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School vouchers primed for final vote after committee maneuver

Sen. Kirk Harcher, D-Montgomery, said the bill would “decapitate public education.”

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Legislation to create a voucher-like system in Alabama to fund private school expenses took one step closer to final passage Tuesday after a Senate committee met early to discuss the bill.

Sen. Rodger Smitherman, D-Birmingham, criticized the abrupt decision to have the committee meet on Tuesday while the Senate went into recess, instead of holding the meeting Wednesday as it had been originally scheduled.

“There’s no way I would have known that we had this meeting,” Smitherman said.

Sen. Kirk Harcher, D-Montgomery, said the bill would “decapitate public education.”

The committee did not add a monetary cap, something education groups including the Alabama Education Association have called for to protect the Education Trust Fund.

ALGOP chairman John Wahl said Monday that he expected the bill to pass the Senate this week, and criticized the concerns of “education unions” of which there are none in the state of Alabama. The comment is implicated to be a dig at AEA, as Wahl has falsely referred to the professional organization as a teachers’ union previously.

The Senate has its hands full with major bills to be considered on the floor, with legislation providing immunity to IVF clinics expected to be the top priority given the sense of urgency that has been placed on that legislation.

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But Sen. Arthur Orr, R-Decatur, told Mary Sell of Alabama Daily News to expect a Senate vote on the bill Wednesday.

The Senate also finally has gambling legislation to consider, although a committee drastically changed the bill from its approval in the House.

Jacob Holmes is a reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter. You can reach him at [email protected]

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