Day 37: Recess is Over
Several bills we have followed passed one chamber or the other today. One of them crossed the finish line. HB 83, the recess bill, passed the Senate today and goes to the Governor. Four Senators voted against the bill – it seems they thought recess should be decided at the local level. This bill has had quite a journey but will be in effect for the 2019-20 school year after the Governor signs it.
Following are the other bills that were on calendars today:
- SB 9 is one of several attempts we’ve seen to create a statute to address sexual contact between a student and school employee. It passed the House today and goes back to the Senate for agreement to House changes including a floor amendment today with some of the language Rep. Ed Setzler had in his HB 43.
- SB 161, weighting of grades, was postponed again today in the House.
- SB 83, teaching of the Old Testament and New Testament as electives, passed the House and goes back to the Senate for agreement. HB 562, putting the REACH scholarship into statute, is now part of this bill.
- HB 59, allowing a military family who has received orders to move to enroll a child in the school zone they intend to move to, passed the Senate and goes back to the House. One of the Senate changes was to attach HB 558, recognizing state charter schools with a statewide attendance zone as a state agency for purposes of the Open Meetings Act. The other change added a section to state enrollment in a charter school requires residence at the time of enrollment.
- HB 315, consultants hired by a local entity to develop or prepare specifications for bids, RFPs, or purchase orders must provide a conflict of interest statement, passed the Senate and goes back to the House for agreement.
- HB 459, verification of school bus driver credentials twice a year, passed the Senate and goes back to the House for agreement. It now includes HB 394 relating to volunteers to police for traffic control.
Conference Committee on FY ’20 Budget
The conferees held a brief meeting this morning and agreed funding the teacher pay raise is a priority. The conferees, by the way, are the Appropriations Chair, Majority Leader, and Pro Tem in each chamber. They will continue to hash things out over the next few days.
Tim Tebow Bill
SB 163, allowing homeschoolers to participate in extracurricular activities and interscholastic sports at the public school, was heard in the Academic Innovation Subcommittee of House Education today. It was often described as an equal opportunity access bill to eliminate bias. If it’s an equal access bill, that raises even more issues. Several home school parents spoke for the bill. They seemed to think possible cheating issues were a moot point as “it’s already happening.” The point was consistently made that these students are allowed to participate through 8th grade but are suddenly no longer welcome. Tying extracurricular activities to enrolled students was referred to as discriminatory.
Muscogee Superintendent Dr. David Lewis gave examples of issues he faced in Florida when a similar bill was first passed. Representatives from GSSA, GSBA, and Georgia PTA also spoke. The Assistant Director of the Georgia HIgh Schools Association explained an upcoming proposed rule change to the Subcommittee. Decisions regarding participation, grade validation, and discipline would be left to the school district but GHSA would allow them to play for the school in their attendance zone.
This was a hearing only so no vote was held. House Education Chair Rick Jasperse had to leave the meeting but left a statement that he would form a working group to continue to look at this.
Wednesday, March 27th
This is a Committee Work Day
10 AM Senate Higher Education Committee will meet in 450 CAP. No agenda has been posted but HB 444, the dual enrollment bill is still in this committee.
11 AM House Education Committee will meet in 406 CLOB to hear SB 108, the computer science bill.
3 PM House Governmental Affairs Elections Subcommittee will meet in 406 CLOB to hear SB 213, changing some campaign reporting dates. The Governmental Affairs Committee will meet immediately after.
Thursday, March 28th
The General Assembly will convene at 10 AM for Day 38!