What You Need To Know About the 2018 Tennessee Legislative Session Before It Ends

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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..
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.


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