One of the most debated and controversial bills of the 2017 General Assembly was HB 280, the bill which permits licensed gun owners to carry concealed weapons on college campuses with several exceptions. The implementation of that bill is a classic example of the difference between legislation and rules that follow. The University System of Georgia is charged with writing the rules dictating how HB 280 is to be implemented on college campuses. (The State Department of Education engages in the same process for legislation that is to public education. The rules are drafted by the Policy Division and approved by the State Board of Education.)
The Board of Regents of the USG will eventually have to approve the rules proposed by the USG staff and that is becoming a thorny issue. There are significant exceptions that are not covered by the law and now USG faces creating rules that may or may not be consistent with the law—the prescription for multiple law suits. One of the interesting problems, interesting because it is close to home for those of us on a USG campus, is permitting weapons at athletic events such as UGA football games. The law is specific in that it prohibits weapons in the stadium at the site of the athletic event but what about the legendary tailgating that goes on all over downtown Athens?
I am a firm believer that alcohol and guns don’t mix well. It is an unsettling thought of what will happen when UGA takes on heated rivals like Tennessee, Auburn, and South Carolina in Athens and the game winds up being late in the day and fans of both persuasions can get well libated and I am only thinking about celebratory gun-fire—what a mess!
Enough digression. Education leaders should understand and appreciate that the passage of a law by the General Assembly is only the first step in changing current practice. Rules must be adopted, complete with opportunities for your input, which define expected behaviors. Every educator in Georgia should be excited and interested in the rules that will be written to implement SB 211—the bill that should and will change many of the testing and assessment procedures currently in place. GAEL will certainly keep you informed as that process begins