Welcome to the Voices for Georgia’s Children Legislative Update. Each week of the legislative session, our Update will arrive in your inbox with brief summaries of select legislation and session activity. For those of you who would like to get more involved, the very bottom of each blast will provide an opportunity for advocacy action, complete with message and contact information of key policy makers who need to hear from you.

We hope that this will be a useful resource. Please feel free to forward this blast to others who are interested (or might be interested) in child policy. They can simply click here to receive these emails.

Thanks for making children a priority

Polly McKinney

Advocacy Director

Voices for Georgia’s Children


P.S. Also, if you are looking for a quirky way to spend a couple of minutes and wondering if real people actually work on this legislative policy stuff, please tune into Polly’s Two Minute-ish Takes. Each week this session, we will deliver a short video, loaded with candor, odd locations and good dose of super raw, super unpolished stand-up legislative commentary from yours truly (and anyone else I can bribe to stand next to me). What it lacks in technical acumen, it makes up for in campy entertainment value! Please watch, but please don’t hold it against us!

Returning to the capitol this week for the start of the 2019 Legislative session felt kind of like watching the sequel to an all-time favorite movie. You return to the theater, hopeful that the new version can stand up to the last one, and curious as to how pleasant or unpleasant it will be to sit through. The only real difference is that at the capitol, unlike a theater, you don’t have to take out a second mortgage on your house to buy popcorn and a coke; you do not have to worry about being nice to someone you found on Tinder, and you only have to sit in the dark on the super long days – mainly around Crossover Day and Sine Die. All things considered, I still think I’d rather duck into a matinee for a lunch of stale Milk Duds and a 2003 Bollywood version of Ferris Beuller’s Day Off.

Anyway, I don’t get to do that, so I might as well regale you with a snapshot of what was an eventful first week. Obviously, there was a lot of swearing going on – swearing in, I mean. All the lawmakers, the Lieutenant Governor and the Governor, not to mention a whole slew of constitutional officers raised a right hand and took an oath. On top of that, the House and Senate made leadership decisions (click here to see our groovy leadership cheat sheet), appointed committees, and basically set the table for the rest of the session. The meal is still cooking, however, but you can get the first taste of legislation if you scoot down to the bill summaries below.

Two of the most important dishes being prepared are the Amended Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 budget and the FY 2020 budget. The FY 2019 Amended budget is the budget for the current year that is happening right now. The powers-that-be usually amend it a little half way through the year to compensate for changes in revenues, school and Medicaid enrollment, natural disasters, and stuff like that.

The FY 2020 budget (a whopping $27.5 Billion) is next year’s budget and is the only bill that the General Assembly is constitutionally required to pass each year. Because I love you people, and because I have no social life to speak of, I have read and summarized the child-relevant parts of both for your enjoyment below. (Note that the summaries below are only from the Governor’s Budget Recommendations. From here the budgets will be vetted, usually changed somewhat, and then passed by the House and the Senate before they return to the governor for his signature.)

Here are some tips which should make reading the charts easier:

  • Numbers in parentheses are subtractions from existing funding.
  • Numbers NOT in parentheses are additions to existing funding.
  • “Yes” indicates support for the accompanying Budget Note.
  • A bond is an IOU that the state “sells” and then pays back the amount of the bond plus interest, a portion at a time over many years
  • If you too have no social life and would like to read the budgets for yourself, they can both be found in the same document

 See you next week!

Know Where You Want to Go?

