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The People’s Business

By: Senator Tommie Williams (R-Lyons)

 With the 2012 legislative session well under way, I want to update everyone about what’s going on at the Capitol.

In an effort to improve our state’s education system, I introduced Senate Bill 410. If implemented, this bill will move our schools away from the current AYP (Adequate Yearly Progress) system to a system that provides a much more accurate measure of a school’s performance.  The current AYP system provides only a “pass” or “fail” grade, meaning it is hard to track progress and incentivize improvements.  Many educators and parents also argue that the current system is easily manipulated and difficult to understand. With SB 410, however, I hope to help move to a new, multi-tiered system developed by Georgia School Superintendant John Barge and the Department of Education that will provide true bench marks to track progress and provide accountability. The new criteria will provide a clearer and easier to understand picture of how a school is performing.

Once SB 410 is implemented, parents will have access to meaningful data about schools and districts that they don’t currently have under the AYP system. As a result, parents will have the information and access to choose a quality school that is best for their child. Moreover, transparency about performance will incentivize schools and districts to continue to improve.  It is also my hope that we can find ways to reward schools that continue to make progress.

Another important issue I am addressing this session is alternative energy. That being said, I am a co-sponsor and supporter of Senator Buddy Carter’s Senate Bill 401. This legislation, if employed, will allow Georgians to benefit from solar or other renewable energy systems, as well as lower utility bills, without high up-front costs.

In order to do this, SB 401 would allow a third-party installer to hold ownership of the system while the customer pays for it over time from the savings that the system provides. This arrangement, known as a “power purchase agreement,” has become the predominant form of financing rooftop solar systems in the United States, but is not currently available in Georgia. 

While these two bills are still in the early stages of the legislative process, I was proud to see my Senate Resolution 715 pass the Senate this week. This resolution urges Congress to allow states the ultimate power to deal with agriculture labor issues at the state level. Furthermore, SR 715 urges Congress to expand the H-2A guest worker program by allowing states to administer their own H-2A guest worker programs under the supervision of the United States Department of Agriculture. The resolution passed fifty-three to zero, receiving overwhelming support from each side of the aisle.

As we continue to move forward this legislative session, I am confident that the General Assembly will continue to make financially responsible decisions that are beneficial to our state’s long-term growth and prosperity. As always, it is an honor and my pleasure to serve you in the nineteenth Senate district. Please feel free to contact me with your ideas and concerns as we work together to improve Georgia