Chancellor Testifies on Campus Carry
The House Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee heard testimony this week on HB 280, and Chancellor Steve Wrigley testified on behalf of the University System. Dr. Wrigley stated, “campus safety is a top priority for us, and we appreciate that it is for you.” He then listed a few of the steps the University System as taken including how Georgia State University has increased the number of controlled access points to ensure only those permitted have access to certain areas. “We began with a comprehensive assessment of our police departments and have implemented System-wide police officer training programs focused on active shooter scenarios. We have developed mutual aid agreements with local law enforcement and established campus safety committees that meet regularly. We also made a commitment to adding more front-line officers at all of our campuses.”
With respect to campus carry, we feel strongly that current law strikes the right balance to create a safe environment on our campuses, said Wrigley. Wrigley also stated, this position is supported by our presidents and campus public safety departments, who are closest to the day-to-day realities and operations of the state’s public colleges and universities. We therefore respectfully oppose any change to current law.
The bill would allow anyone with a weapons carry permit to carry a firearm anywhere on a public college, university, technical school, vocational school or other institution of postsecondary education, except for dormitories, greek housing or athletic events. Firearms would also not be allowed at preschool space on campuses, but that restriction would not apply if a campus has more than one building housing preschool space. The University System continues to work with leadership on this important issue.
Campus Felony Crimes Advances
HB 51, passed the House Appropriations Higher Education Subcommittee this week. This bill instructs all Georgia postsecondary institutions to report any information reasonably believed pertinent to a felony crime committed by an enrolled student, in or on properties overseen by the institution, to law enforcement officials. If the felony involves an alleged sexual assault, no information identifying the victim shall be provided in the report without the consent of the victim.
The law enforcement agency determines whether to investigate the alleged criminal offense and report any findings to the appropriate prosecutor’s office. No investigation of the alleged offense should be undertaken by the postsecondary institution unless the investigation is conducted by a campus law enforcement agent that is POST certified. This bill does not require a victim of an alleged sexual assault to cooperate with law enforcement in any investigation or to participate in any subsequent prosecution.
Each postsecondary institution is expected to meet its duty of care to protect the campus community as required by law. The postsecondary institution may pursue interim measures or formal disciplinary actions against any student for any violation of its code of conduct based on general disciplinary processes for students. Before any disciplinary actions are taken, the accused student must be provided the opportunity of a hearing and afforded due process protections. Furthermore, no disciplinary investigation shall obstruct or prejudice an ongoing criminal investigation. Postsecondary institutions are not allowed to force a victim of an alleged sexual assault to cooperation in any disciplinary investigation or to participate in any subsequent disciplinary proceedings; however, no disciplinary proceedings based upon an alleged sexual assault shall be conducted by a postsecondary institution without the participation of the victim of such alleged sexual assault. The bill is now eligible for consideration in the full House Appropriations Committee.
Sanctuary Policies Pass the House
HB 37 passed the House this week by a vote of 112-57. The bill would prohibit any private postsecondary institution eligible for tuition equalization grants from implementing a sanctuary policy. Sanctuary policies include policies that would prohibit or restrict employees of postsecondary institutions from working with federal and state officials or law enforcement officers on reporting immigration status information. Any private postsecondary institution that violates this code section would be subject to the withholding of state funding or state administered federal funding. Withholding of state funds includes funding for scholarships, loans and grants for students of such private postsecondary institutions. The bill now crosses over to the Senate.
Free Speech Legislation Proposed
HB 471, sponsored by Rep. Buzz Brockway (R-Lawrenceville), provides for the establishment of free speech policies for institutions of the University System of Georgia. The bill would also prohibit the mandatory payment of certain student activity fees. Assigned to the House Higher Education Committee.
House Military Affairs Study Group
The House Military Affairs Study Group met this week to hear testimony from representatives from the University System of Georgia and the Technical College System of Georgia to learn what our institutions are doing on their respective campuses to help veterans. Mark Eister, Director of Military Outreach for Georgia State University testified to the great things going on at GSU, for example having Military Outreach Centers on all six campuses staffed by veterans, the Mentoring Veterans Program and the Peer Advisors for Veteran Education Program.
