Legislative Update 3-28-16

Legislative Update 3-28-16

Friends,

That’s a wrap! After forty legislative days, the General Assembly is adjourned Sine Die.  From passing a balanced budget, to protecting religious freedom, and restoring our 2nd Amendment Rights, the General Assembly worked diligently to advance legislation that ensures a better tomorrow for Georgia families and businesses. Here are some highlights:

Passing a Balanced Budget

This year, the General Assembly passed a balanced budget for Fiscal Year 2016-2017 that prioritizes K-12 and higher education, economic development, criminal justice reform, and infrastructure.  Through conservative budgeting practices, Georgia weathered the Great Recession and remains on the path to fiscal prosperity.

Criminal Justice Reform

Through major reforms to our Criminal Justice system, we are saving money, reducing recidivism rates, and keeping our streets and communities safe.

This year, the General Assembly allocated funds for the expansion of our state’s accountability courts and community-based treatment centers for juveniles. We also gave a much needed pay raise to our corrections officers.

Protecting our 2nd Amendment Rights

This year, Georgia lawmakers pushed back against extreme legislation that would ban and seize certain types of weapons and ammunition.  We also passed HB 859, which allows law-abiding, licensed students to carry a concealed firearm on a college campus.  HB 792, which allows tasers and stun guns on university grounds, was also passed.

Religious Freedom

The House and Senate passed legislation to protect religious freedom in Georgia.  House Bill 757 combines the Pastor Protection Act and language from the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 to ensure that people of faith are never forced to violate their religious beliefs.  This legislation clearly bans discrimination of any kind.

Regulation of Drones

We passed legislation this year to prevent drones from violating the privacy rights of Georgia citizens and to prevent the use of drones as weapons. Exceptions are made for law enforcement agencies searching for lost children or escaped prisoners.

Fireworks Sales

In November, you will see a Constitutional Amendment that allows the sales tax revenues from fireworks sales to be used solely for trauma care in Georgia.  Please study this issue carefully so you can make an informed decision at the ballot box.

Protecting Life

HB 555 was agreed to by both bodies of the legislature and will head to the Governor’s Desk for his signature.  This legislation requires the Juvenile Court and Administrative Office of the Courts to compile and deliver statistics on girls 17 and younger who seek an abortion without notifying their parents. HB 555 will ensure accurate reporting and help as we fight to protect life in Georgia.

Honoring Archer Students

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Archer High School’s seniors with the highest academic record along with the Star Student and Star Teacher were recently recognized in the Georgia House of Representatives for their accomplishments. Pictured left to right are Representative Chandler; Jasmine Moore, Valedictorian; John Golden, Star Student; Governor Deal; Morgan Lewis, Salutatorian; and Ms. Jennifer Callaway, Star Teacher

The session is over, but my service to our community continues.  If there is anything I can do to help you, please do not hesitate to call (404.656.0254), e-mail (Joyce.Chandler@House.Ga.Gov) or engage on Facebook.  It is an honor to represent you in the General Assembly, and I look forward to seeing you soon.

Sincerely,

Joyce Chandler
District 105
Georgia General Assembly

Legislative Update 3-19-16

Legislative Update 3-19-16

Friends,

With two legislative days left, state lawmakers are working around the clock to move legislation before Sine Die (adjournment) on March 24 at Midnight.

Protecting Religious Freedom

On Wednesday, the House and Senate passed legislation to protect religious freedom in Georgia.  House Bill 757 combines the Pastor Protection Act and language from the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 to ensure that people of faith are never forced to violate their religious beliefs. To learn more about this fundamental piece of legislation, click HERE.

HOPE Scholarship for Home School Students

Last week, the Senate gave HB 798 a second reading.  This legislation allows home school students with high enough standardized test scores (93rd percentile – SAT of 1350 or ACT of 29) to be eligible for the Zell Miller Scholarship upon entering college rather than retroactively.  This is in comparison to the requirement for students from public or private accredited schools to have an SAT or ACT at the 80th percentile (1200 or 26) and a 3.7 grade point average to receive the Zell Miller upon entering college.

