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HB 283 touches many education areas
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HB 283 started out as a Title 20 (Education) clean-up bill that also put into code the changes recommended by the Education Finance Commission last year. In the end, it contained a number of provisions, some controversial, in a 35-page bill.

Here is a partial list of the changes:
• Increases the annual tax credit allowance from $50 million to $58 million for the Georgia Education Tax Credit. Expands the reporting requirements and increases accountability/transparency measures as they apply to student scholarship organizations. Also clarifies the allowable credit limits for individuals who are members of a limited liability corporation, shareholders of an “S” corporation or partners in a partnership.   
• Revises QBE weights across school levels and grades to reflect recommendations of the commission.
• Caps the amount of supplemental funds a charter system receives at $4.5 million less austerity.
• Extends counselor funding for ESOL and remedial education classes.
• Clearly articulates the role that technology will be expected to play in the classroom including being a component of QBE funding.
• Clarifies formula funding for in-school day remedial instruction.
• Expands how a high-performance principal can be utilized for a school rated “unacceptable” by the state board and continues $15,000 supplement.
• Puts into code a grant program to incentivize local systems to provide for high-speed internet connections and a range of other enhancements to propel systems into utilizing technology.  Requires a technology plan be developed. (FY2014 budget contains $7 million for matching grants.)
• Clarifies that schools providing on-line courses utilized by other systems can be appropriated fees.
• Requires agreement for local charter school to be signed by the charter petitioner, local board of education and the state board of education.
• Spells out some accountability requirements for charter systems.
• Creates a Public Education Innovation Fund Foundation, a non-profit corporation, to promote partnerships with businesses, non-profits, higher education institutions, etc,. and may be funded by General Assembly starting in 2015.
Student scholarship provision changes are effective Jan. 1, 2013 and the balance of the bill is effective July 1, 2013. 

HB 115 - Updates the process that takes place after a local school system loses accreditation. Requires a hearing by the state board which makes recommendations to the governor. Prohibits local boards spending public funds for legal fees after the state board recommends removal of a local board member by the governor. Also allows students to remain eligible for the HOPE scholarship after the system loses its accreditation.
HB 116 - Allows state board to transfer any gift or bequest held presently or received in the future to the Georgia Foundation for Public Education for management and administration.

Agriculture and Consumer Affairs
HB 101 - Expands “food service establishment” to add to exemptions of fairs or festival sponsored by political subdivisions to include nonprofits. They must have written permission and the event must not last over 120 hours. Events must be held on the property of the eligible sponsor. Cities and counties can delegate the permitting authority to the county board of health. Effective July 1.
HB 91 - Amends the presently unfunded Emerging Crops Funds Act to allow for production loans of crops not necessarily emerging and creates five-year interest loans. Effective upon signature of the governor.
HB 268 - Amends the license and bond requirements for fruit and vegetable dealers to exclude egg producers and creates an annual fee not to exceed $400. Sets new dealer bond limits at $230,000 and $500,000 for pecans. Exempts bonded and licensed warehouses and repeals pecan dealers local fee and registration. Increases grain warehouse bonds to $300,000.

HB 454 - Begins the process of securing information for the Legislature on the cost to the state treasury of tax exemptions and credits by allowing for tax expenditure reviews.  This would allow university research agencies to examine exemptions and determine whether the objectives of the legislation are being met, an analysis of the tax expenditure effect on the administration of the tax system and an analysis of the persons, corporations or entities directly benefitted by the tax expenditure.

Economic development
SB 137 - Gives the commissioner of Economic Development the authority to designate opportunityzones along with the commissioner of Community Affairs, who presently has the authority.
HB 338 - Reemphasizes the value of the arts to state tourism and reorganizes the council to nine members appointed by the governor as is the chairperson. Also makes native azaleas the “state wild flower.”

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