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GSTA Legislative Report - 2017 Final Session Summary

07 Apr 2017 12:16 PM | Jeremy Peacock (Administrator)

Georgia General Assembly Summary Report, 2017 Session

In the early hours of the morning on March 31st, 2017 the Georgia General Assembly completed its 40-day legislative session and adjourned “Sine Die.” After adjournment, the Governor has 40 days to sign or veto bills.  If the Governor does not sign or veto a bill, it will automatically become law.  The Governor has the power of line-item veto over the budget bills.  Below is a comprehensive summary of the most relevant pieces of legislation that were filed and considered in the 2017 session of the legislature.

  • HB 139, sponsored by Rep. Dave Belton (R-Buckhead).  This measure is intended to provide for transparency and accuracy of the financial information of local school systems and schools.  It would require the Department of Education to make publicly available on its website the budget and expenditure information for each school.

Status: The legislation was approved by both chambers and is now on the Governor’s desk.

  • HB 237, sponsored by House Education Chairman Brooks Coleman (R-Duluth).  This bill, which has been characterized as a piece of legislation meant to support the intent of HB 338, would authorize the Public Education Innovation Fund to receive private donations that could be used as grants for public schools, and establishes a tax credit for such a donation.  The legislation was changed in the Senate to reduce the maximum amount of tax credits available to $5,000,000 and sunset the law on December 31, 2020.

Status: The legislation was approved by both chambers and is now on the Governor’s desk.

  • HB 338, sponsored by Rep. Kevin Tanner (R-Dawsonville) is school reform legislation intended to give the State Board of Education more authority to intervene in chronically failing schools.  Late in the session the measure was renamed the “First Priority Act” and was amended to include a change that prevents for-profit entities from operating state schools under the terms of the legislation.  A change was also made to the formation of the education turnaround advisory council in order to include more representation from the education community and their respective associations.  Additionally, the State Board of Education instead of the Superintendent of Schools will appoint the Chief Turnaround Officer who will have substantial authority over the turnaround process.  Finally, $1,000,000 in funding for the implementation of the bill was added to the conference committee report on the fiscal year 2018 budget and a provision was included in HB 338 that creates a Joint Study Committee on the potential establishment of an accreditation process for public schools.  

Status: The legislation was approved by both chambers and is now on the Governor’s desk.

  • HB 425, sponsored by Rep. Joyce Chandler (R-Grayson) would strongly encourage the State Board of Education and local school systems to allow the administration of standardized tests in pencil and paper format.  The bill would also ask the State School Superintendent to develop guidelines that would be approved by the State Board of Education to strongly encourage how local school systems should handle students who do not participate in state-wide assessments.  

Status: The legislation was approved by both chambers and is now on the Governor’s desk.

  • HR 686, sponsored by Rep. Kevin Tanner (R-Dawsonville), creates the House Study Committee on Equitable Local Education Funding to include three members of the House of Representatives.  This study committee will present an excellent opportunity for us to engage with key influencers on the local education funding process over the interim period.   We will monitor this closely throughout the interim period and report on any relevant developments in real time.  

Status: This resolution was approved by the House and is awaiting appointments.

  • SB 30, sponsored by Sen. Vincent Fort (D-Atlanta) would create a pilot program for Sustainable Community School Operations Grants and would allow the Department of Education to issue grants to plan, implement, and improve sustainable community schools. In the Senate version of the fiscal year 2018 budget $50,000 was appropriated to allow for grants to be remitted, but the funding was not included in the conference committee report on the budget.

Status: This bill was approved by the Senate and was later attached to HB 430 in the House but was removed (deleted) before coming back to the Senate for agreement to the House changes. 

  • SB 211, sponsored by Senate Education Chairman Lindsey Tippins (R-Marietta) seeks to clarify many of the provisions of SB 364 that were signed into law in 2016.  Specifically, the legislation directs local districts along with the Department of Education to pursue maximum flexibility from the federal government in terms of the tests that are administered and required in public schools.  Additionally, the measure instructs the State Board of Education to conduct a study of nationally recognized standardized tests and their alignment with state standards.  Included in the conference committee report on the budget is $250,000 in the Department of Education budget to “increase funds for concordant testing models as prescribed by SB 211.”

Status: The legislation was approved by both chambers and is now on the Governor’s desk.

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