2013 Legislative Session

Georgia PTA Legislative Update
Jan. 27, 2013

This February, Georgia PTA will offer two opportunities for parents and students to become more informed and empowered advocates.

PTSA Youth Advocacy Day: February 13

This program is uniquely designed to educate middle and high school students about the laws that affect them. Students will be speaking to students about issues being considered in legislation. The former Georgia Labor Commissioner, Michael Thurmond, will address students about Youth Leadership and Advocacy. Michael Mitchell from the Dep’t of Driver Services will talk about teen driving laws. A brief discussion on current legislation will be provided.

Registration will be closing soon so print the registration form and send it in today. PTSA student members are only $5, non-members are $10, chaperones are free but must register. Space is limited so register today.

Download the form below to register.

PTA Day at the Capitol: February 27

The annual PTA Day at the Capitol is less than a month away. PTA members will have the opportunity to learn first hand about legislation that will affect their children, their schools, and their communities. This year the General Assembly is already discussing a bill that would allow administrators in school to be armed. Legislators are discussing a new way for parents to petition their school to become a charter school and they are discussing legislation that would regulate when student athletes can return to playing after sustaining a concussion. Learn about these bills and more at PTA Day. Attendees will also learn how to talk to decision makers in a way that will make a difference. After the morning program, attendees will go to the Capitol where they can speak directly to their legislators about the issues that concern them.

The highlight of the day is lunch with your legislators. Attendees will have the opportunity to enjoy lunch and discuss issues with their House Representatives and Senators. While all the legislators have been invited, a phone call from you inviting them to join you at lunch will help ensure they attend.

Registration is open now on the Georgia PTA website. Early registration: PTA members $35, non-members $40. Late or on-site registration is $50. Please consider sponsoring a legislator to help defray the costs of the lunch.

Click here to access online registration. A form is also available that can be mailed in (see the GeorgiaPTA.org website).

Legislative Update:

This year’s PTA Day at the Capitol will be more significant than ever as it will be the only opportunity to learn about the bills being considered by the legislature. Regretfully, Sally FitzGerald, Education Policy Specialist for GA PTA, who monitored and reported on legislation for the past 30 years will no longer be writing daily reports and posting legislation on Capitol Watch. Weekly reports will also no longer be sent recapping the week’s legislative activity. We hope to see you at PTA Day and PTSA Youth Advocacy Day so you can become an informed and empowered advocate


Now, go to the GA Legislature website and read up on the amended Bill allowing for the removal of school boards:


The House Committee on Education offers the following substitute to HB 115:


To amend Article 3 of Chapter 2 of Title 20 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated,

relating to local boards of education, so as to revise provisions relating to suspension and

removal of local school board members under certain circumstances; to provide for related

matters; to repeal conflicting laws; and for other purposes.


Local Lawmaker Plans Bill for a Dunwoody School System

Acknowledging the long odds against him, state Rep. Tom Taylor plans to introduce a bill in the General Assembly that would create a Dunwoody school system.

Talyor announced his plans this past Sunday night at a meeting of the Dunwoody Homeowners Association board of directors, according to the Reporter Newspapers.

Taylor said the proposal faces “a huge uphill battle” because it calls for an amendment to Georgia’s constitution.

His proposal would call for an amendment to the state Constitution, he said, and would be voted on during next year’s legislative session. If approved, the public would vote on the referendum later in the year.


APRIL 18, 2013

Thu, Apr 18, 2013 at 10:55 PM
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April 18, 2013

This is Mary Margaret Oliver’s FINAL WRAP-UP email newsletter for the 2013 General Assembly Session which convened January 14, 2013 and adjourned at midnight March 28.

Also, to follow MMO’s legislative work and learn about opportunities to participate please friend her on Facebook and follow her Tweets. Thank you for your interest!

