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Gold Dome Update: Week 8

Week eight was a busy one here in Atlanta. With Crossover Day coming up on Monday, senators have been holding longer and more frequent committee meetings to work on the best pieces of legislation and make sure they’re voted on in the chamber this week. With this deadline in mind, we managed to have the most productive week yet, passing a record amount of legislation for the 2020 session.

This week, Senate Bill 59, which I sponsored, received passage on the Senate floor. SB 59 would provide additional funding for charter schools and allow charter school employees to participate in a health insurance plan and require school boards to provide charter schools with the ability to fund certain facilities. Another bill addressing charter schools, Senate Bill 153, would require that state charter schools transition to GOAL academies. GOAL Academies specialize in dropout prevention and support students throughout their high school years in order to maximize their academic success.

A bill that would further address equitable education opportunities for students across Georgia was Senate Bill 47. Families around the state with special needs children, particularly those in rural Georgia, have voiced their concern that their current school cannot provide the kind of specialized education their student requires. Current law allows parents of children with Individualized Education Programs to enroll them in public or private schools available under the Georgia Special Needs Scholarship that can offer the kind of critical support they need. Senate Bill 47 would further expand eligibility in this program by allowing children with other qualified condition as specified in Section 504 of the federal Rehabilitation Act to participate. This will open the door for so many families who desperately want to help their child achieve their academic potential, but the lack the resources to do so.

Another measure that we passed to assist Georgia’s students was Senate Bill 107. Georgia has a large number of children who have either been adopted or who are in foster care. These children, in many cases, have already been forced to face numer­ous obstacles and challenges in their young lives. SB 107, however, will eliminate a few of these barriers as they relate to achieving a college education. This bill would waive tuition and certain fees for qualified foster or adopted students who attend a school in the Technical College System of Georgia, and would allow the University System of Georgia to offer the same. There is no greater path to a successful future than with a college education and this measure will help ensure more students are able to take advantage of the prestigious higher education institutions our state has to offer.

This week, we also adopted our final adjournment resolution of the session. Crossover Day will officially fall on Monday, March 8 and Sine Die (our final day of the session) will be March 31. If this week was any indication, we can expect to face long calendars of legislation to consider from here on out. While we have worked urgently to pass several priorities to this point, there are still a number of important bills that remain. These include the budget for the 2022 Fiscal Year and additional elections reform measures. While we may only have 15 days remaining, this is when the session often becomes the busiest. If you have any questions or concerns about any legislation we have taken up to this point, please do not hesitate to reach out to my office.

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Sen. John Albers serves as Chairman of the Public Safety Committee. He represents the 56th Senate District which includes portions of Cherokee and North Fulton counties. He may be reached at his office at 404.463.8055 or by email at john.albers@senate.ga.gov