- Associated Press - Tuesday, April 21, 2015

HELENA, Mont. (AP) - A handful of Montana representatives reversed their votes Tuesday and overturned a proposal to allow residents of small school districts to establish their own high schools.

The House failed Senate Bill 107 on a vote of 48-52 after narrowly approving it on a preliminary vote last week.

The measure would give local residents of elementary school districts the option to expand into K-12 districts.

East Helena, Lockwood and Hellgate elementary school districts are all interested in divorcing the K-12 districts where they currently bus students to finish secondary school. Those larger regions of Helena, Billings and Missoula have opposed the measure.

The House Appropriations Committee tabled the bill last week, but a special motion brought it to the House floor on Tuesday.

Five Republicans who endorsed the measure last Monday voted against it Tuesday. Two former opponents of the bill and one absent member voted for it this week.

Rep. Randall Pinocci, R-Sun River, received a half-dozen emails primarily from Missoula residents last week asking him to reverse his vote on SB107. Pinocci said he was moved to reconsider given those residents’ concern that they won’t be able to vote in the decision that could result in their taxes being raised.

“A small percentage of people could increase the taxes for a large majority of people,” Pinocci said. Each of the three House members who represent the elementary districts hoping to expand said they voted against the measure for similar reasons.

SB107 could be reconsidered on Wednesday.

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