Legislation that would prevent the renaming or moving of war-related monuments in Tennessee passed the state House last night. The bill comes as city officials in Memphis have renamed three Confederate-themed parks.
Democrats tried to get the bill’s sponsor – Republican Steve McDaniel – to admit he was responding to the name changes in Memphis, which he denied. Rep. Johnnie Turner asked what if Jews hadn’t been allowed to tear down Nazi statues.
The traditional state pension would begin to be phased out under a plan to be presented to state lawmakers today. In recent decades, the rap on state jobs is that the pay may be less than the private sector, but the benefits are good – especially the retirement plan. Lester Hines took a job in the state codes department seven years ago.
“It was good deal for me. I was almost 50 years old and didn’t have a pension."
Some state senators held their noses and voted Thursday for a constitutional amendment regarding how judges are chosen in Tennessee. The measure largely keeps the current system in tact with appointments by the governor and retention elections every eight years. Blake Farmer reports.
Sen. Mae Beavers of Mt. Juliet would prefer direct elections of judges, but she signed off. She believes Tennesseans will ultimately reject the constitutional amendment that would be on the ballot next year.
Lawmakers in Tennessee are watching Florida closely after the state’s conservative Republican governor went along with a major piece of the Affordable Care Act. Governor Bill Haslam is still on the fence about expanding the state’s Medicaid program – known as TennCare.
Tennessee’s institutions of higher education are still trying to scuttle legislative tweaks to their admissions and hiring processes. A proposed law intended to make sure no preference is shown on the basis of race or gender was again delayed in a state Senate committee.
Universities are worried about the possibly broad interpretation of what “preference” could mean.
A key legislative committee has put off a bill taking aim at federal gun laws. The measure would make it a crime for officers to enforce any national gun restrictions in Tennessee, but there are constitutional questions.
Sen. Mae Beavers of Mt. Juliet says the way she sees it, states have a choice about whether federal laws infringe on the right to bear arms.
She argued her point before the Senate Judiciary Committee, which she chaired just last year.
A bill to create a state charter authorizer has been delayed. The sponsor now says he’s listening to critics, who say the legislation unfairly singles out Nashville and Memphis.
As written, the bill would give charter schools a way to open in Tennessee’s two largest urban areas without asking the school board – officially known as the local education authority or LEA. Rep. Mark White is the sponsor and says he could be on-board with a true statewide charter authorizer if local school boards do the initial vetting.
“If we go back to the LEAs – letting them have first input on this – this will be a statewide application,” White says.
An effort to lower daily expense accounts for some state lawmakers is running into more resistance, even as it advances in the General Assembly. Those who live within 50 miles of the state capitol would no longer be eligible for the $173 a day meant for hotels and meals. One legislator says the restrictions favor the wealthy.
In a House committee, Democrat Johnny Shaw of West Tennessee told the sponsor he was making it nearly impossible for a working person to hold office.
Tennessee’s so-called “guns in trunks” legislation is up for a vote of the full Senate Monday night, and it now appears set for smooth sailing in the state House. Speaker Beth Harwell says it will likely pass.