Category Archives: Ending Childhood Sexual Exploitation

GA constitutional amendments – Explained!

Early voting begins Monday, October 17…..

At the end of this year’s session of the Georgia State Legislature, four constitutional amendments were placed on the November 8 ballot.    Two affect children in important ways. All four need to be read closely before you decide how to vote.

Here is a “plain English” version of the amendments, with a bit of non-partisan explanation to help you decide!  Please feel free to forward to friends, congregants and neighbors.

Here’s the link:  https://promisethechildrenatuuca.wordpress.com

 

Title Subject Description
Amendment 1 Education State intervention in “chronically failing” public schools
Amendment 2 Gov’t finances Revenue to fund the Safe Harbor for Sexually Exploited Children Fund
Amendment 3 State judiciary Judicial Qualifications Commission
Amendment 4 Taxes Use of tax revenue from fireworks

 

Amendment 1:    Authorization of the State Government to Intervene in Failing Local Schools

 

A “yes” vote supports authorizing the state to form an Opportunity School District that would govern elementary and secondary schools determined to be “chronically failing.” Local school boards/districts would no longer supervise these schools

.

Text of measure

Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended to allow the state to intervene in chronically failing public schools in order to improve student performance?

( ) Yes     ( ) No

 

Amendment 1 

Overview

Approval of the amendment by voters implements Senate Bill 133 which provides for three governance models of schools under an “Opportunity School District” (OSD) agency:

  1. direct management by the OSD,
  2. transformation of the school into a charter school.
  3. shared governance between the OSD and local board of education and
  4. closing schools as the “intervention of last resort.”

– Up to 20 schools could be taken over by the OSD per year; no more than 100 schools at any one time; and they would stay in the OSD state control for five to ten years.

– The Governor will appoint a Superintendent to head the OSD agency, and the superintendent would report directly to the governor.     By virtue of its creation by constitutional amendment, the OSD becomes a permanent, ongoing entity of the governor’s office, separate from the GA Dept. Of Education.

– The OSD would select, or remove school principals, transfer teachers, control the school property and their budgets and modify education content.

Pros and Cons

Both proponents and opponents of the Opportunity School District idea concur that Georgia’s failing schools need help – now.

OSD supporters contend that the best way forward toward improvement is to grant the governor and the state power to take control of failing schools.  Supporters of the OSD say the time has come to try bold new approaches, such as increased use of charter schools,

 

Not surprisingly, local school boards have taken umbrage with the OSD concept, asserting that it would result in a loss of local control and accountability.

 

OSD opponents say the state needs to address how schools overall are funded.  Educating struggling kids will take a different allocation of resources that gets troubled schools extra help.

 

 

 

Amendment 2:  Georgia Additional Penalties for Sex Crimes to Fund Services for Sexually Exploited Children

 

A “yes” vote adds monetary penalties in court cases involving certain sex crimes.  The amendment also imposes assessments on adult entertainment establishments.

The revenue provides money for the Safe Harbor for Sexually Exploited Children Fund.  This is a separate fund in the Georgia State Treasury.  It will disburse money to provide care and rehabilitative and social services for sexually exploited children.

Text of measure

Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended to allow additional penalties for criminal cases in which a person is adjudged guilty of keeping a place of prostitution, pimping, pandering, pandering by compulsion, solicitation of sodomy, masturbation for hire, trafficking of persons for sexual servitude, or sexual exploitation of children and to allow assessments on adult entertainment establishments to fund the Safe Harbor for Sexually Exploited Children Fund to pay for care and rehabilitative and social services for individuals in this state who have been or may be sexually exploited?

( ) Yes     ( ) No

 

Amendment 3: Georgia Replacement of the Judicial Qualifications Commission

 

A “yes” vote will replace the existing Judicial Qualifications Commission (created in 1972 as an independent body) with a new commission designed and governed by the General Assembly.

 

Main opposition to this amendment is

1) That the commission would be   appointed by the legislature and become subject to politics.  (The existing JQC members are appointed by the state supreme court, the state bar association and the governor.

 

2) That the legislature has not yet investigated alleged problems with the current and independent JQC body.

 

Text of measure

  Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended so as to abolish the existing Judicial Qualifications Commission; require the General Assembly to create and provide by general law for the composition, manner of appointment, and governance of a new Judicial Qualifications Commission, with such commission having the power to discipline, remove, and cause involuntary retirement of judges; require the Judicial Qualifications Commission to have procedures that provide for due process of law and review by the Supreme Court of its advisory opinions; and allow the Judicial Qualifications Commission to be open to the public in some manner?

