Legislative Daily Reports

03/25 - Day 36: Fast Tracking the Budget

Day 36: Fast Tracking the Budget
by Angela Palm on 3/25/2019

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As the day began the General Assembly was down to its last five legislative days to get their work for this session done.  Each chamber is keeping an eye on the other to see what's moving forward, what's not, and what might be used for leverage.  Each chamber had bills we have followed up for a vote today.

Senate 

  • passed the FY '20 budget 55-0 and by the end of the day, all the disagreeing and insisting had been taken care of to put the budget into a conference committee to work out the differences.  At this point, we have the Governor's recommendations, the House's, and the Senate's.  
  • passed HB 130, allowing the Georgia Foundation for Public Education to create a 501(c)(3).  That one can go on to the Governor.  
  • HB 311, changing some provisions for sovereign immunity for the state, passed 49-0 and goes back to the House for agreement with Senate changes.

House 

  • passed SB 48, the dyslexia bill, and SB 60, the Sudden cardiac Arrest Prevention Act, both of which have to go back to the Senate for agreement to House changes. 
  • passed HR 52, urging the state and local school districts to recognize the impact of dyslexia  
  • postponed SB 161, weighting of grades, until tomorrow

Senate Education & Youth 

This Committee held its final meeting of the session this afternoon. 

  • SR 195, urging school districts to have an emergency medical technician at all full-contact sporting events, was on the agenda but Chairman P. K. Martin said the sponsor said they didn't need to take it up this year, so they would skip that one.  
  • SR 64, urging GHSA to add the 4x800 meter relay to state track meets, received a "Do Pass" and provided another opportunity for some to complain about "non-responsiveness" from the organization.  
  • HB 12, requiring the posting of the child abuse hot line phone number in schools, also received a "Do Pass."  Both those bills go on to Rules.

Computer Science Bill 

SB 108, requiring courses related to computer science in middle and high schools, was heard in the Academic Achievement Subcommittee of House Education.  The implementation date was moved forward another year in the substitute bill.  Several people spoke for the bill.  House Education Chair Rick Jasperse told two of them, representatives from the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce and the Georgia Chamber of Commerce, that he looks forward to seeing what they do to support the bill as volunteers are needed to help with this effort.  The bill received a "Do Pass" and goes to the full Committee.

School Safety Bill 

SB 15, the school safety bill that passed the Senate about a month ago, was scheduled for a hearing in the Academic Support Subcommittee of House Education this afternoon but the meeting was canceled when the Chamber session went into the late afternoon. 

UPCOMING SCHEDULE 

Tuesday, March 26th 

The General Assembly will convene at 10 AM

8:30 AM FY '20 Conference Committee will meet in 403 CAP 

1 PM Academic Innovation Subcommittee of House Education will meet in 415 CLOB for a hearing only on SB 163, the Tim Tebow bill

03/22 - Day 35 - Loooooong Friday

Day 35 - Loooooong Friday
by Angela Palm on 3/22/2019

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It was a long crazy day around the Capitol with all eyes on the Senate which took until 6:30pm to complete its business, while the House quickly finished their work and wrapped up before lunch.

In the major news of the day, SB 212, introduced by Chairman P.K. Martin and carried in the House by Chairman Alan Powell was passed the House by a vote of 165-0. As you may recall, this legislation would allow online driver training courses to administer the drivers license test as long as the program is licensed by the State, and that 6 in-car hours of instruction are completed. 

And that was all the major legislation considered by either chamber today. Yep... nothing else happened. 

(Checks notes)

Oh, right.

The Senate spent most of their day debating HB 481, the widely discussed, and widely protested, bill on abortion. I'm sure all of you have seen the coverage in the news, and it will continue to be an issue over the next week plus as we head toward the end of session.

If the protesters were not enough excitement for the chamber, rapper/actor/record producer/songwriter/entrepreneur/author (so says his Wikipedia) Clifford Harris Jr. was recognized by Senator Donzella James for his "musical talent and philanthropic contributions". Harris, better knows by his stage name "T.I." rolled up to the Capitol in an all black Rolls-Royce, catching the attention of all who walked in.

Next Week

Both chambers will be in session on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday of next week, the final full week of the session. Wednesday will be a committee work day.

