We need to watch two bills that were moved today-one through the House Public Health Committee and One through the Senate Education and Youth Committee.

HB 1010 Pro Tempore Jan Jones – Click on the link to view this two-page bill.  It is recommending an increase in the parental leave time from the current 3 weeks to 6 weeks.  I do not see any financial support alongside this recommendation. Appears to be another unfunded mandate. I am hoping the budget process will include a deeper dive into the funding/cost for this to be successful at least on the school system level.  This was heard in the Public Health Committee and passed. It moves to House Rules. This one has a good chance of moving quickly through the committee process and the floor of both chambers.  Stats on this issue presented during the discussion: There are 170,000 teachers in our state. Only 11 school systems offer short-term disability. It was stated that this would be a “minuscule cost” to districts as researched by the House Budget Office although no number was given. This would apply to newborns and adopted children.

SB 405Chairman Clint Dixon – This bill addresses the Completion Schools such as Mountain Ed., Foothills, Coastal Plains, and the newly formed Zone 7 completion school (to open Fall of 2024). This bill drops the age of eligibility from the current 18 to 16 for program students to attend a completion school of their choice.  It would streamline this process and allow students to move quickly to the completion school roster. This recommended change reduces the lag time of the current process setup through last year’s legislation HB 87. Chairman Dixon called it a “clean-up” piece of legislation.  This was passed out of the Senate Ed and Youth Committee 5-1.  Goes to Senate Rules.

Saddened to hear of the passing of a well-loved and the first black superintendent of the Stewart County Schools Fountain B. Wims on January 18, 2024.  Our condolences to the family and friends of Superintendent Wims.

Representative and Chairman of the House Rules Committee Richard Smith from Columbus passed away Monday, January 30, 2024.  He was known for being quite a gentleman and was kind and cordial to all.

I will be providing a daily report from the Capitol for the remaining 28 days of the legislative session. Have a good evening.

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