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Legislative Watch: New Jersey and Virginia plans advance; Arizona and Tennessee bills filed

We continue to watch state legislation nationally and in Washington, D.C., that would establish tax credit scholarships, school vouchers or other publicly funded private options. New Jersey has generated the most attention with a proposed Opportunity Scholarship Act for low-income students benefitting from a 5-0 vote out of the assembly’s Commerce and Economic Development Committee that included the support of three Democrats. But several other states have newly joined this policy debate. Our update is below:

ArizonaSB 1312 (Providing additional tax credit for contribution to school tuition organizations): Primary sponsor, Sen. Murphy; on agenda today for the senate Finance Committee — SB 1553 (Arizona Empowerment Accounts): Primary sponsor, Sen. Murphy; on agenda Monday, Feb. 14, for the senate Education Committee 

New JerseyA 2810 (Opportunity Scholarship Act): Primary sponsors, Assemblymen Fuentes, DeCroce, Schaer and Webber; Advanced from assembly Commerce and Economic Development Committee on Feb. 3, with amendments, and referred to assembly Budget Committee

New MexicoSB 113 (Tax Credit for Certain Scholarship Donations): Primary sponsor, Sen. Boitano; tabled in the senate Education Committee — SB 398 (Special Needs Student Scholarship Act): Primary sponsor, Sen. Ortiz y Pino; referred to senate Education Committee — SB 433 (Equal Opportunity Scholarship Act): Primary sponsor, Sen. Campos; referred to senate Education Committee

OklahomaHB 2133 (Educational Improvement Act): Primary sponsor, Rep. Steele; referred to appropriations and budget — SB 969 (Oklahoma Equal Opportunity Education Scholarship Act): Primary sponsor, Sen. Newberry

TennesseeHB 0388 (Equal OpportunityScholarship Act): Primary sponsor, Rep. Dunn; SB 0485 (Equal Opportunity Scholarship Act): Primary sponsor, Sen. Kelsey

VirginiaHB 2314 (Education Investment Tax Credit): Primary sponsor, Delegate Massie; passed the House of Delegates 54-45 on Feb. 8; referred to senate Finance Committee

Washington, D.C.HR 471 (Scholarships for Opportunity and Results Act): Primary sponsor, Rep. Boehner; referred to house Committee on Oversight and Government Reform — S 206 (Scholarships for Opportunity and Results Act of 2011): Primary sponsor, Sen. Lieberman, referred to senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs

We’ll be updating information on similar bills in other states soon, including HB 1003 in Indiana, SB 1 in Pennsylvania, and S 414 and H 3407 in South Carolina

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BY Amy Graham

Amy Graham is a policy analyst who recently joined Step Up For Students, a nonprofit organization that administers the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program for low-income children. A graduate of the Florida State University College of Law, Amy previously worked as a legislative analyst for the Florida Senate and as an education policy analyst focused on school choice programs for the Office of Independent Education and Parental Choice at the Florida Department of Education. She also is an alumnus of Illinois Wesleyan University.