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Charter School Legislation Dies In House Committee

By Jeffrey Hess | Published 03 Apr 2012 07:07pm | comments
A crowd waits for the result of a vote on charter school legislation.

Mississippi lawmakers could get another shot the passing charter school legislation this year. Governor Phil Bryant is considering calling a special legislative session within the current session for lawmakers to reconsider a charter school bill that died Tuesday. MPB's Jeffrey Hess reports that the vote attracted a large crowd and a tense reaction.

The small second floor committee room was filled by the 31 members of the House education committee while advocates and observers lined the walls.

Dozens of people in an overflow crowd choked the hallway outside the committee room.

Committee Chairman John Moore of Brandon brought the bill up, skipped past debate, and went right to a vote.

"The bill has failed on a 15-to-16 vote. With 15 yeas and 16 Nays,"

The vote split the parties with 5 Republicans adding their vote to 11 democrats to defeat the charter school bill.

Chairman Moore says he is disappointed by the committee vote.

"The parents that are out there begging, they are begging, for a good education opportunity for their children. And for some reason we have members in this body that don't want that to happen. And it breaks my heart if you want to know the truth about it," Moore said.

After the vote some of the people in the hallway clapped and cheered the bill's defeat.

But others were visible upset, with one observer insulting a Republican Representative who voted against the bill and reports of physical confrontations.
Representative Pat Nelson of Southhaven was one of the crucial Republican votes against the bill.

He says he supports the idea of charter schools but was worried about the route this bill was taking.

"I am fearful of what goes to conference. I have been watching from the gallery 40 years and I see stuff go to conference and come back with a lot of garbage in it, and I was not going to be the vote that caused that to happen," Nelson said.

In addition to the potential for a special session, there is discussion in the senate to amend and existing bill to include charter school language.



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