Monday - House Academic Support Subcommittee of Education will meet at 1 to hear Senator Albers' SB 15, the Keeping Georgia's Schools Safe Act.  Immediately following, the House Academic Achievement Subcommittee of Education will consider SB 108requires computer science courses in middle and high school by a certain deadline. As noted in yesterday's Capitol Watch, the Senate budget includes funding for professional development in these fields. 

Tuesday - In what appears to be the final House Education subcommittee meeting of the session, the Academic Innovation Subcommittee will hold a hearing only on Senator Bruce Thompson's SB 163, better known as the Tim Tebow Bill, at 1pm.  At 2pm, the Senate Education committee will meet. If you're a fan of the 4x800 relay race in track and field, this is the meeting for you, as the committee will take up SR 64, a non-binding resolution that urges the Georgia High School Association to add the 4x800 relay to the state track and field meet. Also on the agenda is HB 12, which requires schools to post the toll-free number to report child abuse and neglect, and SR 195, a non-binding resolution which urges local districts to have an EMT on hand during all full-contact sporting events.

And not to bury the lede, there is still a chance that HB 68, the voucher bill, will make an appearance in the Senate next week. Angela sent out an alert earlier this week with information about the new bill. This report, as well as all past reports, can be found online at GSBA.com or on the GSBA Hub app. Please keep a look out for any future information about the movement of HB 68. 

Lastly, thanks to all who listened to the latest episode of the GSBA podcast, we hope this adds a little something extra to the written reports you receive daily. Look for a new episode next week!

03/21 - Day 34: Senate Shows Its Budget

Day 34: Senate Shows Its Budget
by Angela Palm on 3/21/2019

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Both chambers passed a number of bills today but only one had relevance to K-12 education.  The Senate passed HB 514 creating the Georgia Mental Health Reform and Innovation Commission.

FY '20 Budget 

The Senate Appropriations Committee voted out their budget recommendations first thing this morning.  It will go to a floor vote early next week.  Here are some of the major changes from the House: 

  • $436 million to provide a $3000 raise for certified employees effective September 1
  • $2.3 million to meet the projected need for dual enrollment (the Governor recommended an increase of $3.5 million; the House recommended a reduction of $4.2 million based on provisions of HB 444)
  • $5.3 million for charter facilities grants
  • $1.7 million for sparsity grants based on enrollment decline and to reduce austerity
  • $1.3 million for 11 positions and associated equipment costs for school safety positions to implement SB 15 (this is under the Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency)
  • $1 million for additional counselors and enriching counseling programs for Title I schools
  • $1 million for professional development programs for teachers providing computer science instruction per SB 108
  • $826,000 to RESAs by reducing austerity to the base formula
  • $600,000 for grants to schools for feminine hygiene products for low-income students
  • $250,000 for cybersecurity initiatives in high schools (under the Governor's Office of Student Achievement)
  • $220,000 for systems and schools to reach and maintain industry certification in the field of construction
  • $100,000 for a 2 year dyslexia pilot per SB 48
  • $100,000 to expand the Communities in Schools model of wraparound supports to new schools

Christmas Party in House Education 

The House Education Committee had five bills on the agenda but moved eight bills on to Rules through the common tactic of attaching one bill to another -- sometimes called Christmas tree bills.  Everything was voted out but it wasn't all smooth sailing.

HR 52, encouraging the state and school districts to recognize the impact of dyslexia, was acted on quickly.

SB 83, adding components to the elective for Old Testament and New Testament, created quite a discussion.  Rep. Brenda Lopez-Romero tried to amend the bill to include the Koran so it included the three "sister/cousin religions."  That did not go over well with some Committee members as they asserted this is a Judeo-Christian country and you can't change our history.  Rep. Dave Belton thought adding Muslims would destroy the intent of the bill while Rep. Dominic LaRiccia pointed out that local boards can add to the provisions of the bill.  Predictably the amendment was voted down.  

Rep. Robert Dickey's bill to put the REACH Scholarship into statute was added to SB 83.  It started a constitutional discussion over including the phrase citizen or eligible noncitizen as part of the eligibility.  An amendment to strike that also failed. After a second spirited discussion, the committee substitute passed.

SB 68, relating to financial governance, had two other bills added.  HB 32, moving the Chief Turnaround Officer to the School Improvement Division of the Department of Education, and HB 86, requiring districts to have a complaint policy for teachers receiving their fourth or more consecutive contract so they could appeal their performance rating to an independent third party. 

