Legislature

More TNReady testing turmoil — in classrooms and at the legislature

Testing of high school students under the state’s TNReady program was suspended in many school districts Tuesday after troubles that officials say may have been a “deliberate attack” via computers.

Reaction in the legislature: Democrats called for the resignation of Education Commissioner Candice McQueen because of repeated TNReady trouble. And the full House slapped amendments onto pending legislation that would require the tests to be administered on paper rather than on computers and limit the use of TNReady scores in teacher and student assessments.

Continue reading

House balks at requiring disclosure of social media political ad sponsors

A Senate-passed bill that would require the disclosure of who paid for political ads on social media websites such as Twitter and Facebook is likely dead for the year after failing to get enough votes in the House on Monday, reports the Associated Press.

Continue reading

House approves bill to end vehicle emissions testing in five TN counties

A bill seeking to do away with vehicle emissions testing in five Tennessee counties was overwhelmingly approved Monday evening by the state House and now goes to the Senate, reports the Times Free Press.

Continue reading

Prison nurse tells legislators that officials covered up a homicide in 2013

Jessica Jobes, a former nurse at West Tennessee State Penitentiary, told legislators Monday that prison officials covered up a homicide, reports The Tennessean. Correction Commissioner Tony Parker says he will now review circumstances of the investigation of the inmate’s death, reports The Tennessean.

Continue reading

GOP legislators spurned renewed Haslam pitch for Medicaid expansion in private meeting

Gov.  Bill Haslam asked Republican legislative leaders earlier this month if they would reconsider Medicaid expansion legislation, which was rejected when he initially proposed the idea three years ago, reports The Tennessean. House Speaker Beth Harwell and Senate Speaker Randy McNally were open to discussing the idea but others were not and the notion was dropped.

Continue reading

Senate panel spurns four more Haslam nominees to UT Board of Trustees

Four of Gov. Bill Haslam’s 10 nominees to a new University of Tennessee Board of Trustees were effectively rejected by the Senate Education Committee Thursday – a day after another, current board Vice Chairman Raja Jubran, withdrew amid criticism from legislators. That leaves just five of the governor’s 10 appointees up for approval on floor votes.

Continue reading

Legislators grill Haslam UT board nominees over Sex Week and more; one withdraws

The University of Tennessee system’s current Board of Trustees vice chairman, Raja Jubran, on Wednesday withdrew as a nominee to serve on UT’s freshly re-configured board after it became clear the Knoxville businessman and friend of Gov. Bill Haslam faced significant hurdles in winning legislative confirmation, reports the Times Free Press. After four hours of grilling the governor’s nine other nominees, a House committee approved their confirmation while a Senate committee delayed a vote.

Continue reading

Legislators vote for state takeover of coal mining regulation from feds

Following a four-year push by Tennessee’s coal mining industry, both the House and Senate have now approved legislation to have the state Department of Environment and Conservation assume oversight of the industry from the federal Office of Surface Mining.

The House approved the bill (SB686) on Monday on a vote of 69-20 while the Senate gave assent 25-4 back on March 12. The House added an amendment that will send the measure back to the Senate for anticipated concurrence.

Tennessee surrendered oversight of coal mining – called “primacy” in the industry — to the federal government 34 years ago. Sponsors Sen. Ken Yager (R-Kingston) and Rep. Dennis Powers (R-Jacksboro) say Tennessee is now the only coal-mining state in the nation that doesn’t operate its own program of issuing permits and enforcing regulations.

Continue reading

Legislators approve raising welfare payments for first time in 22 years

The state House gave final approval Monday to legislation increasing Tennessee’s welfare cash payments for the first time in 22 years while toughening the program’s anti-fraud provisions, reports the Times Free Press.

Continue reading

House approves Sunday sales of liquor and wine, 55-35

Rep. Gerald McCormick (R-Chattnooga), center, speaks with Rep. Tim Wirgau (R-Buchanan), right, after a House vote on Sunday wine sales. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

The House voted 55-35 Monday evening to authorize sale of bottled liquor and wine on Sundays, sending the bill to the Senate where a vote is scheduled Wednesday.

Continue reading