Voucher Bill Passes With Amendments, Other Key Education Legislation Advances to Floor

Several bills at the Capitol Wednesday are looking to make it out of their final week of committee before being eligible to be heard on the floor of their chamber of origin.

Wednesday, March 2nd 2022, 7:19 pm



A divisive school choice bill passed out of the Appropriations committee Tuesday at the Capitol.  

Senator Pro Tem Greg Treat’s SB1647, which gives parents their child’s state aid appropriated dollars to pay for private school, passed today with 12 yeses and 8 nos. 

This came after about 30 minutes of questions and debate as lawmakers parsed the language of the bill and questioned the consequences. 

But first, Senator Treat introduced an amendment to the legislation.  

Lawmakers approved an amendment to cap the income of eligible families to $154 thousand for a family of four.  

New changes will also not allow homeschool parents to qualify for the bill.  

Tuesday in the Senate Appropriations committee, Senator Treat did address some of the concerns about this measure – repeating his promise that the bill would not be signed into law if funding to offset the cost to public schools wasn’t approved.  

But at this point, there’s no clear understanding of what this bill would cost the state aid system.  

Estimates vary from $116 million to $150 million. 

With amendments added today to cap the income of eligible families and deny eligibility to homeschoolers, Treat said he did not have an estimate. 

Democratic Senator Julia Kirt called the measure “fiscally irresponsible and reckless,’ as lawmakers questioned the lack of accountability measures in the bill.  

News 9 talked to Treat earlier this week about his efforts to get support for this bill.  

"The number one question is, do you want to put parents in charge, do you want money following the student, do you want to fund people or do you want to fund systems? I choose to fund the children. once we get past that bridge, we can work out the financing,” he said.  

The title of the measure is stricken which means we can expect to see more changes.  

We’ll see SB1647 next on the Senate Floor. 

But there’s still a question about whether or not the House will see this measure.  

Top House Republican Charles McCall said at the beginning of the session that the house would not be hearing this legislation.  

Since then, he has come under attack from an ad campaign.  

Several other key education measures passed Thursday. 

Senator Adam Pugh’s SB 1621 passed today – the bill seeks to create a statewide charter school authorizing board and would eliminate the fees that charter schools pay to their authorizers. This comes as lawmakers on both sides of the statehouse seek to regulate charter schools more closely this session.  

Pugh’s SB 1624 passed – it would give the Board of Agriculture the authority the National School Lunch Act. Pugh said the bill would more closely align Oklahoma’s school lunch program with federal initiatives.  

And a pair of bills – HB’s 3145 and 3159 – that seek to repeal laws that keep kids from coming to school with lice or with certain illnesses passed out of the Public Health committee today.  

HB 3145 did pass with a new amendment that says schools will have to work with the health department.  

Thursday is the deadline for bills to pass through their committee of origin to be eligible to be heard on the floor. 

 


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