‘Blaine Amendment’ debate rekindled — sort of

Remember the debate over amending the “Blaine Amendment,” which prohibits putting state dollars into church schools?

The topic will come up at the Statehouse again Thursday afternoon — although, for all practical purposes, the topic isn’t going anywhere this legislative session.

Ronald Nate
Rep. Ronald Nate, R-Rexburg

The House and Senate education committees will hold a joint session Thursday afternoon to hear a presentation on the Blaine Amendment. Speaking will be Rep. Ronald Nate, R-Rexburg.

Earlier this session, Nate floated a proposed constitutional amendment that would relax the Blaine Amendment. Nate said he was trying to provide legal protection to students and parents who use state-funded scholarships to attend church-owned colleges — such as BYU-Idaho, where Nate teaches.

Critics said Nate’s amendment would provide a loophole that would set up a voucher system that siphons state dollars into parochial schools.

Neither the House nor Senate education committees actually has any say over Nate’s House Joint Resolution 1. The constitutional amendment has been parked in the House State Affairs Committee for nearly two months, and appears to be going nowhere. (In order to pass, a constitutional amendment needs two-thirds support in both houses, and majority support in the November election.)

In other words, Thursday’s session is little more than an informal discussion.

Check back Thursday for coverage.