MEETING ON CITYHOOD BILLS – On May 6, from 6:30 to 8:30 pm, members of the DeKalb delegation who have introduced new cityhood or annexation bills will hold a Town hall Meeting at the Clairmont Hills Baptist Church at the corner of Clairmont and North Druid Hills to discuss all the bills introduced, including provisions for Druid Hills, Lavista Hills, Tucker, Lakeside, and the City of DeKalb. Please come, learn about your options and how you may participate in a broad discussion about DeKalb governance. More details about this meeting will be forth coming in future notices, but please put this date on your calendar. Thank you for your interest!



HB 242 and HB 349 Passage —Final passage of the Juvenile Court Code re-write combined with the positive proposals from the Governor’s Council on Criminal Justice Reform are substantial good acts from the 2013 General Assembly. As with all legislation, time and energy must now turn to implementation strategies. I will be encouraging DeKalb County Juvenile Court leaders to apply for pilot project money from the approximate 6 Million dollars the Governor and General Assembly budget will commit to fund local programs for lower risk juvenile offenders in lieu of secure detention in state youth jails. Savings from a reduced population in the state’s YDCs can be redirected in the future to more effective programing, with lower recidivism rates. A major focus in the newly funded pilot programs will be the mandate that projects be effective in an provable, evidence based review. Proving effectiveness of appropriated money is a valuable provision and will set standards for future work.

HB 21 Passage – MMO’s bill introduced on behalf of Judge Michael Key and others to authorize Post Adoption Contact Agreements passed both Chambers and is on the Governor’s desk for signature and final passage. I will be working with private DFCS leaders, adoption agencies, private attorneys, and Adoptees on how best to implement this new policy, particularly focusing on foster care children. We know from other states’ experiences with PACA and from research that voluntarily agreed upon exchanges of information between Adoptees and members of birth families can support adoptions from the beginning and ongoing. Thank you to all the folks who helped with the huge amount of work to pass this important legislation, with special thanks to Kirsten Widner and the excellent law student help from the Barton Child Law and Advocacy Center at Emory University School of Law.

HB 142 Passage – Passage of HB 142 placing a cap of $75.00 on gifts to legislators and implementing other ethics reform proposals is more good than bad. There are many additional provisions of gift limitations that I would have supported, but passage of HB 142 is an important step, and represents progress. There is clearly more work to do, and I am ready for new efforts, but after 10 years of proposing limitations on gifts to legislators, I am pleased with at least a cap. Restoring to the Ethics commission the authority to issue rules and regulations, and limiting reimbursement of travel expenses are also helpful steps.


HB 122 – As an add-on to a good bill about the sex offender panel bill, the Department of Corrections successfully led effort to make a state secret of the way in which death penalty offenders are executed. The pharmacy “cocktail” of drugs used in executions has been subject to litigation, and the participation of the large pharmaceutical companies in authorizing and sale of drugs, is now a “state secret” which I believe is a violation of Georgia’s Open Records Act. This amendment was added on the House floor without any earlier debate in committee, and was never introduced as a separate bill. It represents a poor process and the reality that its implementation will cause more litigation for all concerned—including the victim’s families.


Although efforts were unsuccessful, to the credit of the many, strong attempts were made to eliminate medical coverage for abortion services for 650,000 beneficiaries of the state health benefit package–hugely controversial, which the Governor says he now supports. Finally, the gun legislation debates as set forth in HB 512 and SB 101 were very depressing and ugly. Toward the end of the debates, however, the private colleges (Emory and Agnes Scott as examples) were exempt from “guns on campus” provisions and allowed to make decisions on their own private property. Nothing passed in 2013 on guns on campuses, in churches, or in more bars, but the debate will return next year without doubt.

One more question and you decide the category of good, bad or ugly–Did the 2013 General Assembly do anything positive for public education, or only continue to support private education scholarships and options?

MMO Legislative Activities:

Since the Session, MMO has spoken to the Family Law Section of the Atlanta Bar Association on the Session’s family law legislation, the Judicial Council (invited by Chief Justice Carol Hunstein), and the Dresden Neighborhood Association. On behalf of the Governor’s Council on Criminal Justice Reform, MMO accepted an award from the Georgia Justice Project, and attended the Georgia Holocaust Annual Days of Remembrance Ceremony at the Capitol. MMO’s Facebook documents many of her daily visits and activities. This weekend, MMO is supporting and attending the Druid Hills Tour of Homes–please come and enjoy the tour, which includes lectures and an antique car show!

