Legislative Daily Reports

11/05 - Senate Study Committee on Age of Mandatory Education

Senate Study Committee on Age of Mandatory Education
by Justin Pauly on 11/5/2021


Senate Study Committee on Age of Mandatory Education

Senator Lindsey Tippins, 37th 

Senator John Albers, 56th 

Senator Lester Jackson, 2nd

Senator Gail Davenport, 44th

Chairman Chuck Payne, 54

The Study Committee on Age of Mandatory Education, created by SR 192, held its final meeting Wednesday.  The committee’s purpose was to discuss raising the age of mandatory education from 16 to 17. This has been proposed several times but so far has been unsuccessful. The Study Committee was created in response to Sen. Lester Jackson’s SB 3.  A fiscal note on the bill estimated the cost to the state would have been $12.7 million in FY ’20.

Senator Tippins was not in favor of raising the age from 16 to 17. He said there is a need to fix deficiencies in the system before raising the age. He felt that schools cannot force children to learn. He also noted that the resources it takes to keep students will not give a return on investment. He felt they must address issues early on with early intervention, in addition to raising the age to 17. He noted that enforcement will also be a challenge and that national studies have shown there is no correlation between mandatory age and graduation. 

Senator Jackson and Senator Albers favored raising the age; Senator Davenport supported the recommendation of raising the age to 17 as long as support services are in the recommendation.  Sen. Davenport proposed a bill in 2021, SB 106, related to wrap around services in earlier grades.  Her bill passed the Senate but not the House Education Committee.  GSBA’s Legislative Position:  3.A.1 Compulsory Attendance GSBA supports compulsory enrollment in educational programs for persons ages six years to 18 years who have not graduated from high school. 

The committee amended the recommendation with Senator Tippins points added for raising age to 17 with wrap around support services. Sen Tippins moved to accept the study committee recommendation report as amended, all were in favor except Sen Tippins. 

Click here to read the final report of the study committee.

09/24 - Senate Study Committee on the Age of Mandatory Education

Senate Study Committee on the Age of Mandatory Education
by Grace Kim on 9/24/2021

Study Committees the Week of September 20th

The Senate Study Committee on Age of Mandatory Education was the only study committee that met this week.

On September 22, 2021, the study committee met at the Cobb County Chamber of Commerce. The representatives from Cobb County Schools and Cherokee County Schools were in attendance. The tone of this meeting was slightly different because there were questions raised about the ultimate goals and implementation of the bill. All the parties were invested in helping students succeed, but they expressed concerns about SB 3 in its current form.

While the counties were dedicated to helping students succeeds, they also raised questions about whether the raising the mandatory age of education from 16 to 17 would result in a higher graduation rate. Cobb County asked the committee to consider several questions, such as:

  • Will increasing the age of mandatory education to 17 actually increase graduation rates?
  • Who will enforce the new age requirement?
  • If a student does not attend school, what are the appropriate consequences for the student and the parents?
  • What other laws need to be changed if the age of mandatory education is raised to 17? 

The Chief Academic Officer of Cherokee County asked the study committee to consider the importance of engaging students while they were in elementary and middle school. An unengaged high school student is unlikely to graduate if they have never been interested in school; raising the dropout age to 17 is unlikely to change that.

Senator Lindsey Tippins, who was the chairman of the Senate Education Committee for many years, provided some insight into bills that proposed raising the minimum age of mandatory education. These bills had been filed for years and had never passed because there were many questions that were never resolved. He stated that the study committee would have to consider why students dropout and what public policy alternatives there were for students who wanted to leave school. What can be done for a student who chooses not to be educated or who dislikes traditional high schools? Because of these and other considerations, Senator Tippins expressed his desire to see a more comprehensive approach to changing education than raising the age alone. 

The General Assembly did not record the meeting. To see the agenda, click here.




09/17 - House Study Committee Meetings on Childhood Lead Exposure and Annexation

House Study Committee Meetings on Childhood Lead Exposure and Annexation
by Grace Kim on 9/17/2021

House Study Committee Meetings the Week of September 13th. 