SB 215, sponsored by Sen. Michael Williams (R-Cumming), states no institution within the university system shall increase the cost of tuition for any student seeking an associate or baccalaureate degree beyond the cost established as an entering freshman. Assigned to the Senate Higher Education Committee.
SR 255, sponsored by Sen. Michael Williams (R-Cumming), an amendment to the Constitution to authorize the General Assembly to regulate the amount of tuition and fees for institutions of the University System of Georgia. Assigned to the Senate Higher Education Committee.
Lottery Changes Advance
SB 5, passed the Senate Higher Education Committee this week. The bill would raise Lottery returns to the state’s pre-K and HOPE programs. Currently, the Georgia Lottery Corporation returns slightly more than 25 percent of its sales to the state for pre-K and HOPE programs. This bill would require the Lottery to return 26 percent of gross sales to the state in fiscal year 2018 and gradually increase to 28 percent in fiscal year 2020. In any year, if ticket sales drop by 5 percent or more, the percent return will be frozen and no further increase will be required. The bill is now eligible for consideration in the Senate Rules Committee.
In other HOPE legislation, HB 447, sponsored by Rep. Stacey Evans (D-Smyrna), would provide retroactive payments to students who graduate with an associate degree or receive a diploma or certificate in an amount equal to the difference between the HOPE scholarship amount and the cost of tuition. The student must graduate “on time,” defined as the number of semesters or quarters that it takes to complete the coursework if the student is taking a full-time load plus one additional semester or quarter. Assigned to the House Higher Education Committee.
HB 222, passed the House this week by a vote of 148-0. The bill allows a member of the Georgia National Guard or a member of a reserve component of the armed forces of the United States located in Georgia to be classified as a legal resident under eligibility requirements for HOPE scholarships and grants. It now crosses over to the Senate.
Kinship Care Legislation
HB 330, sponsored by Rep. Stacy Abrams (D-Atlanta), requires the Division of Family and Children Services (DFCS) of the Department of Human Services to include contact information for a regional DFCS case worker, knowledgeable in kinship care and financial assistance information, for kinship caregivers with notices during a relative search. The bill passed the House Human Relations and Aging Committee and is now eligible for consideration in the House Rules Committee.
HB 331, creates a mechanism for a kinship caregiver to give legal consent in the form of an affidavit for a child residing with him/her to receive educational services and medical services directly related to academic enrollment and to participate in curricular or extracurricular activities for which parental consent is usually required. The bill passed the House Human Relations and Aging Committee and is now eligible for consideration in the House Rules Committee.
SB 47, passed the Senate this week by a vote of 47-0. The bill would exempt physicians licensed outside the state from Georgia’s licensure requirements if they are providing care to the members or coaching staff of an out-of-state sports team and physicians invited by a national sport governing body to provide care to team members or coaching staff during a sporting event. The bill now crosses over to the House.
Intern Spotlight: Edwin Mendez
Edwin Mendez is a political science major at Georgia State University. He decided to become an intern for the Georgia Legislative Internship Program (GLIP) after encouragement from a classmate who had previously participated in the program.
Mr. Mendez wants to understand how the legislative process works and not simply comprehend what a textbook says about it. “I want to see the people who are part of the process which truly identifies the reasons behind the legislation that is set. That is important, not simply to be part of the people, but to be the people who represent the people,” states Edwin.
Edwin is assigned to the House Judiciary Committee. Preparing for committee meetings, doing research, running errands, and making copies are among his many assignments. Mr. Mendez’s extracurricular activities include being well-involved at his church and volunteering with a high school youth group.
Edwin’s career goal is to change the world whether it be through working in government or teaching. His favorite quote is by Nelson Mandela which states “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate, our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.”
Information on legislative activities including bills and resolutions as well as webcast of daily sessions in both Chambers and committee meeting are available via the General Assembly website at www.legis.ga.gov
Day 25: The House and Senate will convene at 10:00 am on Monday, February 27.
Day 28: Crossover Day – Friday, March 3. Crossover Day is the last day a bill can cross over from one chamber of the General Assembly to the other in bill form.
GOVERNMENT AFFAIRS TEAM
Tom Lewis, Senior Advisor to the President
Julie Kerlin, Director of Government & Community Affairs
Jason Thomas, Assistant Director of Government & Community Affairs
Debbie Jones, Associate to the Director
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Atlanta, Georgia 30302
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