A bill granting teachers extra time to take mandated competency tests has won final passage under sponsorship of Rep. Gloria Johnson, D-Knoxville, and Sen. Becky Duncan Massey, R-Knoxville. The Senate and House approved the measure (SB268) on Thursday.
For freshman Johnson, the measure is the first she has shepherded to passage and is a matter of personal interest. In subcommittee, Johnson said she is one of about 40 Knox County teachers who had trouble meeting the original deadline for taking the tests in areas they teach. The bill extends the original deadline from Jan. 1, 2013, to Jan. 1, 2014.
In Johnson’s case, as a special-education teacher giving instruction in several areas, she has to take six tests and, along with other teachers, did not learn about the requirement until last August, she said.
The tests cost around $200 each, she said, and often require some additional study. For example, she must take a test in geometry, which she does teach, that includes sections on precalculus and trigonometry, which she does not teach and needs to review.
During hearings, legislators expressed sympathy for both the time and expense involved in the testing. Johnson said she thought they were a good idea, but an extension of time was appropriate. The bill passed the House unanimously and got just one negative vote in the Senate.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Gov. Bill Haslam says he’s taking advantage of an extended deadline the federal government has given states regarding health insurance exchanges.
States had until Friday to inform the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services if they plan to set up their own health insurance markets. But the deadline has been extended to Dec. 14.
Haslam has yet to reach a decision, but the Republican governor says he’s hopeful that in the coming weeks he will receive answers from Washington to questions he has about the exchanges, mainly the amount of flexibility Tennessee would have if it set up its own.
Republican Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey of Blountville told reporters earlier this week that he expects the governor to keep his options open on the state-run exchange
Note: Here’s a statement issued by the governor:
“The deadline for states to respond to the federal government about health insurance exchanges has been extended,” Haslam said.
“We are hopeful in the coming weeks we will receive answers from Washington to the many questions we’ve asked in our effort to have a full picture of the future of exchanges in Tennessee.
“Let me be clear, I oppose the Affordable Care Act. I joined with other Republican governors earlier this year to fight the law. Unfortunately, the Supreme Court upheld a majority of it this summer, including the provision that states are required to either participate in a federal exchange or establish their own.
“I understand there is a lot of passion and uncertainty about the health care law, and I share that frustration. As governor, I believe it is my job to put emotions aside and to make the tough decisions on the serious issues that impact Tennesseans. That is what I’m working hard to do.”
Governor Bill Haslam says he’ll be taking all the time he can to make a decision on setting up a state-based health insurance exchange, observes WPLN. Republican governors around the country are split ahead of Friday’s deadline.
A few folks like Rick Scott of Florida and Bobby Jindal of Louisiana say the exchanges were the idea of the federal government and it should be the one to run them. But several GOP governors reluctantly say states could do a better job. Haslam says he’s in the latter camp, though he’s still not made a final call.
“There’s going to be an exchange. Ultimately, our citizens through insurance companies are going to pay for the cost of running that exchange. And so, who do we think can run it cheaper, us or the federal government? I’ll bet on us every time. I really believe that. But we have to be convinced that the flexibility they’ll give us is worth taking the risk or running it ourselves.”Health Care, Bill Haslam,
The Affordable Care Act is estimated to cost Tennessee $1.4 billion through 2019. In budget hearings, TennCare officials told the governor most of the increase is unavoidable, regardless of his decision on running a health insurance exchange and – down the road – expanding the state’s Medicaid program.
Some other coverage: The Commercial Appeal, the
News release from secretary of state’s office:
Tomorrow (Saturday, Oct. 6) is the last day for Tennesseans to register to vote by mail if they wish to participate in the Nov. 6 election.
Mail-in applications to register must be postmarked by Monday, October 8 in order to be valid for the November election. However, the United States Post Office will be closed on Monday for the federal Columbus Day holiday. Therefore, applications need to be postmarked by tomorrow.
People may still register in person at the local election commission offices in 93 of Tennessee’s 95 counties through the close of business Monday. (Election offices in Lewis and Hickman counties will not be open Monday. Citizens in Lewis and Hickman counties who want to register to vote on Monday may take their forms to another county election commission office on Monday and those forms will be accepted in time for the November election.)
For questions about registering to vote, contact your local election commission office http://tnsos.org/elections/election_commissions.php, call the state Division of Elections’ toll-free hotline at 1-877-850-4959 or visit www.GoVoteTN.com.
The deadline to replace Shelly Breeding as a candidate for the Democratic nomination in Knox County’s House District 89 passed at noon Saturday with no petition filed, according to Cliff Rodgers, Knox County administrator of elections.
Further from the News-Sentinel:
Would-be Democratic candidate Breeding lost a court bid to be on the ballot after a chancellor ruled her house actually sits in Anderson County and not Knox County. The new district is wholly in Knox County.
The Tennessee Court of Appeals upheld the decision, and the Tennessee Supreme Court declined to review it.
Four candidates are running the GOP primary in August.
According to Mark Goins, coordinator with the state Division of Elections, the Knox County Election Commission must now transfer the voter registration of Breeding, her husband and other voters similarly situated on Elizabeth Downs Lane to the Anderson County Election Commission.
“We didn’t purge anyone and say, ‘You’ve got to register in another county. We hand-delivered (the registrations) over there yesterday so there wouldn’t be any problem,” Rodgers said today. “We wanted to be sure they had an easy transition.”
Rodgers said the move affects two households in addition to Breeding’s home, for a total of seven voters.
Rodgers said the last day to register to vote for the Aug. 2 election is July 3 and early voting begins July 13. Tennessee law has changed and now voters 60 years of age or older may vote absentee by mail for any reason, Rodgers said.
Note: Under state law, when a candidate is taken off the ballot after the regular qualifying deadline — whether for death, disability or some legal reason, as in this case — qualifying is reopened. The deadline for new petitions to be filed is 40 days before the election and this year the 40th day before the Aug. 2 primary election fell on Saturday.
After the regular qualifying deadline, there were 34 House seats guaranteed to Republicans in November because there is no Democrat on the ballot. With Breeding disqualified and no replacement named, there are now 35.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A lone protester was still maintaining his vigil Friday at the Occupy Nashville camp on Legislative Plaza in the face of a new state law meant to evict the protesters.
Christopher Humphrey, 24, remained in a small tent covered in a blue tarp and several handwritten signs in front of the state Capitol. The state gave the protesters a seven-day notice on March 2 to remove their encampment, but it wasn’t clear when the Tennessee Highway Patrol would start enforcing the law.
The protesters started preparing for more arrests after midnight on Friday morning, but as of Friday afternoon, no move had been made to remove Humphrey’s tent or clean up the camping equipment that had been left on the plaza. There was also no police presence at the plaza, and it was mostly empty of protesters on Friday.
The Legislature last month passed a statute prohibiting camping on state property that is not specifically designated for it. Gov. Bill Haslam signed the bill into law.
Violators can face up to a year in jail or a fine of up to $2,500 or both. The main provision of the legislation would make it a misdemeanor to lay down “bedding for the purpose of sleeping” on government-owned land at the Capitol. It refers to items associated with camping, “including tents, portable toilets, sleeping bags, tarps, stakes, ropes, blankets, propane heaters, cooking equipment and generators.”
State troopers raided the encampment in late October and made 55 arrests, but Haslam ordered the charges dropped when Nashville courts refused to jail the protesters. The state backed down and decided not to fight a federal court order that found the raids had violated the First Amendment rights of the protesters.
Critics contend the new law passed last month will in effect criminalize homelessness. The protesters in Nashville have used the Legislative Plaza where lawmakers work to protest corporate influence in government and income inequality.