House Study Committee on Childhood Lead Exposure September 13, 2021

The House Study Committee on Childhood Lead Exposure met for the second time on September 13th. Testimony was provided by the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH), the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD), a remediation company, and a retired Lead Regional Coordinator. Although most of the discussion and recommendations around lead exposure centered around homes, schools were also mentioned.

Christy Kuriatnyk, the Director of the Georgia Healthy Homes and Lead Poisoning Prevention Program at DPH, provided detailed information about DPH’s role in remediations when children test positive for lead poisoning. Director Kuriatnyk also provided recommendations for changes to the law. DPH’s recommendations are centered around greater detection of lead poisoning in children and increased regulatory authority for remediations. Is not clear if DPH’s recommendations would directly impact schools. A link to her recommendations can be found here.

The EPD was represented by Sarah Visser, the Assistant Branch Chief of the Land Division. The EPD regulates lead-based paint exposure when a home or child-occupied facility is renovated, painted, or demolished by a contactor. EPD stated that contractors who work on buildings built before 1978 are supposed to be EPD certified, but most are not. 

Beverly Campbell, an environmental consultant, provided an overview of federal and state laws dealing with lead poisoning and remediation. She supported many of DPH’s recommendations and stated that if the recommendations are implemented, more lead poisoning will be detected in the population. It seems reasonable to assume that if there more lead poisoning detected in children, more homes and schools will also be tested for lead.    

A copy of the agenda can be found here. Click here to watch a video recording of the committee meeting.    

House Study Committee on Annexation and Cityhood

The House Study Committee on Annexation and Cityhood met on September 16, 2021. It was the committee’s third meeting. The first item of business was the effects of annexation on school systems. 

The Georgia Department of Education stated that annexation does not directly change QBE funding per child but that annexation can impact whether funding goes to a city or a county; how the local 5 mill shares are calculated; and how funds for equalization grants and federal funds are distributed.

A county that has dealt with annexation testified that annexation directly and adversely impacted its students and schools. Rep. Lee Hawkins and representatives from Hall County Schools spoke about the negative affects of annexation on students and schools in their area. They stated that their county’s tax base (and therefore school funding) diminishes each time a city annexes property even though a city might not add any students to its school district. Hall County Schools asked the committee to give them a seat at the table in the ongoing annexations in their county. 

Rep. Mary Margaret Oliver asked if Hall County ever had an agreement with a city school district that would allow students to have some choice in what schools they would attend if there was an annexation. (Such an agreement would allow school district lines and tax bases to stay the same even when a city annexes the county's property.) Although Hall County Schools had such an agreement with Gainesville City in the past, it was no longer in use. There was some discussion about whether such local agreements (or the use of local legislation) were constitutional. Chairman Victor Anderson stated that the committee will seek clarity on this issue. 

Problems related to annexation issues in City of Decatur and DeKalb County were also discussed. The City of Decatur and DeKalb County decided that the best way to move forward was to pass local legislation that addressed what happens to school districts and tax bases after an annexation. They found that local legislation was preferable to a local agreement because local agreements can be broken by one party. 

The committee also heard testimony on how annexation impacts public debt; a county’s revenue losses due to annexation; and the process of de-annexation. A link to a video recording of the meeting is here. Click here to review the agenda.

09/09 - Senate Study Committee on the Age of Mandatory Education

Senate Study Committee on the Age of Mandatory Education
by Grace Kim on 9/9/2021

Senate Study Committee on the Age of Mandatory Education

The Senate Study Committee on the Age of Mandatory Education was created to study whether Georgia should raise the drop-out age to 17. This committee was created after the Senate Education Committee heard SB 3, a bill that would raise the age of mandatory school attendance from 16 to 17 last session. It became apparent that the issue was complex and warrented futher review.

On September 8th, the study committee met at Clayton State University. This was the third meeting of the committee. Representatives from Clayton County’s education, civic, and commercial development communities spoke in favor of raising the minimum age of education to 17. Clayton County Superintendent Dr. Morcease Beasley stated that increasing the time that schools have with students will increase literacy and employment. Dr. Beasley indicated that students who drop out of school tend to be 16-year-olds who are in the 9th grade and he felt confident that students who pass the 9th grade are more likely to graduate.

