Articles by: Daniel Potter

Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris says at issue is whether leftover voucher slots should go to students getting free-and-reduced lunch in districts with schools in the bottom 5 percent statewide, or instead to those zoned for schools in the bottom 10 percent, per the House amendment, which would add in several rural counties. (Photo: WPLN/Daniel Potter)

Haslam’s School Vouchers Bill Lurches Forward, Amid Questions Over Who’s Affected

by / on March 26, 2014

The governor’s school vouchers proposal is back in gear in the state Senate. The bill had stalled amid confusion over which students it would affect, and where in Tennessee.

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House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick said Wednesday he doubts the governor's initial proposal targeting meth would have enough votes to pass on the House floor. (Photo via flickr / Gov. Bill Haslam's photostream)

This Meth Bill Isn’t What The TBI Wanted, But It Just Might Pass

by / on March 26, 2014

State lawmakers congratulated each other Wednesday on a compromise to limit the sale of cold medicine used to make meth. The bill is not as tough as Governor Bill Haslam’s original proposal—itself derided by some as a half-measure.

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Tennessee Lawmakers Vote Down Medical Marijuana, But May Allow Cannabis Oil Research

Tennessee Lawmakers Vote Down Medical Marijuana, But May Allow Cannabis Oil Research

by / on March 25, 2014

State lawmakers killed a proposal Tuesday to allow medical marijuana. But a bill moved forward that would permit a limited study of medical uses for cannabis oil.

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Gov. Bill Haslam is under pressure, since a bill passed the state House earlier this month that would set back the test that comes with the Common Core educational standards. (Photo: Daniel Potter/WPLN)

Haslam Ramping Up Defense of Common Core

by / on March 25, 2014

Haslam is trying to win over skeptical legislators, and asking for help from business leaders.

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Sen. Todd Gardenhire opted not to push for a vote on Senate Bill 1951, saying he'll try again to pass it, and didn't want to taint it with a negative vote in the meantime. (Photo: Daniel Potter/WPLN)

For Immigrant Families And In-State Tuition, One Proposal Advances While Another Falls

by / on March 24, 2014

Tennessee senators drew a line Monday, over the cost of college for students whose parents are undocumented immigrants. The Senate voted to let those born in the U.S. pay in-state rates—but sidelined a proposal to help undocumented students born elsewhere.

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Committees in the state legislature have a recurring fear this year: that a bill they sign off on will later shape-shift into something radically different they never would've approved. (Image via Will Carlisle, special to WPLN)

State Legislators Ask: Will You Promise Not To Hijack This Bill?

by / on March 24, 2014

There’s a seeming paranoia in the state legislature this spring: Committee chairmen want reassurances—guarantees, even—before they sign off on proposals.

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"I’ve talked about—this is just strictly talk—it should be normal when you adjourn sine die at the end of a two-year session to have a veto override session, just in case.  That’s not the governor, I don’t even know if he’s going to veto anything, but we used to do that years ago," Ramsey said. (Photo: Daniel Potter/WPLN)

Governor’s Weak Veto Power Will Get Even Weaker If Senate Speaker Has His Way

by / on March 20, 2014

Lieutenant Governor Ron Ramsey is looking to keep his options open, in case lawmakers want to override a veto from Governor Bill Haslam. Ramsey wants to schedule a special veto override session, just in case.

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Charters Schools Denied By Local Districts Could Soon Turn To State For Approval

Charters Schools Denied By Local Districts Could Soon Turn To State For Approval

by / on March 20, 2014

The state school board could soon get the power to sign off on new charter schools, if a local district refuses. The state Senate signed off Thursday on the proposal, sought by Nashville’s top lawmaker, House Speaker Beth Harwell.

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Sen. Mark Norris is vowing not to let the proposal approved in committee Wednesday be watered down in subsequent amendments. (Photo: JR Mahung/WPLN)

Senators Reluctantly Sign Off On “Minimum” Meth Bill

by / on March 19, 2014

State senators are weighing how tough a law they can realistically hope to pass targeting meth. They want to make it harder to get the drug’s key ingredient—the cold medicine pseudoephedrine.

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The legislature passed a guns-in-parks law a few years ago that allowed cities and counties to opt out, and many have. The new proposal would effectively delete such exemptions. (Photo via Seth Anderson/flickr)

Bill To Allow Guns In Parks Statewide May Be Down, But Not Out

by / on March 19, 2014

State lawmakers will wait until the end of session to take on a proposal that would let people carry guns in any park across the state, without exceptions. The bill has already passed the Senate, but was postponed Wednesday in the House.

