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House passes several important resolutions

As you may remember, last week marked the 30th legislative day or “Crossover Day,” when all House bills must have passed through the House in order to allow enough time for them to undergo the Senate committee process. Likewise, the House spent most of this week discussing Senate bills in committee. We did, however, pass several important resolutions, which express the opinion of the House body.
House Resolution 248 relates to funding for National Board-Certification for teachers. National Board Certification is an advanced teaching credential that is valid for 10 years. Under former Governor Zell Miller, the state began providing a stipend for teachers who wished to earn this certification. This stipend increased the popularity of the certification to a significant level over a number of years and contributed to the rise in Georgia’s teaching credential standards.  The costs of the program grew to be too much for the state, $13 million, and the General Assembly was forced to cut the stipend in 2009 due to the economic recession. HR 248, however, expresses the commitment of the House to reinstate this stipend as soon as financially feasible for the state. This resolution shows our resolve to keep educators and education standards a top priority in the coming years, even in the face of economic hardship.
House Resolution 491, also concerning education standards, encourages the development of performance-based “coaching programs” for principals and school district administrators. Coaching programs put experts in a specific subject area or set of teaching strategies together with small groups of school administrators and educators. The goal of these third-party interactions is to improve organizational culture and classroom practice in an effort to increase overall student success. By emphasizing professional skill-development, this strategy has been highly effective in producing more cohesive educational environments. Also, these programs will help Georgia’s educators and administrative leadership continue to espouse high accountability standards, ensuring the best education possible for Georgia’s children.
On a recreational note, the House recently passed HB 277, allowing hunters to shoot deer while near a baiting site in the Southern hunting zone of the state. Under current law, hunters may provide supplemental feed on their land. However, in order to hunt feeding deer, a shooter must be 200 yards plus 1 inch away and out of site of the feed. HB 277 takes away the prohibition, allowing hunters to shoot deer feeding within sight. While baiting has created a controversial debate among sportsmen in the past, the issue was well vetted during two special subcommittees created specifically for this issue, and again in the larger Game, Fish, and Parks Committee of the House. I can personally tell you that we heard from all sides of this issue in committee and on the floor, and came to the conclusion that the majority of hunters in the Southern Hunting Zone are in favor of this practice. The bill easily passed the House and is now in the Senate for their consideration.
Now that “Crossover Day” has passed, the schedule for the remaining legislative days has been set. Under House Resolution 641, also known as the adjournment resolution, the state House will be in session Monday through Friday of next week, the week of March 28.  We will then break during the first full week in April, the traditional spring break period for K-12 schools. The last days of session will be held on Tuesday, April 12, and Thursday, April 14. With that in mind, please feel free to contact me in the next few weeks about any issues you may be concerned with. As always, you may contact my Capitol office by phone at (404) 656-5099, or by email at jon.burns@house.ga.gov.

Jon Burns represents Screven County as part of his District 157 of the Georgia State House of Representatives.