After a week of alternating days between voting on legislation in the chamber and carefully vetting bills in committees, the Senate has set the stage for a busy, but productive, Crossover Day. In the days leading up to Crossover, we typically face aggressive agendas of legislation in an effort to ensure that not a single priority is missed. This year was no different, as we passed more than 40 bills and resolutions. However, our calendars to this point will pale in comparison to the length of that of Crossover Day, which we will see on Monday.
Families around the state with special needs children 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, which I sponsored, would further expand eligibility in this program by allowing children with other qualifying conditions 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 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 election 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.
Sen. Steve Gooch serves as Majority Whip of the Senate Majority Caucus. He represents the 51st Senate District which includes Dawson, Fannin, Gilmer, Lumpkin, Union and White counties and portions of Forsyth and Pickens counties. He may be reached at 404.656.9221 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.