The Education Scholarship Account or “ESA” Bill (Senate Bill 2675) has passed the Mississippi Senate ahead of today’s floor action deadline and is headed to the House for consideration. This is seen as a victory for school choice advocates.
Senators Bryan, Turner-Ford, Butler, Blount, Carmichael, Whitherspoon, Fraiser, D. Simmons, Norwood, S. Jackson, R. Jackson, Browning, and Parks all voted no on SB 2675. The rest of the Senate voted in favor of the bill.
One amendment, by Senator Chad McMahan, passed with the bill. It states that any ESA money unused by a student in one school district must follow the student. This applies if a student is returning to a former school district, transferring to a private school, or moving between school districts.
This amendment sparked conversation about both time spent at the original school and opening other issues in a conference report later in the session, according to Senator David Blount.
“If you adopt this amendment, you’ll bring up all the issues in the original bill,” said Blount. The original bill would have expanded the ESA program.
The issues, according to Blount, included changing the eligibility of students who are awarded the ESA, defining what the money can be used for, and what documentation the parents would have to provide regarding its use.
Another amendment, by Senator Sollie Norwood, would have essentially killed the program. It failed.
Senator Derrick Simmons offered to recommit the bill, ending the discussion for this year, but postponing the conversation until next year, as the program wouldn’t be set to expire until then. That motion failed as well.