JACKSON -- Much of the focus during the just-completed legislative session was on whether school boards of C-rated district would have veto authority over charter schools locating within their boundaries.
But probably just as important an issue -- especially for charter school supporters -- was whether students would be able to cross district lines to attend charter schools. Without that authority, it will be difficult for charter schools to locate in smaller districts, some say.
Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves, a strong charter school advocate, wanted the legislation to have the provision allowing students to cross district lines.
In the final days, when House and Senate leaders negotiated those issues and others related to charter schools, the House leaders offered two proposals.
One would not allow any crossing of district lines. The other would allow students in D and F schools in D and F districts to cross lines to attend a charter school.
In the end, the Senate leaders took the proposal that allowed no transfers across district lines even though that is not what they supported. But the House and Senate leaders began counting votes and realized that by including the crossing district lines provision they could lose one, two or maybe three votes in the House and that could be the difference in passing charter school legislation.
That compromise passed the House by a 62-55 margin. Had they lost a couple of votes, the margin would have been getting in the danger margin where anything could happen.
JACKSON -- The House has until Thursday to send three significant education bills to conference or they die.
* The omnibus bill that includes charter schools, third grade reading gate and enhanced standards for students going into teaching.
* A proposal to have the Mississippi Adequate Education Program funding formula for local school districts recalculated every year instead of every four years.
* A proposal to put into law the definition of how long a student must stay at school each day to be considered in attendance, thus, eligible to be counted by the district for state Adequate Education funds.
It appears the Republican leadership in the House does not have the votes to pass the omnibus bill and send it to Gov. Phil Bryant for his signature. But the other proposals in the legislation already are in conference in other bills where House and Senate leaders on education issues will meet in the coming days to try to hammer out differences.
The MAEP funding formula changes and the attendance proposal are not alive in other bills in conference, but there might be an opportunity to add those issues to legislation already in conference.
Sometimes it seems that proposals never die during the legislative process.
JACKSON -- With the legislative session quickly coming to an end (scheduled to conclude April 7) the question is what will become of Medicaid.
I am not talking about the proposal to expand Medicaid. I am simply referring to the current Medicaid program that provides health care for poor children, poor pregnant women the disabled and for some services for the elderly, such as keeping granny in the nursing home.
The legislation that would re-authroize Medicaid was killed in a fight over whether to expand the program as part of federal law.
At this point, the leadership could attempt to garner a two-thirds majority in both chambers to revive legislation to expand the program. But that seems difficult since Republicans and Democrats are still fighting over whether to expand the program.
Gov. Phil Bryant could call a special session -- either within the current session or after the regular session ends. Medicaid's current authorization runs through June so there is a little time, though, there is no guarantee an agreement could be reached in special session.
The final option would be for the governor to run the program through some type of executive order/court conservatorship garnered by Attorney General Jim Hood. Hood got such as court order early in former Gov. Haley Barbour's tenure for the governor to run the Department of Human Services for a brief time. There is a possibility any action to run the program without legislation could be challenged in court.
There are many possible solutions to the pending Medicaid crisis but all could face roadblocks.