2021 Session Wraps -- Lawmakers Send Education Bills to Governor
After the normal Day 40 slog through a heap of bills in both chambers, multiple education-related bills made it across the finish line. They now head to Gov. Brian Kemp for his signature or veto, which he must do within 40 days. Kemp is not required to sign bills. Those he does not sign become law after 40 days.
SB 42 from Sen. Jeff Mullis (R-Chickamauga) requires school districts to post student discipline data on their website. The legislation also allows homeschool students to participate in extracurricular activities at their zoned public school if they enroll in a course at the public school.
SB 59 sponsored by Sen. John Albers (R-Roswell), which increases funding for charter schools approved by local boards of education. The legislation also creates additional opportunity for local charters to join the State Health Benefit Plan.
SB 204 authored by Sen. Lindsey Tippins (R-Marietta), which creates a pilot program to enable students who have dropped out of high school or are at risk for doing so to earn a diploma from a technical college. They would do so while also receiving technical training.
SB 246 sponsored by Sen. Matt Brass (R-Newnan) prevents state agencies and local school boards from regulating learning pods in most circumstances.
HB 287 from Rep. Bonnie Rich (R-Suwanee) adds information on vaping and tobacco products to health classes for students in K-12 as well as information on human trafficking to those classes for students in grades 6 through 12.
HB 32 authored by Rep. Dave Belton (R-Buckhead), which creates a tax credit for newly hired teachers in rural or low-performing schools selected by the Georgia Department of Education.
HB 606 from Rep. Randy Nix (R-LaGrange), which adds the Georgia Independent Schools Association to the list of approved school accrediting agencies.
Lawmakers approved HB 81, which sets the state’s budget for Fiscal Year 2022, starting July 1. The budget contains an austerity cut of approximately $380 million to the Quality Basic Education formula, the state’s primary mechanism for funding K-12 public schools. Due to a partial restoration of $567 million, this austerity reduction is significantly smaller than the $1 billion cut initially implemented to the formula in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. A portion of funds similarly cut from other programs in the state’s education budget are also restored in the FY 2022 budget. PAGE will provide a more detailed review of the budget in its session wrap-up report.
Thank You for Reading
Thank you for following the PAGE Capitol Reports this year. A comprehensive final legislative report and a podcast recapping the 2021 session will be published in mid-April.
Correction to First Published Version of this Report
In our original Day 40 report, we mistakenly reported the passage of HB 517, authored by Rep. John Carson (R-Marietta), which adds several overdue financial and operational transparency requirements to the state’s tax credit private school voucher program. It does not appear that the House ultimately agreed to the Senate's amended version of the bill. It will be eligible to pass in 2022.