News release from Senate Republican Caucus:
NASHVILLE, Tenn.), July 22, 2013 — State Senator Jim Summerville (R-Dickson) has announced plans to file legislation in the Tennessee General Assembly to freeze tuition at the current rates at state colleges and universities. The announcement comes after the Tennessee Board of Regents (TBR) and the University of Tennessee (UT) system recently adopted hikes in tuition ranging between 3 to 6 percent.
“The current increases are an outrage, especially in light of this year’s increase in appropriations to these higher education systems,” said Senator Summerville. “No other governmental department consistently raises their costs to the taxpayers at such a high rate on an annual basis.”
The General Assembly approved a budget providing a $108.6 million increase for higher education, including $65.7 million in additional funds for the Tennessee Board of Regents, $37.6 million for the University of Tennessee system and $5.2 million for the Tennessee Higher Education Commission. A 2010-2011 study by the Bloomberg News College Board found that 56 percent of public four-year college students average $23,800 in student loans upon graduation.
“Over the past decade, tuition at public colleges and universities has increased by an astounding 62 percent,” added Summerville. “These ever-increasing costs lead students to take out more loans, thus saddling themselves with debt that can take almost a lifetime to pay back.”
Summerville said his legislation, the “Tennessee College Students’ Tuition Relief Act,” is currently in the drafting stage but will freeze tuition for several years. He said bill will include cost reduction recommendations to help the state’s higher education system realize efficiencies. This could include top-heavy administrative office expenses and excessive salary packages for college coaches.
“Non-instructional cost is a good place to start in looking for savings,” added Summerville. “If we are going to meet our goals of raising our college graduation rates, we must get a handle on the rising costs. This legislation is a big step in the right direction to accomplish this.”
Former State Sen. Kerry Roberts of Springfield has announced as a candidate for the District 25 state Senate seat now held by fellow Republican Jim Summerville of Dickson.
The district includes Cheatham, Dickson, Hickman, Humphreys and Robertson counties.
From The Tennessean: Roberts served as state senator for District 18 from March 2011 until November 2012 after being elected to finish the term vacated by Diane Black, who was elected to Congress in November 2010. Roberts left office on Nov. 6, having been drawn out of the district he represented by the legislature.
Robertson County was separated from Sumner County in District 18 and moved into District 25, which is represented by (Summerville, who was not up for re-election in 2012, but will be in 2014.)
…Roberts’ announcement comes days after State Rep. Joshua Evans, R-District 66, confirmed to the Robertson County Times that he is also considering making a bid for the seat.
The incumbent, Summerville, has already announced his intentions of running for reelection. And Wayne White, a Republican from the city of Slayden in Dickson County, has also announced his candidacy.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — State Sen. Jim Summerville is recovering after undergoing an unexpected surgery.
Senate Republican Caucus spokeswoman Darlene Schlicher said in a news release this week that the Dickson Republican became ill at his home on Wednesday and was transported to Nashville.
She didn’t provide any details about the illness, but said the surgery went well and Summerville was expected to stay in the hospital for several days
Since January, the Department of Children’s Services has reported that 73 children who were brought to its attention died in 2012, but the state now says the correct number is 105, reports The Tennessean. DCS also miscalculated the number of children who died in 2011. In October, the agency said 47 children had died after having some contact with DCS, but now the state says the correct number for that year is 91.
DCS has now revised upwards the number of such child fatalities at least five times since The Tennessean asked for the data in September, prompting frustration as well as a measure of skepticism from lawmakers reached on Monday.
“Can we rely on these numbers? I don’t know. I hope we can,” said state Sen. Jim Summerville, a Republican from Dickson. “It’s strange to me that a big department with lots of professional help keeps having to change their report. Counting children should not be that hard. Counting dead children is an awful thing, but the department must do it right.”
State Rep. Sherry Jones, a Nashville Democrat, began requesting child fatality data in July. On Monday, Jones — like Summerville — said she still had not received an accurate accounting from DCS, asking that the numbers be read to her over the phone.
“This is unbelievable, unprofessional,” Jones said. “Unless the numbers are being manipulated and no one can keep track, they should know these numbers every day, and I’m surprised they don’t.”
A proposed “Higher Education Equality Act,” designed to end most affirmative action programs at state colleges and universities, fell one vote short of passage in the Senate Education Committee on Wednesday.
The bill by Sen. Jim Summerville, R-Dickson, (SB8) had been debated at length over two previous weekly meetings of the panel with officials of the University of Tennessee and Board of Regents systems saying it could have unintended consequences hurting various college endeavors.
Before the final vote, the committee adopted an amendment proposed by Sen. Stacey Campfield, R-Knoxville, that he described as addressing “every single objection” raised by higher education officials.
Still, only Campfield and three other senators voted for the bill on final vote. Two voted no and three abstained. A bill requires five yes votes to move out of the committee.
A proposed “Higher Education Equality Act,” intended to end affirmative action programs in the University of Tennessee and Board of Regents systems, was rewritten Wednesday to assure efforts involving federal funding and accreditation are not impacted.
But spokesmen for UT and the Regents said they still have concern with the measure (SB8), sponsored by Sen. Jim Summerville, R-Dickson, and the amendment offered by Sen. Stacey Campfield, R-Knoxville.
