Bill gives UT diversity money to ‘In God We Trust’ decals

As amended in a House subcommittee Tuesday, $100,000 would be taken from the University of Tennessee’s funding for diversity each year and spent and spent to provide decals bearing the national motto “In God We Trust” for law enforcement vehicles.

Further from the News Sentinel:

House Bill 2248 as originally filed by Rep. Micah Van Huss, R-Johnson City, would strip all state funding from UT’s Office for Diversity and Inclusion. But Van Huss entered the House Education Subcommittee on Tuesday afternoon with an amendment.

…The amendment would also prohibit UT from using any state funds “to promote the use of gender-neutral pronouns, Sex Week or to promote or demote a religious holiday.” The committee approved the amendment and moments later, the bill, on an unrecorded group voice vote.

Rep. Eddie Smith, R-Knoxville, asked Van Huss whether he would be willing to accept an amendment later, in the full House Education Committee, that would allow UT to keep the $100,000 a year and use it to recruit students from six Tennessee counties with no students currently enrolled through UT’s various diversity efforts — including minority students, veterans and students who are the first in their families to attend college. Van Huss said he would be willing to discuss such an amendment with Smith before the bill reaches the full committee next week.

But he declined a suggestion by Smith, the chairman of the Knox County legislation delegation, to hold off and give UT time to work out its controversies internally under a separate bill already approved by the House to restructure the UT administration.

Smith said that bill makes reporting lines clearer in the UT campus and system administration and makes clearer the responsibilities of the UT board of trustees.

…The Senate Education Committee on March 2 recommended stripping $8 million from the UT budget for diversity and inclusion operations and reroute it to agricultural extension and other rural outreach programs. That proposal still must be considered by the Senate Finance Committee.