The Mississippi House of Representatives passed HB 369, the Mississippi Charter Schools Act of 2013, at 12:52 a.m. Thursday morning, following some 10 hours of floor action. House members patiently but methodically defeated 17 amendments intended to weaken the bill. The only successful amendment, proposed and supported by the House leadership, simply clarifies that “for-profit” organizations cannot be contracted to manage charter schools. The bipartisan vote on final passage of the bill was 64-55.
There is broad support across the political spectrum for the House bill. Nancy Loome, Director of The Parents’ Campaign, who earlier in the day had endorsed HB 369, released an email hailing the bill’s passage as “a real victory.” “This is a good bill,” Loome says of HB 369. Likewise, Forrest Thigpen, President of the Mississippi Center for Public Policy, characterized the “historic” early morning vote as “a major victory in the long political battle over the future of our state’s public education system.”
The bill was held on a motion to reconsider, a procedural move which will delay until Friday, at the earliest, the bill’s transmission to the Senate. In due course, the Senate will take up and consider HB 369, and the House likewise will take up the Senate charter school bill passed last week. Before any bill actually becomes law, both the House and Senate must agree on an identical version. Gov. Phil Bryant has pledged to sign into law any good charter school bill which reaches his desk.
House Speaker Pro Tem Greg Snowden