Thursday, April 10, 2008

Keep hope alive

The New Hope Scholarship Act was again considered in the House Appropriations and Budget Committee this afternoon. When the clerk called the roll, Democrats John Auffet, John Carey, James Covey, and Joe Dorman voted against the measure, and they were joined by Republican Shane Jett, a past recipient of the RINO (Republican in Name Only) Award from the Oklahoma Conservative PAC. So the measure had five votes against it right off the bat, and there were only four other members of the committee remaining.

Because of Jett's refusal to vote to give new hope to low-income children trapped in the worst of the worst urban schools, committee chairman Ken Miller had to go over Jett's head. Speaker Pro Tempore Gus Blackwell, an ex officio voting member of every House committee, was in the room to vote yes, and was joined by fellow Republicans Tad Jones, Guy Liebmann, and Randy Terrill. So that made it 5-4, with only Rep. Miller left to vote. When the clerk called his name, Rep. Miller said wryly, "I'm going to think a minute."

After a minute or two, another ex officio voting member of all House committees -- none other than Speaker Chris Benge -- entered the room and voted for the bill. Then Miller's vote sealed the deal, 6 to 5.

The New Hope bill now heads to the House floor to be considered sometime between April 14 and April 24.

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