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Legislators dismiss opt-out veto override

Delaware Public Media


House lawmakers overwhelmingly rejected suspending rules to override Gov. Jack Markell’s (D) veto of a testing opt-out bill Thursday.


That victory for the Markell administration caps ten months of serious tension between him and several members of his own party, who traded barbs and jabs as momentum swung back and forth.


Much of the help came from House Republicans. “It seemed to us that House Bill 50 was stale and all this time spent on this bill was wrong and that we should’ve been productive and progressive and look for other bills,” said Minority Whip Deborah Hudson (R-Fairthorne).


Rep. John Kowalko (D-Newark South), the main backer of the bill, was incensed.


“I’m shocked. If she felt it was stale I wish she would’ve talked to me because she had six months from the governor’s [veto] to say, ‘John, I think this bill is stale. Let’s rework something,’" said Kowalko. "That’s an excuse and it’s a poor excuse.”

Earlier in the day, backers of the opt-out movement rallied in front of Leg Hall, including Christina School Board member John Young. He says Markell’s move to use the SAT as the state’s standardized test for 11th grade was a token gift to opt-outers.

“He’s made a completely voluntary test and now suggesting that it’s going to take the place of this one and he’s done it to placate legislators who, frankly, I’m really am hoping today, exercise the intellectual curiosity to see through that ruse and understand that the tests aren’t the issue.”


Last year, lawmakers in both chambers signed off on the legislation overwhelmingly.


A statement from Markell's office says, "I believe that a more productive approach to reducing testing than HB 50 is to review all required assessments and eliminate those that are unnecessary, ineffective, or redundant."


State officials and the legislature called for a testing inventory, the results of which are still pending.


Now, House Speaker Pete Schwartzkopf (D-Rehoboth Beach) can shuffle the bill around behind the scenes.


Having publicly opposed the veto override in the first place, it’s highly unlikely he would put it anywhere close to the House floor again for the rest of the session.

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