News from Sen. Horacena Tate
March 9, 2015
Sen. Horacena Tate

Monday, March 9, is the 28th legislative day of the 2015 session of the Georgia General Assembly. We are approaching the all-important 30th day, also known as Crossover Day as it is the final day for most legislation to pass either the House of Representatives or the Senate in time to be considered by the other chamber this year. Crossover Day will take place Friday, March 13.   


Please continue to contact me with information from your community, views on your issues of concern, or whenever I can be of service. For more information, please be sure to visit 


Sen. Horacena Tate

  Sen. Tate and fellow Senators with former Sen. Leroy Johnson as he addresses the Senate. In 1962, Sen. Johnson was the first African-American Senator elected to the Georgia Senate since Reconstruction. 


Georgia State Capitol Governor's school takeover plan approved by majority of the Senate


On March 5, a majority of the Senate voted to approve a proposed constitutional amendment that would establish an Opportunity School District in Georgia to intervene and take over control of schools failing to meet certain performance criteria.


SR 287 still must receive two-thirds approval in the House of Representatives to be placed on the 2016 general election ballot for necessary ratification by a majority of voters.


The Senate also approved the enabling legislation for the Opportunity School District, which would take effect if the constitutional amendment is successful. Under SB 133, failing schools are defined as those scoring below 60 for three years in a row on the College and Career Performance Index, which is Georgia's current rating system for school performance.


The Governor would have the authority to appoint a Superintendent of the Opportunity School District, subject to the Senate's confirmation. Four intervention models are outlined in the legislation, allowing the district to directly manage the schools, close them, partner with local school districts to run them or convert them into charter schools.


I voted against this amendment because it consolidates too much power in the Governor's Office and essentially eliminates local control in the operation of our schools. Changing the Constitution in this manner would allow future General Assemblies to define a school with less than a 100 percent graduate rate, for example, as a failing school and allow the Governor to take over every school.


The legislation also fails to recognize poverty as a significant factor in school performance.


As an alternative to the Governor's takeover plan, Georgia Senate Democrats earlier this session introduced SB 124, the "Unlocking the Promise Community Schools Act." Under this legislation, Sustainable Community School Operational Grants would be awarded to low-performing schools that apply for conversion to "community schools." The grant money would be used to provide healthcare services, academic support and tutoring and parental education programs to families living in those communities.


The community school model has worked in other states, including Kentucky, to help remove impediments standing in the way of academic success for students living in poverty. SB 124 still rests in the Senate Education & Youth Committee.


Senate majority passes 'religious freedom' legislation


A majority of the Senate voted March 5 to approve legislation intended to restore a higher standard for the state government to restrict the free exercise of religion.


SB 129 would require the government to show a compelling interest for why its policy should override an individual's religious freedom.


I voted against this legislation because it would potentially allow businesses and individuals to practice discrimination against certain communities in the name of religious freedom. Members of the clergy and business organizations also oppose SB 129 because it could lead to such discrimination and hurt Georgia's image on a national level.


The proposal now goes to the House of Representatives for its consideration.


  Sen. Tate welcomes Georgia First Lady Sandra Deal to the Senate chamber, where Mrs. Deal spoke on children's literacy initiatives. 


Senate approves coastal marshland buffer


On March 2, the Senate voted to approve legislation for a 25-foot coastal marshland buffer to protect Georgia's coastline.


SB 101 would prohibit land-disturbing activities within the buffer and allow the Board of Natural Resources to adopt rules and regulations to provide an expedited process for erosion control.


The legislation now goes to the House for its consideration.


Other legislation approved by the Senate and sent to the House in recent days includes:

  • SB 34 which would amend Georgia's "Good Samaritan" law to protect from liability individuals who enter a parked car for the purpose of removing children or other who are unable to get out of a hot vehicle or are otherwise in imminent danger.
  • SB 85, which would redefine the term "project" in the Developmental Authorities Law to include land improvements and properties of nature used for the development of trade, commerce, industry and employment opportunities.
  • SB 88, which would authorize employers to pay employee salaries and wages through a company-issued credit or debit card. Employees would be able to opt out of that payment method and request a check.
  • SB 89, which would encourage all instructional material purchased by a local board of education to be in digital or electronic format by July 1, 2020.
  • SB 100, which would create new regulations for motor carriers, amending registration and fee requirements.
  • SB 104, which would remove the Commissioner of Insurance from the State Depository Board and replace the position with the State Chief Financial Officer.
  • SB 108, which would require insurers to maintain a risk management agenda by completing an Own Risk and Solvency Assessment.
  • SB 125, which would replace both HOV and HOT lanes on Georgia's major highways with "managed lanes," which would have vehicle occupancy requirements, toll payments and certain vehicle restrictions. Toll revenues would go toward financing future transportation construction projects.
  • SB 139, which would require that regulating the use of plastic bags and other auxiliary containers be conduced on a statewide basis.

Sen. Tate and Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle thank Adam Jaafar and Youssef Jaafar for their service as Senate Pages. 


Senator Tate's Legislation


Recent action on key legislation sponsored by Sen. Horacena Tate includes the following:


SB 4 Urban Redevelopment; provide for use of surface transportation projects; definitions; public contracts with private enterprises for completion (approved by Senate, referred to House Transportation Committee)


SB 72 "Tanja's Law"; provide measure of equivalency in punishment of crimes committed against police dogs in performance of their official duties (approved by Senate, referred to House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee)  


SB 132 Quality Basic Education Act; program for high school students to attend post-secondary institutions; provisions; Move on When Ready Act (under consideration in Senate Education & Youth Committee) 


SB 171 Probate Court of Cobb County; change the compensation of the chief deputy, assistant chief deputy and executive assistant to the sheriff (referred to Senate State & Local Governmental Operations Committee)


SB 172 Probate Court of Cobb County; change the compensation of the clerk of the Superior Court; change salary of deputy clerk of Superior Court (referred to Senate State & Local Governmental Operations Committee) 


SB 190 Bona fide coin operated machines; provide certain definitions; license fees and requirements for manufacturers and distributors (referred to Senate Regulated Industries & Utilities Committee)  


SR 163 Senate Rules Committee; authorize to place witnesses under oath or affirmations; testifying; eligible for placement on the rules calendar (favorably reported by Senate Rules Committee) 


SR 361 Genocide Prevention and Awareness Month; recognize April 2015 (adopted by Senate) 


SR 362 Johnson, Alice M.; honoring (adopted by Senate)  


SR 369 Johnson, Senator Leroy Reginald; recognize (adopted by Senate)


SR 378 Orr Sr., Eston Wycliffe "Wyc"; honoring (adopted by Senate) 


SR 379 Roberts, Rev. Dr. Joseph L.; honoring (adopted by Senate)  


SR 403 Daniel, Thomas E. "Tom"; commend (adopted by Senate)  


SR 414 Greek Independence Day; recognize March 25, 2015 (adopted by Senate)  


SR 447 Joint Study Committee on School Construction; create (introduced) 


Click here to review and track the progress of all of Sen. Tate's 2015-2016 legislation. 

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Senator Horacena Tate
121A State Capitol
Atlanta, GA  30334
Phone 404-463-8053 Fax 404-463-7783
Senator Horacena Tate
Senate District 38
201 Joseph E. Lowery Blvd.
Atlanta, GA  30314
Phone 404-803-2119