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Senate Clarifies Committee Referral Process for SJR9

JUNEAU-Senate Majority Leaders are clarifying the committee referral process for Senate Joint Resolution 9.    SJR9 would ask voters to decide whether to amend the state’s constitution to allow the use of public money for the benefit of all Alaskans seeking educational/training aid, regardless of whether individuals enroll in public or private institutions.

SJR9 9 will first be heard in the Judiciary Committee because it pertains to whether the language of Alaska’s Constitution should be changed to allow for public funds to go to another place than currently specified in Alaska’s Constitution.   If 2/3 of both bodies of the Legislature agree that it is worthy of amending the Constitution, SJR9 will then go to voters in the next general election.  In the meantime, as SJR9 makes its way through the Senate Judiciary and Finance Committees, if significant education issues arise, the resolution may be referred to the Senate Education Committee.

“This is not yet a question of which schools will receive the funding,” said Senator John Coghill, Chair of the Senate’s Judiciary Committee.  “This is a question of whether we need to amend the constitution to allow for that possibility.  Since we are talking about changing the law, that’s why the Judiciary Committee is considering the question.  It’s the same thing for Finance.  This amendment changes how state funds can be spent.  That is why it is inherently a finance question.”

Education Committee Chair Gary Stevens says he plans to start informational meetings immediately including testimony from several groups and experts on the merits and challenges that school choice poses.

“Our meetings will not address Senate Joint Resolution 9,” said Senator Stevens, R-Kodiak.  “Instead, we are taking an open minded approach.   We want to see how school choice is working in other states. We want Alaskans to be armed with the best information available.”

“The Senate Majority is working cooperatively on the school choice issue in the State of Alaska,” said Senate President Charlie Huggins.  “We believe Senate Joint Resolution 9 is the beginning of the legal question.”

For more information, please contact Senate Majority Press Secretary Carolyn Kuckertz at 907-465-3803.

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