News from Rep. Pam Dickerson | Georgia House District 113
March 30, 2015
Rep. Pam Dickerson

Friday, March 27, was the 38th legislative day of the 2015 session of the Georgia General Assembly. I am pleased to report that the state Senate voted to approve an amended version of HB 131, The End to Cyberbullying Act, which I introduced and achieved passage in the House of Representatives earlier in the session. The legislation now comes back to the House for consideration of the Senate's changes.


Only two days remain in the session. Final adjournment is scheduled for Thursday, April 2. 


Please feel free to contact me with your views on the issues facing our state, or whenever I can be of service. Thank you for allowing me to continue to serve you in the Georgia General Assembly.

Rep. Pam Dickerson 

Rep. Dickerson and Speaker David Ralston thank Cheyenne Sesar of Newton County High School for serving as a page in the House of Representatives.

Rep. Dickerson, along with Atlanta Hawks official Duane Ferrell and fellow Rep. Dewey McClain, congratulate Hawks radio announcer Steve Holman, the Georgia Broadcaster of the Year.

Rep. Dickerson and Sen. Ronald Ramsey congratulate Georgia State University Head Basketball Coach Ron Hunter on the Panthers' success as Sun Belt Conference Champions and winners over  Baylor in the NCAA Tournament.

Georgia State Capitol
House majority votes to put 'Opportunity School District' plan on the ballot


A majority of the House of Representatives voted March 25 to give final legislative approval to a proposed constitutional amendment for the creation of an Opportunity School District, through which the state would intervene in the operation of Georgia schools that consistently fail to meet certain performance standards.


The amendment received the necessary two-thirds majority approval with only one vote to spare. With SR 287 having already been approved by the Senate, the proposal will appear on the 2016 general election ballot. If a majority of voters vote yes, the constitutional amendment will become law.


House members also approved SB 133, the enabling legislation that would take effect if the constitutional amendment passes.


Under the legislation, initiated by Gov. Nathan Deal, 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.


Medical cannabis proposal on Governor's desk


House members voted March 25 to give final approval to a Senate-amended version of legislation that would authorize the use of cannabis oil to treat certain medical conditions in Georgia. Senate changes to HB 1, known as the Haleigh's Hope Act, included the addition of clinical trials of medical cannabis within the University System of Georgia.


The legislation, which now awaits the signature of Gov. Nathan Deal to become law, would legalize the use of cannabis oil consisting of no more than 5 percent THC would be authorized for the treatment of cancer, ALS (Lou Gehrig's Disease), seizure disorders related to epilepsy or head trauma, multiple sclerosis, Crohn's disease, mitochondrial disease, Parkinson's disease and sickle cell disease.


House votes to protect Georgia's coastal marshes


On March 26, the House voted unanimously to approve an amended version of legislation to re-establish a 25-foot buffer zone to protect coastal Georgia's saltwater marshes.


House members strengthened SB 101 by giving the state authority to review any land-disturbing projects that are awarded buffer zone exemptions by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The Georgia Environmental Protection Division has also pledged to prohibit the building of makeshift bulkheads along the marsh by property owners.


The legislation reflects an agreement between the environmental and business communities. On March 27, the Senate gave final passage to the House version of SB 101, sending it to the Governor for his signature.


Other House Action


Resolutions approved by House members in the past week include:

  • HR 419 to encourage Congress to extend authorization for the Augusta Canal National Heritage Area to receive federal funding from the National Park Service through 2021.
  • HR 601 to create the House Study Committee on Saltwater Intrusion into Coastal Aquifers.
  • HR 640 to create the Joint Study Committee on Health, Education and School-Based Health Centers.
  • HR 641 to create the Joint Study Committee on Children's Mental Health.
  • HR 642 to create the Joint Study Committee on Postsecondary Education and Employment Options for Individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities.

Senate legislation receiving House approval includes:

  • An amended version of SB 2, which would provide for the awarding of a high school diploma to a student who completes specified postsecondary coursework.
  • SB 62, which would remove certain limitations on the jurisdiction of the probate courts over game and fish code misdemeanor violations.
  • An amended version of SB 63, which would allow craft brewers to provide a limited amount of beer to customers to take a guided tour of their facilities and authorize brew pubs to engage in small package sales of beer.
  • An amended version of SB 72, which would provide a measure of equivalency in the punishment of crimes committed against police dogs in the performance of their official duties.
  • An amended version of SB 88, which would authorize the payment of employee wages by credit to a payroll card.
  • An amended version of SB 94, which would require a procedure for enhancing witness identification accuracy.
  • SB 112, which would prohibit the removal or transport of game animal or game bird carcasses, except in compliance with applicable harvest recording and report laws and Board of Natural Resources regulations.

House members defeated SB 139, which would have prohibited local governments from enacting ordinances to ban the use of disposable plastic bags. The vote was a victory both for supporters of a clean environment and for local control over issues affecting different communities in different ways.


Rep. Dickerson's Legislation
Recent action on legislation sponsored or co-sponsored by Rep. Pam Dickerson:

HB 103 Kelsey's Law; enact (approved by House, favorably reported by Senate Judiciary Non-Civil Committee)

HB 131 The End to Cyberbullying Act; enact (approved by House, amended by Senate)

HB 577 Rockdale County; Redevelopment Powers Law; provide a referendum (approved by House and Senate, awaits Governor's signature)

HB 683 Rockdale County; Redevelopment Powers Law; provide for a referendum (referred to House Intragovernmental Coordination Committee)

HR 766 House Study Committee on Bullying in Schools; create (referred to House Education Committee)

HR 768 House Study Committee on Mandatory Reporting of Child Abuse; create (referred to House Juvenile Justice Committee)

HR 787 Governor Nathan Deal; establish Diabetes Control Grant Advisory Board; encourage (referred to House Health & Human Services Committee)

HR 834 West, Ms. April; 2015 Walk to Cure Arthritis Adult Honoree; recognize; Arthritis Foundation; commend (adopted by House)

Click here for all of Rep. Dickerson's 2015-2016 legislation.

Contact Rep. Dickerson
At the Capitol:
611-E Coverdell Legislative Office Building, Atlanta, GA 30334
Phone 404-656-0314
In the District:
P.O. Box 1016, Conyers, GA 30013
Phone 678-207-6043