Georgia PTA Legislative Update - 2/10/2014
by Tyler Barr on 2/10/2014

During the legislative week of February 3-7, the House and Senate met to discuss several education bills. The Title 20 revisions bill was introduced; the 42 page HB 897 propose updates to the Education segment of the Georgia code.

On Day 16, the Senate passed SB 283, this legislation allows systems to educate students about the history of traditional winter celebrations and allows students and staff to offer traditional greetings regarding the celebrations (Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and Happy Holidays). Also, a school system may display on school property scenes or symbols associated with traditional celebrations, if the display includes a scene or symbol of more than one religion or one religion and at least one secular scene or symbol.

On Day 18, the Senate unanimously voted for SB 288 as amended, requiring GHSA and other athletic associations to post certain financial documents for schools receiving QBE funds to participate in the association. Sen. Renee Unterman amended the bill to reinstate a legislative oversight committee to review association activities, including the demographic makeup of the board. Also, HB 875, "the gun bill," received a "Do Pass" from the House Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee. One of the provisions of the bill authorizes local boards to select personnel to be trained and armed. It goes to the House Rules Committee.

The Senate Education & Youth Committee held a hearing on SB 301, allowing schools to be built of wood, and gave it a "Do Pass." Insurance rates are estimated to be 37% - 51% higher for the wooden construction. The bill moves on to Senate Rules. SB 343, placing requirements on GHSA, was heard as scheduled. The Committee heard a presentation from the Charter Systems Foundation including remarks from five superintendents.

On Day 19, the House passed HB 766, the Work-Based Learning Act, 163-1. It now moves to the Senate which has a similar bill. The Senate passed the supplemental budget 49-0. It goes back to the House for discussion with the Senate changes.

COMMITTEE MEETING UPDATES

House Education Academic Support Subcommittee

  • Passed HR 486 calls for a Constitutional amendment allowing cities created after January 1, 2005 to establish independent school systems.
  • Passed HR 689 urging school systems to implement renewal energy systems.

Senate Education Committee

  • Action was postponed on SB 301. The bill would allow school systems to construct facilities utilizing wood. Such facilities must be in compliance with state minimum standard codes as existed on January 1, 2014.
  • Assigned SB 321 to the Senate Education Policy and Choice subcommittee. The author submitted a substitute bill that eliminated original language allowing non-school officials to serve on disciplinary tribunals. The substitute removes hearing officers as an option for administering student disciplinary proceedings.
  • Passed SB 329 the Senate version of the Work Based Learning Act.

House Education Academic Achievement Subcommittee:

  • Passed HB 766 one of two Work Based Learning Act bills being considered this session, the other is in the Senate.
  • Passed amended versions of HR 1109 and HB 802 a Constitutional amendment resolution and enabling legislation allowing local systems to utilize education SPLOST funds for a specified list of M&O categories. Prior to the subcommittee meeting, the author made several changes that were not available in printed copy.

House Education Committee:

  • Passed HB 766, the Work Based Learning Act bill.
  • Passed HR 486, a Constitutional amendment resolution that calls for creation of new municipal school districts in cities created after 2004.
  • Passed HR 689, a resolution urging school districts to implement renewal energy systems.
  • HB 405 relating to training of charter school governance teams and SB 68 requiring local schools to celebrate Freedom Week, were not taken up by the Committee.