A few speakers supported going further than SB 3. Representatives from Clayton County’s business community advocated for increasing the age of mandatory education to 18. One speaker noted that jobs in factories are only open to people who are 18 and have a GED or high school diploma. Representatives from Perry Career Academy and the Clayton County Education Association stated that making kindergarten mandatory would go a long way to get students prepared to graduate with a high school diploma. 

The Georgia Department of Education spoke in favor of using funding to support younger students rather than using resources to increase the age of mandatory education to 17. 

09/03 - Childhood Lead Exposure and Outdoor Learning Study Committee Meetings

Childhood Lead Exposure and Outdoor Learning Study Committee Meetings
by Grace Kim on 9/3/2021

The General Assembly has been busy meeting throughout the interim. The House and Senate redistricting committees have been taken public testimony for several months, and are set to start drawing maps.

Standing and special study committees have also been meeting this summer. The House Study Committee on Childhood Lead Exposure as well as the Senate Outdoor Learning Study Committee met on September 2nd.

House Study Committee on Childhood Lead Exposure

The purpose of the Childhood Lead Exposure study committee is to investigate the best practices for detecting and preventing lead poisoning. Currently, Georgia’s lead poisoning laws do not follow the CDC’s recommendations on the detection of lead poisoning. The result is that the Department of Health cannot get involved in the remediation of properties until a child’s lead exposure greatly exceeds CDC recommendations. 

Most of the presenters at this meeting were medical professionals and epidemiologists. They presented the medical and scientific aspects of lead exposure on children’s physical, mental, and social wellbeing. Lead exposure, in utero as well in early childhood, can seriously damage a child’s development. Even low-level exposure is associated with a decline in IQ and an increase in behavioral problems. Youths and adults who were exposed to lead as children are more likely to have health problems and be involved in the criminal justice system. 

While the sources of lead have been greatly reduced, there are still ways lead can get into a child’s system. Paint in older homes, contaminated soil, water service pipes, and imported toys and foods can contain lead. Lead is currently in use in TV’s, computer monitors, batteries, and plastic. 

The presenters made numerous recommendations. The consensus seemed to be that more children should be tested for lead poisoning and that women of childbearing age may also need to be tested.

A copy of the agenda can be found here. Click this link to watch the recording of this committee meeting.

Senate Outdoor Learning Study Committee

The Senate Outdoor Learning Study Committee is tasked with investigating how children and young adults benefit from outdoor learning experiences and make recommendations.

The presenters at this meeting represented a wide variety of groups that provide outdoor learning experiences for children or supply resources for schools. Some presenters asserted that they had the data to prove their programs produced positive testing results. They understood that superintendents may be reluctant to incorporate outdoor learning unless there was data to back up the benefits to students and that teachers may not have the background to incorporate outdoor learning into their curricula. 

Children benefit from learning outdoors in a variety of ways. Students’ test scores improve, and their social development is enhanced. Outdoor learning can also positively impact children’s health. For example, outdoor learning can help reduce childhood obesity by increasing children’s physical activity and by teaching children how to eat and grow healthy food grown in school gardens. Learning outdoors also reduces students’ exposure to COVID-19.  

There are also socio-economic benefits for children who are exposed to outdoor learning. Commercial recreation and outdoor activity careers are often overlooked in schools. Experiential learning with environmental scientists or conservationists can inspire students to become foresters or pursue environmental careers. Several presenters noted that this is important for minority children, who might not otherwise be exposed to educational and career paths involving science and nature.

This is a link to the agenda. Click here to watch a recording of the meeting.


05/10 - 2021 Session Is Done!

2021 Session Is Done!
by Angela Palm on 5/10/2021


The Governor has finished his 40 days of signing and vetoing bills, so the 2021 session is finally done. I'm sure he's even happier than we are.  He signed all the bills on our list.

To keep this email to a reasonable length, we have compiled separate documents on the amended budget, the 2022 budget, bills that passed, and those that did not. We made it as easy to skim as possible, so please do take a look. We do, of course, have a few comments.


