A House subcommittee has voted to let the governor keep control of most appointments to the Tennessee Textbook Commission, breaking with a Senate move to give legislators control.
Over the objections of House Republican Caucus Chairman Glen Casada, the House Education Subcommittee voted to amend the bill he is sponsoring, HB2249, to give the governor five direct appointments to the commission, the speaker of the House two and the speaker of the Senate two. Under the bill, a 1oth member of the panel would be the commissioner of education, who is also appointed by the governor. The governor would thus choose six of the 10 members.
As proposed by Casada and approved by a Senate committee, each speaker and the governor would have three direct appointments. Thus, the legislators collectively would have six appointees versus four for the governor -three directly, plus the commissioner or his designee. Currently, all ten members of the commission are appointed by the governor.
Rep. Mark White, R-Memphis, chairman of the subcommittee, pushed for keeping Haslam in control, contending the commission has policy-making authority and “the administration is in charge of setting policy.”
“We should not take power away from an administration that is trying to move forward,” White said., adding that if a different governor is elected in future years, legislators can reconsider who has a majority of appointment.
Casada argued that “the Legislature is much more firmly in tune with the people” and thus legislators should have the majority.
“With all due respect, I believe this (power) belongs in the hands of the people and we are them,” Casada said.
White’s amendment, and then the bill itself, won approval of the subcommittee on a voice vote. Only Rep. Joe Pitts, D-Clarksville, had himself recorded as voting no on the bill. The measure now goes to the full House Education Committee while the Senate bill awaits a floor vote.