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 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

Legislative Update 2-7-16

Legislative Update 2-7-16

Friends,

Last week, the House passed the Amended Fiscal Year 2016 budget.  This week, we began working on the budget for next year (Fiscal Year 2017).  Unlike the federal government, we don’t print money; and we are required to balance the state’s budget every year.  That’s why the Appropriations Subcommittees are hard at work to ensure that their budget recommendations not only reflect our legislative priorities, but are also grounded in reality.  I look forward to reporting back as the budget process continues.

This week, the House and Senate paused to honor and applaud our firefighters.  “Firefighter Day” at the Capitol included bagpipes and a tribute to our brave men and women in uniform.  I would like to extend my deepest gratitude to the Gwinnett County Fire Department for their service.  I hope you will join me in praying for their continued safety!

We honored several people and organizations in the State Capitol.  I was excited to commend Mr. Clark Howard through HR 1214 for sponsoring the Clark’s Christmas Kids Program for Georgia’s foster children over the past twenty-five years.  I also formally congratulated the Duluth Men’s Soccer team through HR 1197 for winning the State Championship last year.  The community is proud of this team’s achievements both on and off the field!

We also expressed our appreciation for the thousands of school counselors in Georgia by issuing a proclamation declaring “School Counseling Week” in Georgia.  These hardworking professionals guide our students towards a brighter future, and we are incredibly thankful for their dedication and passion.

The House unanimously passed House Bill 801 this week to change the GPA weighting system for HOPE Scholarship recipients who take certain science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) courses.  We also passed House Bill 402, which is an effort to increase business partnerships and participation with local public school systems for K-12 work based learning programs.  To learn more about HB 801 or HB 402, 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

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