A big education bill, once nearly killed in the House, is revived, passed and sent to the governor.
Defeated earlier 43-to-116 earlier this week in the House, a re-crafted version won approval 110-46. It was quite a turn-around for House sponsor Maynard Wallace (R-Thornfield).
"Half those people Tuesday didn’t realize what they were doing," Wallace said afterward.
Tuesday, the education bill, SB29 1, seemed dead after the stunning defeat in the House. Wallace had hoped to get the bill through that chamber and into conference with Senate education leaders so a compromise acceptable to both chambers could be hammered out. The defeat left him with few options.
After consulting with House leadership, Wallace succeeded in getting the bill assigned to the House Rules Committee, which stripped controversial aspects from the bill and greatly reduced its costs.
One last obstacle had to be cleared. A provision strongly backed by Wallace created a minor controversy that threatened to grow into a major one. A push to keep high school students from bailing on education too soon eliminated language in state law allowing someone to leave school at age 16 and required a student to receive at least 16 hours of credit before dropping out. Wallace said the measure should help stem the drop-out rate. Home school parents feared that its wording would provide an entry for the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to regulate home schooling. An amendment calmed fears and led to passage.
Rep. Ryan Silvey (R-Kansas City) speculated during House floor debate on Thursday that perhaps lawmakers lost focus of a key component of the bill, a provision that corrects a glitch in state law that would have kept additional casino money from flowing to the schools.
"A ‘No’ vote on this bill is a vote to not send $108 million to public education next year," Silvey said during floor debate, using the estimate of what extra money casinos will pay into education due to the lifting of loss limits approved by voters.
After clearing the House, the bill breezed through the Senate.
Senate President Pro Tem Charlie Shields (R-St. Joseph) said the state needed to capture additional money from the lifting of loss limits.
"Within the bill, obviously the foundation fix and driving all the gaming revenues into the formula is important," Shields told reporters after the vote in the Senate.
A wide-ranging education bill, once nearly dead, Now heads to the governor’s desk.