Homeschool scholarship bill fails by one vote

After around an hour of debate spread out over two days, efforts to make the Opportunity Scholarship easier for homeschooled students failed by a single vote.

House Bill 1128 received 35 yes votes and 35 no votes, one vote short of the 36 it needed to become law.

Currently, to receive the $5,000 Opportunity Scholarship, students need to take a broad range of classes and receive a 24 on their ACT test. Starting next year, students who don’t take those classes can still get the scholarship, but only if they receive a 28 on the ACT.

If HB 1128 became law, home-schooled students could qualify for the scholarship with a 24.

Supporters said that was only fair because homeschooled students can’t take those classes as students at formal schools.

"I think the situation as it exists now is inequitable," said Rep. Isaac Latterell, R-Sioux Falls.

Opposed were people who said passing HB 1128 would create that inequity.

"If the choice is that they want to be eligible for this scholarship at a lower ACT score, their choice is to enroll in a public school," said Rep. Paula Hawks, D-Hartford.

Supporters plan to try again to pass the bill on Thursday.