BOISE -- It was a beautiful day Thursday, with the sun shining and the temperatures rising. Many Boiseans decided to get out and enjoy it, like Adam Christensen and his kids.
We're Just out here enjoying the good weather, said Christensen. We decided to come see our Capitol building.
But inside the Capitol, lawmakers had their noses to the grindstone on one of the final days of the legislative session.
The Senate heard charter school legislation. Right now, charter schools don't get funding for their buildings from the state, and can't raise that money through bonds or levies. The bill would change that.
I have several charter schools in my district, and they have been successful, said Senator Patti Anne Lodge during Thursday's session. And, I would like to see them continue to be successful as the good senator from one had said, 'laboratories of innovation.' I will be voting aye.
It passed with a 20-15 vote. So, with the Governor's signature, Idaho's 40 charter schools will get $1.4 million for facilities, starting next fall.
A couple bills before the House dealt with teacher contracts. They aimed to give school districts more power in negotiations, and required the teachers' union to prove it represented a majority of teachers, before bargaining for them.
Critics say the legislation has elements of the defeated Props 1, 2, and 3 otherwise known as the Students Come First education reform laws. Supporters say the bill just gives districts the flexibility they need.
This is a necessary piece of legislation for the school boards to proceed, and act in good faith, when negotiating contracts with their education professionals, said Representative Terry Gestrin.
That bill is now also heading to the Governor's desk, after a 'yes' vote along party lines, 57-13.
Now, the 2013 session is one step closer to ending.
It's too bad that they're inside working hard, and we're out here enjoying the sun, said Christensen. But, it's good that they're in supporting us, and doing hard work that's all going to benefit us.
More education legislation is on the move. A bill that would restore more than $30 million to public schools cleared the Education Committee today. Those funds were in limbo after the Students Come First laws were repealed in November.
The big education legislation needed for lawmakers to adjourn is the education budget, which failed after a historic vote Wednesday.
Both the House and Senate Education Committees were scheduled to meet Monday morning, but Thursday afternoon it was canceled. Senate Education Committee Chair John Goedde said in an email, It appears that the ideas being developed for the germane committee work and public input are not yet seasoned enough to be heard. The meeting I announced in the Senate Education Committee this afternoon has been cancelled for the present.