The controversy in this one was moving the chief turnaround officer from the State Board to the Department.  Some members strongly opposed the move and asked to give him more time.  Rep. Kevin Tanner said, as he has previously, that Gov. Kemp wants this to avoid redundancy and he can make the change in several ways.  There were also questions about striking the section of the current statute regarding grants.  The previous Governor wanted the Governor's Office of Student Achievement involved with the grants; the current Governor does not.  Since he will be a part of the Department of Education funding will be handled through there.

In attaching the bill, the section related to the Turnaround Education Specialists pilot with a stipend funded jointly by the state and district was left off.  An amendment added it back. The committee substitute doesn't include this change. 

SB 48, the dyslexia bill, saw some changes but no other bills were added. The pilot to screen all kindergarten students and those in grades 1-3 who had not been screened was changed from two years to three.  Mandatory testing would begin after the pilot in 2024-2025.

SB 60, the Sudden Cardiac Arrest Prevention Act, created no controversy nor did it inspire any amendments.  

UPCOMING SCHEDULE 

Friday, March 22nd 

The House will convene at 9:30; the Senate at 10 

03/20 - Alert -- It's Back!

Alert -- It's Back!
by Angela Palm on 3/20/2019

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Remember when I said to keep the phone numbers and emails of legislators handy?  You're going to need to get that out for your Senator.  Today in Senate Education & Youth, HB 68 went from a one page bill with 14 lines to a ten page bill with 317 lines as it was amended with the education savings account voucher bill.  

They've made some changes to it so pat yourselves on the back for speaking up -- because none of these changes would have happened without all our voices carrying a common message.  That doesn't mean we no longer oppose the bill though.  There is no electronic version yet with all the changes, but here's a summary of the differences:

  • All students must have been in public school the prior year for the two FTE counts
  • Students eligible are limited to students with special needs, students from families up to 150% of the poverty limit, children of active duty military parents, students adopted from foster care, and students with a documented case of being bullied
  • Enrollment in the voucher program will be frozen in any year that there is an austerity cut to QBE
  • The voucher amount will be calculated with the five mill share deduction made as well as any other cuts to funding going to districts for their students
  • After graduation, funds rolled over from previous years can not be used for postsecondary purposes.  The funds left over are to be returned to the state general fund.
  • The program cap was changed from 5% to 2.5% statewide and a 2.5% cap per district. 

The legislative positions of the members of GSBA include the following:

GSBA is opposed to vouchers, tuition tax credits, K-12 education savings plans, or scholarships whose purpose is to allocate public funds to private school or home study. GSBA urges the General Assembly to include accountability measures in any voucher program including financial and policy transparency, performance evaluation measures, and consequences for poor performance. 

 HB 68 does not include those accountability and transparency measures.  

  • Just as with the special needs voucher we already have, there is no requirement that the private school follow the student's IEP.
  • There is no uniform evaluation of student achievement.  If this is "empowering" parents, where is the supporting structure to help parents choose a school?
  • The names of schools the voucher students attend is protected in the annual report.  Why the secrecy and again, how does this help parents?
  • Audits of the accounts are random.  Public schools must be audited annually.  The Arizona education savings account voucher requires parents to submit quarterly expense reports with detailed receipts. This bill has no such requirement.
  • There is no requirement that the program be evaluated by a third party at any time.  No voucher program we have has been evaluated.  Taxpayers deserve better.

Those are just a few of the issues.  Call your Senator to let him or her know this bill is in Senate Rules.  It needs to stay there.

In Other News 

The last two days were set aside as Committee Work Days. Here's what happened:

SB 68, setting some rules around financial governance issues, and HR 52, encouraging recognition of the impact of dyslexia, both got a "Do Pass" from the Academic Support Subcommittee of House Education and go to the full Committee.

SB 147, on elected officials and lobbying, was heard in Senate Ethics but no action was taken.  It is of course way past crossover for this bill.

HB 322, revising advertising requirements for bids in the Procurement Register, got a "Do Pass" from the Senate State and Local Governmental Operations Committee and goes to Rules.

SB 175, requiring the school district to pay the employer and employee share of TRS for those retirees who are working 49%, was tabled again in House Retirement as was HB 109, changing parts of TRS.

