Much Ado About the State Board

The House Education Committee had a fascinating discussion today on the block of bills that would change the Board of Education election process. In the discussion, the Committee considered 6 bills and one joint resolution.  (See Tab 3 of the Tracking Sheet for a side by side comparison of each bill.) The bills included modifications to the current Board of Education election to both partisan and non-partisan elections. The board also considered a joint resolution that would call for a constitutional amendment to change the process to one of governor appointment. The discussion broke the bills down to 3 categories: local partisan election, state partisan election and non-partisan. At one point in the discussion Rep. Last made the suggestion that they send all bills to the House floor for a full discussion of each. Ultimately, the board voted to send 3 bills representing each of the 3 categories to the floor and the rest were held in Committee. Here is the break-down:

Those passed out of Committee for floor discussion:
HB 186 (Gibson) – An individual may be placed on the ballot as a nonpartisan candidate by filing a declaration of candidacy, and obtaining 2,000 signatures from members in his district.
SB 105 Sub. 5 (Jackson) – Provides for partisan elections (requiring 4,000 signatures to seek party nomination.
HJR 16 (McCay) – This resolution calls for a constitutional amendment to allow the Governor to appoint State Board of Ed members.

Several bills were held in committee – possibly for future passage if the original bills fail on the House floor. These include:
HB 305 (McCay) – This bill was proposed with the joint resolution that did pass. This would call for partisan elections until 2016, at which point the Governor would appoint (assuming passage of the joint resolution). The board would then be cut from 9 members to 15.
HB 342 (Powell) – Requires a candidate be a member of a current school
HB 297 (Thurston) – Provides that USBE members are chosen by electors from newly created state board districts which are made up of 15 combinations of local districts, the largest districts being their own state board district. This bill is believed to have a high probability of being ruled unconstitutional as an “appointment” rather than election.

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