Lower GPA for HOPE approved by House
by MDJ staff & wire reports
March 08, 2013 12:01 AM | 3951 views | 10 10 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Stacey Evans
Stacey Evans
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State Rep. Stacey Evans (D-Smyrna) said she was thrilled that the House voted in favor of her proposal to lower GPA requirements for those seeking HOPE grants to attend technical colleges.

“Chattahoochee Tech obviously is a big technical school in Cobb, and there are others, so this will help them get more students back into the classroom and ultimately graduate and back into the workforce, so we’re very excited about that,” Evans said.

Two years ago, state lawmakers raised the GPA to 3.0 to address what was then a decline in lottery revenues that fund the HOPE program. Since then, the technical college system has seen a notable decline in enrollment as students lost access to the grants.

The plan passed Thursday would return the qualifying grade point average to 2.0. The bill heads to the Senate and is likely to pass because it has bipartisan support and the backing of legislative leaders and Republican Gov. Nathan Deal.

Supporters say an increase in lottery revenues allows for the change, and the move could benefit several thousand students at an estimated cost of $5 million to $8 million annually.



Reforms pass House

Thursday’s frantic day of voting came on what state lawmakers call “Crossover Day,” the 30th day of Georgia’s annual 40-day legislative session. Under internal rules, any bills not approved by at least one chamber of the General Assembly by Thursday were at risk of failing for the year. There are some exceptions to the rule.

State Rep. Sharon Cooper (R-east Cobb) said she was pleased to see the House approve a bill that updates and modernizes Georgia’s statutory definition of elder maltreatment to include both sexual abuse and financial abuse. About 84 percent of elder abuse incidents are not reported, Cooper said.

Cooper also cosponsored the creation of Joint Study Committee on Medicaid Reform, which the House passed in the form of House Resolution 107.

“Medicaid is 14 percent of the current state budget, and it is growing every year,” she said. “Legislators are concerned about how quickly the costs are escalating and also whether we are getting quality for the amount of money we are paying.”

The committee would look for alternative ways to treat Medicaid recipients so they get better care at a lower cost, Cooper said.

Another bill cosponsored by Cooper and state Rep. Matt Dollar (R-east Cobb), House Bill 511, creates a pilot program to provide coverage for bariatric surgical procedures for the treatment and management of obesity.

Cooper said the state used to pay for state employees who were morbidly obese to have gastric bypass surgery if they met certain guidelines. The program was killed a few years ago.

“We believe the program was effective by preventing even more costs to the state because of the complications of all the medical problems later on,” Cooper said. “This is a study of what’s involved to prove whether the surgery is successful and a money saving cost expenditure for the state long term. In the long term, it saves the state money because it prevents all the complications that morbidly obese patients often face like diabetes and stroke.”



Reporting on tax credits

Senate lawmakers took up changes to a tax credit program that provides scholarships for children to attend private schools. The changes, which passed unanimously, include a reporting requirement on the average household income of recipients and a requirement that eligible students must have attended public school for at least six weeks, with a few exceptions.

Under the program created a few years ago, people can receive state tax credits by giving nonprofit scholarship providers donations of up to $1,000 for individuals and up to $2,500 for married couples.

The Southern Education Foundation had raised concerns that donors may have been allowed to earmark donations, although supporters had argued that was prohibited under the law. The Senate bill would add language specifically prohibiting that.

The bill would keep the current $50 million cap on the program, although the existing law allows for cost-of-living adjustments.

Sen. Jason Carter, D-Decatur, said he does not support the program but worked to make key changes to improve the existing law.

“It is an improvement, but it does not do everything we need it to do,” Carter said.

The bill moves to the House for consideration.



Professional standards

In other bills, the Senate approved a proposal that would require nurses to report alleged professional violations by their colleagues. The bill also requires nursing agencies and health care entities that employ nurses to report to the state anytime a nurse is fired or resigns for disciplinary reasons.

The rules are intended to strengthen enforcement of nursing standards by the state’s two primary nursing boards. They are the Georgia Board of Nursing and the Georgia Board of Examiners of Licensed Practical Nurses.

The bill passed without opposition and now heads to the House.

