As the dust settles on another Georgia legislative session, we are pleased to report that the overall results for bills that GCO worked on to achieve passage were positive and encouraging.

 

Education Opportunities Expand Once Again

For starters, in the education arena we collaborated with key legislators to put into action House Bill 787, which had been approved by the legislature in the previous session. This new law creates equitable facilities funding for charter schools—allowing them to receive funds for their facilities on par with those given to traditional public schools.

 

Job Licensing Reform

On the employment front, our team successfully worked to pass a key piece of occupational licensing reform legislation. Now, people who get behind on their student loan payments won’t risk losing their occupational licensing—helping to ensure that more Georgians will be able to get a good job and keep it after completing their education.

 

Removing The Welfare Cliff of Healthcare

On welfare reform, we worked with Governor Brian Kemp’s administration to move forward healthcare waivers for Georgia. This crucial step toward full welfare reform would remove built-in benefit cliffs while adding work requirements for public assistance. Ultimately, this helps our fellow Georgians break free from governmental dependency and lead renewed lives of dignity and purpose.

 

We Are Just Getting Started

While we are proud of these successes, there’s still much work to be done in the next legislative session, particularly in the educational arena. Unfortunately, lawmakers fell short of passing Educational Savings Accounts (ESAs) this year. However, the good news is that we came closer than ever to success—and we’re optimistic that ESAs will become a reality next year. In fact, the high level of co-sponsor support from Governor Kemp’s floor leaders signals that this important issue will likely return for consideration in the next legislative session.

When it comes to ESAs, the stakes are high for thousands of Georgia students and their families. Not only would ESAs help parents like Katie Gonzalez—a mother of seven adopted children, including six with special needs—they would offer much-needed flexibility and assistance to students from low-income families, those adopted from foster care, children of active duty military stationed in Georgia, students with an Individualized Education Program, and those with a documented history of being bullied.

 

Looking Ahead

Looking ahead to 2020, GCO will continue to work toward implementing common-sense reforms on not just ESAs, but also in welfare and occupational licensing to ensure that every Georgian has the opportunity to flourish through a great education, steady employment, and healthy family life. The bottom line is that we are optimistic that the legislative successes coming out of the 2019 session will translate into passage of more key legislation next year.