Hank Aaron at the Capitol

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We were honored to have baseball legend Hank Aaron at the State Capitol this week.  His story is inspirational to us all!

Increasing Reporting Requirements for Courts involved with Abortions

On Monday, House Bill 555 passed the Senate by substitute and will be reconsidered in the House.  This legislation requires the Juvenile Court and Administrative Office of the Courts to compile and deliver statistics on girls 17 and younger who seek an abortion without notifying their parents. HB 555 will ensure accurate reporting and help as we fight to protect life in Georgia.

Women’s Legislative Caucus’ Servant Leadership Celebration

It was my pleasure to honor Cindy Rose, teacher at Couch Middle School, at the Women’s Legislative Caucus’ Servant Leadership Celebration.  Mrs. Rose is one of those exemplary teachers who make learning fun.  She serves her students, their parents and her colleagues as she consistently looks for creative ways to teach math. Cindy Rose is truly a servant leader!

Quality Based Education Act

This week, the House unanimously passed the “Quality Based Education Act,” substitute to Senate Bill 364, to revise annual performance evaluations for public school teachers and state mandated testing.  This bill lowers the percent of a teacher’s evaluation based on student growth (test scores) from 50% to 30% and the percent of an administrator’s evaluation from 70 to 40.

It also reduces the number of classroom observations needed for the higher ranked (3 or 4 on a 4 point scale) teachers from 6 to 3.  Current policy says a student must be in attendance 65% of the class time for his/her scores to count towards a teacher’s evaluation; SB 364 raises that to 90% attendance before a student’s scores can count.  SB 364 lowers the number of state-mandated high- stakes tests K-12 including Milestones and End of Course Tests from 32 to 24; this is done by removing Social Studies and Science Milestones tests in grades 3, 4, 6, and 7.

The bill establishes the strategic importance of reading mastery by 3rd grade and basic math mastery by 5th grade.  Also, the State Board of Education and Department of Education are asked in the bill to move the dates for standardized testing as close to the end of the semester as possible.

As we approach the end of session, please do not hesitate to call (404.656.0254), e-mail (Joyce.Chandler@House.Ga.Gov) or engage on Facebook with your feedback.  It is an honor to represent you in the General Assembly and I look forward to seeing you soon.

Sincerely,

Joyce Chandler
District 105
Georgia General Assembly

Legislative Update 3-14-16

Legislative Update 3-14-16

Friends,

With just a handful of days left in the 2016 Legislative Session, the State Capitol is buzzing! To track legislation online, visit www.legis.ga.gov.

Qualifying

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On Monday, I qualified for re-election in House District 105.  Serving our community in the State House is a humbling responsibility and I hope to earn your continued support and vote of confidence in the May 24th election.  For a list of qualified candidates in Gwinnett County and throughout Georgia, click HERE.

International Women’s Day at the Capitol

International Womens Day at the Capital

On Tuesday, I was given the opportunity to recognize from the well International Women’s Day at the Capitol.  It is an honor to serve alongside so many strong, influential women in the General Assembly!  Tuesday evening, I joined the other women legislators as we each honored one lady in our district as a Servant Leader.  It was my privilege to honor Cindy Rose who is a teacher at Couch Middle School.  Mrs. Rose is one of those exemplary teachers who make learning fun!  She serves her students, their parents and her colleagues as she consistently looks for creative ways to teach math.  Cindy Rose is truly a servant leader!

Increasing Reporting Requirements for Courts involved with Abortions

On Tuesday, House Bill 555 was referred favorably out of the Senate committee on Health and Human Services. This legislation would require the Juvenile Court and Administrative Office of the Courts to compile and deliver statistics on girls 17 and younger who seek an abortion without notifying their parents.  HB 555 will ensure accurate reporting and help as we fight to protect life in Georgia.

