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Reduced early childhood education bill approved by the House

The House has passed its version of an early childhood education bill – which slices the proposed appropriation in half.

The program is designed for pre-Kindergarten aged children.

Originally, the bill would have made $6 million available for grants to parents to send their children to early childhood education programs. The House cut it to $3 million – and the grants would be available on a needs-based basis – so that children who qualify for free and reduced school lunches would be the ones eligible for the grants.

Rep. Mark Dosch (R-Bismarck) says parents would have the final say on whether their children attend early childhood educational programs.

"This doesn't force anything," said Dosch. "It still leaves the decision in the parents' hands."

Dosch says it also leaves the choice of where the kids receive the pre-K education in parents' hands.

Rep. Rick Becker (R-Bismarck) said this is the first step toward mandatory pre-K education.

"Please don't give in to the sense of inevitability that comes when labor unions, bureaucrats, the crony business organizations and the yes me ban together to push an agenda," said Becker. "Please say no to the nanny state."

The bill passed 50 to 41. It now goes back to the Senate, to see if it agrees with the House version.

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