2013 TN General Assembly

2013 TN General Assembly
5:19 am
Wed February 27, 2013

Governor Haslam’s Voucher Program Passes First Test with Bipartisan Support

Credit Wikimedia Commons

State lawmakers raised several reservations but ultimately passed Gov. Bill Haslam’s school voucher program in its first test.

Two members of the House Education Subcommittee voted no, including one Republican. The former school superintendent says he doesn’t believe public money should be diverted to private schools. Democrat Joe Pitts of Clarksville voted no after asking if private schools would be forced to still provide a free lunch. Only poor students could qualify for vouchers under the plan.

“I’m just really concerned that we’re targeting that at-risk population, but we’re really not doing anything else to supply that basic human need, which is food,” Pitts said.

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2013 TN General Assembly
10:13 am
Mon February 25, 2013

Guaranteed State Pensions Could Become Thing of the Past

The traditional state pension would begin to be phased out under a plan to be presented to state lawmakers today. In recent decades, the rap on state jobs is that the pay may be less than the private sector, but the benefits are good – especially the retirement plan. Lester Hines took a job in the state codes department seven years ago.

“It was good deal for me. I was almost 50 years old and didn’t have a pension."

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2013 TN General Assembly
6:31 am
Fri February 22, 2013

Senators Vote for Judicial Selection Amendment Hoping for Failure

Credit wikipedia.org

Some state senators held their noses and voted Thursday for a constitutional amendment regarding how judges are chosen in Tennessee. The measure largely keeps the current system in tact with appointments by the governor and retention elections every eight years.  Blake Farmer reports.

Sen. Mae Beavers of Mt. Juliet would prefer direct elections of judges, but she signed off. She believes Tennesseans will ultimately reject the constitutional amendment that would be on the ballot next year.

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Politics
2:09 pm
Thu February 21, 2013

TN Governor Unsure About Medicaid Expansion

Lawmakers in Tennessee are watching Florida closely after the state’s conservative Republican governor went along with a major piece of the Affordable Care Act. Governor Bill Haslam is still on the fence about expanding the state’s Medicaid program – known as TennCare.

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2013 TN General Assembly
8:17 am
Thu February 21, 2013

Parking Lot Guns Bill Charges Toward House

A bill to allow Tennessee handgun carry permit holders to store loaded firearms in their vehicles no matter where they’re parked has cleared its final legislative committee before a full state House vote.

The House Civil Justice Committee advanced the measure Wednesday after supporters stressed it would not stop employers from banning weapons on their property.  They say it would simply remove employers’ ability to call for criminal charges against violators. 

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2013 TN General Assembly
1:06 pm
Wed February 20, 2013

Challenges to Federal Gun Laws Could Find Tough Time in Key Committee

A key legislative committee has put off a bill taking aim at federal gun laws. The measure would make it a crime for officers to enforce any national gun restrictions in Tennessee, but there are constitutional questions.

Sen. Mae Beavers of Mt. Juliet says the way she sees it, states have a choice about whether federal laws infringe on the right to bear arms.

She argued her point before the Senate Judiciary Committee, which she chaired just last year.

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2013 TN General Assembly
8:27 am
Wed February 20, 2013

Bill Tightening Tennessee Online School Enrollment Advances

Credit wikimedia.org

Legislation to tighten enrollment requirements at online-only schools is advancing in the Tennessee House. Gov. Bill Haslam’s administration bill passed the House Education Committee on a voice vote Tuesday and is being scheduled for the House floor.

The proposal would allow beginning online schools to start with an enrollment of 1,500 and continue to expand as long as they meet performance requirements. The measure originally sought to cap online school enrollment at 5,000. 

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2013 TN General Assembly
8:23 am
Wed February 20, 2013

Tennessee Senate Panel Delays Gun Enforcement Ban Vote

Tennessee’s Senate Judiciary Committee has narrowly decided to delay voting on a bill seeking to ban the federal enforcement of state firearms laws in order to ask for an opinion from the state's attorney general about whether it would be constitutional.

Republican Sen. Mae Beavers of Mt. Juliet told the committee on Tuesday her bill would make it a felony for federal agents to enforce gun laws she considers unconstitutional.  Fellow Republican Judiciary Chairman Brian Kelsey of Germantown asked for the delay to determine whether the state has the power to nullify federal laws.

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2013 TN General Assembly
8:17 am
Wed February 20, 2013

Health Care Compact Fails in Tennessee House Committee

A measure that would allow Tennessee to approach Congress about forming its own health care system has failed this year. The proposal sponsored by Republican Rep. Mark Pody of Lebanon failed with a 9 - 9 House Insurance and Banking Committee vote Tuesday.

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2013 TN General Assembly
7:31 am
Wed February 20, 2013

Legislator Concerned Per Diem Restrictions Favor Wealthy

Credit wikimedia commons

An effort to lower daily expense accounts for some state lawmakers is running into more resistance, even as it advances in the General Assembly. Those who live within 50 miles of the state capitol would no longer be eligible for the $173 a day meant for hotels and meals. One legislator says the restrictions favor the wealthy.

In a House committee, Democrat Johnny Shaw of West Tennessee told the sponsor he was making it nearly impossible for a working person to hold office.

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