MONTGOMERY — On Tuesday, the Alabama House of Representatives passed HB129, the CHOOSE Act, otherwise known as the school choice bill.

It passed by a 69-34 vote and will now move on to the State Senate.

Governor Kay Ivey applauded the passage, saying, "Today, Alabama took another important step forward in passing an effective and sustainable education savings account plan, the CHOOSE Act.

She added, "I made it clear that providing Alabama families an education savings account option was my number one legislative priority, and I appreciate the Legislature for answering the call and addressing it early in the session. Thank you to Speaker Ledbetter and Representative Garrett for their leadership in the House on this important issue."

House Speaker Nathaniel Ledbetter (R-Rainsville), who also supported the bill, thanked Ivey for her contribution.

Ledbetter said, "I'm proud the Alabama House of Representatives has advanced the CHOOSE Act to the State Senate. A student's zip code has no business in determining the quality of their education, and I have no doubt the CHOOSE Act will ensure that is no longer the case. I appreciate Governor Ivey's leadership on this issue and look forward to seeing this legislation cross the finish line."

Immediately following the vote, Ledbetter reacted to the lack of pushback from the Alabama Education Association (AEA), the teachers' union, which had not opposed the legislation as much as previously expected.

"I can't answer that; that'd be something you'd probably have to ask AEA," he said to 1819 News. "I mean, it's kinda odd; I'd seen last year where I'd seen them bragging on killing it — the bill we had last year — They never met with me."

He added, "They probably took advantage of what happened, and I don't think they were really as involved as heavily as people would think or they would say. I haven't talked to them about this bill [HB129]. I've talked to the superintendent of school associations and school board associations and folks like that, but I haven't talked to AEA about this bill."

House Education Budget chairman Rep. Danny Garrett (R-Trussville) defended the bill during floor deliberations, which lasted for several hours as they attempted to prolong the process.

Democrats spoke on all issues, from segregation to the Alabama High School Athletics Association. Some of those issues were ultimately corrected through the amendment process.

Garrett said, "Here in Alabama, we are working hard to ensure that every child has the opportunity to choose an educational path that best helps them grow and learn. The CHOOSE Act will provide families around Alabama another option, and I am proud of my colleagues in the House for voting to move this effort forward."

He concluded, "I commend Governor Ivey for making this her top legislative priority, and I am proud to sponsor a great school choice bill that is accountable and preserves the historic funding we are investing in public education."

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