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

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

Sunday wine and liquor sales bill heads to governor

The Senate has approved a bill to allow wine and liquor to be sold on Sundays. The 17 votes the bill received were the bare minimum necessary to clear the chamber. Eleven senators voted against the bill sponsored by Sen. Bill Ketron (R-Murfreesboro).

The bill will go into effect upon signature by Republican Gov. Bill Haslam, who has said he will defer to the will of the legislature on the matter (UPDATE: He tells The Tennessean he will sign it). That means liquor stores will immediately be able to open their doors to the public on Sundays. Supermarkets will be able to follow suit starting on Jan. 1.

Continue reading

Re-vote on Polk resolution featured wild swings for and against

Rep. Jerry Sexton (R-Bean Station) was among 13 members who swung their support to the Polk resolution after declining to support it the first time, while 11 switched from yes to no.

A net gain of two supporters was enough to secure passage of a resolution urging the body of President Jame K. Polk to be exhumed from the state Capitol grounds and moved to Columbia. But that doesn’t tell the whole story about the the wild swing in votes on the controversial measure.

Just 37 members voted for the resolution both times it was up on the floor. Eleven lawmakers who had voted for it when it failed on a 49-37 vote last month (one short of the 50-vote minimum) jumped ship to vote against it when it came back up on Monday night. But it gained the support of 13 members who hadn’t voted for it the first time to pass 51-37 on the re-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