Is scholarship makeover bill in jeopardy?

A $5.9 million bill to make over Idaho’s college scholarships is on hold.

Senate Bill 1027, which passed the Senate without dissent two weeks ago, was scheduled for a House vote Thursday. But House Education Committee Chairman Reed DeMordaunt, R-Eagle, asked to pull the bill back to the committee for another hearing. The House agreed.

After the House session, DeMordaunt said the bill may not have had the 36 votes needed to pass the House Thursday. “That was my sense,” said DeMordaunt, a supporter of the bill.

The State Board of Education’s scholarship rewrite passed the committee Monday, with the recommendation that it pass the House. But the bill hit some resistance in committee — partly because the bill would eliminate some state scholarships and a loan forgiveness program for young teachers.

The State Board’s objective is to eliminate several scholarship programs — including the Promise Scholarship, which awards $200 a semester for the first two years of college. The state would fold this money into a larger Opportunity Scholarship program to award up to $2,000 a year to 3,000 to 4,000 students at a time.

DeMordaunt says he supports the idea of awarding larger and more meaningful scholarships — and the State Board’s plan to award some scholarships based on need, and others based on academic merit. After another committee hearing, DeMordaunt said he hopes to bring the bill back to the House floor for possible amendments, and an eventual vote.

“I do want the committee to hear all sides of it,” he said.