Governor’s Amended FY 2019 Budget Recommendations

Governor’s FY 2020 Budget Recommendations

Juvenile Justice/Effective School Discipline

Child Welfare/Vulnerable Youth

Child Health and Safety

Early Care and Learning

Higher Education


2 Minute Advocacy Ask


DBHDD = Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities

DCS = Department of Community Supervision

DECAL = Department of Early Care and Learning

GDEcD = Department of Economic Development

DHS = Department of Human Services (houses DFCS = Department of Family and Children Services, as well as DCSS = Division of Child Support Services)

DJJ = Department of Juvenile Justice

DOE = Department of Education

DOL = Department of Labor

DOR = Department of Revenue

DPH = Department of Public Health

GBI = Georgia Bureau of Investigation

CJCC = Criminal Justice Coordinating Council (attached to GBI)

CJCJ = Council of Juvenile Court Judges (attached to Juvenile Courts)

GDC = Georgia Department of Corrections

GOSA = Governor’s Office of Student Achievement

GSFC = Georgia Student Finance Commission

GPDC = Georgia Public Defenders Council

PAC = Prosecuting Attorneys Council

TCSG = Technical College System of Georgia

USG = University System of Georgia

Governor’s Amended FY 2019 Budget Recommendations
[pdf-embedder url=”https://georgiavoices.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/Amended-FY19-Budget.pdf” title=”Amended FY19 Budget”]
Governor’s FY 2020 Budget Recommendations
[pdf-embedder url=”https://georgiavoices.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/FY2020-Proposed-Budget-Gov.pdf” title=”FY2020 Proposed Budget Gov”]

HR 47 (Scott-76th) Creates the House Study Committee on the Decriminalization of Traffic Violations STATUS: House Hopper


HB 16 (Scott-76th) Provides for in-state tuition units of the University System of Georgia and branches of the Technical College System of Georgia for youth who are from foster care or homeless situations. The bill also excludes foster care assistance from consideration as income for purposes of calculating financial aid. STATUS: House Prefiled

HB 43 (Setzler-35th) Revises the crime of sexual assault when committed by persons with supervisory or disciplinary authority over a student in a school setting. The degree of the crime and punishment vary based on a number of factors including age of the perpetrator and victim. The bill also better defines the term “dangerous sexual offense” STATUS: House Hopper.


HB 8 (Buckner-137th) Creates an exemption from state sales and use tax for certain menstrual products. STATUS: House Ways & Means Committee.

HB 10 (Bazemore-63rd) Requires instruction on the best practices for and risks associated with the use of tampons in a course of study in sex education and AIDS prevention instruction STATUS: House Health & Human Services Committee.

HB 17 (Scott-76th) Creates a misdemeanor and $100 fine for smoking inside any motor vehicle when a person under 13 years of age is present STATUS: House Hopper

HB 26 (Belton-112th) The “Psychology Interjurisdictional Compact” authorizes the State Board of Examiners of Psychologists to allow psychologists who are licensed in other compact-participating states and who meet certain criteria to practice in Georgia via telepsychology and temporary practice (defined as 30 days per calendar year) STATUS: House Interstate Cooperation Committee.

HB 37 (Trammel-132nd) Expands Medicaid to cover adults who live at or below 138% of the federal poverty level STATUS: House Hopper.

HB 39 (Belton-112th) Creates the “Physical Therapy Licensure Compact Act” which allows physical therapists licensed in other compact states to practice in Georgia STATUS: House Hopper.

SB 10 (Jones-22nd) Narrows the law regarding marijuana possession to state that possession of one-half ounce or less be punishable by a $300 fine, and that possession of one-half ounce to two ounces be punishable by imprisonment up to one year, a fine of $1,000 or less and/or community service STATUS: Senate Prefiled.

SB 15 (Albers-56th) “Keeping Georgia’s Schools Safe Act” – Requires schools to conduct threat assessments every two years on buildings, facilities, and campuses by a person or agency approved by the Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency; makes private schools subject to the same requirements for safety plans as public schools; adds requirements to school safety plans to address security issues in school safety zones, at school functions, and while transporting students; creates a task force within the Georgia Information Sharing and Analysis Center and authorizes the task force to “curate individual student profiles from school records and records of the Department of Human Services and law enforcement agencies for the purpose of evaluating potential threats to public and private schools”; creates school safety coaches and requirements for them STATUS: Senate Public Safety Committee.

SB 16 (Kirkpatrick -32nd) “Interstate Medical Licensure Compact Act” – Allows Georgia to enter into an interstate compact to allow physicians, assistants, and certain other health professionals from other compacts states to practice in Georgia STATUS: Senate Health & Human Services Committee.