HB 83, the recess bill, was voted out of Senate Education & Youth and it goes to Rules.

HB 130, authorizing the Georgia Foundation for Public Education to form a 501(c)(3), also got passed on to Rules.

HB 530, relating to the extended absence of students whose parents have not notified the state or district of the intent to home school, also was moved on to Rules.

HB 68, as noted above was moved on to Rules as amended.  There were several other amendments attempted but they failed.  Interestingly, somebody knew about this move early enough to bring in Dr. Matt Ladner, Senior Research Fellow at the Charles Koch Institute, from Arizona to testify for the bill. Make those calls!

UPCOMING SCHEDULE 

Thursday, March 21st 

The General Assembly will convene at 10 AM

8 AM Senate Appropriations will meet in 341 CAP to vote out the FY '20 budget

1 PM House Education Committee will meet in 606 CLOB for this agenda 

03/18 - Day 33: Back to Business

Day 33: Back to Business
by Angela Palm on 3/18/2019

The House and Senate zipped through their calendars quickly today to move on to Committee work.  The House passed SB 67, disaster-related capital outlay, 162-0 and it heads to the Governor.

Here are a couple of resolutions of note:

  • HR 531 is a constitutional amendment to allow local legislation to authorize the election of the local school superintendent. Rep. Valencia Stovall (D-Forest Park) is the sole signer but she at least phrased the ballot question honestly.
  • SR 348 would create the Senate Freedom from Property Taxes Study Committee.  The sponsors, Sen. John Albers (R-Roswell) and Sen. Bruce Thompson (R-White), put their goal in the title of the Study Committee.  By the way, there are numerous Study Committees proposed each year but few are approved.  It's good to know what policy changes people are thinking about though.

School Board Appreciation Week 

Before moving on to Committee action today, we want to recognize the service of our school board members.  We have 180 elected boards of education across the state.  Bless them for stepping forward to serve.  A spotlight hits them every time something goes wrong but still they run for the office.  May you be publicly appreciated for all you do!

We frequently get questions about the school boards so here are answers to a few of them:

  • About 60% of the school boards are categorized as non-partisan
  • 63% have five members, 27% have seven -- the rest have either 6, 8, 9, or 10 members
  • The board chair is selected by the voters in 18% of the districts (32) 

Back to Business 

After a three day weekend, legislators were back and moving through bills in Committee meetings.  Here are the results:

SB 83, adding the History and Literature of the Old and New Testament as an elective, received a "Do Pass" from the Academic Achievement Subcommittee of House Education.  The sponsor, Sen. Jeff Mullis, said the purpose is "to teach not to preach." It moves to the full Committee. 

SB 60, the Sudden Cardiac Arrest Prevention Act, also received a pass on to the full House Education Committee.

SB 48, the dyslexia, made it unanimous from this Subcommittee as they also voted this one out to the full Committee.

HB 365, this year's TAVT bill, was amended in Senate Finance to delay the implementation date a year.  It got a "Do Pass" and goes to Senate Rules.

HB 527, adjusting the QBE weights, also passed out of Senate Finance.  Most of the Committee members were puzzled by the bill and tried to be careful they weren't doing something that would cause trouble down the road.  This bill has usually been in the Education Committee where members are more familiar with the terminology. At least they were being cautious. It goes to Senate Rules.

HB 459, creating a school bus driver status verification system, passed by a committee substitute in Senate Public Safety.  Language was added about public safety assistants that had nothing to do with school bus drivers.  It goes to Senate Rules.

The following three bills were heard in Senate Education & Youth today but no vote was taken.  That was planned.  They will probably be voted out of the Committee at Wednesday's meeting. 

HB 83, the recess bill was back today.  This may be the most talked-to-death bill yet.  Several speakers wanted 30 minutes of recess to be required daily in elementary school with no exceptions. Two students testified for the bill -- this made the third year for one of them to speak for the bill.

HB 68, limiting a student scholarship organization from also being an accrediting group, again got puzzled looks from legislators.  SSOs and accreditation aren't two things heard together in a business plan very often.

HB 530 tries to add a layer of protection for home schooled students. It stems from the recent case in Effingham County where two children were murdered. The bill has changed greatly since we first described it.  When a parent notifies the Department of Education that they will home school their child, the Department will notify the local school district.  If the parent does not file the intention to home school and the student has been absent for 45 days, the district would notify the Department of Family and Children's Services. 

