Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Oh Rhett Butler! This Conversation is Giving me the Vapors! That's what it felt like this afternoon when the Senate discussed and gave preliminary approval to SF 3001, the omnibus education policy bill. Now, the bill in and of itself didn't make one catch their breath, but the hour-long discussion of the comprehensive sex education portion of the bill was enough to make one blush. The bill was debated for a little over two hours, although it seemed like an eternity at times. Of course, when one has heard every argument for and against every section of the bill three or four (or maybe even five) times, things tend to seem like they are dragging.

There was one substantive change to the bill. The "right to recess" provision inserted in the bill in the K-12 Funding Division was dropped on a 45-18 vote. If only the recess advocates had a martyr like John Peter Zenger (pictured on trial on the left), they may not only have been successful here, they may have found their way into the Bill of Rights. In an aside, I was surprised how few of my fellow lobbyists (Doug Carnival excepted) didn't know who John Peter Zenger was and how is trial spurred freedom of the press into the Bill of Rights. I would say, "What are they teaching the kids these days?" but most of the people who didn't know shared my advanced age. Anyways, thanks J.P., your persistence and the strength of your stance has allowed knuckleheads like me the opportunity to blog away. In closing on the recess riff, I can only say that if I were one of the Senators who voted to pull this provision from the bill, I would be very worried if I met up with anyone from the motley group pictured at the right. Those guys are nuts about recess!

An attempt was made to relax the Labor Day start requirement for one year, but that amendment failed on a close vote. SF 3001 will get final approval tomorrow and then head to the House, where it may be voted on tomorrow. If the House does not take it up tomorrow, it will take it up early next week and the bill will likely be in conference committee by the end of next week.

There are a number of interesting provisions in the bill and some that would be helpful for school districts and students throughout the state, but one of the keys here is that there is nothing in the bill that is absolutely essential for the good of the order. There are provisions that give the Governor the vapors (they must be going around) and it will be interesting to see if the conference committee working on this bill will endanger the entire bill with some of the more controversial provisions (comprehensive sex education, achievement gap report, report card changes). In a legislative session that has been remarkably devoid of high drama (not that this confrontation would represent high drama) it will be interesting to see if there will be some measure of shared consternation on this bill.

No comments: