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UPDATED: Bryant vetoes Common Core study panel bill, 3 other measures

Gov. Phil Bryant late Thursday afternoon ended any suspense over whether his signature would go on a Common Core bill supporters said was designed to kill use of the education standards in Mississippi.

Bryant disagreed, and Thursday put his veto on Senate Bill 2161, saying the measure did not kill Common Core but merely created a commission to study it. He wants it dead and pledged to continuing seeking its demise.

Many parents of Mississippi’s school children fear Common Core “replaces their right to a voice in the education of their children with a centralized, top-down approach that cedes an uncomfortable amount of influence to a federal agenda,” the governor said in his veto message.

Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves, a backer of SB 2161, charged in a brief statement that Bryant has given Common Core supporters cause for applause.

“Gov. Bryant’s veto of a bill that 93 legislative Republicans supported ensures that Common Core will remain in Mississippi schools,”Reeves said. “SB 2161 ensured that student privacy would be protected, prohibited school districts from administering psychological or socio-emotional surveys, put in state law that PARCC test could not be mandated by the State Department of Education, and created a group of Mississippians (of which the governor had more appointments than anyone) to create a set of high standards for Mississippi school children.

“To put this in simple terms, those that support Common Core are celebrating tonight.”

PARCC, or the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Career, is one of two state consortia that are developing a common set of K-12 assessment tests aligned with Common Core State Standards.

Bryant also vetoed three other bills:

>>>House Bill 1047. It includes legally problematic changes to the Tort Claims Act, he said.

>>> Senate Bill 2269. It reduces public transparency regarding Mississippi Coast Coliseum contracting activities, he said.

>>>Senate Bill 2370. It duplicates language and duties regarding two Medicaid committees, he said.

SB 2161 would have established a commission to make recommendations about Mississippi’s education standards.

Some opponents of Common Core Mississippi Standards, including the group Mississippi FREE, called the legislation a deception and urged Bryant to kill it.

Bryant was happy to oblige.

SB 2161, he said, “is thought to be a vehicle to end Common Core in Mississippi, but the bill does not provide that guarantee.

“I remain firmly committed to ending Common Core in Mississippi,” Bryant said. “This bill does not accomplish that goal, and I cannot in good conscience sign it into law.”

The language of the final bill does not direct the Board of Education or the Department of Education to end Common Core in Mississippi or develop new Mississippi-based standards for public school students, according to Bryant.

He said the original version of the bill provided a clear end to Common Core by instructing the Mississippi Board of Education to adopt and implement new standards and to take no further action in implementing Common Core standards.

The final bill creates a study committee to address Common Core standards but does not require the Mississippi Board of Education to consider or adopt any of the study committee’s recommendations. The House of Representatives in an earlier version of the bill had inserted language to require the Board of Education to accept at least 75 percent of the study committee’s recommendations, Bryant said.

Bryant said he would have quickly signed a bill that  maintained the original intent of SB Bill 2161 as authored by Sen. Videt Carmichae.

The Laurel-based United Conservatives Fund’s leadership praised Bryant’s veto. The UCF said it began three weeks ago uniting conservative groups, working directly with parent led anti-Common Core groups and coordinating efforts across the state to push for a veto of the legislation.

Chris McDaniel, who narrowly lost a runoff bid against Thad Cochran for the GOP U.S. Senate nomination, is chairman of United Conservatives Fund.  While commending Bryant for his veto, McDaniel credited the demise of SB 2161 to the “thousands of parents, grandparents, teachers and citizens of the state who took the time to make their voices heard.”

Here are Bryant’s statements on the other bills he vetoed Thursday:

HB 1047 includes legally problematic changes to the Tort Claims Act. The bill would grant protection to members of specifically named government boards which, in turn, could support a legal argument that members serving on government boards already covered under the Tort Claims Act but that are not specifically named do not have legal tort protection.

SB 2269 would grant more local control over the Mississippi Coast Coliseum, which is a publicly governed entity. However, the bill also includes language that decreases transparency requirements related to coliseum contracts by changing a previous legal requirement that information regarding contracts be publicly published in a local newspaper.

SB 2370 duplicates language about the frequency of meetings conducted by the Medicaid Pharmacy and Therapeutics Committee. That issue is addressed in House Bill 545, which has already been signed into law. The law specifies that the committee may meet as needed.

SB 2370 also assigns new duties to the Medicaid Medical Care Advisory Committee, which is a committee required by federal regulation to advise the Division of Medicaid about health and medical care services. The Division of Medicaid already has the authority to address the duties Senate Bill 2370 would assign to the Medical Care Advisory Committee.



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