HB 59 was the one bill that the  Committee voted out.  The bill started out as allowing a military family to enroll a student in a school when orders have been received but have not yet moved. It got two amendments. 

  • One contained the language mentioned in Thursday's report about giving state charter schools statewide jurisdiction.  According to the testimony, many of the state charters have been operating their meetings by teleconference which a statewide jurisdiction allows.  The Attorney General gave an informal opinion that this portion of the law is vague, so this would clear it up.  The amendment was ruled germane and was adopted.  
  • The second amendment was actually related to the bill. It would allow pre-enrollment at charter schools according to the author.  

It moves on to Senate Rules.

UPCOMING SCHEDULE 

The General Assembly is adjourned until Thursday.  The next two days are Committee Work Days.  Here are the meetings scheduled so far:

Tuesday, March 19th 

10 AM Academic Support Subcommittee of House Education will meet in 506 CLOB to hear SB 68, financial governance requirements, and HR 52, encouraging recognition of the impact of dyslexia

1 PM Senate Ethics Committee will meet in 307 CLOB to hear SB 147, prohibiting an elected official from being a registered lobbyist if compensated by the county, city, or school district.

2 PM Senate State and Local Governmental Operations Committee will meet in the Mezz 1 to hear HB 322, changing requirements for advertising in the Procurement Registry

2:30 PM House Retirement Committee will meet in 515 CLOB for this agenda 

Wednesday, March 20th 

1 PM Senate Finance Tax Expenditures Subcommittee will meet in Mezz 1, agenda TBA

2 PM House Higher Education will meet in 606 CLOB to hear SB 161, weighting of grades

2 PM Senate Finance will meet in Mezz 1, agenda TBA

2 PM Senate Education & Youth will meet in 307 CLOB, agenda TBA 

03/14 - Day 32: Lot of Bills About to Move

Day 32: Lot of Bills About to Move
by Angela Palm on 3/14/2019

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We are entering the home stretch when things will move slow as molasses then faster than the speed of light and back to slow again.  Bills are likely to bounce back and forth between chambers as they trade amendments.  We have 8 legislative days left for legislators to get it all sorted out by midnight (hopefully) on April 2nd.  Please stay alert for changes to bills that matter to you and keep the phone numbers and email addresses of your Senators and Representatives handy. 

There was nothing in either chamber related to our work today, so on to the Committee action. If you have concerns about any of the bills listed below, legislators are home for the next three days.

Senate Education Appropriations Subcommittee

This Subcommittee heard the proposed FY '20 budget review from the six agencies included in the education budget.  There were few questions raised.  The Department of Early Care and Learning (DECAL) reported that its foundation has raised $750,000 so far in its first year in answer to a question.

There were some questions about the funding for the AP exams, funding for the Agricultural Education extended day/extended year teachers and those for the Young Farmers program.

A number of people addressed the Subcommittee as they mostly sought additional funding.  No vote was taken nor any indication given as to any changes they might make.

Dyslexia Learning Opportunity 

The House Education Committee was introduced to SB 48 and the work of the Senate Study Committee on Dyslexia last year.  It is a complex subject and Chairman Rick Jasperse had several presentations to help his members understand the bill and subject. 

SB 48 will be heard in a Subcommittee meeting on Monday although the meeting is not yet posted.

Several bills were assigned to Subcommittees (just to remind you of some bills still out there):

Academic Support 

HB 558 would allow a state charter school with a statewide attendance zone to be considered to have statewide jurisdiction for the purposes of the Open Meetings Act.  This will be wordy, but for your understanding of the bill here's why the change is being sought:  the Open Meetings Act allows agencies with statewide jurisdiction to meet by teleconference without restriction as long as they comply with the statute, such as providing notice.  All others, including governing boards of local charters and local boards of education, are very limited in using teleconferencing:  

  • In case of an emergency involving public safety or preservation of property, they may meet by teleconference as long as notice is provided AND the public can have simultaneous access to the teleconference meeting
  • A member of a local board may participate in a meeting by teleconference if necessary for health reasons or absence from the jurisdiction IF a quorum is present in person and the other requirements are met.  This is limited to twice in one calendar year for a local board member unless there is an emergency or the written opinion of a doctor or other health professional is provided.

