It has been a busy few weeks at the Capitol, highlighted by our Coalition’s day on the hill.
Education committee calendars have been progressively more full, as the legislature works towards a speedy end of session. Being an election year, all those campaigning are anxious to get back out to their districts. This year, all members of our State House of Representatives are up for reelection. Half of the Senate, a total of 17 seats out of the Senate’s 33 seats are open for election in 2018. As we move into mid-March, committees and subcommittees will begin wrapping up. Both House Education subcommittees have announced that their last calendars will be heard the week of March 19. Expect most committees to wrap up in March and budget work to begin in April. Adjournment is still on target for mid to late April.
As we enter into the eighth week of the 110th General Assembly, here are 5 important highlights and 3 things you should know before the end of session:
5 things that have happened so far in the 2018 legislative session:
- Testing is a hot topic this year with our legislative friends. Following the mix-up with TNReady scores last year, lawmakers filled multiple bills ranging from cutting reducing the number of tests students take, limiting the weight of testing scores on teacher evaluations, and some going as far as seeking to ban testing all together.
- Lawmakers have focused on revamping teacher discipline policies following a USA TODAY investigation and an independent review by the Office of Research and Education Accountability (OREA). A push is underway for policies that are more effective at preventing teacher misconduct incidents outside of the classroom..
- A bill seeking to arm teachers has made some advancement in the legislature, passing the first subcommittee before being put on hold by the sponsor. Part of this hold is because Haslam convened a school safety working group that includes the bill sponsor. Here is a list of who is on the task force.
- Lawmakers are working to allow wine sales on Sunday and proposing to use the tax revenue to fund the expansion of pre-k programs for low-income students. Read about a newly approved rule here.
- As for other issues, medical marijuana finally progressed. The legislation passed out of the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee only after Speaker Harwell voted in favor of the bill breaking the tie and sending it to full committee. Harwell has broken ties before on 3 previous issues: wine in grocery stores, collective bargaining rights for teachers, and the gas tax.
Three things to know as session wraps up:
- TIRRC’s Day on the Hill for In-State Tuition Opportunity will be hosted next week, on Tuesday March 13th. Sign up to attend here.
- At least 1/3 of the legislature will turn over in November of this year, an unprecedented change in membership. Make sure you’re ready for elections by registering to vote or updating your information.
- The legislative session has over a month left. To stay connected with updated information on weekly education news from the statehouse, sign up for our weekly legislative newsletter.