- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 26, 2017

HELENA, Mont. (AP) - A charter schools bill tied to broader negotiations over an infrastructure bonding package has won passage in the Montana Senate.

But the charter schools measure that passed the Senate 32-16 on Wednesday resembles very little of the original proposal that sought to establish an independent statewide system.

To appease Democrats, the proposal was substantially revised to keep charter schools under the jurisdiction of state and local school boards.

Charter schools are one of several bargaining chips in ongoing negotiations between House Republicans and Gov. Steve Bullock over an infrastructure bonding bill.

House Speaker Austin Knudsen said that a charter schools bill is an important element in any bonding package. While he welcomed passage of the proposal, he said it might not go far enough to appease House conservatives.

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