top of page

Day 38: Both Chambers Hold Long Floor Sessions as Sine Die Looms

With the end of the 2024 Legislative Session mere days away, both chambers of the General Assembly met for long hours and passed many bills. The House and Senate also took up several motions to agree or disagree to changes made to their bills by the other chamber. Since both chambers must agree to the same version of a bill before legislation can achieve final passage, agree/disagree motions become common as the end of the session nears and the House and Senate work through their differences.  


Senate Further Modifies Literacy Screener Bill and Approves Additional Parental Leave  

The Senate passed the following bills: 


HB 1183 by Rep. Katie Dempsey (R-Rome) would require all local school systems that provide information on immunizations, infectious diseases, medications, or other school health issues to parents and guardians of students in grades six through 12 to also provide information on Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes.  

 

The bill passed 45-3 and moves to Gov. Brian Kemp for his signature.  


HB 51 from Rep. Clay Pirkle (R-Ashburn) would allow districts to use vehicles other than school buses to transport students. Currently, districts can only use other vehicles, such as vans, to transport students with an Individualized Education Plan or those experiencing homelessness. HB 51 also has language aimed at addressing a concern Sen. Randy Robertson (R-Catula) raised about the Georgia High School Association (GHSA). According to Robertson, the association did not sponsor the Georgia Independent Schools Association’s (GISA) membership in the National Federation of High School Associations, which is required for GISA’s membership in the federation. Membership in the federation allows schools to participate in out-of-state athletic and literacy events. Robertson claims his language is to “level the playing field” between GHSA and GISA schools. 


The bill passed with a vote of 50-1 


HB 1010 by House Speaker Pro Tem Jan Jones (R-Milton) proposes to increase paid parental leave offered to state employees, including public school educators, from three weeks to six weeks. The Senate version of the bill requires that employers notify employees upon hire and annually that the benefit is available.  According to the House Budget Office, there is no budget line item for implementing HB 1010, as school systems typically do not budget for paid leave. 


The bill passed 42-6 


HB 874 by Rep. Lee Hawkins would require K-12 public schools to have an automated external defibrillator (AED) accessible during school hours and at any school-related function. The legislation directs schools to develop a written emergency action plan with specific steps to take during a cardiac emergency. The bill also requires creation of an AED internal response team at each school to maintain the AEDs and manage the emergency action plan. Finally, the bill requires two practice drills each school year. Hawkins indicated during the committee process that the House version of the Fiscal Year (FY) 2025 budget contains $362,000 for the purchase of AEDs for the Georgia schools that do not currently have one. 


The bill passed with a vote of 48-0. 


The Senate also agreed to the House version of SB 440 by Sen. Matt Brass (R-Newnan), establishing 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.  


This agreement constitutes the bill’s final passage. It now moves to Gov. Kemp for his signature. 


Finally, the Senate further modified SB 464 by Sen. Clint Dixon (R-Gwinnett). The bill creates the School Supplies for Teachers Program and reduces the selection of literacy screeners, which the Georgia Early Literacy Act requires schools to administer. Notably, the bill requires the state to adopt a list of five screeners, including the free universal screener required by HB 538, the Georgia Early Literacy Act. The bill also moves the dates by which districts must select a screener from the soon-to-be amended list of screeners from 2024 to 2025.  


A Senate amendment to the bill creates a five-member executive committee of the Georgia Council on Literacy. Membership of this committee would be made up of members of the Literacy Council. Each member would be designated by the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, and Speaker of the House. The other two members would be a State Board representative and the Council Chair.  


House Rules Committee Makes Changes to Social Media Bill 

A House Rules Committee substitute for SB 351 by Sen. Jason Anavitarte (R-Dallas) was introduced. This bill, known as the Protecting Georgia's Children on Social Media Act of 2024, seeks to provide protection and restrictions for children’s use of social media in schools.  The version voted on by the House is substantially different from previous versions, and the full text can be found HERE. PAGE will provide a more thorough analysis in a later report. 

 

Senate Committee Passes FY 2025 Budget 

Senate budget writers approved their version of the FY 2025 budget on Thursday, including the $2,500 pay raise for state-funded certified staff proposed by Gov. Kemp. Committee members proposed changes to the version of the FY 2025 budget approved by the House. One notable change sought by the Senate to the education budget is a shift in the use of $6 million to support literacy improvement. Under the Senate’s plan, the funds would be used to provide: 


  • Regional literacy coaches to serve the bottom 25 percent of schools  

  • Required training for regional literacy coaches as well as local literacy coaches and K-3 teachers in the bottom 25 percent of elementary schools 

  • English as a Second Language literacy training to K-3 teachers in the bottom 25 percent of schools with more than 5 percent of students in English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) 


Under the House budget, $6 million would be used for two literacy coaches per Regional Education Service Agency (RESA) and $2,000 supplements for districts’ literacy support coordinators and leads.  


Another proposed change is accelerating the increase in the per member per month (PMPM) cost for the State Health Benefit Plan for non-certified staff members. Under Kemp’s initial proposal, which the House approved, the increase to $1,760 PMPM was effective Jan. 1, 2027. Senate Appropriation Committee members aim to move the effective date to Jan. 1, 2025. In FY 2023, the PMPM cost was $945.  


Other education-related changes in the Senate’s proposed FY 2025 budget include: 


  • $96,000 for one Young Farmer position in Peach County 

  • $100,000 for an adaptive sports program 

  • $25,000 for outdoor learning grants 

  • $500,000 for computer science professional development and direction to utilize undesignated Local Education Agency (LEA) reserve funds for computer science professional development 

  • $475,000 for a supplementary secondary math pilot program 

  • Transfer $1.5 million for a dyslexia screener from Curriculum Development to the Non-Quality Basic Education Formula Grants program and recognize that universal screeners can also screen for dyslexia 

  • $5 million reduction for a universal reading screener for K-3 students to reflect funds in the Non-Quality Basic Education Formula Grants program 

  • $250,000 for a mentorship program to increase teacher retention rates and direction to utilize undesignated LEA reserve funds for the mentorship program 

  • $3.2 million to cover the cost of school meals for reduced-paying students 

  • $263,137 for a 4.1 percent salary increase for certified staff at RESAs 

  • $609,505 reduction in formula funding for school nurses 

  • $5 million for safety training for teachers and for school districts to develop school safety plans 

  • $1 million for construction industry certification and encourage industry partners to provide additional funding 


Senate budget writers also cut from the budget $1.5 million for three heavy equipment simulators. However, they added $10.6 million for districts to purchase vocational and agricultural equipment statewide elsewhere in the FY 2025 budget. They also added $500,000 to the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement (GOSA) to increase funds for the Literacy Lab.  


The FY 2025 budget now moves to the full Senate for a vote. A conference committee of leaders from each chamber will likely be convened to work out differences between the House and Senate budget proposals.  


Monday, March 25 – Committee Workday

  • 2 p.m. House Higher Education, 406 CLOB


Tuesday, March 26 – Legislative Day 39


Thursday, March 28 – Legislative Day 40, Sine Die

 

Comments


bottom of page