Ronny West, Joey Minster, Lynn Sands, and I went to the Gold Dome on Tuesday. We were delighted to find that Gayle and Gary Waters from our Thursday meetings were in attendance as well. The 6 of us attended the AFP Day at the Capitol, which provided Legislative Updates and a brief Citizen Lobbyist training. We then did some lobbying at the Senate rope line, sat in the Senate gallery for some floor debate, and attended a House subcommittee meeting at the Legislative Office Building. For Joey, Lynn, Gayle, and Gary, it was their 1st time at the Capitol, so it was a good orientation. 4 of us attended the Stop Common Core Rally in Capitol, there were 200 in attendance, with 3 TV stations there. That’s overview. If you want details, read on.
AFP Legislative Updates
1. Rep. Jason Spencer spoke on HB707 – the ACA Non-Compliance Act. He told us that in the hearing on 2/3, he received some good suggestions on how to improve the bill. He did not say that a vote was taken, but sounds to me that it was tabled.
2. Judiciary Chair Wendell Willard spoke on Civil Forfeiture Reform (HB1) which AFP is promoting. No new details.
3. Rep. Ed Lindsey spoke about expanding School Choice. He mentioned a Parent Trigger bill (HB123) which would empower parents to convert public schools to charter schools. It passed House last year. Is in Senate Educ. Cmte now – contact Sen. Lindsey Tippins and Sen. Fran Millar to lobby. Rep. Lindsey will also drop a bill next week to encourage a Partnership of Charter Schools and Businesses (no bill number yet)
4. Rep. Tom Taylor told us of his Independent Schools Constitutional Amendment Resolution (HR486). This allows municipalities formed since 2005 (14 in N.Fulton, 2 in S.Fulton) to form their own (or combine with adjoining cities to form) a School District independent of their County SD. See more under Ed. Subcmte
5. Sen. Judson Hill told us that the Fractional SPLOST bill (SB99, HB153) is in House Ways and Means. Contact Chair Mickey Channell and Majority Leader Larry O’Neal.
6. Sen. William Ligon spoke of his 2 Stop Common Core bills. SB167 gives each school board flexibility to go back to GA Peformance Standards. Is having final touches done by Legislative Counsel. SB203 protects privacy of a child’s info. Would not allow school to ask for party or religious affiliation, gun ownership in family home, etc. He said that the Governor is moving in our direction.
7. Rep. John Carson spoke of Fractional SPLOST on House side (HB153). The major opponents to this bill are the Mayors and City Councils who are represented by Georgia Municipal Association (GMA) who pay lobbyists to make sure Mayors/City Councils can bring in more tax revenue to fund bigger government. It was to be voted on by Ways and Means Subcommittee yesterday or today, would be voted on by full Committee next week (Chair Mickey Chanell), and probably have a floor vote in the next 2 weeks. The Leadership realizes it’s a good bill, and he is confident it will receive a floor vote.
8. Rep. Scot Turner introduced us to his Fiscal Accountability Act (HB793). He doesn’t expect to get far this year, this is 1st salvo in ongoing battle to make sure that any money that is offered to the State by the National Govt MUST be debated and brought up for floor vote in the Legislature. For example federal Race To The Top moneys were offered to GA, were accepted by Board of Ed (and Governor), and that’s how we wound up with Common Core. In a representative Republic, our elected legislators should be allowed (required) to evaluate whether the program and strings that come with that fed money is good for GA. (Joel Aaron Foster mentioned a website which allows anyone to research every federal dollar that comes into GA – www.SpendingSpotlight.com
9. Rep. Don Parsons reported that his Mobile BILD Act (HB176) passed the House last Friday, is now in Senate Regulated Industries Committee (Chair Jack Murphy). This is a bill supported by AFP.
Senate rope line
· Joey and I spoke to my Rep. Sharon Cooper. She “has no problem with Fractional SPLOST” so we moved on to Common Core. She knew there were lots of folks both for and against it, but didn’t seem that knowledgeable about it, so we gave her our reasons for supporting it.
· We saw some of the debate on SR736, for an Article V Convention of the States. We did not stay for vote, but were glad to hear that it passed.
House Academic Support Subcommittee on Education
· Rep. Tom Taylor put forth his Constitutional Amendment on Independent School Districts (HR486). Several spoke in favor of this, including a woman (sorry, I didn’t write down her name) from GLASS (Georgians for Local Area School Systems). She showed that of the school systems over 10,000 students, most were low performing and high Central Office costs. Those under 10,000 were high performing and lower cost. Thus, we should allow municipalities to form their own school system, and pull out of the failing county leviathans. Ideal size is 3,000 – 10,000 students. It passed subcommittee, and would go to full Committee on Education on 2/5. Because it requires a Constitutional Amendment to remove the cap on number of school districts set in 1945 Amendment, it will require 2/3 in both House and Senate to get on ballot.