Charter authorizer bill passes House, goes to Haslam

The House gave final approval to House Speaker Beth Harwell’s push to let the state Board of Education OK charter schools reject by local school boards. The bill’s passage on a 61-28 vote Monday comes a year and a half after Metro Schools went to blows with the state for refusing to welcome a charter school favored by state and city leaders.

Harwell scolded Democrats who went off topic on given amendments and tried to re-debate the bill, a measure the House passed 62-30 last year.

After holding the bill hostage last year in part of a political battle between the two chambers, Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey slow walked the bill again this year to spur movement for a school voucher program.

The bill next heads to the governor’s desk. A close ally of House Speaker Harwell, Gov. Bill Haslam has said the change would help avoid the clash between state and local government. Earlier in his term, he cast doubt over taking authority away from local school boards. He is expected to sign it.