The Senate also voted to ban Georgia law enforcement agencies from setting minimum waiting periods before they will act on a reported missing person case.

The bill clarifies the statewide alert system that can be used for a person whose medical conditions could explain their disappearance. The measure passed without opposition and now goes to the House.

The new law would be named for Stacey Nicole English, an Atlanta woman who suffered from mental illness when she disappeared in December 2011. Her body was found weeks later, and an autopsy showed she died from exposure to the cold.
Comments
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Not Liberal
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March 10, 2013
This has nothing to do with being liberal, just because she happens to be one. I am about as liberal and progressive as you can be and I think this idea is absurd. FIX SCHOOLS. No, not everyone wants to go to college (or needs to; nor is college all it used to be, but I digress), but watering down requirements is ridiculous.

If we could manage to leave politics out of education maybe something would get done.
Pam J
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March 09, 2013
I think this is good. Not everybody can be book smart. Just because someone doesn't do well in school doesn't mean they can't do well in life. My friend's son honestly just couldn't make great grades regardless of how hard he tried. He went to a technical college, learned plumbing, and now owns his own company. I believe we need to encourage more people to do this instead of sending them to a four-year college to the tune of $50,00 with little hope of getting a job.
save everyone money
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March 09, 2013
Save everyone money and trouble and just print up a huge amount of degrees to hand out to anyone who wants one. That is what this amounts to. A 2.0 is pathetic! Just another stupid liberal idea! Heaven help us.
A Taxpayer
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March 08, 2013
A 2.0 GPA is a solid "C" average. This woman, a typical liberal from an everybody-gets-a-trophy-for-participating mindset, actually prides herself on actively working to dumb down academic standards. I don't know which is more shameful -- a state representative wanting to hand out free money for college to kids who can't raise themselves above the "average" mark in high school, or all the other lawmakers jumping on the bandwagon she's driving. Why set a limit the GPA at all? George Carlin once predicted that someday all students would need to be accepted into Harvard was a pencil. Looks like every college in Georgia's going to beat Harvard to that, and we're headed in that direction full-steam. What's a college degree going to be worth 10 years from now?
Father of 3
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March 08, 2013
One of my daughters attended a tech school in GA after graduating from Sprayberry. She had NO PROBLEM keeping a 3.0 and graduated from the vo-tech with honors and a 3.5 GPA. In comparison to any liberal arts degree, the academic course work was easier than her senior year in HS. As for the core classes, basically show up, do the work and apply yourself and BAM, 3.0 is easy to obtain and keep.

She saw many in classes STRUGGLE to keep a 2.0 and saw why. They missed classes, they didn't do the work and they didn't apply themselves. Yet many found a way to convince the instructors to pass them and they graduated.

It's just like your family doctor. You never know if they graduated first or last in the class, all you know is that you call them doctor!

It is no badge of honor for Smyrna or Cobb to call this person a representative! Shame on her and the state senate for dumbing down the standards!
Dr. MJW
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March 08, 2013
Y'all do realize that this is for the HOPE GRANT, not the scholarship. Grant recipients typically go to technical and community colleges, while balancing families and a job or jobs. These are hardworking folks and many dropped out because the higher GPA requirement forced them to lose the grant money and they otherwise couldn't afford classes.

This isn't liberal or conservative, it's about working folks getting some education so they can get back into the workforce.

Training/education = better chance of getting a job.

Chew on that.
Absurd Again
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March 08, 2013
Kids will rise and fall tot he standards you set for them. Why don't we focus on making schools more responsive to students and their needs instead of continuing to lower the bar? Absurd.
Watcher...
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March 08, 2013
Rep. Evans is such a typical LIBERAL. Why don't we just lower the GPA to 1.0.

Ms. Evans' actions are nothing more than legalized vote buying!
onekidmom
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March 08, 2013
A 2.0 and you think these kids are going to succeed in college? Just another way to take from those who work hard to give to those who don't.....
Common Sense
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March 08, 2013
Way to water it down and make it so easy for everyone. A 2.0 GPA is a joke...while you are at it, why don't you just give away a free four year college education along with books, food and dorms. Doesn't anyone have to earn anything anymore that is worth something?
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