Most, if not all, state charters have statewide attendance zones.

HR 52 encourages all schools, local education agencies, and the state education agency to recognize that dyslexia has a profound educational impact that must be addressed.

SB 15 is the "Keeping Georgia's Schools Safe Act."  The bill is a result of the Senate Study Committee on School Safety last year and passed the Senate early in the session.

SB 60, the Jeremy Nelson and Nick Blakely Sudden Cardiac Arrest Prevention Act, requires information be provided on the symptoms of sudden cardiac arrest and provides a protocol if a student faints or shows any symptoms of the condition during or after an interscholastic athletic activity.

Academic Achievement 

SB 83 authorizes elective courses in the History and Literature of the Old Testament and New Testament

SB 108 requires computer science courses in middle and high school by a certain deadline. There is a strong professional development component in the bill and the Senate is expected to add funding for it to the FY '20 budget.

Academic Innovation 

SB 163, the Tim Tebow bill, would allow homeschoolers to participate in extracurricular activities and interscholastic sports at the school to which they would be zoned or at the school the student could choose under any intra-district open enrollment provisions.  The local board would be prohibited from questioning the accuracy or validity of information provided by the parent and from requesting additional information. 

SB 219 requires that high school students and those seeking a GED correctly answer at least 60% of the questions on the U.S. Citizenship Civics Test. For high school students, the test would be part of the required U.S. History course.

Senate Higher Education Committee  

This Committee heard the dual enrollment bill, HB 444, but took no vote.  Members had a number of questions about the reasons and mechanics of the bill.  Chairman Lindsey Tippins noted there are two different academic purposes for dual enrollment and we have to look at the bill in light of both. It was clarified that the thirty hour limitation on state-paid dual enrollment courses is no longer limited to core courses.  Rep. Bert Reeves, a Governor's floor leader and sponsor of the bill, said again the bill is a work in progress.

Senate Government Oversight Committee  

HB 315 is described by the sponsor, Rep. Mark Newton, as a contractor's transparency bill. A contractor helping develop a bid would have to disclose any conflict of interest.  The bill was amended to ensure no conflict with another code section and given a "Do Pass" on to Senate Rules.

UPCOMING SCHEDULE 

Monday, March 18th 

The General Assembly will convene at 10 AM

2 PM Senate Education & Youth Committee will meet in 307 CLOB.  Agenda 

Expect other Committee meetings to be added 

03/13 - Day 31: Inching Toward the End

Day 31: Inching Toward the End
by Angela Palm on 3/13/2019

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The supplemental budget is done as the Governor signed it yesterday.   

Committees are getting started taking a look at the other chamber's bills, but as always they start out slow. Remember this is their first look at the bill, so they have to sort out what the sponsor is trying to do, whether it should be done, whether we can afford to do it, and deal with whatever politics goes along with the topic or sponsor.   

Neither chamber had any bills related to our work today.  Due to the long debate on voting machines in the Senate, the meeting of the Senate Education & Youth Committee was canceled.  Below is an update on where things stand on some bills.

Bills With Questions 

We've received a lot of questions about two retirement bills:  

  • HB 109, making changes to TRS for future members, did not cross over.  It remains in House Rules. 
  • SB 175, requiring payment of TRS on those retirees who have returned to work for 49% of the time, was heard yesterday in House Retirement but no vote was taken.  There seems to be some confusion over this one. Currently nothing is paid to TRS for those salaries.  This bill would require that the employer pay both the employer and employee share of TRS.  
    •  It would NOT require that the retiree taking the 49% job stop receiving their retirement while working.  The confusion seems to be coming from the first paragraph in the bill which is actually current law.  When looking at a bill, underlined language is being added to law, anything with a strike through would be deleted, and anything with neither is current law.
    • There is an expected amendment to exempt RESAs from the bill.
    • I encourage you to look at the impact of this change on your district and let the Committee know if it is a concern for you.  They won't know there is a problem unless you tell them.  This will probably be up for a vote in Committee next week.

The recess bill is another one that has created questions.  HB 83 crossed over and was scheduled for a hearing (but no vote) today in Senate Education & Youth.  It is on the agenda for Monday's meeting now.  Part of the confusion is about what is being required.  