( ) YES      ( ) NO

 

 

 

Amendment 4: Georgia Uses of Revenue from Taxes on Fireworks

A “yes” vote would dedicate revenue from fireworks sales taxes to trauma care, fire protection services and public safety.

 

The Georgia State Legislature legalized the sale of fireworks in 2015. The excise taxes from fireworks sale will go to55% the Georgia Trauma Care Network; 40% to improving the equipment and training of Georgia firefighters; and 5% to local government for public safety purposes.   Legislative support for this amendment was almost unanimous.

Text of measure

  Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended so as to provide that the proceeds of excise taxes on the sale of fireworks or consumer fireworks be dedicated to the funding of trauma care, firefighter equipping and training, and local public safety purposes?

( ) YES          ( ) NO

 

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The final Advocacy “ASK”!

voice

Now that the Georgia legislative has ended for the year, there’s just one last “ASK”!

Take a moment to write a personal note, or send a personal email , to your state representative and your state senator, to thank them for representing you.

They give a lot of themselves during the session and outside the session. Let them know you appreciate their willingness to work for the people of Georgia, and for their willingness to listen to the voices of constituents like you!

Thank them specifically for passing the Safe Harbor Act and the Child Welfare Reform legislation, which you were particularly interested in.

Remember: Legislators WANT to know their constituents. During the “off” season, they are willing to meet you for coffee or lunch, to get to know you and to know your concerns. Meeting with your legislator is not as “scary” as you might think!

In a few months, Promise the Children Advocacy group will be encouraging you, (and supporting you!!!) in doing just that! Our advocacy voice for children is even more effective when our legislator “knows” us individually, and knows that he/she will get thoughtful recommendations on legislation from you… Stay tuned!!!

Use this website to easily and quickly get contact information for your legislators:

http://www.house.ga.gov/Representatives/en-US/HouseMembersList.aspx

http://www.senate.ga.gov/senators/en-US/SenateMembersList.aspx

Thank you for speaking up for Georgia’s Children.

 You have made a difference!

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WHEW!!!! Georgia Legislature – End of Session Update

The current Georgia Legislative session ended in the wee hours Friday morning.

The most important legislation we asked you to “Be a Voice” for, passed!

Here is an update on some of the issues we’ve asked you to advocate for or against since January.

If the advocacy information we’ve provided has sparked an interest for you and you’d like to become more involved, please consider joining us on the Promise the Children Advocacy Team. To sign up, or for more information, email PromiseTheChildren@uuca.org.

Safe Harbor/ Rachel’s Law – SB8, SR7: We asked you to advocate for this bill and resolution. This bill ensues youth who are trafficked in the sex trade are treated as victims, and it creates a “user fee” at strip clubs to fund services for these youths.   PASSED April 2nd

Child Welfare Reform Bill – SB138: We asked you to advocate for this bill to enact some of the recommendations of the Governor’s Child Welfare Reform recommendations. This will carry us a long way to re-making Georgia’s Child Welfare (DFACS) system. Very good news! PASSED April 2nd

Religious Freedom Restoration Act – SB129: We asked you to advocate against this bill. So did other groups within UUCA. STALLED in the house.

Budget: We asked you to advocate for adequate funding for child welfare reform as well as education staff and support for juveniles in the GA department of corrections. Generally, we were happy with the budget that was passed.

Hidden Predator Act – HB17: We asked you to advocate for passage of this act extending the statute of limitations for civil actions for childhood sexual abuse. PASSED on April 2nd

Legalize the sale of explosive fireworks in Georgia – HB 110: We asked you to advocate against this bill. Unfortunately, this PASSED on April 2.

The final step for most bills that passed is for Governor Deal to sign them into law. In some cases, part or all of the intended laws will be on the ballot to be voted on by Georgia voters in the next election.

Thank you for speaking up for Georgia’s Children.

 You have made a difference!

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2 Minute Advocacy Ask of the Week: Urge the Legislature to Improve Services for Children

welfareThe “Ask”:  Call or email your Georgia State Senator and ask him/her to vote FOR Senate Bill 138, the Child Welfare Reform Bill.

The When:  This bill is slated for vote this Friday, so it’s urgent that your senator hears from you by Thursday 4 P.M.

