BRIEF: School Choice in the States February 2015

Arizona – Leslie Hiner @LeslieHiner

The Arizona Senate passed, with a bipartisan vote, the expansion of education savings accounts (ESAs) to include Native American families living on tribal lands.

Florida – Leslie Hiner @LeslieHiner

A bill to clarify and revise technical aspects of the Florida Personal Learning Scholarship Accounts, an ESA program, was introduced in the legislature.

Indiana – Michael Chartier @mchart1

The Indiana Department of Education released the 2014-15 edition of its Choice Scholarship Program Annual Report with a plethora of data on Indiana’s statewide voucher program. For the key findings, visit our data breakdown.

Iowa – Michael Chartier @mchart1

HSB 203 would create ESAs for families switching from public school to private school and all students entering first grade or kindergarten. From that point on, one additional grade level will be added a year. This bill was introduced and awaits a hearing in the education subcommittee. HF 313 would create a universal ESA for all families in Iowa to use, regardless of a child’s grade or prior enrollment in public school. This bill was introduced and awaits a hearing in the education subcommittee.

Maryland – Doran Moreland @Dmoreland9

At a press conference on Feb. 26, Gov. Larry Hogan promoted his plan for tax benefits of up to $200,000 for businesses that donate to private and public schools. Hogan said it – and a charter school reform measure – could help close the achievement gap among white and minority students. The governor is attempting to raise the profile of both proposals, which historically have had broad bipartisan support. Tax-credit scholarships have passed the Maryland Senate previously only to fail in the House.

Michigan – Doran Moreland @Dmoreland9

Dr. Benjamin Scafidi analyzed the current state of affairs in Detroit, and offered an education policy solution that could not only improve public education in the city, but also play a part in attracting new talent, residents, and businesses to the community.

Mississippi – Leslie Hiner @LeslieHiner

A Senate ESA bill for students with special needs has already passed the Senate Education Committee, full Senate, and the House Education Committee. It awaits a vote on the full House floor. A House ESA bill passed the House Education Committee but did not meet a calendar deadline and thus died

Montana – Michael Chartier @mchart1

The Montana House passed HB 322, which would create an ESA for children with special needs. The bill will soon be introduced in the Senate. HB 433, which creates a tuition tax credit, was introduced and had its first hearing in the House Education Committee. Its next step will be a vote by the full committee.

Nevada – Michael Chartier @mchart1

Assembly Bill 165, which would create a tax-credit scholarship for students from households at or below 300 percent of the federal poverty level, was introduced and received its first hearing in the Assembly Education Committee. Its next step will be a full committee vote.

New Mexico – Leslie Hiner @LeslieHiner

A tax-credit scholarship bill for low-income students was passed out of the House Education Committee and now awaits action in the House Ways and Means Committee.

North Carolina – Doran Moreland @Dmoreland9

The North Carolina Supreme Court held a hearing for a case against the state’s Opportunity Scholarships, a voucher program for low-income families statewide. The offices of the Attorney General, the General Assembly’s attorneys, and the Institute for Justice each made oral arguments in defense of the program. A decision is expected by mid-April. Applications for the program are being accepted pending a court ruling. Demand is expected to exceed the 1,200 scholarships available.

North Dakota – Michael Chartier @mchart1

HB 1254, which creates a tuition tax credit for private schools, was passed out of the House and received by the Senate, where it was referred to the Senate Finance and Taxation Committee for a hearing. HB 1355, which created a corporate tax-credit scholarship program, failed to pass its second reading vote in the House.

South Dakota – Michael Chartier @mchart1

SB 189, which creates a corporate tax-credit scholarship for insurance companies, was passed out of the Senate and referred to the House where it will receive a first reading. The program would be open to students from families whose income does not exceed 150 percent of the guidelines needed to qualify for free and reduced-price lunch.

Virginia – Leslie Hiner @LeslieHiner

The Virginia Senate failed to pass an ESA bill for students with disabilities when Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam voted “no” to break an 18-18 tie. Click here for more details.

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