GOP House leader 'confident' on charter school legislation - WDRB 41 Louisville News

GOP House leader 'confident' on charter school legislation

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Kentucky House Speaker Jeff Hoover said he expects the state legislature to pass a charter school bill this year, although it’s unclear what form it will take.

Charter schools are privately-run public schools that typically operate under a different set of rules than public schools. Two such bills have been filed in the General Assembly, which reconvenes for 25 days starting next Tuesday.

Charters are among the top priorities of Greater Louisville Inc., the metro area chamber of commerce. Speaking at a luncheon hosted by GLI on Monday, Hoover acknowledged that charter schools are a “tougher sell,” especially to legislators from rural districts.

One measure, sponsored by Republican Rep. Phil Moffett of Louisville, would allow charter schools to be formed in any Kentucky county and approved by local school boards, the Kentucky Board of Education and mayors in cities such as Louisville and Lexington, among other entities.

The other measure, sponsored by Democratic Sen. Gerald Neal of Louisville, would create a pilot program limited to Louisville and overseen by Jefferson County Public Schools.

Hoover, a Republican now in charge of the GOP-controlled House of Representatives, told the GLI audience that he doesn’t expect Moffett’s bill to pass as it’s currently drafted. “But I expect we will see some version of that. That is something that we are very interested in getting done, and I’m optimistic that we will get that done,” he said.

He later told reporters that he was “confident” that the legislature will pass a charter schools bill.

“Now, is it more than just a pilot project in Jefferson or Fayette? Does it provide for 10 or so public charter schools around the rest of the state? Or does it open it up? I don’t know … but I do think we will pass something at some point in time this session,” he said.

Jefferson County Public Schools has opposed charter schools in the past. But it recently approved a set of guidelines for how school officials would like to see charters implemented, if they’re approved.

Here’s what Hoover had to say about several other issues, both to the GLI crowd and to reporters:

On medical review panels, which would consider malpractice claims prior to moving into the court system:

“I’m hearing from so many people – healthcare providers and others in the medical field – who believe that it’s very important that we address that issue. And we’re going to.”

“I feel really confident we’re going to address that. It’s just a process, and we’ve got six weeks to get it done, and I think we will.”

On a measure adjusting the tax-increment financing period for the Louisville Arena Authority:

“I think there’s strong support to do that. In fact, we have a bill drafted already that would do that.”

On the possibility of a so-called “bathroom bill” affecting transgender people:

“What you’re not going to see is a bathroom bill. So many in the media are trying to throw this issue out to divide our caucus. … That is something that is not on our radar. What we’re focused on are policies that will spur economic growth and create jobs.”

On public pension reform:

“If you don’t hear anything else I say today, listen to this: If we don’t take action to significantly reform the pension system in this state, we cannot financially afford to move forward and it will make this state insolvent in the next seven or eight years.”

“Make no mistake: It is the biggest financial problem affecting this state.”

On a special session for tax and pension reform:

“I could see the possibility of a special session later this year to take on both of those issues, but we’ll just have to wait and see. Those things certainly need to be done.”

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