It seems that even the Georgia Legislature can have an off schedule week. First the House Children & Youth Committee meeting scheduled for Tuesday afternoon at the State Capitol got canceled at the last minute. According to the agenda, the topic was supposed to be a discussion about “a system-wide approach” to “children and youth with special needs.”
Then JJIE.org got tipped off that the Senate Judiciary Committee had scheduled a hearing Thursday on Senate Bill 105, which proposes to establish a three-person juvenile parole panel within the Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ). An hour-and-a-half into the committee’s meeting (following a lively discussion about the controversial immigration-focused Senate Bill 40) we learned that the parole board bill would not be heard that day. “The committee chairman has the authority to add or delete anything from the agenda,” explained SB 105 sponsor Sen. Emanuel Jones (D-Decatur).
Georgia students may want to think twice about bullying someone online, especially if HB 310 passes. HB 310, better known as “The End to Cyberbullying Act,” will take the current law and expand it to include any form of cyber communication that would be considered bullying. Currently, the law in Georgia prohibits any form of bullying of another student only on school property, busses, bus stops and at school events. If the new provision were to become law, school officials could act even if the cyberbullying didn’t occur on school property. For example, if a student decides to send a threatening message through Facebook while at home to another student, the student who sent the harassing message can still be disciplined by school officials.
Legislation passed nearly 20 years ago mandating that some children be prosecuted as adults and locked up for years is getting a fresh look from members of the general assembly and possibly the governor. JJIE.org has confirmed that in a recent meeting with some Georgia Legislative Black Caucus members, new Governor Nathan Deal stated that he is willing to reassess Senate Bills 440 and 441. The development comes on the heels of prison overcrowding concerns Governor Deal, a former juvenile court judge, expressed last month during his first state-of –the-state address. “The governor has indicated that he is open to discussions about this; the speaker of the house (David Ralston) said the same when we met with him a few days later,” says Georgia State Senator Emmanuel Jones (D-10) “Texas and Alabama are taking the lead on reforming these laws. These laws were passed during a time 15 to 16 years ago when both parties were trying to ‘out tough’ each other on crime.