DeMordaunt pulls charter bill — as a courtesy

House Education Committee Chairman Reed DeMordaunt on Wednesday pulled the charter school facilities funding bill back to committee, in a show of bipartisan solidarity.

DeMordaunt, R-Eagle, said he made the move after a confused exchange during Tuesday’s committee hearing.

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Rep. Reed DeMordant, R-Eagle

House Bill 206 would provide money to charter schools for building facilities, starting with an estimated cost of $1.4 million in 2013-14.

During Tuesday’s debate, freshman Rep. Janie Ward-Engelking, D-Boise, said she supports charter schools, but would have preferred an across-the-board budget increase for charters and traditional schools. After Ward-Engelking asked about amending to the bill, DeMordaunt told her, “We cannot amend in this body (as a committee).” DeMordaunt told her committee members may only make amendments at introductory print hearings, and that once bills are introduced “it cannot be amended in committee.”

Before pulling the bill back to committee, DeMordaunt sought to clarify his response. Committee members can make motions to send bills to general orders for amendment. If such a motion passes, then the entire House is allowed to consider amendments.

DeMordaunt said he was sorry if his original statement was not clear or complete.

“I told (Ward-Engelking) that I would be glad to pull it back to committee if she or anybody else would like to send it to general orders,” DeMordaunt said after the House adjourned Wednesday.  “I just want to make sure the process is as open to anybody from any party as we can make it.”

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Rep. Janie Ward-Engelking, D-Boise

The committee is scheduled to consider HB 206 Thursday morning. Committee members also will hold a public hearing on House Bill 221, a companion bill to allow colleges, universities and some nonprofits to authorize new charter schools.

In other news from the House on Wednesday, the committee voted to introduce two new clarification bills based on advice from the attorney general’s office.

The first bill reinforces that teachers’ contracts signed at the end of last school year are not bound by the Students Come First laws on the books at the time.

The second brings back the 97 percent protection rule, which means the state will fund schools districts with declining enrollments at 97 percent of the previous year’s daily attendance levels.

The committee also held another do-over – on Senate Bill 1027, the scholarship reform bill. DeMordaunt brought that bill back to committee members,who originally advanced it to the House, on Feb. 18.

Committee members again sent the bill the House floor with a recommendation it pass, but Ward-Engelking and Rep. Steven Harris, R-Meridian, continued to oppose it.