Statehouse endgames: charter bills on hold

The two controversial charter schools bills are on hold, for at least one more day.

And one will be amended — for a second time.

Late Monday afternoon, the Senate agreed to amend House Bill 206, which would provide some $1.4 million in stipends for charter facilities.

Earlier Monday, Education Committee Chairman John Goedde, R-Coeur d’Alene, cited a “potential technical problem” with HB 206. Later Monday, Goedde said he believed lawmakers have reached consensus on language designed to satisfy Sen. Dean Cameron, R-Rupert, the co-chairman of the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee.

Senators amended the two charter bills last week: HB 206 and a companion bill, House Bill 221, a governance bill that would allow public and private universities to authorize charter schools. The amendments on HB 206 focused on the mechanics of providing stipends to charters for buildings.

In other end-of-session activity from Monday:

Employee grievances. This time around, an Idaho School Boards Association-sponsored labor bill passed the Senate. After considerable debate, and a failed attempt to amend the bill, the Senate approved Senate Bill 1150, streamlining an appeals process that allows a school district employee to take a grievance directly to district court. The Senate rejected one ISBA bill Friday, as some senators signaled their opposition to the 2013-14 schools budget. On Monday, SB 1150 passed 22-12, and goes to the House.

Initiative bill tuneup. The Senate approved a bill to fine tune a previous bill making it more difficult to get an initiative or referendum on the ballot. Under Senate Bill 1108, groups must collect signatures from 6 percent of voters in 18 of 35 legislative districts. Under Senate Bill 1191, county clerks would sort out signatures by districts; SB 1108 would have required signature-gathers to do this. The vote was 33-1, with Sen. Bob Nonini, R-Coeur d’Alene, the lone no vote. SB 1191 now goes to the House.

Luna’s office budget. The Senate approved Senate Bill 1177, the 2013-14 budget for state superintendent Tom Luna’s office. The budget includes $8.3 million in general funds, and $27.4 million in dedicated and federal funds. This includes $4.5 million from the J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Foundation to complete the SchoolNet instructional management system. The vote was 33-2, and the spending bill goes to the House.

Disclosure: Idaho Education News is funded through a grant from the J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Foundation.

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