March 30th was the last day of the Georgia legislation session or better known as Sine or Die. The Georgia legislature is in session for forty days, which means our Representatives and Senators have a lot to do in forty days for the people of Georgia. On the last day of the Georgia legislation anything can happen and a lot did happen, in this article I will highlight good, ugly and meh bills passed in both the House and Senate chambers.

Good Bills:

Senate Bill 201: Senate bill 201 seeks to provide sick leave for employees who have to take care of their immediate families. The U.S. is the only country that does not offer paid sick family leave which is disturbing. As the greatest country, we fail to provide a need for many workers; caring for family, parents, kids or spouse is pertinent and it is unacceptable employees have to choose between work and caring for their family. It is progress the bill passed and is a step for our state to do what is right. #GoodBill

Senate Bill 222: To begin, the 9-1-1 local authority bill provides rural Georgia with funds, training and equipment in the case of severe storms. Rural Georgia lacks important funding and proper training and equipment to provide service to the citizens in case of emergency. Our rural Georgia family are hit the hardest when severe storms are in, for this part of our state to not have the needed equipment or funds is unacceptable. It is great this bill passed, and rural Georgia will get the necessary equipment and funds needed to be ready for bad weather.

Ugly Bills:

House Bill 452/Senate Bill 1: In both chambers, HB 452/Senate Bill 1 received close votes. The purpose of this law is to protect the people against terrorism, but this bill is more harmful. The purpose of this bill is to discriminate against a certain group of ethnic people, who are being heavily targeted. Since 2011, Muslims have been the target of many legislation like this around the country, and such legislation does not make our country or the people safer. Unfortunately, the bill passed. #HorribleBill

HB 338: Opportunity School District 2.0, last year this bill failed, unfortunately it passed this year. What is the difference? NOTHING. GOPPERS favorite line is “government overreaches and need to stay out of people lives”,  however with HB 338 the GOPPERS are doing the opposite of their rhetoric. The purpose of HB 338 is similar to the OSD, which failed in the 2016 elections. This time around, HB 338 is creating positions such as the “Chief Turnaround Officer” who will solely have the power to determine which schools are failing and implement a plan to “turn the schools around”. The duties of the “Chief Turnaround officer” are:

  • Have the duty to decide which schools are failing schools based on five years or more poor ratings.
  • The “Chief Turnaround officer” shall extend an intervention contract to local school boards to help with failing schools.
  • At the discretion of the “Chief Turnaround officer” and the expense of the State, the “chief turnaround officer can have a third-party assess why a school or schools are failing.
  • The local school board will have to choose from an approved list by the “chief turnaround officer” a list established by the State board of Education. If the local school board wants to choose their own third-party, it will be at the local school board expense.
  • Create an “intensive turnaround plan” for failing schools and if the plan is not successful, the “chief turnaround officer” has the discretion to:
  • Appoint a school manager to oversee the duties of the principal until changes are made.
  • Remove school personnel whose performance insufficient and not progressive for the school.
  • Turn the failing school into a Charter School.
  • Complete “governance” of the school internal organization.
  • Have the schools operated by a private non-profit entity.

HB 338 also calls for the creation of an Education Turnaround Advisory Council, to advise on the selection process of a chief turnaround officer. Additionally, the bill calls for the Joint Study Committee on the Establishment of a State Accreditation Process, which will have the duty to determine what areas are included in the accreditation process for schools.

House Bill 37: With the height of growing diverse educational institutions and the need to protect some students from discrimination. Not only is this horrible, it passed both houses, if any Georgia campus were to become a sanctuary campus, these schools would lose funding. The reason behind this bill is Emory stating it would become a sanctuary campus to protect students. Unfortunately, this bill passed and the consequences of this are many students from diverse backgrounds not attending our school, which is not good for our schools.

House Bill 515: In 2014, the GOP gerrymander HD 105 (house district 105) a highly black district, which diluted hundreds and thousands of votes. The purpose of HB 515 is to gerrymander more districts allowing the GOP to pick their voters and not the voters pick their representatives.

House Bill 51: The purpose of this bill is to collect information without the consent of the victim. The bill focus is on sexual assault cases, but collecting information without the consent of the victim leaves room for discrimination practices and arresting of the wrong the person.

HB 280: Campus Carry 2.0 passed, allowing students to carry guns on campus. Not only is this a bad bill, why on earth do the GOPPERS think we the people cannot protect ourselves? With all the deaths this nation witness because of guns, campus carry will soon be part of the gun problem in America. On the last day this horrible passed in both chambers.

Senate Bill 160: “Back the Badge”, for the past few years there have been issues with law enforcement and communities of color, specifically black communities. To pass this legislation with the underlining issues on both sides, illustrates the one-sided mindset off of our GOP legislators. This bill is horrible and will cause more tension between communities of color and law enforcement.

Meh Bills:

Meh bills are okay bills passed or did not pass, but decent bills which our Representatives and Senators worked on to pass.

Senate Bill 6: When it comes transportation, Gwinnett and Cobb are two counties that lack efficient transit and the reasons are the Commissioners in these counties. Senate Bill 6 would have created a commission, with Gwinnett and Cobb included being part of the planning stages to bring transit to both these counties. Gwinnett has lost 3,600 because Charlotte Nash refused to expand transit in the county. Additionally, State Farm moved their headquarters near the Dunwoody train station which cost Gwinnett an additional  1,500 quality high paying jobs. It is time for transit in Gwinnett, the county can no longer afford to stall on this issue.

The bills listed are the most important bills, these are the bills our Representatives and Senators debated over to determine if they fit the needs of Georgia. Gov. Deal has forty days to sign any bills passed and they will become law, let’s keep fighting for the ugly bills to not be signed.

Also published on Medium.

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