Shield bill stuck in committee

(February 3, 2004) — (Little Rock-AP) -- A bill intended to help shield the legislature from lawsuits over education reform is stuck in the House Education Committee. The bill would bar school districts from using tax money to sue the legislature over reform measures -- but they could still sue using private funds. The bill failed in committee on a voice vote. The bill would prevent school districts from using any state or local tax moneys, or any other public funds, to pay legal fees, expenses or court costs related to litigation challenging any act of the Legislature from the current special session. The bill's sponsor, Representative Chris Thyer, said a small-school superintendent's threat to sue the state over consolidation prompted him to introduce the legislation. Thyer said districts still could hire lawyers to represent them on a contingency basis, or have a wealthy local benefactor pay attorney's fees. Otherwise, he suggested local districts could hold bake sales or other fund-raisers to pay a lawyer.