Day 39: One more day to go
by Jim Puckett on 4/26/2010

On this 39th and next-to-last day of the 2010 General Assembly, Capitol-watchers awaited action by the House and Senate Conferees on HB 948 the Fiscal Year 2011 General Appropriations Bill.  Issues between the two versions centered around the question as to whether proposed revenue sources (including the increases in fees and the hospital "tax") would be sufficient to cover proposed expenditures. 

At the end of the day,  Capitol-watchers were still waiting for word from the Committee.  It now appears the Committee will meet on Wednesday and that full House and Senate action on the budget will take place Thursday morning. 

Education-related bills acted upon in the House included:

  • Passed  SB 518 requiring the study of the Pledge of Allegiance to the U. S. flag and the flag of Georgia.
  • SB 521  began life as a vehicle for providing local districts increased funds for dual enrollment students who remain on the secondary school campus for instruction that holds postsecondary credit.  Last week, the bill was amended by the House Education Committee to include language requiring the State Board of Education, by July 1, 2011, to develop mandatory personnel evaluation instruments for teachers, assistant principals, and principals for use statewide that may include student academic growth data as an integral part of the instruments. The bill was sent back to the Rules Committee as work continued on the personnel evaluation language. In a late-day Rules Committee meeting, the bill was sent back to the debate calendar (even though the voice vote of Rules Committee members was clearly opposed to the action).  No action was taken by the House on the bill.
  • Passed SB 387 providing for career education counseling/advisement for students in grades 6-12.
  • Defeated SR 153 calling for a Constitutional amendment creating education improvement districts which would have had the ability to levy taxes for use within the improvement district.
  • Passed SB 239 which tightens up student truancy laws.
  • Agreed with minor Senate changes to HB 493 which deals with establishment of the Georgia Youth Conservation Corps.

Most of the heavy lifting on education-related bills occurred in the Senate where the following actions occurred:

  • Passed HB 400 the "Bridge Bill" with amendments.  The bill provides for required graduation plans for students and emphasizes vocational instruction. Amendments included language noting the bill is subject to appropriations; removal of lists of  required programs of study; removal of language requiring training for counselors.   
  • Passed HB 936 after prolonged debate.  The bill allows use of state bus replacement funds for refurbishment of buses and also provides a "vehicle" (pun intended) for local systems to participate in a federal bonds program for facilities construction.
  • Passed HB 977 which prohibits use of state funds for administrator salary increases in any year when employees are furloughed.
  • Passed HB 1013 requiring school districts to provide certain financial information related to SPLOST funds for posting on the Department of Audits web site and publish same in the local legal organ.
  • Passed HB 1079 which allows additional payment methods for Professional Standards fees.
  • Passed HB 1082 which expands freeport tax exemptions (if approved by cities/counties).  Some local school systems will take significant revenue cuts.
  • Passed HB 1103 creating clearance certificates to be issues to educators indicating they have met security provisions for certification.  The bill was amended with language from SB 332 requiring local districts to annually report to DOE disciplinary and placement actions related to students who bring weapons to school.
  • Passed HB 1200 allowing local boards to solicit and accept donations for field trips.
  • Passed HB 1307 suspending professional learning requirements for certification renewal for five years.

The General Assembly will convene for the 40th and final day of the session on Thursday, April 29. Action on agrees/disagree between bills passed by both houses but with differing language and work of conference committees to resolve such differences will fill much of the day.