March 13, 2020

Legislative Session
Day 28 (Part 2) and Day 29
Report Snapshot

Legislature & Many School Districts Suspend Indefinitely

Partial Report from PAGE

Day 28 (Part 2): House Passes Evaluation Review, Return to Work, and Tax Credit for Educators in Rural and Turnaround School Bills; Tim Tebow Bill Did Not Receive a Vote

Day 29 Report
Upcoming Schedule

Legislative Session is Suspended until Further Notice
Legislature & Many School Districts Suspend Indefinitely

On Thursday, March 12, House Speaker David Ralston (R-Blue Ridge) and Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan simultaneously announced that the state legislature would suspend indefinitely.

The announcement to suspend came shortly after Gov. Brian Kemp’s press conference regarding COVID-19. The governor cited a growing number of COVID-19 cases in Georgia and said schools should assess whether to close for two weeks, beginning immediately. “We know school closures have a major impact on our Georgia families,” Kemp said. “Given the rise of the coronavirus, I am going to issue a call to action. If local communities feel it is prudent, you should consider closing day cares and schools as early as tomorrow through the next two weeks,” he continued.

Following Kemp’s announcement, a cascade of school district closures were announced.

For more information regarding Georgia public schools and COVID-19, please visit the Georgia Department of Education website .

-Margaret Ciccarelli
Partial Report from PAGE

Due to the uncertainty around the continuation of the legislative session as well as the number of bills reviewed by both chambers, the PAGE legislative team presents the Day 28 report in two parts. Part one of the report was released on Thursday, March 12.

-Josh Stephens
Day 28 Report (Part 2): House Passes Evaluation Review, Return to Work, and Tax Credit for Educators in Rural and Turnaround School Bills; Tim Tebow Bill Did Not Receive a Vote

On Day 28, the House did not take action on HB 1055 , the Equal Opportunity for Access in Education Act (also known as the Tim Tebow bill), that would have given homeschooled students the right to participate in extracurricular activities including athletics, band, chorus and other musical and theater activities as well as school clubs and organizations at the public schools to which they are zoned. The bill is not eligible to pass in 2020.

The House passed the following bills, which now move to the Senate for consideration once the legislative session resumes:

HB 86 by Rep. Tommy Benton (R-Jefferson) would require school districts to create a complaint review policy that allows teachers with a summative evaluation rating of unsatisfactory, ineffective, or needs development to receive an evaluation review by an independent third party administrator or administrator designated by local school leaders.  

HB 336 by Rep. Shaw Blackmon (R-Bonaire) would allow teachers to return to work full time in public schools in designated highest-need areas while drawing Teachers Retirement System (TRS) benefits. Eligible teachers would be required to wait a year before returning to work. The three highest-need areas would be determined for each Regional Education Service Agency (RESA) district annually by the Georgia Department of Education (GaDOE) in consultation with the Georgia Professional Standards Commission (GaPSC). That determination would be based on a five-year average of survey data reported by local school districts. Teachers whose primary teaching field(s) are in the highest-need areas in their RESA districts would be eligible to participate.If passed, HB 336 would sunset in 2025. 

HB 736 by Rep. Dave Belton (R-Buckhead) would provide a refundable tax credit of $3,000 to serve 1,000 teachers in turnaround or rural schools, which are identified by the Georgia Department of Education (GaDOE) as having high teacher vacancies. Eligible teachers would be able to participate for up to five years.

-Josh Stephens
Day 29 Report
Speaker David Ralston (R-Blue Ridge) convened the House to assign new bills submitted by members of the House as well as legislation approved by the Senate to the appropriate committees for review. Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan also gaveled in the Senate for the same purpose. Both chambers were nearly empty as most legislators have returned to their home communities until the General Assembly reconvenes. No committee meetings were held, and all previously scheduled meetings for the week of March 16 have been canceled.

-Claire Suggs
Claire Suggs
Senior Education Policy Analyst
Josh Stephens
Legislative Affairs Specialist
Margaret Ciccarelli
Director of Legislative Services