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The amendment, sponsored by Senator Jesse A. Helms, Republican of North Carolina, would bar such services by amending language in an existing federal law that prohibits "obscene or indecent communication for commercial purposes."

Representatives who voted against the motion to instruct, which is not binding on the conferees, were basically divided between two camps--those who believe the amendment is unconstitutional, and those who think it is not strong enough.

House staff members said the vote would probably ensure that some language on the matter is included in the final bill.

The issue has surfaced repeatedly in the Congress because of concerns over minors' easy access to such services. Senator Helms attached a similar amendment to the omnibus anti-drug bill, but it was dropped in conference.

The Federal Communications Commission has tried to restrict the services, but the regulations have not survived court challenges.

A federal district judge is considering charges made by Ohio State University that the Education Department improperly awarded a $30-million grant to operate the National Center for Research in Vocational Education.

Ohio State, which had housed the center for 10 years, filed suit against the department after it announced that it planned to award the research-center grant to the University of California at Berkeley. (See Education Week, Jan. 20, 1988.)

In hearings held on Feb. 10 and 11 in U.S. District Court in Columbus, lawyers for Ohio State argued that at least three of the five grant-review panelists chosen by the department were not nationally recognized experts, as required by law.

The department maintains that the panelists were qualified to review the applications.

If Judge George Smith rules in favor of Ohio State, a new review process for the five-year grant could be ordered. A decision in the case is expected within a month.

Senator Edward M. Kennedy has introduced a bill to create a national early-childhood-education program that would be operated by public schools and Head Start centers.

The proposed "Smart Start" pro4gram would offer year-round, full-day services in order to meet the child-care needs of working parents and educational needs of at-risk children, said Senator Kennedy, a Massachusetts Democrat. The program, introduced this month, would cost an estimated $1 billion annually when fully implemented.

Mr. Kennedy's proposal joins a variety of other child-care and early-education measures currently before the Congress, including a bill also introduced this month by Senator Lawton Chiles, Democrat of Florida.

Senator Chiles's bill would provide $25 million yearly in grants to local programs that identify and work with at-risk pre-kindergartners.

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