MMO introduced HB 619 and passed through both Chambers, to allow two precincts north of I 85 decide by a voter referendum if they wish to be annexed into the City of Chamblee. She is arguing with the Governor’s legal counsel about whether this bill violated Senate rules in passage and whether the Governor will veto or sign the bill. Stay tuned. And, she is making plans for an assortment of Session follow-up work and will report on these activities more in the future.


Capitol visits and Speaking engagements

If you would like MMO to visit your group to talk about legislative issues, or visit the Capitol during a Session, please let her know.

Thank you !!


Law office 404 377 0485

Legislative office 404 656 0265

CLOB 604

Atlanta, Georgia 30334



Georgia PTA

2013 Legislative Recap

The 2013 legislative session was relatively quiet with no high profile education bills and few major bills affecting children and youth. The most significant bill affecting children was HB 242, the Juvenile Justice bill which rewrote the juvenile code and addressed how youth would be handled once they entered the juvenile system. The goal is to keep the non-serious offenders out of jail and in local jurisdiction treatment programs so that minor offenders don’t become major, repeat offenders. Below is a recap of some of the more significant legislation passed that impacts children and youth:

Legislation that Passed:

HB 70: Under certain case by case instances, the State Board of Ed (SBOE) could waive the requirement that a ‘medically fragile’ student must be enrolled in a public school for one year and have an IEP before being allowed to qualify for a Special Needs Scholarship. The Local BOE/school could be required to expedite the development of the IEP. Stipulates that students already enrolled in private school are eligible.

HB 115: Revises provisions related to the suspension and removal of school board members in cases where the system is placed on probation by an accrediting agency. Proposed changes include: notice of probation must be submitted to the SBOE by the LBOE in writing, the state board hearing on charges must be held within 90 days, deliberations of the state board may be held in executive session and suspension or removal shall not apply to board members who were not on the board when the accrediting agency placed the system or school on probation. If school or district has been accredited by a second accreditation organization within the last two years then students would still qualify for HOPE. Also added that LBOE members can’t use local taxpayer dollars to defend themselves against being removed from office due to accreditation issues.

HB 131: Would have dual enrollment courses treated the same as AP and IB courses in calculating HOPE.

HB 244: Puts into law the teacher and leader evaluation system currently being piloted (by RTTT systems and others). Codifies how student achievement is factored into a teacher evaluation (50% of evaluation) along with trained and certified administrative observation, school climate and student surveys. Student achievement would be based on scores from EOCTs for those classes that have EOCTs and would be based on locally developed pre and post tests based on Student Learning Objectives (SLO) for those classes with no established end of course tests. Effective 2014-15

HB 283: Major clean up of Title 20, as recommended by the Education Finance Commission. Updates QBE program weights; limits the charter system annual grant to those systems whose charters were approved prior to 1-1-12. Those approved after that date will get a one-time implementation grant subject to appropriations (translation: excludes Fulton County with 93,000 students would have receive a $9 million extra grant per year); counselor-student ratio changed to 1 to 450 for every grade and in 2015 will include FTE counts for English Language Learners and Students With Disabilities, and in 2016 will include gifted and remedial; includes technology with texts for ‘instructional materials’; extends maximum class size to 2014-2015 with SBOE eligibility to waive; allows 20 additional day grant to be used for additional services to students during the school day and removes the limit that can be spent on transportation; school psychologists to be funded at l to 2420, formerly 1 to 2475; school psychologists, special ed leadership and social workers to be indirect costs separately identified; removes ‘needs improvement’ designation from the code, and calls it ‘unacceptable’; charter schools no longer have to have a professional learning program; establishes a grant program to incentivize adopting of a digital learning program using high speed internet; middle school grades no longer need a shared planning period in law; home school students will send attendance reports directly to the state DOE, not the local school system; home school students with a suspected disability must notify the local school superintendent; specifies that charter petitions are three –way and that the local school system cannot be a petitioner; Charter Advisory Committee shall review petitions for charter systems only; LBOE to have 90 days to approve or disapprove a charter school petition which is now 60 days; removes the term AYP from the law; requires school foundations to be 501.c.3 corporations.