The Why:   Protecting Georgia’s Children from harm and neglect is one of the toughest jobs our government has.  To operate effectively, the Child Welfare Reform Council met repeatedly over the summer and fall and subsequently issued best practice legislative and policy recommendations for operating the state’s child welfare system.  SB 138 will enact some of the Governor’s Child Welfare Reform recommendations:

  • The Governor would appoint, pending the approval of the Senate, and have direct oversight of the director of the Division of Family and Children Services (DFCS).
  • The bill establishes the DFCS State Advisory Board and better defines the makeup and obligations of county and regional DFCS boards.
  • The bill addresses the interagency sharing of data for the protection of children and allows a foster parent, as an agent of the DFCS, to have access to a child’s medical and educational records to ensure the proper care and education of a child entrusted to the foster parent’s care.
  • The bill also creates a central child abuse registry.

The Message: “Dear Senator _____________, Please vote for Senate Bill 138, the Child Welfare Reform Bill.  This bill will create the foundation the Department of Family and Children Services needs to better protect children and to help Georgia families thrive.  Thank you for your service and for all you do for Georgia’s children.

The How:  Click here to find your Senator’s contact information

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2 Minute Advocacy Ask for this Week: Tell the Legislature to Protect Sexually Exploited Children

and yes – it really only takes 2 minutes!

 

The “Ask”:  Ask members of the Georgia House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee to request a committee hearing on the House version of the Safe Harbor legislation, House Bill 244 and House Resolution 223.

traffickingThe Why:  The “Safe Harbor Bill,” would develop a funding mechanism for services for sexually exploited/trafficked children by creating the Safe Harbor for Sexually Exploited Children Fund and the Safe Harbor for Sexually Exploited Children Fund Commission.  Such services could include family support, crisis intervention, counseling, and emergency housing.
Children who have been sold or rented for sex deserve all the help that we can get for them. A serious and productive conversation needs to be had about reliable funding to help these children.

The Message: “Dear Representative _______________, please request a committee hearing on the House version of the Safe Harbor legislation, House Bill 244 and House Resolution 223. Children who have been sold or rented for sex deserve all the help that we can get for them. Thank you for your service and for all you do for Georgia’s children.”

The How:  Click here to contact members of the Georgia House Judiciary non-Civil Committee.
 

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This Week’s Advocacy “Ask”: Support Passage of the Hidden Predator Act

2015 sexual abuse_ child under bedThe “Ask”:  contact 2 members of the House Judiciary Civil Committee and recommend a “Do Pass” for HB 17, pending in this session of the Georgia Legislature.

The Why:  HB 17 Hidden Predator Act calls for extending the statute of limitations for civil actions for childhood sexual abuse by 30 years (to age 53). This bill is on the right track.  While the 30-year extension has generated opposition to the bill, the damaging effects of childhood sexual abuse on brain development are real and last through adulthood.

The Message:  “Dear (Committee Member), I urge you to recommend a “Do Pass” for House Bill 17. The damaging effects of childhood sexual abuse on brain development are real and can last through adulthood. Extending the statute of limitations for civil actions for childhood sexual abuse is a key step to helping victims.

The How: If your rep. is on the committee, write or call your rep.  Otherwise, pick two and call or write them.  They ALL need to hear from citizens of GA!

Committee Members:

Rep. Barry Fleming, Chair

Rep. Stephen Allison

Rep. Beth Beskin

Rep. LaDawn Jones

Rep. Mary Margaret Oliver

Rep. Larry O’Neal

Rep. Jay Powell

Rep. Dale Rutledge

Rep. Pam Stephenson

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This Week’s Advocacy Ask

The “Ask”:  Call or write Governor Deal to thank him for prioritizing the Child Welfare Council Reforms in his budget request and for (once again) increasing the funding to the Juvenile Justice Incentive Grants.Juvenile Reform Bill Signed

The Why:  Child Protective Service (CPS), foster care support, as well as DFCS (Division of Family and Children Services) workforce support and development, have been underfunded for ages.  It is a complicated agency that has a really hard mission, and our children and families deserve the best supports they can get. Georgia needs to value those who check in on and protect children on a day to day basis.

The Message:

 “Dear Governor Deal, As a citizen of this great state, I want to thank you for your thoughtful approach to protecting and helping our children with your budget requests based on the Child Welfare Reform Council recommendations and for further increases in the community-based programs for young offenders.  The sustained support for some of our most vulnerable children and teens is very much appreciated and valued.  Thank you.”

The How:  Click here to contact Governor Deal by webmail with the message above (or something similar), or call his office at 404 -656-1776. Or stop at the PTC Advocacy Table on Sunday!  Questions? Email  PromiseTheChildren@uuca.org.

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