This fiscal year has been one unlike any other in more ways than one. This was a year for gratitude to the federal and state levels. Supplemental federal funding came from both the Trump and Biden administrations to address the impact of COVID-19.  The Governor used part of his federal Governor's Emergency Education Relief Fund to help districts with connectivity for students.  He joined with State Superintendent Richard Woods to combine federal funds and provide $1000 bonuses to teachers and other school-level personnel as a recognition of the work it took to get through this past year.  The Department of Education dipped into the state reserve portion of the CARES funds to provide additional help to districts including.

The amended budget had some wonderful surprises with a $568 million restoration to QBE and $40 million for school buses.  The Governor and legislature worked hard to plug some of the holes created by the cuts the previous year.  The budgets have funding related to previously passed mandates such as dyslexia screening and expanding computer science instruction.  Many of the parts of the education budget are based on enrollment, so there were some cuts due to the lower enrollment most districts saw this year. The remaining cut to QBE is $338 million.

Please remember to thank everybody for the financial support.  

Bills That Passed 

Since the special needs voucher passed in 2007, there have been numerous attempts to expand it.  SB 47 was this year's version.  Ultimately it extended the program to students with a 504 plan with one or more of 21 conditions listed in the bill. They needed 29 votes to pass it in the Senate and got 30.  They needed 91 votes to pass it in the House, and that is exactly what they got. If you are thinking that the margin does not matter, it passed -- I understand. I believe, however, that it is important to understand what the level of support is when it comes to taking a vote.  The close margin is due to the calls and emails all of you made.  You do make a difference.  Click on the bill link to see provisions of the bill. If you don't want to see the details, I will remind you of one:  the 2007 bill included a public school transfer option if space is available and the program needs are provided.  SB 47 extends this option to the qualifying 504 students.

SB 42 doesn't have much of the bill it started with but it finished with something various legislators have been trying to pass for decades.  Homeschoolers in grades 6-12 will be able to participate in extracurricular activities at their local public school after enrolling for at least one virtual course and notifying the principal and superintendent of their intent. Click on the link to see the particulars of the bill.

HB 146, the parental leave bill, didn't make it through last year but did this year.  It gives 120 hours of paid parental leave over a one-year period to an employee having a child, adopting a child, or receiving a foster child.

Check here for the complete list of bills that passed. 

Next Year's Bills 

There were several contentious bills that did not make it through, but they live on. On our list of bills not passing, you will see the status of the bill for next year's session. Below are a few to be aware of:

The "library bill" had a Senate and House version.  SB 226 was the one that moved but HB 516 is also there.  SB 226 was changed from a criminal offense to provide inappropriate material to a minor to requiring a complaint policy, an appeal process, and publishing material if the local board upheld the principal's decision.  It was mostly ignored that you already have a process and many of you have a policy in place.  Supporters of the bill were not happy with the changes to the bill.  Opponents were not happy with the bill in any form.  It will be heard again.

Girls sports are having a moment nationwide. We had three bills addressing who can participate in girls sports -- if passed, state law would limit it to those born biologically female. There are several court cases around the country related to similar bills. Title IX is undergoing a review at the U.S. Department of Education.  SB 266 was the version that saw the most movement here.  There were also HB 276 and HB 372.

And we had more voucher bills.  HB 60 is another attempt to add an education savings account voucher program to the others.  HB 142 would raise the limit on income tax credits for donations to student scholarship organizations which give vouchers to $150 million.

We do our best for you each session whether it is supporting bills, getting bills amended, or stopping them.  Your willingness to stand up and speak out makes all the difference.  Thank you for your help, and do take this time to continue to build the relationship with your legislators and State Board member.  If you don't know who yours is, check here.

03/31 - Day 40: Another Session in the Books

Day 40: Another Session in the Books
63721 on 3/31/2021


Following a lengthy Day 40, the 2021 session of the General Assembly wrapped Sine Die Wednesday night (Senate) and early Thursday morning (House). The highlight of the day was the final FY2022 budget, which was unveiled Wednesday afternoon. The budget looked very similar to the versions passed by the House and Senate over the past few weeks. There were very few differences between the House and Senate versions passed, with the most notable being a $5 million addition for school nutrition. The House had that allotment in their budget while the Senate did not, and ultimately the House prevailed. There was no change in the QBE amount from the House passed budget, with a minor increase over the Senate's version. 

