UPDATES SENATE REPORT
UPDATES SENATE REPORT
Sen. Ligon Holds Press Conference to Discuss
Removal of Common Core Curriculum Standards
ATLANTA (February 28, 2013) - Sen. William Ligon (R-Brunswick) held a press conference today to discuss Senate Bill 167. Sen. Ligon sponsored this legislation to withdraw Georgia from its participation in the Common Core State Standards Initiative and the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC).
The Common Core Georgia Performance Standards (CCGPS) were adopted on July 8, 2010 under Governor Sonny Perdue’s administration as part of the state’s efforts to comply with the Federal Race to the Top (RTTT) grant. The Common Core represents the first attempt at nationalized curriculum standards in math and English language arts (ELA) for grades K - 12. The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) is responsible for the development of assessments that will be aligned to the Common Core.
“Though I am sure the previous administration had the best of intentions when deciding to apply for Race to the Top, the lack of accountability to the parents and taxpayers of this state is stunning,” said Sen. Ligon. "First of all, there has been no thorough cost analysis of what the unfunded mandates will cost Georgia's taxpayers at either the state or the local level to implement and maintain the terms of the grant."
"Secondly, allowing a consortium of states to work with non-profits and other unaccountable parties to develop our standards without open public oversight is untenable in a country of free people, especially considering that Georgia's taxpayers support K-12 education with $13 billion of hard-earned dollars every year," Sen. Ligon explained. "Georgia needs to have a transparent, democratic process of developing curriculum standards and a means to ensure more direct accountability at the local level. Our educational system should not be accountable to Washington bureaucrats, but to the people of this state who pay the taxes and to the parents who have children in our public schools."
Lending his voice of support to the effort, Lt. Governor Casey Cagle stated, "The most important task we face each Legislative Session is finding ways to strengthen and reform the education of Georgia's children. I believe that Georgians know best how to educate our children - not Washington, D.C. bureaucrats. I look forward to working with Sen. Ligon on this important issue to ensure that we’re able to continue making decisions about the education of our children right here in Georgia rather than having curriculum standards enforced from Washington, D.C.”
Sen. Ligon’s proposed legislation, Senate Bill 167, addresses withdrawal from the current implementation of the national math and English language arts standards, and prevents the Department of Education from adopting future standards without input from the citizens of Georgia. In addition, the legislation ensures that Georgia does not forfeit control of curriculum standards to outside entities.
Another provision of the bill addresses privacy concerns. SB 167 prohibits the Department of Education from sharing personally identifiable student and teacher information with the federal government except in well-defined circumstances, some of which would require notification to parents and to teachers. In addition, the bill forbids the Department of Education from sharing any personally identifiable information with entities outside the state, such as non-profits, and limits what can be shared inside the state to educational entities only. Further, no educational institution can use the data to develop commercial products or services or transfer that information to other entities, such as the labor department for workforce planning.
“Unfortunately, measures to protect the privacy of Georgia's citizens require additional vigilance due to the fact that the U.S. Department of Education has gutted federal student-privacy law through regulations implemented a year ago,” said Sen. Ligon. “Here in Georgia, I believe it is our legislative duty to protect the privacy of our citizens, especially our children, according to the original spirit of the law passed by Congress.”
During the press conference, Sen. Ligon was joined by several key education policymakers and stakeholders including, Dr. Sandra Stotsky, who served on the Common Core Validation Committee and as senior associate commissioner in the Massachusetts Department of Education; Ze’ev Wurman, a visiting scholar at the Hoover Institution and former Senior Adviser at the Office of Planning, Evaluation and Policy Development in the U.S. Department of Education; Jane Robbins, a Harvard-trained attorney and Senior Fellow with the American Principles Project; and Dr. Jim Arnold, Superintendent of Pelham City Schools, GA.
Three Legislative Days Left in 2013 Legislative Session
March 23, 2013
This past week marked day 37 of the 40-day legislative session. Day 40, also known as Sine Die, is the last day bills can be passed by both chambers and sent to the Governor for approval. Because bills tend to pile up at the end of session, the General Assembly will be working until midnight on Sine Die, March 28, to ensure that as many bills as possible are passed.
