals who signed up to speak were high school students who traveled from Savannah to address lawmakers. Read more in PAGE’s Day 36 Report. Several of those students spoke in opposition to “Divisive Concepts” legislation at today’s news conference and shared their feelings about how the instructional prohibitions will affect them.

House Approves Bill Prohibiting Vaccine Mandates by School Districts

The House and Senate Rules calendars continue to get crowded as legislators gear up for Sine Die, the final day of the legislative session on Monday, April 4. The House held spirited debate on SB 345 by Sen. Jeff Mullis (R-Chickamauga), a bill which prohibits public employers, including school districts, from requiring that employees receive the COVID-19 vaccine. The prohibition would sunset on June 30, 2023.

The House also passed SB 397 by Sen. Russ Goodman (R-Cogdell), which aims to alter the time frame when students are allocated a voucher to cover the cost of taking the high school equivalency exam (GED). Under SB 397, the funds would be distributed to the technical college system, which administers the exam, before the student takes it to cover the fee upfront instead of using it to reimburse students.

Budget Conference Committee Meets

The conference committee working to reach consensus on House and Senate differences in the Fiscal Year 2023 budget held its first meeting. Their work will be led by Rep. Terry England (R-Auburn), chair of the House Appropriations Committee, and Sen. Blake Tillery (R-Vidalia), chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee. The chairmen expressed confidence that the differences in their budget proposals would be resolved.

Upcoming Schedule

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 Workday

Friday, April 1: Legislative Day 39

Saturday, April 2: Committee Workday

Sunday, April 3: Committee Workday

Monday, April 4: Day 40/Sine Die


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