- Associated Press - Friday, September 18, 2015

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - A group pushing a school funding amendment has dropped its lawsuit that challenged the way it will appear on Mississippi’s ballot.

The citizen-sponsored Initiative 42 and a legislative-sponsored alternative, Measure 42-A, will still be on the Nov. 3 general election ballot, using language approved by Republican Gov. Phil Bryant.

The 42 for Better Schools campaign filed a lawsuit Monday in Hinds County Circuit Court, asking a judge to put a more in-depth explanation of 42 onto the ballot, using language supplied by the proposal’s sponsors. The group withdrew the suit Friday, one day before absentee voting begins for military members who will be out of state for the election.

Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann had said the lawsuit could delay military voting.

Jonathan Compretta and Michael Rejebian, managers of 42 for Better Schools, said they disagreed the lawsuit would cause a delay, but they decided to drop it, anyway.

“Our focus now is to educate voters on how to navigate the misleading ballot language that state officials have intentionally adopted to manipulate this election,” Compretta and Rejebian said in a joint news release.

Bryant and other top Republican officials are campaigning against 42 by saying they think it could take budget-writing powers from legislators and hand them to a judge.

“This lawsuit was a political stunt and shows how far this organization will go to push their liberal agenda of taking power from the people’s elected representation and putting it in the hands of a judge in Jackson,” Bryant said in a news release Friday.

More than 100,000 registered voters signed petitions to put Initiative 42 on the ballot. The proposal would require the state to “provide for the establishment, maintenance and support of an adequate and efficient system of public schools,” and would allow people to file a lawsuit in chancery court if funding falls short.

Measure 42-A would require the Legislature to “provide for the establishment, maintenance and support of an effective system of free public schools without judicial enforcement.”

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Follow Emily Wagster Pettus on Twitter: http://twitter.com/EWagsterPettus .

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