2019 Final Report

“In the case of such adjournment sine die or of such adjournment for more than 40 days, the same shall become law if approved or not vetoed by the Governor within 40 days from the date of any such adjournment.” Georgia Constitution, Section V, Paragraph XIII(a) 

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I have always found the last month of school to be the busiest! I know you may not have time to read this now, but maybe save it for a quiet summer evening, when you’re hopefully enjoying a nice breeze.

After Sine Die, the Governor has 40 days to sign a bill into law, veto a bill (in which case it doesn’t become law), or do nothing (and then the bill becomes law). Forty days post-Sine Die was Sunday, May 12th – Mother’s Day. Most of the bills Georgia PTA was watching were signed into law, with 2 notable exceptions.

Right before May 12, the Governor vetoed HB 83the Recess Bill. Here is his statement with regards to the veto: “Currently, local boards of education hold broad authority to establish recess policies for students in kindergarten through eighth grade. This local control allows school boards to set these policies based on a thorough understanding of day-to-day educational operations as well as regular interaction with administrators, educators, families, and students. House Bill 83 would dramatically restrict this local control, stripping long-held authority from school boards. While I support expanded recess opportunities for Georgia’s students, I am a firm believer in local control, especially in education. This legislation would impose unreasonable burdens on educational leaders without meaningful justification. For the foregoing reasons, I VETO HOUSE BILL 83.

The other notable veto was for SB 15the School Safety Bill. Here is his statement with regards to the veto: “Senate Bill 15 is a well-intentioned piece of legislation, but many school superintendents, non-partisan advocacy groups, and educators across Georgia have expressed concern over its provisions. These stakeholders agree that this legislation undermines local control, generates an unfunded mandate for school safety coordinators, and places a ministerial duty on school administrators, increasing their exposure to legal liability. In stark contrast, House Bill 30 –the State’s Amended 2019 Budget –allocates $69,000,000 in school security grants to every public school and allows local leaders –who best understand the needs and operations of their communities –to decide how to use this funding for safer learning environments. Moving forward, it is important for local leaders to first have an opportunity to utilize state grant funding before imposing additional requirements. The State will continue to invest in the safety of our children by working closely with local officials, parents, and students to ensure a safer, stronger Georgia. For the foregoing reasons, I VETO SENATE BILL 15.”

The focus of each of these pieces of legislation can be fully addressed by local boards of education. Georgia PTA encourages its members to work with your local school board to establish policies and procedures to support the health, safety, and general welfare of all students. If you have questions or would like assistance in how to advocate at the local level, please email the legislative committee – we’re here to help!

Below are some of the highlights of the 2019 Legislative session. We hope you will join us at Convention and Leadership Training in June to be part of the discussion about what happened in 2019, what we think will happen in 2020, and what we can do about it!

We hope you found these reports helpful during the 2019 Legislative Session and we thank you for all you’re doing for Georgia’s children!

The Georgia PTA Legislative Committee

Reported by: Diane Jacobi, Legislative Chair

 ALL Legislation SIGNED by the Governor

ALL Legislation VETOED by the Governor

SB 25 – Rules of the road, clarifying when drivers must stop for a school bus – SUPPORT: Georgia PTA has a resolution in support of this legislation

SB 48 – Dyslexia legislation which requires policies for screening students in K-3, universal screening for Kindergarteners starting in 2024-2025 (subject to being funded by the legislature), creation of a dyslexia endorsement program for educators, and a 3-year pilot program to demonstrate effectiveness of early reading assistance programs

SB 83 – Originally only expanded the scope of the Old and New Testament courses currently part of the Georgia course catalog. In the final version, HB 562 which codifies the Realizing Educational Achievement Can Happen (REACH) Scholarship program.

SB 108 – requirement for computer science courses in some middle and high schools by 2022-2023 and in all high schools by 2024-2025. There is a $1 million appropriation in the FY20 budget for professional development grants for teachers to help ensure enough educators to cover the courses.

SB 158 – Anti-Human Trafficking Protective Response Act – Raises the age for the offense of prostitution from 16 to 17. Also, permits DFACS to provide services to victims and aligns Georgia law with Federal law.

HB 228 – Raises the marriage age from 16 to 17 and requires a 17 year old to go before a judge prior to receiving a marriage license. Also limits the age difference between minors and adults in order to be eligible for a marriage license.

HB 530 – prohibits parents from withdrawing their children from school to compliance with a number of parental responsibility laws, including mandatory school attendance, school discipline, etc. This law stems from a horrible crime in the author’s home district in which parents withdrew their 2 children from school and killed them.

HB 31FY20 Budget Highlights (our friends at Voices for Georgia’s Children have put together a great summary of all aspects of the budget which touch Georgia’s children; find it here).

  • Over $525 million for $3,000 salary increase for teachers and other certified school staff
  • $2 million to expand wrap-around services in schools through the Communities in Schools model
  • Almost $3.5 million to provide for one AP exam for low-income students and one AP STEM exam for all students
  • $1 million for additional high school counselors
  • Over $700,000 for expansion of the “See Something, Say Something” app