A major education bill is on life support, if not dead, this last week of the legislative session. An effort will be made to revive it.
Rep. Maynard Wallace (R-Thornfield) understated the magnitude of the bill when he brought it before the House for debate.
"Mr. Speaker, this is a relatively simple bill," Wallace joked, eliciting laughter from the body.
HCS SS SB 291 was anything, but simple. The committee Wallace chairs added several amendments to it, mostly bills that haven’t been able to move through the process. It passed the bill on to the House floor unanimously. The House debated several peripheral subjects, adding nine more amendments during five hours of floor debate. Finally, a move was made to cut off debate and force a vote. The committee substitute to the bill with the added amendments was overwhelmingly defeated. Only 43 representatives supported it with 116 voting against.
The bill contained a wide range of education issues. It would create a fund to receive federal economic stimulus funds, enhance protections of children from sexual offenders, exempt school bus diesel fuel from state fuel taxes, allow school districts to adopt four-day weeks, create grants to help local school districts lower drop-out rates, among many other things. Buried within the legislation was a provision to allow the Blue Springs School District to commission a peace officer.
Rep. Tim Jones (R-Eureka) stated after the defeat that the bill collapsed under its own weight.
"I think what you saw here on the earlier vote was a lot of the members on this floor just felt that that House Committee Substitute was too bloated, too expensive and too unrealistic," Jones said.
Wallace at first attempted to bring the Senate Substitute up for a vote, after stating on the floor that he didn’t support it. He reconsidered and decided to give up.
"We’ve gotten more important things to deal with," Wallace told the body before asking that the bill be placed on the informal calendar. Legislation can be retrieved from the informal calendar at any time by the Majority Floor Leader, but often legislation on the informal calendar languishes and eventually dies.
Wallace said he’s not interested in bringing the Senate bill back before the House. He did return to the House floor to propose that the bill be sent to the House Rules Committee, the committee that determines what bills will go to the floor for debate and whether a bill will be subjected to a time limit. The House approved that motion in an effort to revive the bill, though some expressed doubt that there is enough time to get a revision through the House and into a conference with Senate negotiators and through both chambers prior to the Friday six o’clock deadline.