Also of note is the amount in the budget for testing. In their budget, the Senate completely reduced the amount to administer the Georgia Milestones, while the House fully funded it ($5,315,882). In the final version a compromise of $2,313,876 was settled upon.

While most of the noteworthy education bills, including the expansion of the special needs voucher, were finalized earlier in the session, the following bills were voted on Wednesday:

Senate Approval of House versions: 

SB42 - This  original version of this bill removed student discipline data from the school climate rating. The final version kept that data in school climate ratings, and requires districts to post their student discipline data and report on their website. Late in the session, the language from the "Dexter Mosely Act" was added to the bill. That language allows home school students to participate in extracurricular activities at their local school. Home school students must be enrolled in at least one class to participate in any activity. 

SB246 - The Learning Pod Protection Act

House Approval of Senate versions:

HB282 - Revises the definition of contiguous when referencing timberland property.

SB59Raises the charter school supplement amount for local charter schools

HB287 - Requires tobacco and vaping products be added to current drug and alcohol courses for grades K-12 

Back and Forth:

HB32 - Creates a tax credit to attract teachers to teach in rural and high needs areas.

These bills, as well as ones previously passed, now head to Governor Kemp for his signature. 

03/29 - Day 39: The Penultimate Legislative Day

Day 39: The Penultimate Legislative Day
by Grace Kim on 3/29/2021

Today is Legislative Day 39, the penultimate legislative day. The Senate started with a floor calendar that was 4 1/2 pages long and then added more bills around dinner time. The House started the day with two floor calendars but it had four calendars by the end of the day. 

Bills that were in 'agree/disagree' mode popped up throughout the day. These are bills that pass one chamber and get changed by the second chamber. The first chamber can agree or disagree with the changes made by the second chamber. If the first chamber agrees to the changes, the bill passes and goes to the Governor's desk. If the first chamber disagrees, a process is set in motion that usually ends in both chambers appointing a conference committee to iron out the differences. 

The Senate passed the following education bills:

  • SB47- The Senate agreed to the House's version of the Special Needs Voucher bill. While it is disappointing that this voucher expansion bill passed at all, swift passage is better than the bill going to a conference committee or passage of the the Senate's larger version. This bill will now go to the Governor's desk.
  • SB153 - This bill moves the GOAL Academies from the State Charter Commission to the Department of Education and continues their current level of state funding through the schools' current charter. The Senate agreed to the House's version of this bill. It will now go to the Governor's desk.
  • HB134 - This bill excludes meetings on cyber security contracting and planning from open meetings requirements. The Senate passed HB 134 unaltered, so it now goes to the Governor's desk. 
  • HB287- This legislation requires tobacco and vaping products be added to drug and alcohol abuse prevention courses for grades K-12. At the request of the Governor's office, the Senate added language that would include human trafficking awareness information for grades 6-12. Combating human trafficking has been a major focus of Governor Kemp and First Lady Marty Kemp, and this aligns with their initiatives. HB 287 now goes back to the House. 

The House passed the following education bills:

  • SB42 This bill removes student discipline data from school climate ratings but requires local districts to publish student discipline data on their websites or provide hard copies upon request. This bill also includes language that allows home school students to participate in extracurricular activities in public schools. Since the House passed its own version of this bill, it will have to go back to the Senate for final passage. 
  • SB59 This bill provides that local charter schools will be given the same amount of QBE funding as other charter schools. This bill also permits charter school teachers to opt-into the State Health Benefit Plan. SB 59 will now have to go back to the Senate.
  • SB95 This bill amends the Open Meetings laws to allow public meetings to be held by teleconference.  This bill will have to go back to the Senate. 
  • SB213 - This bill allows school systems to use SPLOST funds to install equipment that reduces energy or water waste. This bill will now go to the Governor's desk.  
  • SB220 The House Rules Committee stripped the Civics Renewal Act and inserted financial literacy language. This bill will have to go back to the Senate for final passage. 
  • SB246 - The Learning Pod Protection Act places limits on how much local governments can regulate learning pods. This bill will have to go back to the Senate for final passage. 
  • HB146 This bill provides for three weeks of paid parental leave for public employees, including public school employees. The House agreed to the Senate's version of this bill, so now it goes to the Governor's desk. 

