2015 Legislative Session: Week Five
We returned to Capitol Hill on Monday, February 9th for the fifth week of the 2015 legislative session. Many bills are beginning to make their way out of committee to receive a vote from the entire House of Representatives. We quickly got to work voting on several pieces of legislation to help the citizens of Georgia.
We kicked off our fifth week of session by passing the Solar Power Free Market Financing Act, or House Bill 57. This legislation, passed unanimously by our body, will make it easier and more affordable for Georgians to put solar panels on their rooftops by allowing individuals to fund solar power installations through third-party financing plans. With the option to finance, more homeowners and small business owners can avoid financial barriers, and pay for the use of these systems over time. If approved by the Senate and Governor Deal, this measure will provide our citizens with more energy options and the opportunity to lower their power bills.
The House also passed a measure this week to improve the quality of life for Georgia’s elderly. House Bill 86 creates the Georgia Adult and Aging Services Agency, which will take on the responsibility of improving services, and ensuring that services are properly and effectively administered to meet the needs of older adults and people with disabilities. The bill would move the current Division of Aging Services out of the Department of Human Services, which is responsible for many other initiatives. This important bill ensures that our seniors receive the full care and attention that they deserve, and I look forward to seeing this legislation make its way through the Senate.
We also continued to focus much of our attention this week on Georgia’s education system and its students. As I have written in previous weeks, education is a top priority in the General Assembly, and the unanimous passage of HB 91 in the House this week further speaks to that point. This legislation would make it easier for some deserving students to obtain high school diplomas. HB 91 retroactively allows former high school students who failed the Georgia High School Graduation Test, an assessment that was phased out in the 2011-2012 school year, the chance to receive a diploma. HB 91 allows those students who met all other requirements for graduation to petition their local school board where they were last enrolled to obtain a degree. HB 91 will tremendously benefit these individuals by giving them the option to pursue postsecondary education and thus helping them succeed in Georgia’s workforce.
Just as HB 91 opens doors of opportunity for former high school students, legislation introduced in the Senate this week is aimed at providing improvement opportunities for schools in Georgia. This week Governor Deal, along with Senator Butch Miller, introduced a senate resolution to create “Opportunity School Districts.” This model of education, which has proven to be successful in several states, allows the state to temporarily step in to assist chronically failing schools. Under the governor’s proposal, a school is considered to be chronically failing if it scored below 60 on the College and Career Performance Index (CCRPI), for three consecutive years. If deemed an Opportunity School District, the state would then temporarily assume supervision, management, and oversight of that school. This measure, which would require a constitutional amendment and referendum from Georgia voters, would ensure that all children have access to the outstanding education that they deserve. I am eager to learn more about the governor’s proposal and the ways that we can address the critical problem of underperforming schools in our state.
Also this week, we passed an adjournment calendar that sets the legislative schedule through the remainder of the 2015 legislative session. Based on this adjournment resolution, the 40th legislative day, marking the conclusion of session, will be on April 2. I hope that you will contact me before that day to provide feedback and way in which I can better serve you and your family. Please stop by and visit if you are in Atlanta or call my office at the State Capitol. The phone number is (404) 6560213
Finally, a group of 4th graders from Community Christian School toured the capitol. It is such a delight to see our youth taking an interest in politics!