My colleagues and I passed House Bill 1354, the Wrongful Conviction Compensation Act, to help streamline and standardize the compensation process for wrongful convictions in our state. While we can’t give people back the time that they served for their wrongful conviction, this measure would provide a pathway for a standardized process and reparations for these individuals, which is long overdue in our state.
The House also passed legislation on Crossover Day to help low-income Georgia students access financial aid to complete their undergraduate degrees. House Bill 1435 would allow part-time and full-time college students to apply for a needs-based financial aid program to fill an outstanding financial aid gap. Students who are close to earning their college degrees should not miss out on this opportunity to cross the finish line due to a lack of financial assistance, and I believe that this legislation could help thousands of Georgia college students reach their graduation day.
Late in the evening on Crossover Day, we also passed legislation to expand grant funding opportunities to low-wealth K-12 school systems that need help building and maintaining their schools. Currently, 44 school systems, mostly in rural areas with low populations, desperately need access to this funding. With low SPLOST revenues, these schools cannot afford to build new facilities in today’s expensive construction market, but these grants would help these systems replace their aging buildings to offer better learning environments for our students.
We passed two more bills that would support students as they make their way through their K-12 education. For high school students, House Bill 1184 would allow local school systems, charter schools, special chartered schools and the Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice to administer nationally recognized college entrance exams, to 11th grade students who choose to participate. Additionally, the House passed House Bill 1283 to ensure that our elementary schools students have a chance to enjoy recess every day, which we believe is a crucial part of a child’s learning experience. My colleagues and I recognize that an excellent education is well-rounded, and these bills would ensure their success in the classroom, as well as assist them as they prepare for college.
As many of us know, the state has experienced challenges in hiring and retaining workers, especially nurses and doctors, and the COVID-19 pandemic has only exasperated this issue. House Bill 1184 and House Bill 1283 are two bills we passed which aim to address two serious challenges that our health care system is facing these day by providing direct support to both the health care entities and their workers.
In 2019, the Georgia House passed legislation to allow limited in-state licensing, production and distribution of low-THC oil for Georgians suffering from certain chronic or terminal illnesses. This program has launched, but, production has not started, and thousands of eligible Georgians have been left without access to this alternative medicine. We passed House Bill 1425 this week to ensure that we get this medicine into the hands of those who desperately need it.