Legislative Recap Jan. 19, 2013 - week 1
by Karen Hallacy on 1/20/2013

Georgia PTA
Legislative Update

Jan. 19, 2013

 

The 2013 legislative session began this week and legislators got to work quickly with assigning new committee chairs in both chambers. Of particular note, Sen. Lindsey Tippins is the new chairman of the Senate Education Committee and there are many new members on that committee. There is also a new Rules chairman as well as significant changes in the Senate leadership.
 
Learning about the basics of the legislative session is important in understanding what and how legislation is passed. Sally FitzGerald, Georgia PTA’s Education Policy Specialist, wrote up a detailed primer that explains what happens the first few weeks, how legislation is introduced and processed and what GA PTA reports on. To access this introduction click on the link: What to Expect in the Legislative Process

She produces a detailed daily report that records what happens each day of the session. Those reports can be found on Capitol Watch that can be accessed via the Georgia PTA website: http://www.georgiapta.org/. On a weekly basis, a summary like this, will be sent out to all members registered on Capitol Watch. The weekly recap will highlight important legislation affecting children and youth that was either introduced, heard in committee or voted on in one of the chambers.

Budget:

The Governor introduced his amended 2013 budget and his full 2014 budget this week. While the overall budget increased to $19.8 B from $19.1 B, most programs and agencies saw a 3% cut across the board. QBE (Quality Basic Education which is the formula used to calculate the funding for each student) funding was not subjected to that cut. QBE funding was increased but that increase basically covered the growth in enrollment and step increases (as a teacher changes pay grades based on experience and years teaching). Some funding was also added for additional Special Needs scholarships. There will be no other raises for teachers again this year.

Education funding now represents 37% of the budget and, if federal dollars are added, comprises 47% of the budget (which is likely the percentage the Gov. will cite). That is a continued decrease in the overall percentage of the budget that education funding comprises.

More details on education funding will be provided Tuesday when the Appropriations meeting on Education funding occurs.

Legislation:

Not much education legislation has been introduced yet. Several key bills coming from the special committee on Education Funding have yet to show up but are anticipated in the near future.

HB 23:
Would require carbon monoxide detectors and warning equipment in every school.

HB 35:
Would allow a designated administrator to carry a gun. The administrator would need to get a permit and to have completed a course in Peace Officer Safety (POS) Training (which they would have to do annually). The local system can decided if they want this and will be responsible for the cost of the POS training. The bill was assigned to Public Safety not Education.

HB 48:
Return to Play Act. Would require a medical professional determine when a child or youth can return to participating in a sport activity after sustaining a concussion. Coaches would be required to attend training to recognize signs of a concussion. Parents would have to sign on in agreement to the new rule. Coaches would no longer make the determination of when a child was considered sufficiently recovered. Would apply to all youth sports: in both public and private schools as well as community leagues like ALTA, Little League, etc. GHSA supports the concept.

HB 54: (equivalent bill SB 59):
Reduce the HOPE eligibility requirement from 3.0 to 2.0. 

HB 70:
Would permit the State BOE to waive the requirement that a student attend a public school for a year before qualifying for a Special Needs voucher to a private school. 

SB 17:
HOPE could be used for public colleges and universities accredited in GA but owned by another state. This is basically for Morris Brown College and Troy University.

SB 21:
Increase the mandatory age that a child must attend school from 6-16 to 6-17.

SB 22:
Changes the date used to determine mandatory attendance age from Sept 1 to Dec. 1.

SB 40:
Would require the state to report every four years the cost of all the tax exemptions it grants.

SB 42:
Would require all the austerity cuts (dating from 2002) to be fully restored. 

SB 43:
Would require pre-K to be 180 days. The Governor’s budget already has the funding in it for 180 days so it is considered questionable whether legislation is needed.

SB 57:
Would change the age of mandatory attendance to five rather than six thereby making kindergarten mandatory.

It is unlikely that any of the Senate bills listed above will make it out of committee as they are all authored and co-sponsored only by minority party members. 

What’s Next:

The General Assembly will be in recess next week as budget hearings are held. The Education budget will be presented on Tuesday at 1:00. 

Parent Trigger which will be called the Parent Teacher Empowerment Act: This bill would allow the parents from a majority of the student households to petition the local board of education (LBOE) to require a school to convert to a charter school. The legislation would require the LBOE to hear the petition if a majority of the parents sign it and, based on criteria listed in the bill, decide whether to let the parents move forward with creating a charter application. If the LBOE rejects the petition it must cite what criteria from the bill was used. The LBOE would have to verify signatures and then have 30 days to make the decision whether to accept or reject the petition. The LBOE would still get to approve the charter as they do with conversion charters today. A second part of the bill would deal only with failing schools (as defined by the State Board of Education). In those schools, teachers or parents could petition to remove some or all of the existing administration. Teachers could also vote via secret ballet to remove some or all of the current administration. This bill is still under development so it will likely change. More will be reported, including a bill number, when the bill is officially introduced.

 
Upcoming PTA Events:
 
PTSA Day: Feb.13
PTA Day: Feb. 27
 
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