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With Adjournment Likely Just Days Away, Lawmakers Scramble for Voucher Votes

Alyssa Hansen
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If you read yesterday's weekly statewide update, you may remember that we indicated that a legislative update wouldn't be sent out today.

The bad news? We changed our minds.

The good news? It's short(er), which we know many of you will appreciate.

By early yesterday afternoon, both the House and Senate had passed a nearly-$53 billion budget for the upcoming fiscal year.

You can read more specifics here but the bottom line is this: virtually nothing in this budget (which passed almost entirely along party lines) will help working families.

So who did get a boost from the budget? Big businesses (thanks to a massive tax break), charter schools, and some of Governor Bill Lee's personal pet projects.

Looking towards adjournment at some point next week, there are still a few major issues that lawmakers need to address.

The first is Governor Lee's statewide school voucher scheme, which is either hanging on by a thread or finally has enough votes to pass, depending on which day it is and who you ask.

With many of us celebrating the reported demise of this legislation earlier in the week, we'd like to offer an important reminder: no legislation is ever truly dead until lawmakers adjourn sine die.

Until that happens, any bill can come back at any time.

The second issue is with the bill that seeks to give businesses a billion-dollar tax break and has already passed in both the House and Senate.

As expected, a conference committee was appointed yesterday to work out the differences between the two versions.

Note that funding for both pieces of legislation was accounted for in the budget but neither has received final approval from lawmakers.

Lastly, there are still several straggler bills that are very much alive.

In particular, HB 2080/SB 1968, which would block an individual who currently holds elected office from holding another elected office in Tennessee at the same time, will likely be heard on the House floor next week.

This bill barely passed in the Senate earlier this year and has somewhat flown under the radar in the House.

Almost anything is possible during these last few days of session, and we'll be watching and keeping you updated until the moment lawmakers finally adjourn sine die!