House leaders change votes to advance omnibus bill

By Bobby Harrison/NEMS Daily Journal

JACKSON – The House leadership was able to change enough votes Wednesday to send an omnibus education bill to conference where House and Senate leaders will try to hammer out the differences.
The vote to send the bill to conference was 61-56 with the Republican leadership losing a few members of its party, but picking up a handful of Democrats. On Tuesday there were 60 votes opposed to sending it to conference and 58 in favor.
The legislation includes eventually allowing charter schools to be located in C, D and F districts without the approval of local school boards. Charter schools receive public funding but do not have to follow many of the guidelines and governance of traditional public schools.
The legislation also would require students to read on grade level to advance past the third grade, would strengthen teacher standards and provide scholarships to top students to enter the teaching profession and would require parents who enter students in kindergarten to adhere to the compulsory attendance law.
In making the motion to go to conference, House Education Chair John Moore, R-Brandon, said any agreement on charter schools would not be included in the omnibus bill. He said any charter school agreement would be in a separate charter school bill that already is in conference.
The charter school issue has proven to be contentious in the House.
All of the proposals in the omnibus bill already are in conference in other bills, but the legislative leadership wants the opportunity to wrap those proposals into one piece of legislation.
During the final week of the session, legislators will try to reach agreement on numerous contentious issues, including a number of education proposals.
bobby.harrison@journalinc.com