House panel moves school ‘voucher' amendment, but fewer than half urge passage

rmauer@adn.comFebruary 12, 2014 

JUNEAU -- The proposed constitutional amendment allowing public funds to go to religious and private schools moved out of the House Education Committee on Friday, but fewer than half the committee members recommended the measure pass the House.

The committee report containing the recommendations is further evidence that the amendment will have a difficult time getting out of the Legislature, where a two-thirds vote of both chambers is needed before it can go to voters. Senators from both parties have said they are concerned that the measure would hurt public schools.

The House Education Committee recommendations followed its last public hearing on the amendment Friday morning, where chairwoman Lynn Gattis, R-Wasilla, tried to hold comments to one minute.

Gattis was among the three committee members recommending the House approve House Joint Resolution 1. The two others were Reps. Dan Saddler and Lora Reinbold, both Eagle River Republicans.

Do-not-pass recommendations were made by Reps. Harriet Drummond, D-Anchorage; Paul Seaton, R-Homer; and Peggy Wilson, R-Wrangell.

Rep. Gabrielle LeDoux, R-Anchorage, signed the committee report with no recommendation.

HJR 1 now goes to the House Judiciary Committee.

The companion measure in the Senate is Senate Joint Resolution 9, which was moved from the Senate Finance Committee Wednesday with four members urging passage and three making no recommendation. Senate President Charlie Huggins revoked his original referral of SJR 9 to the Senate Education Committee, saying the measure was about law, not education. SJR is awaiting action in the Senate Rules Committee, its last stop before it hits the Senate floor -- if it ever gets there.

Reach Richard Mauer at rmauer@adn.com or (907) 500-7388.

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