  • Each elementary school would be required to schedule 30 minutes of recess daily for grades K-5 unless the students had PE or structured activity time or if reasonable circumstances impede it. 
  • Elementary schools would be encouraged to provide an average of 30 minutes a day of "supervised unstructured activity time, preferably outdoors." 
  • Local board policy would be required to prohibit recess from being withheld for academic or disciplinary reasons.

 Other Bills

SB 67, capital outlay related to a natural disaster or fire, received a "Do Pass" from House Appropriations and went to House Rules.

HB 182, lowering the threshold for an out-of-state company to be required to collect sales tax for online sales, was voted out of Senate Finance and went to Senate Rules. 

SB 161, adjusting current weighting of grades for HOPE and Zell Miller Scholarships, received a hearing only in House Higher Education.  Chairman Chuck Martin said they might adjust the effective date to cover this year's graduates and consider carrying the weighting on into college for the purposes of HOPE.  A vote next week is expected.

HB 514, creating the Georgia Behavioral Health Reform and Innovation Commission,  was voted out of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee and goes to Senate Rules.  The Commission would be charged with doing a comprehensive review of the behavioral health system in Georgia.

HB 311, on sovereign immunity, was heard in Senate Judiciary Committee today but no vote was taken. 

UPCOMING SCHEDULE 

Thursday, March 14th 

The General Assembly will convene at 10 AM

1 PM House Education Committee will meet in 606 CLOB for a Dyslexia Learning Opportunity as they take a first look at SB 48

1 PM Senate Government Oversight Committee will meet in 125 CAP to hear HB 315, consultants' conflict of interest disclosures

1 PM Senate Appropriations Education Subcommittee will meet in 341 CAP to hear the '20 budget.  Anyone going to this should take a look at the Senate version of the tracking sheet as Committee members will be referring to it and likely will have different page numbers than the House. 

1 PM Senate Higher Education Committee will meet in 450 CAP to hear HB 444, the dual enrollment bill.  It is a hearing only with no vote. 

03/11 - Day 30: Another Day Down

Day 30: Another Day Down
by Scott Bierman on 3/11/2019

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If you were looking for a lengthy update of Day 30 of the 2019 General Assembly session to get you through your Monday evening... unfortunately, I can't help you.

Day 30 was a slow day around the Capitol, with the House coming in at 10am and the Senate meeting at 1pm. Of note, the only legislation considered by either chamber was SR 266 by Senator Ellis Black. This resolution encourages the Georgia High School Association to assess its operations and practices. The resolution passed the Senate by a vote of 50-0. 

Tomorrow is a committee work day for both the House and Senate. Among the committee meetings of note, the Senate Finance Committee meets at 10am, but there is not an agenda as of yet. At 2pm, the House Retirement Committee will take up SB 175, legislation that passed the Senate last week. If you recall, the bill would require employers to pay TRS employer and employee contributions for those who returned to work. 

The General Assembly will meet for Day 31 on Wednesday.  

Last but not least, if you missed any of our Crossover coverage, check out last week's Capitol Watch editions, and the latest episode of our podcast.  Also, we will be answering your questions in an upcoming episode, so if you have questions, feel free to respond to this, or any Capitol Watch email this week and they will be answered in our next episode!

03/08 - Day 29: Only 11 Days to Go!

Day 29: Only 11 Days to Go!
by Angela Palm on 3/8/2019

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This long week is over, hallelujah!  Legislators were ready to head home so they were quickly in and out of session this morning.   We will do a full recap for you of what bill is where but not today.

Instead, Scott and I did Podcast #2 with a quick review of Crossover Day and where we go from here. 

Have a wonderful weekend!

UPCOMING SCHEDULE 

Monday, March 11th 

The House will convene at 10 AM; the Senate at 1 PM

No relevant committee meetings are scheduled at this time 

03/07 - Day 28: It Didn't Happen

Day 28: It Didn't Happen
by Angela Palm on 3/7/2019

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We can cross off Crossover Day this legislative session. Both chambers had some controversial bills that inspired passionate debate on both sides.  None of them were ours thankfully.  There were a few surprises though.
 
First, there were plenty of rumors about what would happen with SB 173, the voucher bill that failed Tuesday, but it did not make a reappearance. Although an intent to make a motion to reconsider was given Tuesday, that was not followed up on today.  There were rumors that it would be amended on another bill on the calendar today or be split up among several bills on the calendar.  None of that happened.  The other rumor was that the Senate will take a bill that crossed over from the House and add the voucher bill. We'll see what happens. 
 
