Senate Bill 1581 struck on point of order

Senate Bill 1581, the school finance bill to which vouchers and HB400 provisions were going to be offered, was struck from debate – and probably killed – on a point of order technicality late Monday night.

Midnight Tuesday is the deadline for passage of Senate bills on second reading, and only an extraordinary suspension of the rules could allow the measure to be revived and rescheduled for debate in time. Even if it hadn’t been struck on a technicality, SB1581 was an iffy proposition because legislators were unable to agree on school finance provisions to carry out the $4 billion in public school budget cuts in the new state appropriations bill.

Some 69 amendments – including private school vouchers, virtual charters and provisions of HB400 –had been pre-filed for SB1581. Now that this bill is likely dead, supporters of those proposals – including a repeal of the 22-1 class size cap in K-4 and other proposals to make it easier for districts to fire teachers or cut their pay — may now try to slip them in as amendments to other education bills pending in several House-Senate conference committees.

Senate Bill 1811, a fiscal matters bill headed for conference committee, now will be a prime vehicle to which some of these provisions could be attached. There also are several House education bills, pending in the Senate, which suddenly could take on extra, anti-teacher baggage.

Thanks to all who called their state representatives to urge NO votes against the SB1581 amendments. Now, stay tuned for further updates and alerts from TSTA as the Legislature winds up unfinished business between now and May 30 (next Monday), the session’s adjournment deadline. Changes now can happen quickly.