Georgia PTA Legislative Update 2015-12-2
by Tyler Barr on 2/12/2015

Today, the General Assembly convened for the 15th legislative day. The General Assembly is adjourned and will convene Tuesday, February, 18 for the 16th legislative day. Also, this week the General Assembly passedSR 167, the dates for convening and dates of adjournment of the 2015 regular session for the period of Thursday, February 12, 2015, through Thursday, April 2, 2015. 

Please mark your calendars for the following two important dates to remember: Crossover Day, March 13, 2015, all bills in each chamber must be approved by this day so that they can then move to the other chamber for discussion and review; and Sine Die, April 2, 2015, this is the very last day of session. "Sine Die" is Latin for "without day." In our context it means that we aren't going to assign a day for a further meeting.

This week, the Senate lawmakers passed SB 3, the amendments and substitute bill "Supporting and strengthening Families Act" provides for the creation, authorization, procedure, revocation, and termination of a power of attorney from a parent to another person for the temporary delegation of certain power and authority for the care of a minor child; HB 75to provide for the control and administration of funds for the university system and common schools; and SR 7 and SB 8which increases penalties for sex traffickers and excessive fines to apply money for use of rehabilitation programs for young victims. These bills except HB 75 now move to the House for committee review and full passage. 

The House lawmakers passed and adopted HB 62, this bill would qualify special needs students for scholarships if the student's parents currently reside in Georgia and resident for one-year but the one-year requirement shall not apply if the student's parent is an active duty military service member stationed in Georgia within the previous year; HB 91this bill eliminates the Georgia High School Graduation Test as a requirement for purposes of graduation and former students who did not pass one or more portions of the Georgia High School Graduation Test to petition to obtain a high school diploma; HB 52, this bill requires each parent to prepare a parenting plan or the parties may jointly submit a parenting plan to the court in all child custody cases; and HB 65, this bill require local boards of education and certain charter schools to hold at least two public meetings on the proposed annual operating budget. These bills now move to the Senate for committee review and full passage. 

 

Lawmakers Making News

  • State Representative Brian Strickland (R-McDonough) recently introduced House Bill 229. HB 229 expands grandparents' visitation rights to include other extended family members. For more information, please click here
  • Governor Nathan Deal recently appointed State Representative Ronnie Mabra (D-Fayetteville) to the Georgia Child Support Commission. The commission is charged with studying the effectiveness of Georgia's child support guidelines. For more information, please click here
  • Sen. Renee Unterman (R - Buford), a long-time advocate against trafficking crimes, is the sponsor of both Senate Bill 8 and Senate Resolution 7. Two companion bills that intend to stop the sexual exploitation of minors and provide rehabilitative services to victims of sex trafficking passed the Georgia State Senate today. Senate Bill 8 extends the statute of limitations in order to bring more severe punishments to those capitalizing on the innocence of a child and establishes a fund for victims. Senate Resolution 7 provides a funding mechanism for the Commission established in SB 8 by increasing the penalties for several sexual abuse and sex trafficking crimes. For more information, please click here
  • Senator Michael Williams (R - Cumming) commends the passage of Senate Bill 2, a bill that will authorize local boards of education to award a high school diploma to students who complete certain requirements relating to postsecondary coursework. For more information, please click here.

Next Week's Hot Issues 

  • Opportunity School District - Senate Floor Leader, Butch Miller has introduced legislation to create an opportunity School district that will allow the state to temporarily step in to assist chronically failing schools. In the governor's proposal, persistently failing schools are defined as those scoring below 60 on the Georgia Department of Education's accountability measure, the College and Career Performance Index (CCRPI), for three consecutive years. The Opportunity School District would manage no more than 20 schools per year, meaning it would govern no more than 100 at any given time. Schools would stay in the district for no less than five years but no more than 10 years. Creating the Opportunity School District requires a constitutional amendment. Deal this session will work with legislators to put the amendment on the 2016 ballot and to pass enabling legislation that will govern how the district operates. Yesterday, the General Assembly held a Joint Education Hearing on this issue. The hearing was well attended with stakeholders from the public and private sectors, as well as education leaders from New Orleans and Tennessee school districts. Supporters stated the model was created during the post-Katrina period and the results are starting to show with parents from outside those districts asking how their children can get in. Meanwhile, those in opposition are still skeptical and oppose the elimination of collective bargaining for teachers and tenuree. Governor Deal expects to release his proposal early next week. 
  • Advanced Placement U.S. History - House and Senate is scheduled meet next week in a joint hearing session to answer questions on Advanced Placement United States History. SR 80, introduced by Senator Ligon, Jr. (3rd) calls for AP U.S. History (APUSH) to be outlawed if the College Board do not present a more sanitized view of America history. The resolution referred to the Senate Education and Youth Committee cites "the new APUSH framework reflects a radically revisionist view of American 10 history that emphasizes negative aspects of our nation's history while omitting or minimizing positive aspects and the framework minimizes discussion of America's Founding Fathers, the 13 principles of the Declaration of Independence, the religious influences on our nation's 14 history, and many other critical topics". Currently, this resolution receives full support of State Superintendent, Richard Woods, who believes standards must be Georgia-owned and Georgia-grown. The College Board has stated "The redesigned AP U.S. History course and exam have the highest support of the history profession, with strong endorsements from the American Historical Association, the Organization of American Historians, the National Council for Social Studies, and the National Council for History Education. As important, the redesigned AP U.S. History course has received overwhelming support from AP teachers nationwide, and is currently in use in classrooms across the country".
     

Bills In Committee

  • HB 198, this bill referred to as "Jason Flatt Act-Georgia" requires annual suicide prevention education training for certified school system personnel. The House Academic Support Subcommittee gave this bill a "Do Pass" and Rep. Dudgeon recommended strengthening language to support liability provisions. It now goes to the full committee. 
  • HB 111, provide local boards of education the option to allow commerical advertising on public school buses. This bill received mix reviews among House Academic Support Subcommittee members and the public; it was motion to table this bill and no further action has been recommended.  

Committee Meetings (February 17-20) 

  • 2/17/15 - House Academic Support Subcommittee, 3:30 PM-514 CLOB Agenda
  • 2/18/15 - Joint Education Hearing - AP History, 1:00 PM-606 CLOB Agenda

General Calendar

  • Senate will convene Tuesday, February 17, 2015 at 10:00 AM 
  • House will convene Tuesday, February 17, 2015 at 10:00 AM 
  • No session Monday, February 16, 2015 
  • Live broadcasts of both chambers. Watch Live
Thank you for your support and advocacy on behalf of the children in Georgia. I welcome you to reach out to me and share your thoughts and opinions as we move throughout the legislative session this year.  I can be reached via email at tbarr@georgiapta.org. 
 
Tyler Barr
Legislative Policy Specialist/Lobbyist
Georgia PTA