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Education panel to pick up Hill probe

Mar 6, 2014 - The Associated Press

CHEYENNE -- A state legislative committee is being tasked with trying to come up with solutions to a recent state Supreme Court ruling involving the powers of the state superintendent of public instruction.

The legislative Management Council assigned the task Wednesday to the 14-member Joint Education Interim Committee, which consists of both the Senate and House education committees.

The Management Council, which oversees legislative matters when lawmakers are not in session, set a tentative April 30 deadline for the committee to draft bills and possibly recommend a special session.

Rep. Matt Teeters, R-Lingle and co-chairman of the interim committee, said the committee would let the Management Council know if it can make the deadline.

"I don't know how much time it's going to take to develop those plans," Teeters said in an interview.

In January, a divided Supreme Court decided that the 2013 law that removed the elected superintendent as head of the Department of Education was unconstitutional.

The ruling came in a lawsuit filed by Superintendent Cindy Hill, who remains in office but with far fewer duties.

However, the district court where Hill's lawsuit was filed still has to issue a final order in the case and, depending on what the district court does, there could be further appeals.

Legislative leaders said the ruling came too late for lawmakers to address the matter during the current budget session, which is wrapping up this week.

A bill that would have created a special committee to study the issue and recommend a special session died in the House earlier this week when Majority Floor Leader Kermit Brown decided there wasn't enough time to debate the proposal further.

The Management Council directed that draft legislation developed by the interim education committee include a proposal to return the superintendent's duties to the way they were before the 2013 law was enacted.

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