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State House focuses on local education
Legislative update
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The Georgia General Assembly finished its 33rd legislative day March 23. Officially, we are more than three-fourths of the way through the session. With only seven days remaining, many bills still await consideration by the House. Now is the time the House considers bills sponsored and passed by the other chamber. The end of the 2011 session is close, with the session set to end April 14.
In session for three days this week, legislation considered in the House this week was lighter than last week after our full agenda on Crossover Day. As stated above, the House now is considering Senate legislation and vice versa. This required shorter days of session and spending our time in committee meetings as the legislation sponsored by the Senate goes through the committees in the House.
March 21, one House Resolution was passed. In Georgia, we want to encourage our teachers to become National Board Certified. Previously, when the state’s incoming revenue was higher, we promoted this board certification with a 10 percent stipend for 10 years in their current salary. This was reduced and then eliminated when the state had to tighten its budget. H.R. 248 was passed 163-2 to express that the House is committed to restoring this funding as soon as the budget allows and will continue to encourage teachers to get this certification.
On March 22 and 23, much of the legislation passed related to local legislation, in addition to two House Resolutions. In regard to local legislation, I sponsored H.B. 539, and it passed unanimously. H.B. 539 provides for a four-year term of office for the president of the school system of the city of Savannah and Chatham County.
H.R. 459 also passed (159-7), and it expresses the support of the House for a recent ruling by the Professional Standards Commission relating to teacher-certificate upgrades. This commission issued a ruling stating that a teacher who gets upgrades for graduate degrees must pursue them in an area related to their teaching fields and that the degree must be from a credible institution.
H.R. 491 passed 149-7, and it encourages the development of performance-based coaching programs designed for principals and district administrators.
With seven days left, expect legislation sponsored by the Senate to be considered and debated by the House as the bills make their way through the committee process.

Stephens, R-Savannah, serves the 164th District, which includes South Bryan, and can be reached at

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