Tag Archives: legislatue

Ramsey: AG ready for legal fight over bathrooms

Attorney General Herbert Slatery has promised Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey that he will “wholeheartedly” defend Tennessee school systems against a federal directive on transgender bathroom use, reports the Times-Free Press. That, says Ramsey, means there’s no need for a special legislative session on the matter.

“Herbert Slatery, the attorney general, called me to say we’re going to defend that wholeheartedly,” Ramsey, the Republican Senate speaker, told Bradley County Republicans on Saturday night at their annual Lincoln Day Dinner.

House Republican Caucus Chairman Glen Casada has been canvassing colleagues, seeking support for a possible special session to require Slatery to defend schools sued for violating President Barack Obama’s transgender student policies.

A recent directive from the U.S. Justice and Education departments said students should be allowed to use bathrooms and locker rooms based on their gender identity, not biological sex.

The American Civil Liberties Union-Tennessee fanned conservative Republicans’ ire last week by asking Education Department officials to enforce the directive against Sumner County schools. The ACLU complained the district is not complying with the policy, though Sumner officials say they try to be accommodating.

The Justice Department is suing North Carolina over its law restricting transgender students to bathrooms matching their biological sex.

After the dinner, Ramsey said Slatery told him Friday “he didn’t feel like we needed a special session” to require him to defend Sumner County. He said Slatery is “100 percent on board with it.”

“He feels confident they have statutory authority to [defend a local school system],” Ramsey added.

DiPietro eyes UT changes to make money, cut expenses

In an interview with the News Sentinel, University of Tennessee President Joe DiPietro has outlined some ideas for fixing what he calls a broken system for keeping the institution financially viable.

Expanding out-of-state enrollment, consolidating academic programs and charging businesses that benefit from university services are all on the table.

DiPietro first warned UT trustees in June the school could not sustain itself by continuing to pass cost increases on to students. He repeated that sentiment to Gov. Bill Haslam during a budget hearing in early December.

If the state does not invest any new money into higher education, UT officials estimate the system could face a $155 million funding gap over the next decade — if the university caps tuition increases at 3 percent and if the inflation rate remains at 3 percent.

Solving that problem is a top priority for DiPietro’s “second term,” as he likes to call it. After completing his first four-year contract and receiving a renewal from trustees, DiPietro said he’s thinking about his legacy and how he wants to leave the university.

During his first four years as president, DiPietro politely urged lawmakers to make funding higher education a top priority. He’s since accepted that given the state’s limited revenue streams and rising healthcare costs, getting more money from the state is unlikely.

…While the university continues to aggressively tackle the problem on its own, DiPietro said he isn’t giving up on help from the legislature. He’s already outlined priorities for this budget cycle, including a handful of new buildings and supporting the Tennessee Higher Education Commission’s recommendation for fully funding colleges across the state.

Last month, DiPietro joined Tennessee Board of Regents Chancellor John Morgan and Higher Education Commission Executive Director Richard Rhoda in presenting a united front in favor of a $71.4 million requested increase in state funding for higher education, including $29.4 million for more need-based student financial aid and $25.7 million in operating increases for the universities, community colleges and colleges of applied technology.

If state funding at that level eventually wins legislative approval, the higher education leaders said tuition increases for the 2015-16 academic year could be held to zero to 4 percent — and for the bulk of students, on the lower end of that range.

Haslam Vetoes One Bill, Won’t Sign Another

News release from governor’s office:
NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam released the following statements regarding HB 3540/SB 3345 and HB 3576/SB 3597.
House Bill 3540/SB 3345 addresses the hiring of foreign nationals as teachers in Tennessee charter schools.
“We continue to put a lot of time and effort in improving education in Tennessee. Establishing reputable and impactful charter schools to offer education options to parents and students has been an important part of that process. We should also continue to focus on attracting the best and brightest to study and teach in Tennessee,” Haslam said.
“In reviewing HB 3540/SB 3345, I am comfortable that because it is permissive and not mandatory, it does not adversely impact the state’s momentum in education reform. However, I do have concerns about this bill’s constitutionality.
“I will not sign the bill and will let it become law without my signature. Because of my concerns, I am also requesting a formal opinion from the Attorney General on the bill’s constitutionality. I think it is important for local educational agencies to fully understand the implications of this law and their decisions about granting charter school applications.”
Regarding HB 3576/SB 3597, which addresses Vanderbilt University’s “all-comers” policy for campus organizations, Haslam said:
“I don’t agree with Vanderbilt’s ‘all-comers’ policy. It is counter-intuitive to make campus organizations open their membership and leadership positions to anyone and everyone, even when potential members philosophically disagree with the core values and beliefs of the organization.
“The original version of HB 3576/SB 3597 only applied to public education institutions, and I believe it is appropriate for state government to be involved in policies of public colleges and universities.
“The amended legislation that the General Assembly ultimately passed, however, also applies to private universities. Although I disagree with Vanderbilt’s policy, as someone who strongly believes in limited government, I think it is inappropriate for government to mandate the policies of a private institution. Therefore, I will veto HB 3576/SB 3597 in its current form.”