SR 12 (Albers-56th) Amends the Constitution of Georgia so that sales tax for educational purposes may be used for school security projects, including  physical structure, personnel, and mental health personnel STATUS: Senate  Finance Committee.



No bills filed yet.


HB 1 (Petrea-166th) Changes the name of the “Georgia Special Needs Scholarship Act” to the “Senator Eric Johnson Scholarship Act” STATUS: House Education Committee

HB 11 (Stovall-74th) Allows a parent or guardian to enroll a student in a school using the address of an individual residing in the school’s attendance zone who has authorized such use STATUS: House Prefiled

HB 32 (Tanner-9th) Chief turnaround office clean-up legislation Changes the title “turnaround coach” to “transformation specialist”, creates a Georgia Turnaround Collaborative to complement the work of the Education Turnaround Advisory Council and serve as an advisory group to the Chief Turnaround Officer. The purpose of the collaborative is to increase the alignment and coherence of efforts to address the academic and nonacademic needs of turnaround school students and their families. The collaborative includes a variety of agency heads, appointed legislators, and various stakeholders. The bill also creates a stipend ($5k from state and $2.5k from local) to attract more teachers to turnaround schools STATUS: House Hopper.

HB 36 (Trammel-132nd) Establishes the HOPE tuition-free grant for students seeking a certificate or diploma in a designated high demand field at a branch of the Technical College System of Georgia STATUS: House Hopper.

HB 40 (Scott-76th) Requires every child to be screened for Dyslexia in grades K-2 and screened as needed in grades 3-12 STATUS: House Hopper.

SB 21 (James-35th) Requires each local board of education to prescribe mandatory instruction concerning cybersecurity in every year in every grade from kindergarten through grade 12 STATUS: Senate Education & Youth Committee.

SB 25 (Health-31st) Clarifies that a driver can pass a stopped school bus when a school bus is on a separate roadway that is separated by a grass median, unpaved area, or physical barrier STATUS: Senate Public Safety Committee

HR 38 (Kendrick-93rd) Creates the House Study Committee on Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Fields STATUS: House Special Rules Committee


HB 2 (Gurtler-8th) Allows a citizen who is permitted to own a gun to carry it without paying for a license STATUS: House Prefiled

HB 20 (Bazemore-63rd) Prohibits persons convicted of family violence offenses from possessing or carrying firearms STATUS: House Public Safety & Homeland Security Committee

SB 1 (Parent-42nd) Creates a felony and 1-10 year sentence for a driver who causes an accident that results in bodily harm, and then leaves the scene of the accident STATUS: Senate Prefiled

 Be a VOICE for Children
2 Minute Advocacy Ask

 The “Ask”: Start or build upon a relationship with your own state representative or senator.

 The Why: Advocating is made easier by nurturing respectful but clear communications with elected officials.

 The Message: Hi! My name is __________ and I live in your district. Issues such as child health, child welfare, juvenile justice, childcare and learning are important to me. Please be sure to ask ‘Is it good for kids?’ as you study, develop and vote on legislation and budgets of all sorts. Thank you for your time and your dedication to public service. I look forward to more opportunities to work together for the children in our district and in our state.

 The How: Click here to find your elected officials, and then call or email them with the message above.

***BONUS Advocate Ask***

Voices’ and Georgia Statewide After School Network Events


The “Ask”: Mark your calendars to attend the following totally awesome events: https://georgiavoices.formstack.com/forms/afterschool_day_at_the_capitol


When: Feb. 12 – Voices Legislative Reception honoring the Georgia Department of Agriculture

(Freight Depot)(for sponsorship opportunities, please email me and I’ll set you up!)

Feb 20 – Afterschool Day (State Capitol)

Feb. 26 – Justice Day (State Capitol)

March 6 – Children’s Day (State Capitol)


Why: Because children are a big deal!

Useful links:

Find your Lawmaker

State House and State Senate Leadership

Legislative Dictionary