Every year, the general assembly takes a week off (usually the second week of session) to kick-start budget hearings. During that time, commissioners and directors come before a joint meeting of House and Senate appropriations committees and give them the lowdown about agency spending past, present and future. If you have a lot of ironing to do, or your child has epoxied your eyes open, or you are simply an enormous government-loving nerd (I experience all 3), you can watch the archived footage of the hearings HERE (just click the calendar block of the day you want to watch).

(If you missed my summary of the Governor’s Budget Recommendations last week, CLICK HERE.)

And for other news, read on:

Good News: The federal government shut-down is over for now. Many furloughed federal employees can go back to work, including food inspectors.
Bad News:  It didn’t re-open until after I got food poisoning. Not sure that is why I got it, but just sayin’…

Good News: Voices and GSAN (Georgia Statewide Afterschool Network) and a number of our closest child-policy-expert-friends will present to the House Juvenile Justice Committee on our BRAND NEW and AWESOME Whole Child Primer! Please join us or livestream for our child policy 101 brain dump. 8:30 a.m. in Coverdell Legislative Office Building Room 606.
Bad News: There is no bad news about this one.

Good News: Per the budget hearings, our state economist, Kenneth Heaghney, thinks our state economy is pretty strong (we have, in fact, grown faster than the U.S.) and our Rainy Day Fund (a reserved amount of money to be used in times when regular income is disrupted or decreased in order for typical operations to continue) is in good shape for the next recession.
Bad News: The Economist said that there will be another recession, and while we don’t know when it will happen, we do know it will happen.

Good News: The House and Senate Committee assignments came out! You can see the Voices lists of all the child serving committees and their members HERE.
Bad News: No bad news on this one either.

Good News: If you enjoy informative but goofball videos about the week’s legislative highlights, sign up HERE (scroll down and check the box after you enter your info).
Bad News: The goofball part.

Good News: You will have a light read this week because when the General Assembly is in recess, regular legislative process takes a break and bills are not uploaded to the website.
Bad News: Next week’s update will likely be LONG, because the floodgate of legislation will resume.

Good News: The Super Bowl is coming to Atlanta!  And so, as not steal the Super Bowl’s thunder, and to eat wings and chips in places other than the House antechamber, the General Assembly will be in recess from Jan.31 through Feb. 4.
Bad News: I am a little too good at eating chips and wings and have great anxiety about whether or not the half time show will be any good.

Good News: Bad halftime shows make for great conversation!
Bad News: But they are still bad.

That’s about it from command central – See you next week!

Polly McKinney
Advocacy Director
Voices for Georgia’s Children

Know Where You Want to Go?

Juvenile Justice/Effective School Discipline

Child Welfare/Vulnerable Youth

Child Health and Safety

Early Care and Learning

Higher Education


2 Minute Advocacy Ask


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 at 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 as of 1.27.19.


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 (Heath-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”: Mark your calendars to attend the following totally awesome events:

Legislative Reception

Afterschool Day at the Capitol

Justice Day at the Capitol

 The When:

February 12: Voices Legislative Reception honoring the Georgia Department of Agriculture (at the Freight Depot)

February 20: Afterschool Day at the Capitol (State Capitol)

February 26: Justice Day (State Capitol)

March 6: Children’s Day (State Capitol)

 The Why: Because kids are a big deal!

Useful Links:

Find your Lawmaker

State House and State Senate Leadership

Georgia Senate Members

Georgia House Members

Legislative Dictionary