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Voucher Expansion Could Be in Jeopardy, Ask Your Lawmakers to Vote "NO"

Alyssa Hansen
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At this point in the legislative session, each day often feels like we're watching paint dry.

Lawmakers have a tendency to talk in circles during debate, committee meetings drag on for hours, and rarely does anything positive for Tennessee's working families actually get accomplished.

Unfortunately, we're still not at the point where we can bid farewell to the second half of the 113th Tennessee General Assembly.

We may, however, be getting closer.

While budget discussions are not on the agenda in either chamber next week, the Senate is meeting for at least one additional floor session and nearly all committees are closed, with the exception of Finance, Ways & Means and one or two others.

That's usually a sign that the end is somewhat near, and we wouldn't be surprised if the budget starts making its way through committee during the week of April 15th.

As we mentioned in our previous legislative update, the elephant in the room for both the House and Senate continues to be the major differences over the plan to expand Tennessee's school voucher scheme statewide.

Now, the proposal that was already incredibly unpopular with members of both parties is reportedly in serious trouble and may not have the voters to actually pass in either chamber (if you click on the link, scroll down to the section entitled "Hashing it out--maybe" to learn more).

From our perspective, we have a very difficult time believing that leadership would allow legislators to go home without passing SOMETHING.

What exactly that "something" is remains to be seen over the next few weeks.

In the meantime, you've still got an opportunity to let lawmakers know how you feel about the plan that would undoubtedly destroy public education in Tennessee.

We know that many of you have taken action already but if not, click here to ask your representative and senator to vote "NO" on expanding vouchers statewide.

This link from the Tennessee Education Association (TEA) makes it very easy for you to do so; simply fill out the requested information, and you'll be connected with the elected officials who represent your district.

With the caption bill that's carrying the proposal to expand Tennessee's school voucher scheme statewide scheduled for discussion in both the House and Senate next week, timing is critically important.

Your voice matters, and we thank you for taking action as many legislators continue to have serious doubts about the merits of this disastrous proposal.

A Brief Look at Some of the Additional Legislation That We're Watching Next Week

-HB 1183/SB 503: This is the caption bill that's carrying the proposal to expand Tennessee's school voucher scheme statewide. Please note that the legislation is scheduled to be heard in BOTH the Senate Finance, Ways & Means Committee and the House Finance, Ways & Means Subcommittee next week.

-HB 1893/SB 2103: One of the most-discussed bills this session, this proposal seeks to give businesses a $2 billion tax cut. Recently, the House indicated that it wants the businesses that receive the tax breaks to be named, which is not part of the Senate proposal.
NOTE: This bill has already passed in the Senate and will be heard on the House floor on Monday afternoon.

-HB 2610/SB 2503: This bill seeks to terminate the human rights commission later this year.
NOTE: This bill has already passed in the Senate and will be heard on the House floor on Monday afternoon.

-HJR 797: Nearly-identical to a bill that has already passed the House, this resolution would prohibit a legislator who is expelled from the Tennessee General Assembly from being reelected to, reappointed by, or employed by the body.
NOTE: A very similar piece of legislation (HJR 706) is scheduled to be heard next week as well.

-HB 2080/SB 1968: A bill that has generated lots of headlines, this would block an individual who currently holds elected office from holding another elected office in Tennessee at the same time. At least one Republican representative already does what the legislation is trying to prevent, but Democrats have said that they believe this is specifically-targeted at Representative Gloria Johnson, who is currently running for both the U.S. Senate and her Tennessee House seat.