On Friday, the Senate passed the FY 2014 budget by a vote of 51-0. The FY2014 General Budget allocates $19.8 billion to fund state infrastructure and operations. Passing a balanced budget is the only constitutional mandate for the General Assembly, and I’m glad to say we’ve accomplished this difficult task.
HB 242, a pivotal juvenile justice reform bill calling for substantial changes in the state’s juvenile court proceedings, passed the Georgia State Senate on Thursday by a vote of 47-0. After several recommendations and years of work by the Governor’s Special Council on Justice Reform, the legislation will redefine sections outlining a juvenile’s right to procedural due process and family preservation. HB 242 will define proper representation based on the specific reason for juvenile court intervention.
HB 242 updates the existing code by dividing provisions into 11 clearly outlined articles to create a more efficient system for the rehabilitation and counseling of youth and families within the system. Several topics are addressed within this bill, including separating aggressive crimes from less severe acts, court jurisdiction, court-ordered investigations into abuse and neglect, a timeline for delinquency proceedings and evaluations for serious violent felonies.
HB 242 will now transfer back to the House for the approval of minor changes made in the Senate Judiciary committee.
The Senate also passed a landmark ethics proposal that will change the culture of the State Capitol and build on the tremendous progress made under the ethics reform resolution passed on the first day of the 2013 legislative session. The committee substitute to HB 142 eliminates loopholes and ensures every elected official is under the strictest ethical standards ever to be enacted in Georgia.
The Senate’s reforms affect every elected official in Georgia, from the Governor down to county or municipal offices, and respects local control and responsibility by empowering individual bodies to adopt their own ethics standards. As part of the reform, gift caps must be capped at $100, although the cap may be set at a lower amount. Any ethics policy must have a clear enforcement provision for violations and must be made publicly available for citizen review.
Any entity that does not adopt an ethics policy that caps lobbyist gifts at $100 will be subject to a limit of $0. The maximum dollar amount was endorsed by 87.2% of Republican primary voters in the July 2012 election.
The Senate proposal also keeps existing laws regarding lobbyist registration and reporting in place. Lobbyists are individuals who must register with the State because they are paid to lobby for or against legislation. The Senate version of the bill protects the First Amendment rights of individuals who are not paid by ensuring that they do not need to register with the State. Citizen activists who are expressing their personal views or the views of their clubs and organizations should never have to worry that their First Amendment rights in the political process are subject to a registration fee with the State. I am pleased by my colleagues' efforts to pass meaningful ethics reform that responds to will of the people and ensures greater accountability in state government.
On Friday, SB 1, which I sponsored, passed the House and will head to the Governor’s office for final approval. This legislation will require health insurers to allow a parent to inspect, review or attain copies of health insurance records relating to his or her own child. I drafted this legislation to ensure that parents, regardless of who holds the insurance policy, are provided access to review their child’s medical information.
A number of other important issues were passed by the Senate this week:
HB 141 requires certain establishments to post information on how trafficking victims can receive help from the National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC). The NHTRC provides victim advocates with up-to-date resources and provides law enforcement, social service providers and community members with the tools needed to facilitate victim identification.
HB 164, sponsored by Representative Alex Atwood of Glynn County, provides an extension for sales tax exemption for aircraft parts. Aircraft parts used specifically in maintenance or repair receive this exemption.
HB 256 adds the term ‘cigar wraps’ to a defined list of ‘tobacco related objects’ that cannot be possessed by minors. Currently, the term, ‘cigar wraps,’ is not included in the list of definitions relating to the sale or possession of tobacco related products to minors under the Georgia Code. ‘Cigar wraps’ is defined as individual wrappers that are made of reconstituted tobacco leaf.
HB 350 requires all childcare center directors and employees, as well as all Department of Early Care and Learning (DECAL) employees, to pass a national fingerprint records check every five years. Under current law, the director of a childcare center licensed by DECAL must pass a national fingerprint records background check. All other employees are only required to pass a name-based search of Georgia records.
As always, it is an honor to represent you at the Gold Dome. Please feel free to contact my office at any time with your questions or concerns. For more information regarding a specific piece of legislation, visit the Georgia General Assembly website at http://www.legis.ga.gov/.
GEORGIA STATE SENATOR