State Legislatures Kick Off Across U.S.


The beginning of January is a relatively quiet time for most folks. They settle into the new year slowly, spend time planning out the first quarter, and generally work on getting their professional sea legs back after the break.

Not so for those who work in public policy. For them, January is the first quarter of legislative game time.

ACE Scholarships works on a variety of policy issues across our eight states each year, all of which are related to existing or prospective parental choice policies. Our involvement could include conducting analysis of various policies, working with legislators and other organizations to design programs, educating various audiences about policy issues, and engaging in advocacy efforts.

If you want to know when legislative season kicks off in your state, here’s a rundown of regular legislative session start dates in all eight ACE states:

Arkansas: January 14 (biennial session)

Colorado: January 4

Kansas: January 14

Louisiana: April 8

Missouri: January 9

Montana: January 7 (biennial session)

Texas: January 8 (biennial session)

Wyoming: January 8

As always, ACE will be closely following choice-related conversations in these states throughout their legislative sessions. If you would like to follow along in real time using the same tools we do, check out our Bill Tracker page. You can use that page to access bill text, track progress, see sponsor information, and more. You can also track our latest policy releases and alerts by state here.

Please do not think that the only role for you is as a passive observer! In addition to the other tools, you can use our Action Center to make your voice heard on various issues by clicking the Take Action button below. We will update that page with new campaigns as issues emerge.


2018 Election Day Impacts (Part 2)


Last week, we covered the likely federal impacts of the 2018 elections. As promised, we’ll now turn our attention to state-level impacts in a few key ACE states.

ACE Scholarships currently serves about 7,000 students across eight states. We don’t expect the elections to have a major impact on parental choice policy in some states, but others have seen some pretty significant shifts that are worth watching. Below you will find a brief overview of the highlights. Wherever you live, it’s always a good time for your elected officials to hear from you. If you’re a parent, student, or educator, take a few minutes to tell your legislators what school choice means to you using the button below.


Colorado has turned from purple to dark blue. The Colorado State Senate changed partisan hands and will now be controlled by Democrats, and Democrats held a strong majority in the already-blue State House of Representatives. With Democrat Jared Polis as governor and every statewide office won by Democrats, conversations about expanded parental choice may be more difficult. That said, the issue of educational opportunity does not and should not fall neatly along partisan battle lines. Support for parental choice policy, and especially for scholarship tax credit programs like those ACE facilitates in two states, remains strong across both political parties nationwide.

Colorado has a very strong public charter sector as well as extensive public school open enrollment, but tens of thousands of students still find themselves unable to access the schools they need. Choice supporters will need to work hard to educate elected officials about why access to private options matters to their communities. A great place to start would be getting familiar with the amazing ACE partner schools in each state legislative district.


The defeat of Republican gubernatorial candidate Kris Kobach by Democrat Laura Kelly could complicate conversations about expansions to the Kansas scholarship tax credit program, which ACE helps facilitate. Kobach was a strong supporter of the program, but Kelly’s position remains to be seen. The program is one of the most restrictive in the nation when it comes to student eligibility: Scholarship students must be eligible for free lunch (household income of 130 percent of federal poverty guidelines or less) and attend one of the state’s lowest-performing 100 public schools. Partially as a result of these restrictions, the program served just 292 students as of January 2018.

Revisiting student eligibility requirements to bring the program more in line with other programs nationwide could vastly improve its ability to serve Kansas families. In the meantime, ACE will continue working to serve its hundreds of scholarship families who do not participate in the scholarship tax credit program.


Texas saw no major partisan shifts statewide or in either state legislative chamber. However, the margins in a number of key races—including the U.S. Senate race between Ted Cruz (R) and Beto O’Rourke (D)—were much closer than many had anticipated. Whether those margins are evidence of a coming political shift or the result of a temporary surge is not immediately clear. In either case, narrower-than-usual margins could cause some Texas Republicans to avoid political risks despite maintaining strong grasps on all areas of the state government. Then again, some Republicans may be feeling confident about having survived the “blue wave” of 2018. We will have to wait and see how these tighter margins will impact efforts to expand parental choice for the state’s roughly 4.7 million public school students heading into the 2019 legislative session.


Wyoming has historically been one of the most politically stable states in the country in terms of state legislative control, and 2018 was no exception. Republicans maintained control of both state legislative chambers this year. The state does, however, have tendency to swap partisan control of the governor’s office regularly. It seems to have broken that pattern this time, electing Republican Mark Gordon to replace term-limited Republican incumbent Matt Mead. Continued Republican control of the governor’s office could factor significantly into future policy conversations in the state.


It’s Election Day – Have You Voted?

It’s election day in America! That means you can soon expect (some of) the uproar to die down, the political ads to (mostly) disappear, and the talking heads on television to (sometimes) find a few new topics of conversation.

There’s nothing wrong with being excited about these things. But there’s another reason to be excited about election day in America, and that’s the opportunity to make your voice heard.

The right to vote is one of the most important rights granted to Americans. It represents the most direct way for you to influence your government, express your opinions, and fight for your beliefs. Even more importantly, civic engagement—and particularly civic engagement through voting—forms the bedrock of American government. Without educated, engaged citizens, our republic can’t function.

Filling in those little bubbles on your ballot or pulling the lever may not feel like much in the moment. It may even feel like an annoying chore. The issues are often complicated and messy, casting an informed vote takes time, and that vote may be just one of millions. But it matters. In particular, some state races can be decided by surprisingly small margins in which every vote literally counts. Even in larger races or ballot questions, a few thousand people sitting out the election can make all the difference.

If you still don’t think your vote matters, consider this: What if 92 million other people felt the same way? Because they do.

Regardless of the impacts of a single vote, the simple act of researching issues, forming opinions, and translating those opinions into action is critical part of being a parent, a leader, and an American. Like practicing for a sport, this kind of civic engagement trains your mind to think about the policy issues that matter most to you. It also helps you exercise the muscles that allow you to stand up and participate in your government as a proud citizen—not a subject—of a free, self-governed nation.

Think about it: You have been empowered to advocate for yourself, for your community, and for your nation in a way that many millions in other parts of the world cannot. An awful lot of folks have put an awful lot of blood into ensuring you have that right. Isn’t exercising it worth a little time out of your day?

If you have not already, get out there and vote. Whichever candidates you support, wherever you fall on the issues, GO VOTE. You can use this tool to look up your closest polling place. See you at the polls!