STOCKBRIDGE, Ga. — State lawmakers will consider a bill to encourage local school systems to provide outdoor recess for elementary school children. If this sounds familiar, it should.
Recess is a very popular concept at Georgia’s State Capitol, but the recess bill also has one very deal-killing detractor.
"I was appalled," when Gov. Brian Kemp vetoed the recess bill last spring, said state Rep. Demetrius Douglas, the bill's sponsor.
Douglas is the former NFL and UGA football player. He is introducing a recess bill for the third time.
"I don’t want to quit on the kids," Douglas told 11Alive.
The bill would merely encourage school systems to schedule 30 minutes of outdoor recess daily for children 5th grade and younger. As education bills go, Douglas thinks this one is kind of a no-brainer.
"I didn’t think recess would be this hard for kids," Douglas laughed during a House committee hearing in March 2019.
The panel passed the bill after the bill had stalled in the previous legislative session.
"I just want to tell you thank you for your persistence," state Rep. Doreen Carter (D-Lithonia) told Douglas in the March meeting.
"Recess really does help (children) with exerting some of the energy they may have pent up, and may be causing them to act out," added state Rep. Miriam Paris (D-Macon) during the meeting. The committee approved the bill a few minutes later. The state House and Senate approved it days later.
But Kemp vetoed the recess bill, saying the measure would “burden” local school systems which he said should decide recess schedules themselves.
So why introduce the same bill again, knowing the governor is opposed? Rep. Douglas says it’s a teaching opportunity.
"The kids know Rep. Douglas is not a quitter," Douglas said. "And they will see in life, if you don’t get what you want, don’t quit. Just keep going."
Douglas said he hopes to shape the bill in a way that will get the approval of the governor. As currently written, the bill is nearly identical to the one Kemp vetoed.