NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A measure that seeks to change the approval process for charter schools in Tennessee has failed this session.
The proposal seemed poised for a vote on the Senate floor on Friday, the last day of the session. But Republican Senate sponsor Dolores Gresham of Somerville withdrew it after she concluded she didn’t have the votes to pass it.
The House passed the companion 62-30 on Thursday.
The measure had gone through at least three versions during the General Assembly.
Under the proposal, the state Board of Education would have been able to overrule local school board decisions on charter applications in five counties where there are failing schools.
They are: Davidson, Hamilton, Knox, Shelby and Hardeman counties.
Currently, local school boards decide whether to authorize a charter application.
Note: The Tennessee Charter Schools Association was not happy. News release below.
As he leaves office Monday, Chattanooga Mayor Ron Littlefield faces a final defeat, reports Andy Sher — his effort to persuade the state Legislature to toughen Tennessee’s anti-gang laws.
The problem for Littlefield’s Gang Free School Zone Act is its costs for housing gang members expected to go to state prisons under its effects.
By year 10, legislative analysts project it would cost $2.3 million annually to imprison an estimated 77 criminal gang members under the proposed law’s three provisions.
In the Senate Budget Subcommittee on Wednesday, the bill’s sponsor, Republican Sen. Todd Gardenhire, of Chattanooga, had an amendment that sought to provide funding for the bill in Gov. Bill Haslam’s proposed annual spending plan. It failed for lack of a motion.
The official death knell for this legislative session is expected Monday afternoon when the bill is scheduled to come before the full Senate Finance Committee.
“They can still hear it, but basically I’m told they won’t take action on it this year because of the fiscal note. If I can count correctly, if it wasn’t for the fiscal note, it would pass,” Gardenhire said of the bill which received an enthusiastic bipartisan thumbs up in the Judiciary Committee and its House counterpart.
The Tennessee Sports and Entertainment Industry Coalition, which lobbied for passage of the “Fairness in Ticketing Act (HB1000),” has thrown in the towel for 2013 in one of the 2013 session’s great lobbying wars.
From the Tennessean:
After appearing to flounder recently under the weight of growing opposition from conservative leaders, a proposal to impose greater restrictions on the event ticket resale market died Wednesday in a House committee.
The bill’s author, state Rep. Ryan Haynes, R-Knoxville, said the measure suffered “some of the harshest” lobbying he had experienced, making it impossible to continue.
“They’ve done an excellent job maligning what the bill actually does and that’s just something I haven’t been able to overcome just yet,” Haynes said of the bill’s critics. Opposition has been led since last year by a Washington, D.C.-based consumer advocacy organization, but the army of dissenters swelled in recent weeks to include conservative leaders from throughout the state.
Haynes declined an offer by state Rep. Art Swann, R-Maryville, to send the bill to a summer study committee and said he hoped to present it again next year.
“Around here everybody really knows a summer study committee is a way to dispense with a bill and just never have it dealt with again,” Haynes said. “And I think we do need to deal with this issue.”
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Legislation to allow wine to be sold in Tennessee supermarkets and convenience stores isn’t quite dead yet.
A tie vote in the Senate Finance Committee on Tuesday morning initially indicated that bill had failed for the year. But a spokesman confirmed later in the day that Democratic Sen. Douglas Henry of Nashville, who abstained on that vote now wants to vote in favor of the measure after receiving assurances that it would no longer include a provision allowing Sunday liquor sales.
Republican Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey has said he wants to the measure to clear all of his chamber’s committees this year. But he has said he would keep it from receiving a full floor vote unless the House version that failed in committee is revived this year or next.
Legislation setting the stage for a state take over of Medicare and other health care programs from the federal government failed in a House committee Tuesday with four Republicans joining Democrats to vote against it.
The vote on the Health Care Compact Act (HB536) came out as a 9-9 tie in the House Insurance and Banking Committe, which means the bill was defeated under House rules. A similar measure failed on the House floor in the last hour of the 2012 legislative, getting 45 of the necessary 50 votes with several Republicans absent or abstaining.
Last year, no Republican voted against the bill. On Wednesday, however, House Finance Committee Chairman Charles Sargent, R-Franklin, led a round of critical questioning of the measure and its sponsor, Rep. Mark Pody, R-Lebanon.
“This scares me to death,” said Sargent at one point, contending the measure opens the door for Tennessee to lose funding from the federal government for TennCare and Cover Kids, a program providing health insurance for children in low-income families.
Both those programs are operated by the state with most the funding coming from the federal government, which also imposes many rules. The bill envisions the federal government turning over other programs as well – including Medicare but not including veterans health care – and nonetheless giving states federal funds along with all management responsibilities.
Sargent asked Pody what the federal matching rate for those two programs is currently and whether it would change. Pody did not know, but the bill makes no policy decisions and separate enabling legislation would be adopted in future years if Tennessee moves to a takeover.
Sargent said the state now gets $3 federal for each state dollar in Cover Kids, a rate more favorable than most states, and roughly a $2 for $1 match in TennCare.
“If it does nothing like you say, why are we putting something on the books?” said Sargent, saying the state could simply send a letter to federal officials or adopt a legislative resolution petitioning. “We’re going open-ended into something not knowing what we’re doing.”
Pody said passage of the bill would give the state “as many options as possible” for dealing with health care in the future. He repeatedly stressed that specifics would be left to further legislation and the state could withdraw from the compact later. Nine states have passed legislation to join a Health Care Compact.
Note: This updates and replaces previous post.
A multi-site national park that would tell the story of the top-secret, history-defining Manhattan Project would seem like an easy sell in Congress, says Michael Collins.
But in Washington, nothing is ever easy.
Thus, the plans were knocked surprisingly off course in late September when a bill establishing the Manhattan Project National Historical Park failed on its first vote on the floor of the U.S. House.
Supporters insist the setback is temporary and that they intend to push for another vote before the end of the year.
“There is going to be a concerted effort to get this and other important pieces of legislation to the floor,” said U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, a Republican whose district includes Oak Ridge, a centerpiece of the Manhattan Project.
The Republican-controlled House took up the bill in one of its final votes before lawmakers began their six-week, pre-election break. House leaders brought up the legislation under what is known as a “suspension of the rules” — a parliamentary procedure often used to pass noncontroversial bills.
U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, however, considered the proposal quite controversial. The Manhattan Project developed the first atomic bomb, and the famously liberal lawmaker argued that the proposal amounted to “a celebration” of nuclear weaponry.
A review of state records by the Nashville Business Journal shows that a sizeable chunk of jobs created through grants to businesses have disappeared.
Tennessee, through its FastTrack grant program, paid companies $27.3 million between 2008 and 2010 to train more than 6,200 new workers. By 2011, about 3,400 of those jobs — which the state invested in at an average of $4,388 a piece — were gone. If the dozens of companies that received that cash were required to give back the money, they’d owe the state about $15 million, our analysis found.
Likewise, companies that received $74.2 million in state infrastructure grants between 2006 and 2010 would owe the state nearly $21 million for the more than 4,000 jobs — an average of $5,246 apiece — that no longer exist.
In Middle Tennessee’s seven counties, companies moving and expanding in the region between 2008 and 2010 got nearly $20 million — or $9,963 per job — to train roughly 2,000 new workers. By 2011, 585 of those jobs remained, representing a loss of nearly $14 million to the state.