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 1-30-16

Legislative Update 1-30-16

Friends,

Following the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday last week, Governor Nathan Deal presented his recommendations for the Amended Fiscal Year 2016 and Fiscal Year 2017 budgets to the House and Senate appropriations committees and subcommittees.

After careful vetting, the Amended Fiscal Year 2016 budget, which includes $1.1 billion in additional funding for prioritized education initiatives and key transportation projects, was passed unanimously in the House and now heads to the Senate for consideration.

The Amended Fiscal Year 2016 Budget includes:

  • $519 million for capital construction projects
  • $200 million for scheduled maintenance
  • $336 million in Local Maintenance and Improvement Grants (LMIG)
  • $109.9 million for midterm enrollment growth
  • $14.9 million to enhance wireless broadband connectivity
  • $30 million for the HOPE/Zell Miller Scholarships, $525,808 in new funds for the North Georgia Military Scholarship Grant
  • $20.2 million for the Move on When Ready program

Also, last week Governor Deal announced a huge economic development win for Gwinnett County! Thanks to strong leadership on the state and local level, healthcare giant Kaiser Permanente is building a new, $51 million customer service center in Duluth.  This facility will create more than 800 new jobs over the next four years.  This is great news for our community, and I look forward to breaking ground on this exciting project.

As your representative, I am working hard to introduce and carry bills that will strengthen our district and move Georgia forward.  Here is a list of legislation that I filed this session:

HB 744 closes a loophole in our Georgia law regarding the prohibition of sexual contact between school personnel and students by adding, “all adult employees of a school,” rather than just those who have supervisory or disciplinary authority.  This will be an added protection for our children and young people.

HB 798 will reduce the requirement for a homeschool student to receive the Hope Scholarship from the 80th to the 75th percentile and allow those with an SAT or ACT at the 93rd or higher percentile to receive the Zell Miller Scholarship upon entering college.  This in no way makes the requirement for eligible and ineligible students equal, just more equitable using standardized test scores.

HB 395 clarifies present law by stating that psychological testing (instruments that measure mental abilities, personality characteristics, or neuropsychological functioning in order to diagnose, evaluate, classify, or treat mental and nervous disorders and illnesses including organic brain disorders and brain damage) is part of the practice of psychology.  This bill does NOT exclude counselors from administering educational and vocational tests, interest inventories, tests that evaluate marital and family functioning, and mental health symptom screening instruments.

HB 555 will ensure that all women seeking an abortion, whether surgical or chemical, are provided informed consent prior to an abortion being performed.  It will also ensure that abortion providers report the manner of the disposal of fetal remains and that the Department of Public Health has accurate reporting on the number of minor girls allowed to have an abortion without parental notice.

HB 161 allows a tax credit for contributions used for children requiring more than the base level of watchful oversight from registered childcare institutions and agencies.

To follow these bills through the legislative process, click HERE.

As always, thank you for giving me the opportunity to serve in the General Assembly.   If I can ever be of service to you or your family, please do not hesitate to contact me directly.  My office phone number is 404.656.0254 and my e-mail address is Joyce.Chandler@house.ga.gov.

Sincerely,

Joyce Chandler
District 105
Georgia General Assembly