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EdChoice stalls, decision due in less than a month

Susan Tebben, Ohio Capital Journal

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The EdChoice decision needed in less than a month seems to have stalled, and legislators are still not in agreement as to what the solution is.

About a week ago, the conference committee deliberating on House Bill 9 adjourned to take time to “get their minds unwarped,” as committee chair state Rep. Don Jones, R-Freeport, put it after 50 hours of testimony.

Since then, House Speaker Larry Householder and Senate President Larry Obhof were set to meet with Gov. Mike DeWine on the issue. When that was scheduled and what came out of it has yet to be seen.

Members of the conference committee on House Bill 9, the bill with the Senate’s amendments to EdChoice in it, left not knowing the pleasure of the committee, nor what next steps would be.

“It’s just like the military,” said Sen. Theresa Fedor, D-Toledo, a veteran and member of the conference committee. “Hurry up and wait.”

Fedor has been a vocal opponent of EdChoice since its inception and was a part of the conference committee to decide its fate. She supports the House’s overhaul of EdChoice, which is a part of Senate Bill 89. That bill has yet to see any action since the beginning of February.

“We have the evidence, we made the case, there’s no reason to expand the voucher system,” Fedor said. “It’s a war on public education and our public school teachers.”

Obhof sat in on some of the hearings and has had discussions with Jones about the process. He said he hadn’t heard of any “olive branch” to reach an agreement between the House and Senate.

“I look forward to a good faith dialogue aimed at reaching an agreement that serves the best interests of Ohio’s students and their families,” Obhof said in a statement the day after the hearings concluded.

Neither Jones nor Householder responded to multiple requests for comment from the Capital Journal.

Susan Tebben is an award-winning journalist with a decade of experience covering Ohio news, including courts and crime, Appalachian social issues, government, education, diversity and culture. She has worked for The Newark Advocate, The Glasgow Daily Times, The Athens Messenger, and WOUB Public Media. She has also had work featured on National Public Radio.

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