Bottom line: 
  1. Realize that your voices are powerful and your participation in the process matters.
  2. It's not over.  Both the Governor and Lt. Governor want to expand private school choice.  
  3. We heard many times today that legislators had heard from you thanking them for their "no" vote.  That is just as important as the asking for a specific vote.  When they go out on a limb, they need to know you noticed and are standing with them.
  4. All of them are elected officials and need votes at election time.  That does not mean you should threaten them.  It means they need to know what their constituents want. 

Second, HB 32, the CTO bill, did not make it to the floor for a vote. It could be attached to another bill or it could just disappear.  As Rep. Kevin Tanner said Tuesday, the Governor has lots of options when he wants to change policy.

Third, SB 209, eliminating the financial efficiency star rating, had not seemed to have opposition until tonight.  After Sen. Emanuel Jones presented the bill, Sen. Jesse Stone and Sen. Lindsey Tippins took the well and opposed it.  Sen. Jones then moved to table it.  So there it sits.  It could show up in another bill but it's not clear right now if that'll happen.

What Passed? 

The following bills passed and move on to the other chamber:

SB 108, requiring computer science in middle and high school by dates in bill -- remember the Lt. Governor is requesting $1 million for professional development for teachers and the date is set so that the training can be implemented first.  It passed 51-1

SB 213, a campaign/ethics bill, changes some of the financial reporting dates.  It passed 51-0. 

SB 163, the Tim Tebow bill, allows home schoolers to participate in extracurricular activities and sports at the school to which they would be zoned if they attended a public school. It passed 35-19. Sen. Elena Parent tried to amend it to require home schoolers take at least two core courses at the school before they could participate.  It failed 23-32.

SB 219, requiring a minimum 60% score on the U.S. Citizenship Civics test to graduate or get a GED, had quite an interesting debate.  Although Sen. William Ligon took the opportunity to expound on immigration and other issues, he voted for the bill as it passed 47-0.  Rare for a bill from the minority party.

SB 210, the recess bill, was the last bill on the Senate calendar but was not taken up as the House version had already passed that chamber.

HB 83, the recess bill, passed 160-11.  The longer this attempt to pass the bill has gone on, the more the legislature seems to want to require it.  Take a careful look at the bill and discuss any issues you have with your Senator(s).

HB 444, making changes to dual enrollment, passed 99-72.  Some House members had issues with the limitation on the number of hours allowed under dual enrollment and the elimination of 9th graders from the program. 

HB 311, on sovereign immunity, is back again to allow constituents to sue the state. This bill is likely to continue to evolve over the session so we will watch for changes.  It passed 168-4.

HB 315, requiring disclosures of a conflict of interest from contractors working with a local government on a bid or development proposal, passed 161-0.

HB 459, creating a process to verify periodically a school bus driver's credentials, passed 159-11.

HB 527, adjusting the QBE weights for the budget, passed 170-0.

HB 530, prohibiting a parent or guardian from withdrawing their child from public school to home school in order to avoid mandatory attendance, school discipline, parental involvement, or parental responsibilities, passed 135-28. The bill is in reaction to the awful case in which two children were killed and buried in the back yard.  The bill requires parents to notify the local district of the intent to home school at the same time they notify the state.  If the district believes they are in violation of this statute, they are to refer it to the Division of Family and Children Services (DFCS).  If the student is withdrawn without notice or is absent for an extended period of time and cannot be located, the district is also to refer it to DFCS for an investigation. 

About a hundred bills after the day started, there you have it. 

Condolences 

We send our condolences to the family of Skip Yow, who passed away Wednesday.  Many of you knew him whether from his time at GSBA, the Department of Education, a lobbyist, or some other activity.  He was a fighter for public education throughout his life and truly, truly enjoyed his work. "No one ever really dies as long as they took time to leave us with fond memories." (Chris Sorensen)  So Skip, thanks for all the funny moments, the laughter, the music you shared, the stories, and battle plans at the Capitol.  You left those of us who knew you with many fond memories, and we thank you.  Rest in peace, my friend.

UPCOMING SCHEDULE 

Friday, March 8th 

The Senate will convene at 9 AM; the House at 10 AM