A House vote Monday night sends to Gov. Bill Haslam a bill that has inspired a controversy the governor says he knows little about.
The legislation (HB368) sets guidelines for classroom discussion of evolution and other scientific theories and declares that teachers cannot be disciplined for permitting such discussions.
Sponsors say it will encourages development of “critical thinking skills” by students. Critics say it encourages discussions of creationism as an alternative to evolution.
Haslam was asked his views on the bill last week after announcing plans to use federal funds to build three new Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) schools in the state.
“I don’t know that I have any great insight there for you on that one,” Haslam said, adding that he had heard of the bill but knew little about what was involved. The governor said he plans to ask state Board of Education officials about it.
By Lucas Johnson, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Senate passed a proposal Thursday that would allow teachers and other school workers to participate in prayer groups and other religious activities on school grounds, so long as they are initiated by students.
Sponsors of the bill brought it in part to support “See You at the Pole” gatherings, where students and their parents gather at school flag poles to pray.
The measure was approved 29-1. The companion bill unanimously passed the House 93-0 earlier this month. Before it can go to the governor, the measure must go back to the House to approve an amendment that was added.
The legislation allows school personnel to participate in such activities as long as they don’t carry into the classroom or conflict with the assignments of the participant.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Two key pieces of legislation in Republican Gov. Bill Haslam’s anti-crime package have passed the Senate.
A proposal that would increase penalties for violent crimes committed by groups of three or more people was unanimously approved 30-0 on Monday evening. A measure that would enhance penalties for gun possession by people with previous felony convictions was also unanimously approved 29-0.
The companion to both proposals is waiting to be scheduled for a vote on the House floor.
A proposal that would require mandatory jail time for people with repeat domestic violence convictions has stalled in the finance committees of both chambers because of cost concerns to local governments
By Lucas Johnson, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Rep. Jimmy Naifeh announced Thursday that he won’t seek re-election after 38 years in the House of Representatives, saying it’s time to “pass the torch to the next generation of leaders.”
Naifeh, who was given the honorary title of speaker emeritus after holding the top House post for 18 years, made the announcement on the House floor.
The Covington Democrat said the late Tennessee Democratic Gov. Ned McWherter, whom Naifeh described as a mentor in politics and life, “always told me when it was time to go home, I’d know it.”
“After talking with my family and friends, I believe the time has come for me to pass the torch to the next generation of leaders,” Naifeh said.
He was elected to the House in 1974 after losing his first bid for office in 1972. He was succeeded as House speaker in 2009 by Republican Rep. Kent Williams of Elizabethton, who edged Rep. Jason Mumpower of Bristol on a vote of 50-49 after all 49 Democrats banded together to support Williams.
Naifeh convinced Williams to seek the speakership and was behind the plan for him to be elected.
“During my one term as speaker … his experience helped me through a very hard two years,” Williams said Thursday on the House floor. “Thank you for all you did.”