What’s on the table?

Changes in HOPE

Legislators are hoping to increase the number of students at technical schools with the proposal of House Bill 54, a legislation that will change the minimum grade point average students in Technical College systems need to maintain their HOPE Grant.

The proposed legislation would change the required GPA for the HOPE Grant from 3.0 to 2.0.

“We’re not trying to lower the standards of technical schools,” Rep. Stacey Evans said. “It is just a reality that students are at technical schools too.”

This change would not only help current students, but also will allow workers with little to no previous formal education who have lost their jobs to enter or re-enter technical colleges.

“In the immediate future, it could affect 8,900 students and in the long term it could affect thousands more,” Evans said.

According to Evans, 42,000 students withdrew from technical schools last year.

“We looked at why students left, and found that most of the students left right after the HOPE Grant was changed,” Evans said.

How much it will Cost: The legislation would cost the state between $5 to $8 million.

Key Player: Rep. Stacey Evans (head sponsor)

Current Status: On Feb. 7, Gov. Nathan Deal relayed his support of HB 54.

“Now that the Governor supports the bill, now it is a bipartisan effort,” Evans said. “We are excited.”

How it will affect students: Although Georgia State is a four-year university, this legislation still could affect our students. Students may later choose to attend technical for additional training or a change of career field. The lower GPA would make it easier for students to receive and retain the HOPE grant, which would assist with raising tuition fees.

What students think:

“I feel like if you cannot maintain a 3.0 grade point average, then you do not deserve the grant,”  sophomore Tabrisha Love said.

“I think it is better for lower income students. A lot of students can’t keep grades up because of work and school,” sophomore Gina Blackhurst said. “Just because you can’t keep a 3.0 doesn’t mean you’re a bad student and should lose HOPE.”


Criminal Justice

After recommendations from a report produced by the Special Council on Criminal Justice Reform to reform Georgia’s current juvenile justice system, the legislation may take action.

Last year, the state passed a legislation that reformed the adult criminal reform and now, people, such as Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice Carol Hunstein and Rep. Wendell Willard, say the state should take similar steps to reform the juvenile system.

A reform would ultimately offer juvenile offenders help and a second chance. The reform would allow juvenile justice judges to assign non-violent juvenile offenders to community treatment programs and behavioral health programs, rather than repeatedly locking them up.

In fiscal year 2013, $300 million was appropriated to the Department of Juvenile Justice.

In her final State of the Judiciary address, Hunstein highlighted that the state already spends over $90,000 every year on each juvenile offender in jail, only for 75 percent of the offenders to repeat the crimes again.

Key Player: Rep. Wendell Willard (head sponsor)

How it will affects students: The juvenile justice reform affects students who are under the age of 18 and are considered minors.

As of time of print, Willard was not able to be reached.

What students think:

“For the most part, I feel like that’s a lot of money going to people who did wrong,” sophomore Lena Whitfield said. “But if you think about it, it is something that can help the state as a whole.”

“They should spend the money on programs like after school programs. Not more jails and juvenile detention centers,”  sophomore Tabrisha Love said.

“Juvenile Reform is much needed in our communities. I am excited to see that our elected officials and Chief Justice are exploring new options to fix the juvenile justice system. The proposed legislation may not be a comprehension solution but it is definitely a step in the right direction,” said Marcus Kernizan, SGA president.


Guns in Schools

Following the December shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, people around the country are now more concerned about gun safety than ever.

Under the head sponsorship of Rep. Charles Gregory, House Bill 29, also referred to as the Georgia Campus Carry Act of 2013, will repeal previous prohibitions by allowing individuals with permits to carry guns on private and public colleges and universities.

Other bills will allow permit owners to carry concealed weapons in churches, parks and historical sites.

Key Player: Rep. Charles Gregory (head sponsor)

Current Status: As of Jan. 30, this legislation has been sent House Second Readers.  The second reading is a stage of the legislative process where a draft of a legislation or bill is read for a second time.

How it will affects students: This legislation would change safety protocols  on University System of Georgia campuses.

As of time of print, Gregory was not able to be reached.

What students think:

“I think to have guns on campus is not so bad,” visiting scholar Chuanhua Zeng said. “Because if you have a gun, you can protect yourself.”

“It’s our Second Amendment right,” senior Joseph Perry said. “It could decrease crime as well.”

“Ultimately, guns don’t kill people, people kill people,” student Corbin Cottingham said.

“This seems to be a popular issue. At the last SGA meeting, I brought up this topic and the major of SGA supports the current law: no guns on campus. As a reminder, all Student Government meetings are open to the public and guests are allowed to voice their opinions,” said Marcus Kernizan, SGA president.