Changes definitions in the School Scholarship Organization (SSO) regulations:

· Eligible student must be enrolled in the public school for at least 6 weeks;

· Currently 25% of revenue may be held in reserves.

· SSO must designate revenue to specific students;

· Students with financial needs must have preference;

· Must maintain separation between scholarship funds and operating funds;

· Must report federal AGI for families of all scholarship recipients and number of dependents in such families;

· Donors cannot designate a specific student to be recipient of the donated funds.

· Increases annual total to $58 million and eliminates the inflationary rider.

HB 284: Return to Play Act. Would require LBOE to adopt a policy governing when an athlete (ages 7-18) can resume participation in a sport after sustaining a head injury. Covers public, charter and private schools but not church leagues. Schools will not be liable for a student’s injury unless it is caused by willful or wanton action. Public recreation facilities where registration is required and fee is charged shall provide written information on risks of concussion and head injuries to parents and are encouraged to adopt a return to play policy.

HB 337: Would allow public and private schools to stockpile auto-injectable epinephrine (epi-pens). Doctors would be able to write a prescription for the schools. An employee will be trained to recognize anaphylactic shock and how to administer the epi-pen and will not be liable unless gross negligence is found. Recently, a pharmaceutical company said it would provide four per school if the school had a prescription for them.

HB 372: Lowers the requirement to receive a HOPE grant from 3.0 to 2.0. Does not affect HOPE Scholarships.

HB 382: Schools that enter into a recreation joint use agreement will not be liable for injuries that happen on their grounds while they are being used by the renter of the facilities. The other entity will be required to carry insurance to cover any liabilities. Modified to only pertain to agreements between public/private not public/public due to liability.

HR 502: Establishes a study committee on mental health and school violence.

HR 552: Urges implementation of comprehensive school counseling programs and encourages districts to allow counselors five full-time segments to advise students (and parents).

SB 212: Requires an American Heart Assoc video on how to perform CPR and use AED devices to be shown in high school Health and PE.

HB 142: Ethics Bill: Caps expenditures at $75 per occurrence. Forbids lobbyists from paying for sporting events, hunting trips, etc. as well as foreign travel. Can still pay for caucus, delegation, committee or whole general assembly events with certain limitations. Can pay for trips if legislator is performing ‘official duties’.

HB 156: Makes ‘sexting’ between teenagers a misdemeanor instead of a felony.

HB 242: Rewrite of the Juvenile Justice Code. Revises how a youth is processed when he or she is in the juvenile system. Eliminates conflicts in the code.

HB 350: Requires a national criminal records check for anyone who works in a child care facility. Each person must be rechecked every five years.

SR 623: Creates the Senate Select Study Committee which seeks to make age- appropriate education about child sexual abuse part of the school’s curriculum. The committee will seek to reduce child sexual abuse by recommending policy and legislation.

Legislation that Did Not Pass: (but remains active for the next session)

HB 123: Parent Teacher Empowerment Act: The “Parent and Teacher Empowerment Act”, also known as the Parent Trigger Bill allows a petition to be submitted to convert any local school to a charter school. The petition may be submitted by a majority of parents of students enrolled in the school or cluster (one vote per household including all siblings). Whoever submits the petition must verify the signatures and verify that no for-profit entity helped with the process. For low performing schools, parents or teachers may petition or vote by secret ballot to impose a particular turnaround model (including such things as removing school personnel, including the principal, provide a management team, restructure the schools governance plan, etc.). The local board has 30 days to determine that the people who signed have students enrolled. If the petition is submitted by 60 percent of parents or faculty, denial takes a 2/3 vote of the board.

