NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Attorney General Bob Cooper released a legal opinion Friday raising constitutional concerns about a Tennessee law limiting the percentage of foreign workers at charter schools.
The opinion was requested by Republican Gov. Bill Haslam, who allowed the measure to become law without his signature in May. (Note: Text of opinion available HERE.)
Spokesman David Smith said the governor urges local education officials “to fully understand the implications of this law and their decisions about granting charter school applications.”
But Smith said the governor wouldn’t go so far as to urge them to disregard the law on the books that allows chartering authorities to reject or revoke a school’s application if more than 3.5 percent of the teachers and staff are foreigners in the H1B or J-1 visa programs.
Cooper said the ability of chartering authorities’ “ability to exercise such discretion could constitute a chilling effect upon a charter school retaining non-immigrant foreign workers with H-1B or J-1 visa since exceeding the 3.5 percent quota could jeopardize the charter school’s application or its continued existence.”
The opinion cites a series of state laws around the country that were declared unconstitutional for seeking to establish citizenship requirements for people to become licensed to practice careers in medicine, teaching, dentistry, pharmacy, law or civil engineering.
In a sharp contrast to the grueling, down-to-the-wire campaign during his last run for statewide office, Sen. Bob Corker is off on a weeklong trip to the Middle East — just a month before voters decide whether to re-elect him.
“I’ve said all along that my campaign is going to be my service in the Senate,” the Republican told reporters when asked whether the trip was an indication he takes for granted a win over disavowed Democratic nominee Mark Clayton and other candidates.
In a speech before talking with reporters, Corker told the Nashville Chamber of Commerce that “I’m likely to be the lead Republican on foreign relations issues” when the Senate meets next year. He serves on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the trip to the Middle East will be aimed at gathering insight into the slaying of Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans in Libya, Corker indicated.
“Maybe when I’ve returned from the Middle East I’ll have a better sense of what’s happened,” he said. “And it may just be that Libya has turned into a failed state and maybe it’s just that that the administration doesn’t want to discuss.”
Corker said security rules prevent him from giving specifics of the trip in advance, including whether Libya would be among countries visited.
The senator said he has visited 47 countries since being elected in 2006 and expects to finish reading former United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan’s memoir while on the plane trip to the Mideast.
A fellow Republican’s loss could turn into Sen. Bob Corker’s gain, reports WPLN. After 36 years in Washington, Indiana Senator Richard Lugar was sent packing this week, which opens up the top GOP slot on the Foreign Relations Committee. Corker is next in line according to the committee’s seniority system, but his ascension is not a done deal.
Tennessee’s junior senator may face a quandary: he also has a chance of being named the top Republican on the Banking Committee, where he’s been active on financial issues. Corker refuses to speculate but says he plans to continue on both.
“Most human being have the ability to do more than one thing, so I certainly, regardless of what may or may not happen down the road, will absolutely continue to be a voice regarding our out of control spending here.”
Foreign policy analysts suggest Republican senators may pass over Corker because he’s viewed as too isolationist by some. But if he gets the gavel, Corker has a few ideas for reform in mind.
By Erik Schelzig, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Gov. Bill Haslam will allow a bill that limits the number of foreign workers at charter schools to become law without his signature, the Republican announced Wednesday.
Haslam said in a statement that he questions the constitutionality of the measure and that he doesn’t want to harm the state’s efforts to improve education standards.
The governor said changes made to the bill late in the legislative session eased some of those concerns.
“I am comfortable that because it is permissive and not mandatory, it does not adversely impact the state’s momentum in education reform,” Haslam said.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A proposal that seeks to regulate charter schools’ use of non-immigrant foreign workers has passed the Senate.
The measure sponsored by Republican Sen. Bill Ketron of Murfreesboro was approved 18-13 on Thursday. A House floor vote on the companion bill was delayed until next week.
Under the proposal, a chartering authority may not approve a charter school application if the proposed charter school plans to hire a certain number of foreign workers from H1B or J-1 visa programs.
Republican Sen. Stacey Campfield of Knoxville called the measure discriminatory and says it prevents charter schools from employing the “best and the brightest” who may be legal residents.
However, Ketron said the measure is intended to encourage charter schools to hire from within Tennessee first.