Williams And Rand Discuss Schools, Immigration At Forum

Some of the bills passed by the Kentucky Senate during the opening week of the General Assembly may not move forward in the House. One leading Democrat says several of the GOP’s top pieces of legislation are either nearly dead or unlikely to pass a full vote.

Democratic Representative and House Appropriations Chair Rick Rand appeared opposite Senate President David Williams at the Louisville Forum Wednesday. Williams spoke favorably of several bills that have passed the Republican-led Senate, including the neighborhood schools bill and an Arizona-style immigration bill.

But Rand says the legislation won’t gain much support in the House, and aside from some updates to the budget, this legislative session could be one of impasse.

“It’s going to be, depending on how willing the Senate is to compromise on anything, obviously we’re not going to pass any of them like they are,” he says. “We’re just going to have to wait and see. We just got the bills last Friday.”

Rand says House members are reviewing several GOP bills from the Senate and considering whether to give them committee hearings and whether to modify them.

But Williams is standing by the legislation. He co-sponsored the neighborhood schools bill, which would give students priority enrollment at the schools closest to their homes and would allow charter schools to be established.

Opponents say it would dismantle the JCPS student assignment plan and failing schools in Louisville are already heavily attended by students who live nearby. But Williams says the district can’t help those schools, because officials are distracted by the assignment plan.

“The approach that they’re taking now is failing the children of Jefferson County,” he says. “They’re spending all this money to try to…It’s a charade! Now, diversity is a goal that is worthy, but you can get diversity with magnet schools and other approaches.”

Williams is one of two Republican candidates running for governor. Jefferson County Teachers Association president Brent McKim says Williams’s support of the bill is a political ploy.

“With any assignment plan, you’re never going to have 100% of the parents happy,” says McKim. “Just like any schedule you make for a school year, it interferes with someone’s wedding or someone’s vacation. You’ll never have everyone happy and I think those legitimate frustrations are being preyed upon by Senator Williams.”

The legislation has passed the Republican-led Senate, but House Democrats say it’s unlikely to move forward.

The full forum:

Audio MP3