Reaction: Judge Temporarily Blocks Gov. From Signing School Tax Bill From

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By Jessica Gertler

The bill to give parents a tax break for shifting their children from failing public schools to public schools remains stopped in its tracks for now.

Montgomery County Circuit Judge Charles Prices says the way the bill was passed breaks state law.

Price sided with the Alabama Education Association and has temporarily blocked Governor Robert Bentley from signing the bill into law.
Bentley wants to sign it but can't, because the AEA filed a lawsuit saying lawmakers defied the Open Meetings Act.

Attorney James Anderson represents the AEA.

"They argue that the Open Meetings Act didn't apply to them, but the legislature that passed the Open Meetings Act specifically said that the Open Meeting Act applies to them," Anderson says.

Last week in a conference committee meeting, Republicans unveiled a rewritten version of the bill that includes tax credits for parents to pull their children out of failing public schools to send them to private schools.

Judge Price says lawmakers changed the bill's original purpose, which he says violates the state constitution.

Supporters of the bill are outraged. They are appealing to the Alabama Supreme Court.

"It is not surprising that a liberal judicial activist opinion would come down to block this legislation," says Senator Bryan Taylor, R-Prattvile. "I think it is meritless. I think the Supreme Court is going to quickly overturn this decision."

Senator Quinton Ross, D-Montgomery, who is against the bill, is also mad. He says he never had a chance to discuss how the bill would hurt the state.

"You cause public schools to pay for the education of private schools students regardless if you go to a private school or not," Ross says.

But supporters say this bill gives all children a fair chance.

"The legislators did the right thing for the students in the state of Alabama, and I think the lobbyists are angry about that, and we will just have to see what happens," says Taylor.

Judge Price has scheduled a hearing on March 15, and also dismissed Lt. Gov. Kay Ivey as a defendant in the case.
 



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