Watchlist of Current Legislation
HB 109 Proposed TRS Changes
Lengthen final average earnings calculation period. Under HB 109, the final average salary will be determined based on the five consecutive years of a highest salary. Currently it is based on two consecutive years of highest salary. Final average salary is a component of the benefit formula used to determine the amount each TRS retiree will receive. Increasing the number of years used in the calculation will result in a lower final average salary than many future TRS members would otherwise receive.
Increase allowable employee contribution rate. The cap on employee contributions would rise to 8.5 percent from the current 6 percent. The TRS board would set the specific rate. If set at 8.5 percent, the higher contribution level would reduce incoming teachers’ “take-home” pay and undercut the impact of the pay raise the General Assembly approved in 2019.
Alter the normal retirement age. Members would be eligible to draw retirement benefits when their age plus years of creditable service equals 85 or they are 62 and have at least 10 years of creditable service. Currently members can draw benefits after 30 years of creditable service or they are 60 and have 10 years of creditable service. This shift would affect new teachers and other future TRS members differently depending on the age at which they are hired. Some will be able to draw retirement benefits at an earlier age than current practice while others will be delayed.
Exclude sick leave. Current legislation allows educators employed after July 1, 2020, to use a maximum of one year of accrued sick leave for retirement purposes. The bill’s sick leave provisions would not impact current educators, who are able to use all unused sick leave for retirement purposes.
Cap maximum annual benefit. The annual benefit retirees could receive would be limited to $200,000. This amount would be adjusted annually by 3 percent or annualized rate of inflation.
HB 444 - PASSED
Dual Enrollment Act - limits state funded dual enrollment courses to core courses and eligible Career Technical and Agricultural Education courses, excluding fine arts, electives, and physical education. The legislation caps dual enrollment hours at 30 and limits dual enrollment to eleventh and twelfth grade students, though a limited allowance is made for some tenth graders. The bill does not prevent students from taking dual enrollment at their own expense. he legislation also reframes the program as the “Dual Enrollment Act” and articulates the act’s purpose, “to promote and increase access to postsecondary educational opportunities for Georgia high school students while increasing high school graduation rates, preparing a skilled workforce, and decreasing time and cost to postsecondary credential completion.”
HB 843 authored by Rep. Demetrius Douglas (D-Stockbridge)
Quality Basic Education Act; recess for students in kindergarten and grades one through five
This bill encourages each elementary school to include an average of 30 minutes per day of supervised unstructured activity time, preferably outdoors.
HB 845 authored by Rep. Mike Glanton (D-Jonesboro)
Elementary and secondary education; additional compensation for teachers with special education certification under certain conditions. This bill seeks to provide for additional compensation for teachers with special education certification from the Professional Standards Commission in O.C.G.A. 20-2-212.5
HB 736 authored by Rep. Dave Belton (R-Buckhead)
Education; loan forgiveness program for teachers who agree to teach in a turnaround school in a high demand subject area (mathematics, science, special education, or another high-demand subject area in a turnaround school for five years). There was also discussion about whether this forgiveness should be offered to new and veteran teachers who agree to teach in turnaround schools, as well as about how to ensure it promotes the hiring of effective teachers. Chairman Martin deferred action and suggested assembling a working group from the Committee to analyze and further refine the bill so that the Committee’s questions can be resolved.
SB 343, authored by Sen. Lester Jackson (D-Savannah)
seeks to raise the mandatory education age of children from 16 to 17 years of age in O.C.G.A. 20-2-690.1(a). This bill was referred to the Senate Education and Youth Committee
HB 783 authored by Rep. Erica Thomas (D-Austell)
Education; raise the age of mandatory education for children from 16 to 17. This change in O.C.G.A. § 20-2-690.1 applies to all public school, private school, and home school programs This bill was referred to the House Education Committee.
HB 809 authored by Rep. Angelika Kausche (D-Johns Creek)
Crimes and offenses; sale of tobacco products and tobacco related objects to persons under 21 years of age. The bill adds a new definition for “Electronic Vaping Product” and revises the definition of a “Tobacco Product.” The bill also increases the minimum age for the purchase of any tobacco product or electronic vaping product from 18 to 21 and prohibits the sale
of tobacco products and tobacco related objects in transactions that are not face-to-face
SB 298 authored by Sen. Renee Unterman (R-Buford)
Crimes and Offenses and Education; protections for and education to minors regarding smoking and vaping. The bill begins by updating definitions of vaping products to encompass both “vapor cartridges” and “vapor devices” to mean the vapor substance and the vapor delivery system, respectively. The bill also raises the minimum purchasing age for all tobacco and vaping products from 18 to 21. The bill creates a tiered punishment system for individuals who distribute vapor devices and/or vapor cartridges to minors.
