Georgia HB 51 Passed in the House

On March 1, the Georgia House of Representatives passed House Bill 51. In short, HB 51 is designed to change the way postsecondary institutions in the state of Georgia investigate and adjudicate sexual assault. The bill requires postsecondary institutions which receive reports of criminal sexual assault to “promptly report such crime[s] to the campus law enforcement agency or other appropriate law enforcement agency.”

HB51 also ensures that “no student shall be subject to any interim discipline, suspension, or expulsion for any violation of the postsecondary institution’s code of conduct … without being provided the opportunity of a hearing affording due process protections to the accused student. No disciplinary investigation shall obstruct or prejudice an ongoing criminal investigation.” As written, this bill is a significant departure from President Obama’s implementation of Title IX guidance under the 2011 Dear Colleague Letter.

Title IX, and its messy implementation, has been reported on by TCC previously here.

Georgia HB 51 Tabled in the Senate

While the Georgia House of Representatives passed this bill by a vote of 115-55, HB 51 was effectively put off the table for this year by a Georgia Senate committee. As stated by state Senator Greg Kirk (R), “This is truly a complicated matter … I think the proper thing to do at this point … I’d like to table this bill.” There was bi-partisan support for this initiative to table HB 51, as state Senator Vincent Fort (D) agreed with state Senator Kirk: “I sense some unreadiness in the room … I have the same unreadiness.” In the end, the vote to hold off on approving/disapproving of HB 51 was unanimous.

As reported by Rhonda Cook, a writer at the Atlantic Journal-Constitution, state Representative Earl Ehrhart (R) “said after the vote that he had asked members of the committee to hold the bill because of issues raised by public and private colleges. ‘This is too serious an issue’ to push it, Ehrhart said. ‘It’s not dead by any stretch of the imagination. The issue hasn’t gone away.'”

We will be sure to update you on any future developments of this bill as well as other state bills pertaining to this important issue.