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Education Amendment Stalls in Committee

Published On: Feb 04 2014 08:59:30 PM AKST

20140204 - Education Amendment video


A controversial proposal to change Alaska’s constitution has stalled in the Senate Finance Committee.

Committee Co-Chairman Sen. Kevin Meyer (R-Anchorage) said he’s holding SJR 9 indefinitely while his committee moves on to other business.

Its sponsor, Sen. Mike Dunleavy (R-Wasilla), said if the resolution passed it would put before voters a constitutional amendment that would allow public funds to be used for private educational instruction.

The committee spent most of Monday hearing from members of the public who testified in person and over the phone. Many opposed SJR 9 on the grounds that it would funnel public money into private and religious schools.

"I think that the folks who oppose SJR 9 got a number of their people out to voice their opinion,” said Dunleavy. “Those that support the concept, usually they're working, they're dealing with their daily lives."

It’s unknown if and when the legislation will get a vote before the Senate. 

"There is an old saying in this building which is, when you have the votes, you vote. When you don't have the votes, you talk. If they're still talking, that suggests something about where the votes are,” said Senate Minority Leader Hollis French (D-Anchorage).

French doesn’t think any of the five members of his caucus will vote for the amendment.

SJR 9 needs 14 yes votes in the Senate to pass. A similar measure is pending in the House.