The budget, HB81, is currently in conference. I had hoped that the budget would be out of conference committee today, but I didn't see any of the pink cover sheets that indicate a conference committee report has been printed.  Hopefully, the conferees will come to an agreement soon and the General Assembly will adjourn before midnight on sine die.  

Tomorrow is a committee day. Neither the House nor Senate Education Committees are scheduled to meet. 

03/25 - Day 38: Voucher Bill on Brink of Approval

Day 38: Voucher Bill on Brink of Approval
63721 on 3/25/2021


It was a preview of Sine Die, as both chambers held their floor business later into the evening. The most noteworthy legislation of the day (for the education world) was in the House, where SB47 (the expansion of the Special Needs voucher) was called for a vote. If you recall, the bill adds students with a 504 plan for 21 specified conditions to the voucher program. The State Board is authorized to add to the eligible conditions. The bill also eliminates the requirement that students attend a Georgia public school for at least one year for more groups of students. After a lengthy debate, the bill was passed by an extremely narrow vote of 91-71. Because the House made changes to the bill, it now goes back to the Senate for them to agree or disagree to the changes.

We appreciate all of you who reached out to your Representatives leading up to this vote. Several speakers noted the numerous calls they received and the impact it had. 

Other legislation of note to pass today:


HB146 - Legislation that provides paid parental leave for eligible government employees, including those employed by a local board of education.  

HB98 - A bill that amends the Open Meetings law to require public hearings held via teleconference to allow members of the public to participate fully as if the meeting were held in public.  


SB153 - Moves the GOAL Academies from the State Charter Commission to the Department of Education, and only continues their current level of state funding through the schools' current charter. 

Two other education bills, SB213 and SB246, were on the House's Rules Calendar for today but were held for next week. 

Monday March 29

The House and Senate kick off the final stretch of session on Monday at 10am 

03/24 - Alert: We Need You Again!

Alert: We Need You Again!
by Angela Palm on 3/24/2021


SB 47, expanding the special needs voucher program, is on the first supplemental calendar for the House tomorrow!  We need your help one more time.  If you have already talked to your Representative about the bill, thank you for your advocacy, now please remind them of your opposition.  If you have not yet made contact with your Representative, PLEASE do so as soon as possible. Put the message in your own words as you ask them to vote "NO" on SB 47.

The bill has changed some so please click on the linked bill above to see the summary to be sure you are speaking about the current provisions.  The bill adds students with a 504 plan for 21 specified conditions to the voucher program.  The State Board is authorized to add to the eligible conditions.  The bill also eliminates the requirement that students attend a Georgia public school for at least one year for more groups of students.

Here are other points to remember: 

  • There is no requirement that a student be re-evaluated to determine the students' continued needs or eligibility. For example, an elementary student might have an IEP to receive speech therapy that they would not need after a few years.
  • There is no requirement that a private school provide the services in the IEP or 504 plan that the taxpayers are funding them to receive.
  • There is no report to the taxpayers as to whether the students are receiving services or not.   
  • Parents must give up all federal rights under IDEA or Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act to take the voucher.
  • There has never been an independent evaluation of the voucher program so we have no idea about a number of things including its effectiveness.  
  • Parental satisfaction has been the major measure for accountability for this program and nothing in this bill changes that.  That is completely inconsistent with a belief in transparency and accountability for the use of taxpayer dollars. 

You may hear from your Representative that a former school board member and past president of GSBA is carrying the bill, so it must be okay.  It is true that Rep. Will Wade is carrying it in the House, meaning he will present the bill and ask that they vote for it.  As an elected Representative, his role is different now.  The position GSBA members have on vouchers remains unchanged:

GSBA opposes the creation of any new program or any expansion of existing programs that directly or indirectly use public funds to pay private school tuition for students.  GSBA urges the General Assembly to include accountability measures in such programs including financial and policy transparency, performance evaluation measures, and consequences for poor performance. 

Ask them to vote "NO" on SB 47.