Since the 2011 session ended I continue to have numerous questions about the new rules for HOPE Scholarships and Sunday sales of alcoholic beverages. I wrote about the HOPE Scholarship program in early March, but some points should be clarified about future participation.
Over time, college enrollment and tuition have increased. Additionally, more and more 4-year-olds have been served by Georgia’s Pre-K program. This has resulted in the lottery paying out more than it brings in. We knew that if something wasn’t done by FY 2013, all of the reserves would be expended and the lottery would not be able to meet its obligations.
I asked for your suggestions and many of you responded. Suggestions ranged from requiring students to take Advanced Placement (AP) courses to requiring specific SAT scores. The final version of HB 326 included some of your recommendations.
While the GPA for HOPE remains at 3.0, students graduating after May 1, 2015 must have received credit in at least two AP courses. The number of AP courses goes up by one each year until those students graduating after May 1, 2017, must have received credit in at least four courses to be HOPE eligible.
Please see Section 13 of HB 326 for the list of acceptable courses.
For a student to be eligible for the Zell Miller Scholarship, all of the above requirements must be met, plus the student must have a 3.7 GPA and a combined English and math SAT score of at least 1,200.
For a student to remain in the basic HOPE program, a college GPA of 3.0 is required. The Zell Miller Scholarship requires a high school GPA of 3.7 to enter and that a college GPA of 3.3 be maintained.
The current first year rate for scholarship students losing HOPE is more than 60 percent. This means that many millions of dollars have been spent on students who were not “outstanding.” With the new requirement of AP courses, it is believed that the quality of future students will improve and scholarship money will be saved. When the reserves get back to the level required by law, students may once again be able to receive full tuition and fees.
With respect to Sunday alcohol sales, Senate Bill 10 passed both the House and the Senate. If signed into law by Gov. Nathan Deal, the bill would become law July 1. But to have actual Sunday alcohol sales in stores, local jurisdictions would have to hold their own referendums and approve the change.
The bill does not authorize package stores in counties and municipalities that do not currently have them. Unlike Dawson County, Lumpkin County is not currently permitted to have package stores. Sunday alcohol sales only pertain to those locations already authorized, whether it be food markets or package stores.
Pubic safety is one of the General Assembly’s major concerns. Georgians should always believe that law enforcement officers are available to protect and assist them in time of need.
Earlier this year, high gas prices led to restrictions being placed on the mileage that state troopers could drive while patrolling our counties. To prevent a loss of presence, some counties went so far as to provide additional fuel for the GSP vehicles.
Lack of fuel and high mileage, worn-out vehicles should not stand as a hindrance to providing safety for our citizens.
In the FY 2012 Budget we added $600,000 to the governor’s proposed budget for the State Patrol’s fuel costs. The Budget also provides 200 more trooper cars to replace some of those getting too dangerous to drive. Troopers who risk their lives for us deserve the best we can afford.
Amos Amerson can be reached at 689 N. Chestatee Street, Dahlonega, GA 30533; phone (706) 864-6589; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Or call Gerald Lewy, communications director, at (706) 344-7788. Remember, the secret of good government is a well-informed electorate.