Legislators Get Back to Work in Committee Meetings

Cindy Morley

Wednesday, May 13th, 2020

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Georgia lawmakers have not been called in to complete the 2020 legislative session yet, but many committees are getting back to work.

The House Higher Education Committee will hold a virtual meeting today beginning at 11:30 a.m., and committee members will hear several reports — including an update from the Georgia Lottery from Brad Bohannon, head of Government Relations.

The committee is also expected to hear from Chris Green, a representative of Georgia Student Finance, who is expected to give updates relative to dual enrollment and procedures to deal with missed ACT/SAT testing. Last week, Governor Brian Kemp signed the House Bill 444 into law which changes the course hours allowed for students taking part in dual enrollment. The changes set by the new law will reduce the number of classes high school students can take on college campuses by capping the college credit hours that would be paid through state funds to 30 hours. Classes taken as part of the dual enrollment program must be college core classes – not electives. The new requirements also limit the program, with some exceptions, to only 11th-and 12th-grade students.

Representative Bert Reeves (R-Marietta), sponsor of the bill, said last week he believes this is the best way to keep dual enrollment sustainable.

“We had to do something, the program was financially unsustainable,” said Reeves, one of the Governor’s Floor Leaders. “Making changes was necessary to keep the program going. It’s grown expeditiously over the past few years and is just not sustainable the way it’s going.”

Reeves also said Reeves said dual enrollment “could possibly be impacted even more” after Kemp told state agencies they should plan on cutting more than $3.5 billion from their budgets in the upcoming fiscal year — a 14 percent cut — as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown.

Members of the House Higher Education Committee will also hear reports from Greg Dozier, head of the state’s Technical College System on their response to COVID-19, and from Dr. Tristan Denley from the University System of Georgia regarding online modality support and student outreach.

The House Appropriations Committee has called a virtual meeting for May 13 to continue discussions on the budget. When lawmakers return from their unprecedented break because of the COVID-19 outbreak, they will have 11 legislative days to approve a budget for Fiscal Year 2021 which begins July 1.