House Bill 22: It’s good, it’s bad and now it’s better. Somewhat.

When it was introduced by Rep. Mark Hart, House Bill 22 was good. It deals with filling a vacancy on a local school board. Instead of allowing the state to fill the vacant seat, the bill would allow the local school board to do that after two weeks of advertising the opening in the local newspaper.

But when it got to the House for a vote, Rep. Jim Glenn, D-Owensboro, had a different idea. Instead of advertising the opening in the newspaper, Representative Glenn filed a floor amendment that would give the district a choice — advertise it in the newspaper OR advertise it on the school district’s website. The bill as amended was approved by the House without discussion and sent to the Senate.

To combat the new language, KPA developed its own language that would allow both — newspaper AND website advertising. It was a simple amendment proposed: delete the word “either” and in two places, change “or” to “and.”

Senate Education Committee members were targets of newspapers sharing KPA’s language and Thursday, it paid off. As the bill was being considered in committee, chairman Mack Wise announced that a floor amendment will be filed, if the bill is passed by committee, that would incorporate KPA’s language. That change met with the approval of Eric Kennedy with the Kentucky School Boards Association and with the sponsor.

The bill was approved and now is headed to a vote by the full Senate. But a problem has developed that KPA is working on. While it did incorporate KPA’s language to give school districts a directive to publish both in the newspaper AND on the district’s website, the floor amendment qualifies that. In counties of more than 100,000 — Jefferson, Fayette, Boone, Kenton, Warren, Hardin and Daviess counties — it gives those school districts the choice: publish in the newspaper OR put the vacancy notice on the school district’s website.

KPA is not giving up the battle and is trying to get the qualifier deleted so that the “newspaper and website” language is applicable across the board.

Originally, House Bill 22 was fine. When it was changed, it became one of KPA’s prime targets. And now that we’ve seen the floor amendment language, it’s better but not what we’re fighting for.

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