This bill also requires local boards of education add vaping and smoking instruction to every grade level k-12. The State Board of Education is required to prescribe a minimum course of study concerning vaping and smoking to be included in health education courses. These curriculum additions from the State Board of Education must be ready for implementation by September 1, 2020; local boards of education must implement the additions by December 31, 2020. This bill was referred to the Senate Regulated Industries Committee.
SB 326 authored by Sen. Zahra Karinshak (D-Duluth)
Sentencing and Imposition of Punishment- allow individuals convicted of non-violent offenses directly related to the individual being a victim of human trafficking to petition the court to vacate their conviction and sentence.
SB 307 authored by Sen. Renee Unterman (R-Buford)
"The Living Hope Home Act"- provide for supportive housing for pregnant women. The bill defines “supportive housing maternity residence” as a residential home that houses up to six pregnant women aged 18 or older at any time during the woman’s pregnancy and up to 18 months after childbirth. This bill was referred to the Senate Health and Human Services Committee
HB 940, authored by Rep. Greg Kennard (D-Lawrenceville)
amends Title 20 to require for mandatory pre-k and kindergarten for all children prior to entering first grade. This bill was referred to the House Education Committee.
SB 367, authored by Sen. P.K. Martin (R-Lawrenceville)
Effectiveness of Educational Programs- amends Title 20 to reduce the number of required assessments for k-12 students. Specifically, the bill removes language that suggests local boards of education develop programs of multiple formative assessments in reading and math for grade k-5. The bill also removes requirements for social studies assessments to be performed annually for grades 3-8; instead requiring these assessments only in the eighth grade. The bill also stipulates that the State Board of Education only require end-of-course tests for each of four core subjects. Writing performance tests would be required in grades three, five, eight, and once between grades nine through twelve. The bill also removes requirements for the score of an end of course test to be included in a student’s final grade. Lastly, the bill allows for the State Board to perform analyses of local assessments. Based on these analyses the Board shall determine systems to assist in the elimination of redundant assessments. This bill was referred to the Senate Education and Youth Committee.
HB 440 authored by Rep Mandy Ballinger (R-Canton)
Juvenile Code - bill contemplates raising the age from 17 to 18 for juvenile court jurisdiction. GACDL has provided speakers to testify about positives of increasing the age of jurisdiction to 18. The testimony was that children are different; adolescent development is different; 17 year olds are children; society draws line for adults at 18 yet some of these children are in juvenile court. Some testimony accented programs provided children in juvenile settings - which they do not receive if held in jail, including the School Justice Partnership. A new auditors’ report shows that 29 percent of RYDC beds are empty; 50 percent of YDC beds are empty. The report also reflects costs to operate DJJ facilities of $50.5 million. However, GACDL folks argued that there was no need for four new DJJ facilities especially as there is a decline in the number of youth offending. Attorneys presenting stated that youth struggle with being in jail. Some spend at minimum 24 hours for felony charges and if they get bond it may be a minimum of 2-4 days. Sometimes, they can be in jail 6-12 days for lack of money for bond. There is no mandate to try youth as adults. There is a federal law change taking effect in January 2021 which will require children less than 18 to be segregated (sight and sound) from youth who are older. This will impact Georgia if it does not address Raise the Age. What will happen will be placing the young youth in solitary confinement which can have devastating effects.
HB 855, authored by Rep. Marcus Wiedower (R-Watkinsville)
Special Education - creates a new Code Section at O.C.G.A. 20-2-152.2 to require the State Board of Education to adopt criteria for the determination of foster care students’ eligibility for special education. Specifically, the bill lists evidence of the effect of trauma on a foster care student’s school performance and that a protocol be developed for use by each school that receives state funds under this article to immediately and deliberately assess foster care students upon their enrollment at a new school and determine whether exposure to trauma has had or is likely to have an adverse impact on the foster care student's educational performance, including both academics and classroom behavior.
