Tuesday, April 7, 2009
Georgia PTA’s weekly update on legislative activity
– Apr. 5, 2009
Year one of the two year session is completed and as usual there was a tremendous amount of legislative activity the last two days, especially the last day, referred to as sine die. The language of some bills was added to others so read the descriptions below to find out what they now contain. Every effort was made to ensure the accuracy of this report but amendments were being added and stripped off bills faster than anyone could record. It will take several days to sort out final versions of some bills. The Governor now has 40 days to sign or veto bills (May 13). Any bill not vetoed goes into effect after 40 days. Any bill that did not pass this session is still alive to be considered again next January.
School Nurse Funding
Great news and a heartfelt thank you to all the schools that sent in Popsicle sticks and to our members who called or emailed their legislators in our campaign to save the school nurse funding. The 2010 budget that passed contained almost full funding for nurses: $29.1 M (only a 3% cut). Congratulations on making your voices heard!
Additional budget news: The budget contained extensive cuts some of which pertaining to education are detailed here:
Note: QBE stands for Quality Basic Education and is the formula used to determine funding for education. When we refer to austerity cuts it means the funds that were taken out of QBE after the amount that education should have earned based on the formula is determined.
• Increase funds for dual enrollment courses: $1,390,960
• Transfer all funds and activities for Graduation Coaches and Classroom Supply Cards to offset the austerity reduction: $49,225,901 (so school districts must decide whether they will use those funds for Graduation Coaches and teacher gift cards or use the funds to meet basic education needs)
• Total austerity cuts to education: approx. $297 M
If you’ve ever watched a tennis match it would have prepared you for watching voucher legislation this session. HB 251, the public school intra-district only transfer legislation was introduced in the House, passed and sat in the Senate Ed committee. The Senate introduced the universal voucher bill SB 90 where it passed out of committee but not out of Rules due to a lack of votes. Language from SB 90 was amended to HB 251 to allow inter-district transfers. After much back and forth the final version of HB 251 contained only intra-district transfers. School districts must make availability known by July 1 of each year, starting this year. Parents can opt to transfer their children based on availability and must provide their own transportation. Students can continue on to the next school to which that school feeds. No voucher legislation passed this year thanks in part to the all the phone calls and emails from PTA members. Added to this legislation was a provision that forbids relatives of school board members and superintendents from holding positions of administration in a school or in the central office.
Legislation that Passed:
HB 120: 2009 sales tax holiday would be from July 30 to August 2.
HB 123: Adds a definition of ‘child molestation’ to include contact with the victim made electronically including the Internet and telephone.
HB 178: Extends Capital outlay deadline. Relaxes some of the expenditure controls placed on school districts to allow greater flexibility in how funds are spent in the 2009-2010 school year. Added the dual enrollment language from HB 400.
HB 233: (OPPOSED) Two year freeze on any appreciation on the value of a property, even if it changes hands.
HB 280: Provides differentiated pay for math and science teachers effective July 1, 2010.
HB 217: Overrides the Department of Community Health regulation that requires a doctor’s order to receive a flu shot. Flu vaccine can be administered by a pharmacist or nurse upon an order by a doctor for a group of patients. The doctor can also prescribe epinephrine for patients having an allergic reaction to the flu vaccine. Children under 12 must get shot at the doctor’s office; between 13 and 18 must be accompanied by parent if shot is to be given at other than a doctor’s office. Hospitals may offer a flu shot upon discharge to patients age 65 or older and may offer flu shots to their employees. Governor may declare an emergency based on a pandemic flu epidemic. General Assembly must convene within two days of such a declaration of a public health emergency
HB 455: Extends the deadline to May 15, 2009 for school districts to tender certified personnel contracts or to notify certified staff that such contracts will not be tendered (was April 15). Means teachers may have to wait an extra month to know if they have a job next year. Two amendments were added: (1) removes the June 30, 2009 sunset provisions for the Master Teacher Program, and (2) after July 1, 2010, those who attain leadership certificates will be paid on such leadership certificates only if the educator is employed in a leadership position as defined by the State Board of Education.
HB 484: Children of military personnel on active duty stationed in GA can qualify for HOPE.
SB 8: Allows elementary and middle school students to carry and self administer epi-pens. School districts must have a policy on record for this.
SB 69: Any person who allows, permits, encourages or requires that a child engage in prostitution or sexually explicit conduct may be found guilty of sexual exploitation. (Currently only child’s parents of caregiver could be so charged).
SB 94: Removes the requirement that a dependent child up to the age 25 be a full-time student to be insured medically under the parent’s health plan.
SB 114: Provides special provisions for children of military personnel who transfer into GA public schools including waivers to some GA graduation requirements and additional allowable absences.
A comprehensive list of all the bills that passed that affect children and youth can be found on Capitol Watch. As more details about bills becomes availably (including any that are signed or vetoed), reports will be filed. To be prepared for next year’s session sign up to attend the Legislative recap workshop this summer at CLT.
Key: HR- House Resolution, HB– House Bill, SR– Senate Resolution, SB– Senate Bill
Daily Reports with additional details on all the bills being tracked by GA PTA can be found on the Capitol Watch website under News.
Thank you for all your legislative efforts this year!