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|New hope for anti-bullying bill at the Ga. General Assembly|
|by Dyana Bagby|
|March 30, 2010 13:04|
An anti-bullying bill backed by gay groups that was thought dead in the Georgia General Assembly was revived Tuesday when language from House Bill 927 was added as an amendment to Senate Bill 250.
The House approved the bill by a 119-45 vote.
SB 250, sponsored by state Sen. Bill Hamrick (R-Carrollton), was approved in the Senate last March and deals with “unlawful disruption of or interference with the operation of public schools or public school buses.”
State Rep. Mike Jacobs (R-Atlanta) is sponsor of HB 927. The measure would expand the definition of bullying while requiring schools to develop strict guidelines tailored to curb bullying in elementary through high schools. He could not be immediately reached for comment Tuesday.
Hamrick also could not be reached immediately for comment on what he thought of the amendment.
HB 927 did not come up for a vote on March 26, the crucial Crossover Day, the 30th day of the 40-day legislative session. It is the last day that bills can cross from one chamber to the other, meaning bills that aren’t approved by either the House or the Senate by the end of the day are essentially done for the year.
Amending stalled legislation onto a bill that is moving forward is a common strategy. Jacobs' entire bill was added to SB 250.
Jeff Graham, executive director of Georgia Equality, which lobbied heavily for the bill, did not return a call for comment.
The Young Democrats of Georgia Stonewall Caucus issued a press release stating it was pleased to see the anti-bullying bill still alive.
“While we are displeased that the bill does not have LGBT exclusive language, we are content knowing the increasing problem of discrimination will be dealt with across the board legislation,” the press release states.
“The passage of this bill marks a great moment for the LGBT community, as this is the only piece of legislation on the slate for the 2010 legislative term that will directly affect members of our community on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.”
The amended SB 250 must now go back to the Senate for final approval.
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