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GSBA Legislative Watch

Jan 12, 2021 | , , ,

By Scott Bierman

GEORGIA – With the turn of the calendar come a new session of the General Assembly and a new group of lawmakers under the Gold Dome. As per usual, Day 1 featured mostly pomp and circumstance as the Representatives and Senators were sworn in and leadership officers approved.

While there was not much on Day 1, we can get an idea of what to expect moving forward over the next week and a half. The General Assembly will meet Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday of this week before holding budget hearings next week and returning for Day 5 on Tuesday, January 26. It is expected that Governor Brian Kemp will issue his State of the State address and subsequently release his budget this Thursday the 14th.

As for the rest of session, the remaining schedule remains to be seen. As is the norm, there are plenty of rumors, each of them going their own way. Hopefully the session will be smooth, but with the ongoing pandemic there is always the possibility of bumpy ride along the way.

For a more in depth lay of the land, see Angela’s pre-session report from last week which sets the stage as to what to expect over the next few months.

Tuesday January 12

The Senate convenes at 10am, while the House gavels in at 1pm

Today the Lt. Governor’s office announced the new Senate committee chairs for the 2021 Session. Senator Chuck Payne of Dalton has been named the new Senate Education and Youth Committee Chairman. Senator Payne has not previously served on the Education and Youth committee, but we look forward to working with him. For more on Chairman Payne, his bio and legislative history can be found here.

In the other big news of the day, Representative Wes Cantrell has again introduced a education savings account voucher bill. HB 60, the Georgia Educational Scholarship Act looks familiar to many of the voucher bills seen in past years, with one major COVID-19 related twist.

Students who have a documented case of being bullied, meet income requirements, have an IEP for one of several listed disabilities, have been adopted from foster care, or have at least one parent who is active duty military are eligible. In addition to the above eligibility requirements for the program, students who spent the previous school year enrolled in a public school in a local school system not currently offering an option for students to receive 100% of instruction in person have been added to the list of qualifications for the potential voucher.

A list of qualified education expenses, a cap on the number of students who may take part in the program, requirements of parents who accept the voucher, requirements of the school district, the voucher formula, and assessment and accountability requirements are all spelled out in the bill itself.

For a detailed description of the bill, please click here HB60, or in the bill title above.

Not much happened in either chamber today, as both the House and Senate were in and out relatively quickly. Tomorrow should be another lighter day in the chambers as committees have yet to meet.

Wednesday January 13

The House and Senate return for Day 3 Wednesday at 10am.

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