House Study Committee on Child Care Assistance

Also on Tuesday, the House gave first readers to HR 1592, which creates a House Study Committee on Child Care Assistance.  Women being unable to work due to child care responsibilities is one of the root causes of generational poverty.  In fact, women of all educational levels are 40% more likely to stay employed after two years if they receive child care assistance. I look forward to seeing the recommendations made by this committee and supporting appropriate legislation to strengthen families and the women’s workforce.

As we approach the final days of session, please do not hesitate to call (404.656.0254), e-mail (Joyce.Chandler@House.Ga.Gov) or engage on Facebook with your feedback.  It is an honor to represent you in the General Assembly and I look forward to seeing you soon.

Sincerely,

Joyce Chandler
District 105
Georgia General Assembly

Legislative Update 2-29-16

Legislative Update 2-29-16

Friends,

With only 11 days remaining in the 2016 Legislative Session, we are working diligently to pass legislation that enhances outcomes for students, empowers job creators, and encourages economic growth.

Crossover Day on Monday, February 29, 2016

Today is the last chance for legislation to pass from the House to the Senate; remaining legislation will be required to renter the process next legislative year. There are many pieces of legislation yet to be on the House floor so we will be working very long hours on Monday.  We want to be sure that we give key House bills the passage they deserve to receive consideration this session.

Licensed Professional Counselor/Psychologist Bill  

I am proud to support and co-sponsor HB 498, which passed the House and will now go to the Senate to be heard in committee and, hopefully, on the Senate floor.  This bill adds diagnose to the scope of practice of the licensed professional counselor and defined psychological testing as testing to be done by psychologists.

Grayson High School Girls Soccer Team

The State House was honored to host the Grayson High School Girls Soccer team last week at the Capitol.  I am so proud of this team for not only winning the 6A State Championship but for their commitment to excellence in the classroom and community.  It is an honor to serve them and all of our student athletes in District 105!

Welcome Coach Kirby Smart!

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Last Tuesday, we welcomed the University of Georgia’s new head football coach Kirby Smart to the State House. Best of luck to Coach Smart this year and Go Dawgs!

Georgia Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act

The ABLE act eases the financial strains on individuals with disabilities by allowing them to save private funds in tax-exempt accounts and not become ineligible for Medicaid.  Eligible individuals may have a tax-free savings account that can cover medical care, education, community-based supports, housing, employment training, and transportation.

The Honorable Jimmy Carter Cancer Treatment Act

HB 965 was probably the most meaningful life-saving measure passed in the House last week.  This bill provides patients who have been diagnosed with stage four metastatic cancer increased access to treatment.  With HB 965, if a doctor recommends an advanced cancer treatment drug for a patient with stage four advanced, metastatic cancer, the patient would not be required to have taken and failed previous cancer drugs.  This legislation would ensure that all Georgians with insurance covering cancer  have access to the best available treatment and drugs as did President Carter to combat the advanced spread of this aggressive disease.

As we approach the final days of session, please do not hesitate to call (404.656.0254), e-mail (Joyce.chandler@House.Ga.Gov) or engage on Facebook with your feedback.  It is an honor to represent you in the General Assembly and I look forward to seeing you soon.

Sincerely,

Joyce Chandler
District 105
Georgia General Assembly

Legislative Update 2-21-16

Legislative Update 2-21-16

Friends,

After a restful Presidents’ Day, the General Assembly went back to work for the people of Georgia.

House Passes Fiscal Year 2017 Budget

On Friday, the House passed a balanced budget that priorities education, healthcare, transportation, public safety, and economic development.

The 2017 budget includes $124.1 million for enrollment growth and new teachers; $300 million to end teacher furlough days, increase instructional days, and provide teacher pay raises; $543.1 million for capital construction; $204.7 million for routine maintenance on roads and bridges; $41 million in additional funding for Local Maintenance and Improvement Grants (LMIG); and $3.8 million to expand the state’s accountability courts.

