Effort to revive stalled bill with sex ed provisions falters

JUNEAU — An effort to revive a stalled education bill that limits who can teach sex education in public schools faltered in the Alaska House on Wednesday.

It marked the third time the House rejected a Senate rewrite of Rep. Wes Keller’s bill dealing with parental involvement in education, greater local control and student testing.

Perhaps the most contentious piece of the Senate rewrite was that it called for sex education to be taught by certified teachers under contract with a given school or someone under a teacher’s supervision who has been approved by the local school board and whose credentials are made available for parental review.

A spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest and Hawaii, Jessica Cler, said Tuesday that this would create further barriers for students to receive comprehensive sex education.

In a floor speech Wednesday, Keller, R-Wasilla, said there was misunderstanding surrounding the contentious provisions. He said they wouldn’t add to or take away from the sex education training that happens in schools.

The addition of the provisions came on the heels of heated debate during the regular session over separate, stalled proposals that would have barred Planned Parenthood from teaching sex education in public schools.

The House rejected the Senate rewrite of Keller’s bill twice, but Keller got another chance to try to get the bill passed when the Senate agreed to set up a conference committee. Senate President Kevin Meyer had said that if it failed again, “then we’re done.”

The committee comprised of House and Senate members advanced the Senate version Tuesday. Keller said he thought he had the votes necessary for the bill to clear the House.

But it failed by one vote during a floor session early Wednesday afternoon. It failed by one vote during the prior two attempts as well.

Meyer said the House has the option of rescinding its vote and voting again, if it chooses to do so.

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