Anthony Haynes, a UT vice president, and David Gregory, a Regents vice chancellor, said the revised version basically tracks existing federal law, but there are differences that could cause problems and lead to litigation in courts.
“It’s like a lawyer’s dream come true,” Haynes told the Senate Education Committee.
Gregory cited language in the bill banning “preferential treatment,” a phrase of “vagueness” in the legal sense that is subject to various interpretation. Federal law also prohibits discrimination based on race or gender when that discrimination is “solely” the cause of an action. The word “solely” is lacking in the proposed state law.
Haynes envision a young man rejected for general admission to UT-Knoxville bringing a lawsuit because UT, in trying to form “a women’s golf team,” granted admission to a woman with a lower ACT score.
After Haynes and Gregory spoke, Campfield and Summerville agreed to put off a committee vote for another week and hold further discussions to see if differences can be resolved.
Committee Chairman Dolores Gresham went along with the postponement, but added that she wanted to “admonish” those involved, then declared: “Don’t come back here unless you are ready to vote on this bill!”
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A proposal to eliminate affirmative action initiatives from higher education institutions has stalled in the Senate.
The measure sponsored by Republican Sen. Jim Summerville of Dickson was deferred in the Senate Education Committee after committee members and higher education officials who spoke before the panel expressed concern with the bill’s language.
As written, the legislation would prohibit colleges and universities from granting preference “based on race, gender or ethnicity … to any student or employee of the public institution of higher education or any person with whom the public institution of higher education contracts.”
The committee deferred the bill for a week in order for the measure’s sponsor and the state’s legal staff to clarify the term “preference.”
One concern is that the current legislation could run afoul of federal law and possibly cost the state funding.
State Rep. Barbara Cooper, who was chairman of the Legislature’s Black Caucus last year when Sen. Jim Summerville sent her a controversial email, says the senator has belatedly apologized for the remark. In August, 2012, Dickson Republican Summerville declared in an email to Cooper, “I don’t give a rat’s ass what the Black Caucus thinks.”
The missive was sent after the Black Caucus issued a news release critical of a hearing Summerville led that looked into allegations of grade tampering at Tennessee State University.
Cooper provided a copy of a new Summerville email dated Jan. 12 and addressed to “Hon. Barbara Cooper and friends in the Black Caucus.”
“Dear Rep. Cooper and friends, one of my personal hopes in the new year is to try to lead a more Christ-like life. I realize that may require making amends to people I’ve hurt in the past.
“I want to tell you, then, how much I regret losing my temper last summer over your reaction to the TSU report. You said what you did with intellectual integrity and honesty of purpose. My reaction was unbecoming to me.
“Please know that I look forward to working with each of you in the 108th General Assembly for the welfare of all the people of our great state.
“Most sincerely, Jim Summerville.”
Cooper said that, in reply, she told the senator: “You’re apology is accepted and appreciated and you are forgiven.”
With the “Tennessee Civil Rights Initiative” and related legislation, Sen. Jim Summerville says he is trying to end the last vestiges of discrimination in state government and public education and put everyone on equal footing insofar as race, gender and ethnicity goes.
Following the “mostly peaceful social revolution during the Dr. Martin Luther King era,” Summerville said in an interview, “there may have been a reason for preferences in hiring, in college admissions, in scholarships.”
But not anymore, said the Republican senator from Dickson, an adjunct professor at Austin Peay State University and author of several books involving history research.
“These laws just aren’t needed anymore,” he said. “It’s time to let it all go. We are at another level now.”
News release from Senate Republican Caucus:
(NASHVILLE), January 10, 2013 – State Senator Jim Summerville (R-Dickson) said today he plans to move forward with legislation filed in the State Senate to ban preferential treatment based on race, gender or ethnicity. Summerville has filed several bills which he said makes up the “Civil Rights Initiative of 2013” for consideration in the Tennessee General Assembly.
“Certainly we all need to strive towards the goal of protecting citizens from discrimination,” said Senator Summerville. “But, at the same time that goal is hard to achieve if preferential treatment is part of our state’s public policy. If we hire, promote or give preferential treatment by race, gender or ethnicity, we will continue to divide by race, gender or ethnicity. In the coming months, I will ask my good colleagues of both houses and both parties to fight and win the last battle of the civil rights movement.”
The bills filed would:
•provide that state government will not give preferential treatment based on gender, race, or ethnicity, except where required by federal law;
•abolish such group preferences from Tennessee’s public colleges and universities; abolish the job categories of “diversity officers;”
•eliminate race, gender, or ethnicity as considerations for hiring K-12 teachers;
•prohibit any and all entities of State government from compiling and keeping statistics, or other data by race, gender, and ethnicity.
“Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. hoped to live to see an America where his children would be judged “not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character,” Summerville added. “I think he’d be sad if he were among us today to see that this generation has failed in that hope. We can honor his memory by taking steps like California and Michigan have done. Tennessee, where Dr. King died, can become the first state in the South to realize his vision into law.”
“Although it took longer than it should have, our nation has opened the door of opportunity for all. Only character, intelligence, and hard work matter now,” he concluded.