The state Senate passed a bill creating a separate regulatory board for charter schools by a vote of 32-17.
The charter school board would be responsible for handing out new charters and shutting down inadequate schools, diluting the State Board of Education's powers. State Board Chairman Bill Cobey opposes the bill and questions its constitutionality.
Sen. Jerry Tillman, an Archdale Republican and the bill's sponsor, said charters give parents choice. "When you have a choice, the free market works," he said.
Democrats said Republicans were over reaching.
"Keep this up and you're going to destroy the very thing you're trying to promote," said Senate Minority Leader Martin Nesbitt, an Asheville Democrat.
The bill now moves to the House for consideration.