HB 920, authored by Rep. David Clark (R-Buford)
amends O.C.G.A. 20-3-66 to allow for certain undocumented students to receive out-of-state tuition and fee waivers if they meet certain qualifications. The student must have attended an in-state secondary education school for three consecutive years prior to graduating high school, applied to college within 24 months of graduating high school, and submitted a transcript certifying attendance in highschool. The tuition waiver will cover all tuition and fees up to 110% of the required credit hours. This bill was referred to the House Higher Education Committee.
SB 335, authored by Sen. Matt Brass (R-Newnan) SENATE PASSED
Initiative backed by Lt. Governor Duncan and proposes include a number of policy goals around the state’s foster care system and the children and families that are served by the Division of Families and Children’s Service (“DFCS”). Among the inclusions in this bill are:
A new Code Section at O.C.G.A. 12-3-9.2 so as to waive any admission fees to a state park, historic site or recreational area operated by the state for any child in temporary or permanent custody of DFCS. Fees are also waived for the child’s foster care parents or such child’s relative or fictive kin serving as a placement for that child.
The bill also adds language in O.C.G.A. 15-11-64 to require that juvenile courts are to collect data on all cases in which a child alleged or adjudicated to be a child in need of services or a delinquent child is placed in foster care and has also been alleged or adjudicated to be a dependent child. Data collected is to show information on courts’ adherence to timeframe requirements/deadlines which are outlined in O.C.G.A. 15-11-102.
Changes in O.C.G.A. 15-11-110(c) addressing continuances of hearings in a dependency proceeding so as to clarify that hearings with dependency case time limitations, required by O.C.G.A. 15-11-102 and termination of parental rights hearings are to take priority in attorney conflict resolution over all other civil and criminal hearings and non-jury appearances in any other class of trial court.
Changes to O.C.G.A. 49-5-8, regarding the powers and duties of the Department of Human Services, so that the Department is authorized to contract with, certify, or partner with licensed child-placing agencies to assist with or provide casework services. It further adds that the Department is authorized to require varying levels of initial and annual training (which may be offered online) based on the experience of foster parents, the age and needs of the foster child/children, and whether the foster parents are providing only “respite care.”
HB 912, authored by Rep. Bert Reeves (R-Marietta)
Social Services - seeks to add a new Code section at O.C.G.A. § 49-5-8.1 so as to authorize foster parents to arrange for short-term babysitting (not more than 72 consecutive hours). Caregiver in the bill is the foster parent with whom a child in foster care has been placed. The caregiver can arrange for such short-term services with an individual who is 18 years of age or older when the caregiver is going to medical or other health care appointments, grocery or other shopping, personal grooming appointments, special occasions for the caregiver or caregivers, foster parent training classes, school related meetings, business meetings, adult social gatherings or an occasional evening event out for the caregiver or caregivers. A caregiver is proposed to be required to use a “reasonable and prudent parent standard in selecting and arranging for appropriate babysitters for occasional short-term babysitting.” In leaving the child with the babysitter, the caregiver is required to make “all reasonable efforts” to provide the babysitter with the following information: 1) information about the child’s emotional, behavioral, medical and physical condition; 2) any medication that should be administered to such child in foster care during the short-term babysitting period; and 3) emergency contact information that is valid for the duration of the short-term babysitting period.” This bill was referred to the House Juvenile Justice Committee.
HB 913, by Rep. Bert Reeves (R-Marietta)
Domestic Relations - seeks to make changes in Title 19 so as to “strengthen, clarify and update provisions relating to the protection of children, including foster children and adopted children.” In part, this legislation amends O.C.G.A. § 19-8-3(a) so as to permit individuals who are at least 21 years of age or is married and living with his or her spouse the ability to petition to adopt a child. Current law requires the individual to be at least 25 years of age. It permits the use of certified mail as a form of notice in certain adoption proceedings. It also adds requirements relating to the appointment of an agent for a petitioner. This bill was referred to the House Juvenile Justice Committee.
SB 351, authored by Sen. Ben Watson (R-Savannah)
calls for a nonbinding referendum election to determine if Georgians wish to observe only daylight savings time or standard time year-round. Such a referendum is proposed for the November 2020 general election. This bill was referred to the Senate Government Oversight Committee
SB 387, authored by Sen. Jen Jordan (D-Atlanta)
amends Title 20 to instruct the State Board of Education to create rules for schools to disburse leftover food from food preparation courses to needy students within the school. This bill was referred to the Senate Education and Youth Committee.