HB 327: Flexibility and Accountability Act: Allows system flexibility based on school district and individual schools performance as calculated using the CCRPI (College and Career Readiness Performance Index). Category III systems would be charter systems that have a specific contract with the SBOE regarding Title 20. Category II, those with an 80 or above, along with 90% of the schools in their system having an 80 or above or showing significant growth, would be high performing systems and granted significant flexibility on Title 20 without having to apply for waivers for such areas as class size, expenditure controls, salary schedules, and certification requirements as long as they remain high performing. Category I would be those with a score of less than 80. They would still be able to apply for waivers but would have to show how those waivers align with their adopted strategic plan. Effective 2015-16

SB 68: Celebrate Freedom Week. Establishes the week in September that includes Sept. 17 where three hours of instruction be dedicated to the Constitution and other important founding documents. Students in grades 3-12 would recite from specified historic passages.

SB 101: Would allow a school district to decide if they want to have a designated individual carry a weapon in school (in addition to or in lieu of an School Resource Officer). The individual would need to have a permit and to have completed any training the LBOE required. The local system can decided if they want to have this and will be responsible for the cost of the training. The system retains sovereign immunity. An employee cannot be hired or fired based on their willingness or reluctance to participate in this. Also allows guns on public college campuses anywhere except student dorms, fraternity/sorority houses and in sporting facilities. Would allow guns in churches (if the church votes to allow this) and other public buildings (except courthouses) in areas that do not require screening to enter. Would allow some individuals treated for mental health issues to be able to get gun permit.

A special thank you to the Georgia PTA Legislative team who actively supported all the PTA advocates throughout the year and a very special thank you to Diane Jacobi and Sally FitzGerald who helped monitor legislation throughout the session. For those who want more information about legislation from the 2013 legislative session there will be a workshop on it at CLT in July.


Mary Margaret

Members of the DeKalb House and Senate delegations, including those who have introduced legislation to create new cities or annex new areas to existing cities, will hold a Town Hall meeting on May 6, from 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm at Clairmont Hills Baptist Church, 1995 Clairmont Drive, Decatur 30033, the corner of Clairmont and North Druid Hills Road. We want all DeKalb citizens to learn about the options available to them for local governance, and how you may participate in the efforts that will be on-going this summer. PLEASE JOIN US!

House Rules of the Georgia General Assembly require that a new city may only be created over a two year term, not in one year. Legislation, listed below by primary sponsor, was filed in the 2013 Session that ended March 28, 2013, to give an opportunity procedurally to create possible new DeKalb cities of Druid Hills, LaVista Hills, Lakeside, Stonecrest, City of DeKalb, and Tucker. Also, annexation bills are pending for Chamblee and being discussed for Decatur, and legislative limitations on annexations options have also been filed. We ask neighborhood associations or groups who are reviewing current legislation, or working for or against possible new cities to describe briefly their efforts.


The meeting will provide information on the costs of planning for new cities and the resulting possible tax implications. We will discuss procedures for legislative enactment, give a summary of ongoing cityhood activities, and learn about other governance options.


The following are bills that have been introduced and may be reviewed on the General Assembly web site by Bill number:

HB 22—Primary Sponsor Mary Margaret Oliver. HB 22 sets out additional procedures and enhanced financial requirements for creation of new cities.

HB 619—Primary Sponsor Mary Margaret Oliver. HB 619 passed in 2013 and allows an area in unincorporated DeKalb that adjoins Chamblee to vote to be annexed into Chamblee

HB 665—Primary Sponsor Mary Margaret Oliver. HB 665 is a placemholder bill to create new city of Briarcliff/Druid Hills.

HB 677—Primary Sponsor Billy Mitchell. HB 677 would create a new city of Tucker.

HB 687—Primary Sponsor Pam Stephenson. HB 687 limits the ability to annex new areas to existing cities by geography.

SB 270—Primary Sponsor Fran Millar. SB 270 would create city of Lakeside

SB 275—Primary Sponsor Jason Carter. SB 275 would create new city of LaVista Hills.

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