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Gov. Bill Haslam's "Tennessee Promise" would make community college free for high school graduates. (Daniel Potter/WPLN file photo)

Compromise On Lottery Scholarship Lets Haslam’s Community College Proposal Move Forward

by / on March 18, 2014

A proposal from the governor called the Tennessee Promise meant to get more students into community colleges got a needed boost Tuesday thanks to a compromise with four-year schools.

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Rep. Rick Womick (R-Rockvale) says teachers and parents in his district have asked him to fight the Common Core standards, now in place in math and language-arts classes.

Lawmaker Airs Grievances Against Common Core, But Proposals To Undo It Fail

by / on March 18, 2014

A state lawmaker who’s been itching for a fight over the Common Core educational standards got one yesterday. Rep. Rick Womick brought proposals to discontinue Tennessee’s use of the grade-level benchmarks and their companion test; both were killed in committee.

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Don’t Just Delay Common Core, Some Lawmakers Say: Repeal It

Don’t Just Delay Common Core, Some Lawmakers Say: Repeal It

by / on March 18, 2014

Legislative wrangling over the Common Core educational standards ramped up a notch Tuesday morning, with state lawmakers weighing a bill to back Tennessee out altogether from the grade-level benchmarks adopted by dozens of states.

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Sen. Dolores Gresham (R-Somerville) finds herself in the awkward position of carrying one bill lawmakers want to reign in parts of Common Core, while chairing the Senate Education Committee, which last week killed a couple others meant to go further against the standards. (Photo via tnsenate.com)

Tensions Mount Over Common Core As Tennessee Senators Pass Bill To Target “Data Mining”

by / on March 18, 2014

State lawmakers showed no sign of letting up Monday night on new educational standards they’ve been taking pot shots at, known as the Common Core. Senators passed a bill aimed at concerns over the use of student data, while tensions mounted more broadly over the new educational benchmarks.

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From Name-Calling To Help With College Tuition: Tennessee Lawmakers Soften On Immigrants

From Name-Calling To Help With College Tuition: Tennessee Lawmakers Soften On Immigrants

by / on March 17, 2014

In a sea change on illegal immigration, Tennessee’s largely Republican legislature could allow in-state tuition rates for students whose families came to the U.S. without documentation.

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Craig Fitzhugh, a leading House Democrat, brought amendments to delay for two years any further implementation of the Common Core standards, as well as its test, known as PARCC. (Photo: Daniel Potter/PARCC)

In Surprise Maneuver, Tennessee House Votes Overwhelmingly To Delay Common Core Test

by / on March 13, 2014

The surprise move would not change benchmarks already in place in math and language-arts, but it would set back a new standardized test currently set to start next year.

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Current designs put the Amp's dedicated lanes down the middle of the road, with an area in between for people buying tickets and waiting to board.  That would not be allowed under the latest Senate proposal. (Image via Nashville MTA)

Shifting Gears, Tennessee Lawmakers May Target Amp’s Center-Lane Design

by / on March 12, 2014

Tennessee lawmakers in both Senate and House committees Wednesday eased off blocking a dedicated bus lane across downtown Nashville, but the legislature could still toss a wrench into Metro’s plans for the bus project, known as the Amp.

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Law enforcement officials have asked legislators for years to make it harder for people cooking meth to get its key ingredient, pseudoephedrine, by requiring a prescription for it.  But pharmaceutical companies have argued doing so will make it harder for law-abiding customers to access their products. (Image: flickr/sfgamchick)

Haslam’s Proposed Meth Crackdown In Flux As House, Senate Bills Diverge

by / on March 11, 2014

A state Senate committee Tuesday night approved four different proposals to crack down on the state’s meth problem, while voting 5-3 to kill a rival measure that advanced last week in the state House.

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Haslam Skeptical Of State Lawmakers’ Attempt To Ban The Amp

Haslam Skeptical Of State Lawmakers’ Attempt To Ban The Amp

by / on March 11, 2014

Gov. Bill Haslam doesn’t like the current legislative push to halt Nashville’s proposed dedicated bus lane through downtown. Two committees of lawmakers are set to discuss a bill Wednesday that would stop the project, known as the Amp.

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Sen. Mark Green (left) wants to phase out the Hall income tax, but Gov. Haslam is skeptical, citing flagging state revenue. (Photo via Gov. Bill Haslam's flickr)

Haslam Says State Can’t Afford Tax Cut This Year; Lawmaker Says They Can At Least Approve One For Later

by / on March 11, 2014

Governor Bill Haslam isn’t sure the time is right to cut a tax on income from investments. Lawmakers want to phase out what’s known as the Hall income tax.

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