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Last week, for the seventh time in 52 years, Oregon citizens voted down a proposed sales tax. The tax, which would have been Oregon's first such tax, would have provided as much as $700 million per year for elementary and secondary education. (See Education Week, Dec. 12, 1984.)

Based on preliminary estimates, 559,300 Oregonians voted against the proposed 5-percent tax and 158,000 voted for it in the special election.

Only four other states--Alaska, Delaware, Montana, and New Hampshire--have no sales tax.

Representative Lawrence J. Smith, Democrat of Florida, this month introduced a bill in the U.S. House of Representatives that would withhold federal education funds from states not requiring seat belts in all new school buses. (See Education Week, Feb. 27, 1985)

States failing to require the seat belts would lose 5 percent of their federal education aid the first year, 10 percent the second, and 15 percent the third, said Lisa J. Behren, the Representative's spokesman. In addition, states not requiring4seat belts as standard equipment in all school buses by 1995 would lose all federal education funding, she said.

The bill also would require "appropriate state or local agencies" to inspect all school buses annually to make sure they are in good working condition, Ms. Behren said.

Representative Smith introduced a similar bill with more severe punitive provisions last year, but it died in committee.

Twelve former students of Choate Rosemary Hall, a prestigious private school in Connecticut, pleaded guilty this month in federal district court to charges that they "aided and abetted" a scheme to import cocaine into the United States from Venezuela. (See Education Week, May 16, 1984.)

Two former students charged with actually smuggling the drug, and another student charged with complicity in the scheme, were scheduled to appear in court this week, said Jeremiah F. Donovan, an assistant U.S. attorney.

If found guilty, the two charged with cocaine smuggling could receive a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison, Mr. Donovan said. Sentencing is scheduled for late October and early November.

Mr. Donovan indicated that other students at the school also may8have contributed to the $4,800 fund used to buy 300 grams of cocaine in the spring of 1984. The investigation is continuing, he said.

A federal appeals court has upheld a lower-court order that temporarily allows students who have failed the state of Texas's pre-professional skills test to enroll in teacher-education courses.

A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit rejected the state's motion to stay a preliminary injunction in United States v. State of Texas, but did not explain its decision. There was one dissenting vote.

The original order was approved in August by Judge William Wayne Justice of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas. (See Education Week, Sept. 4, 1985.)

The judge wrote that the state probably had intended to discriminate in adopting the test, which a disproportionate number of minority students have failed since it was first given in March 1984.

Judge Justice has scheduled the next hearing in the case for Feb. 24.

The state will continue to appeal the preliminary injunction, according to Assistant Attorney General Kevin O'Hanlon. Oral arguments in the appeals court are scheduled for Dec. 2.

Vol. 05, Issue 04

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