Miss. House rejects special education vouchers

Eleven Republicans provided the margin of defeat Wednesday as the House voted 63-57 to reject a bill that would have given vouchers worth more than $6,000 to parents of some Mississippi special education students.

The defeat came only moments after Gunn himself had boosted the bill’s chances, ruling that only a majority of the 122-member House was needed for its approval. Rep. David Baria, D-Bay St. Louis, had in a procedural challenge asked Gunn to rule that a two-thirds majority was required under the state Constitution because the bill granted benefits to individuals.

“This is a policy decision the body is making,” he told House members. “Therefore it’s a majority vote.”

Debate on the bill, which began Tuesday, was set aside after Baria made his challenge so Gunn could confer with legislative lawyers on the issue.

Though House Republican leaders could try to revive the bill if lawmakers continue to meet, the vote appeared to doom what had become one of the most divisive questions of the 2014 Legislature, as House Speaker Philip Gunn, R-Clinton, declared it dead.

“Obviously there was not enough support to pass this bill, so it is now a resolved matter,” Gunn said.

The Senate did not take up the bill after it failed in the House.