Zell Miller Scholarship for Home School Students

On Tuesday, the House passed HB 798.  This legislation allows home school students with high enough standardized test scores (93rd percentile – SAT of 1350 or ACT of 29) to be eligible for the Zell Miller Scholarship upon entering college rather than retroactively.  This is in comparison to the requirement for students from public or private accredited schools to have an SAT or ACT at the 80th percentile (1200 or 26) and a 3.7 grade point average to receive the Zell Miller upon entering college.

Georgia Special Needs Scholarship Act

Last week, I was a co-signer on HB 1013, which makes major reforms to the Georgia Special Needs Scholarship Program. HB 1013 allows parents to be more involved in the use of scholarship funds, transfers administrative duties from the Department of Education to the Office of Student Achievement, and improves reporting and oversight.  The Georgia Special Needs Scholarship Act received a Second Reading on Wednesday, and I am eager to help this bill through the Education Committee.

As we enter into the final weeks of session, please do not hesitate to call (404.656.0254), e-mail (Joyce.chandler@House.Ga.Gov) or engage on Facebook with your feedback.  It is an honor to represent you in the General Assembly, and I look forward to seeing you soon.

Sincerely,

Joyce Chandler
District 105
Georgia General Assembly

Legislative Update 2-17-16

Legislative Update 2-17-16

Friends,

With the close of Legislative Day 20 last Thursday, we are officially halfway through the 2016 legislative session! This has been a whirlwind of a session studying, debating and voting on legislation that will strengthen Georgia.

Zell Miller Scholarship for Home School Students

Education remains a top priority for me and for the General Assembly. Last week, the House passed HB 798 out of the House Higher Education Committee. This legislation allows home school students with high enough standardized test scores (93rd percentile – SAT of 1350 or ACT of 29) to be eligible for the Zell Miller Scholarship upon entering college rather than retroactively.  This is in comparison to the requirement for students from public or private accredited schools to have an SAT or ACT at the 80th percentile (1200 or 26) and a 3.7 grade point average to receive the Zell Miller upon entering college.

Increasing Reporting Requirements for Courts involved with Abortions

During the week, we also passed an important piece of legislation that will continue the fight to defend life under the Gold Dome. House Bill 555 passed out of the House Insurance Committee on Wednesday and will provide for the reporting of certain statistics regarding juveniles seeking abortions without parental notice.

Grayson High School Standouts

Last Monday and Wednesday, the House of Representatives had the privilege to recognize some of Grayson High School’s outstanding students.  With HR 1295, the General Assembly recognized Noah Wilson and Anna Scartz, the Valedictorian and Salutatorian of the Class of 2016, for their outstanding academic achievements. HR 1310 honored Mr. Jeremy Mulkey for being named the 2016 STAR Teacher of Grayson High School and HR 1328 recognized Noah Wilson as the 2016 STAR student for Grayson. I am humbled to serve the great students and teachers across District 105. Keep up the good work!

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House Study Committee on College Course Credit

Last Wednesday, I sponsored House Resolution 1311 to create a House Study Committee on College Course Credit. This committee would take a closer look at how courses that result in college credit benefit Georgia students and how we can make sure parents and students alike know the benefits of these classes.

Weighted Grade Point Averages for Advanced Courses in STEM

House Bill 6 passed out of the Higher Education committee last Tuesday. This bill will provide for weighted grade point averages above 4.0 for International Baccalaureate, Advanced Placement, and Dual Enrollment courses in Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) courses for purposes of determining eligibility for the HOPE scholarship for incoming freshmen. This legislation will hopefully provide incentives for Georgia students to take on the challenge of STEM courses to prepare for college and the ever-changing job market. I am glad to work with Representative Kendrick on this important education bill.

As crossover day and Sine Die approach, please do not hesitate to call (404.656.0254), e-mail (Joyce.chandler@House.Ga.Gov) or engage on Facebook with your feedback.  It is an honor to represent you in the General Assembly and I look forward to seeing you soon.

Sincerely,

Joyce Chandler
District 105
Georgia General Assembly