Another idiotic gun bill has been introduced that would allow patrons of restaurants to sue the owners for not allowing weapons if they get bitten by a racoon.
Tennessee Senate Refuses To Honor Latina Activist Renata Soto, Citing Objections To National Group
Four gun bills up for discussion before Tenn. Senate committee
House Authorizes AG to Investigate Durham for Misconduct
Online testing fiasco sends Tennessee ed officials back to the drawing board
But it ended up being an avalanche of proposed amendments — including a last-minute change proposed by the bill’s main sponsor — that caused Rep. Bill Dunn, R-Knoxville, to put the vote off until later in the week.
Dunn told colleagues before the floor session that he now only wants the bill to apply to the state’s four largest counties: Shelby, Davidson, Knox and Hamilton. But he said he wants to take a more comprehensive approach to finding a version that can pass “instead of taking up 22 amendments.”
Even Dunn’s normally routine motion to delay the vote illustrated how closely divided the House is on the measure. It received just 51 votes — or two more than the minimum to be adopted. Humphrey on the Hill
House Authorizes AG to Investigate Durham for MisconductThe state House Ad Hoc Select Committee to investigate whether to expel Rep. Jeremy Durham from the legislature hadn’t even held its first meeting this afternoon before it was coming under attack.
State Democratic Party chair Mary Mancini dashed off a statement ridiculing the committee as “another example of Republican leadership failing to fully understand or address this very serious situation.”
She called it “a sham committee with, laughably, an overwhelming male majority,” and she demanded that it immediately expand its mandate to investigate House leaders as well for their failure to crack down on Durham sooner for allegedly sexually harassing women at Legislative Plaza. Mancini said:
The larger issues that should also be investigated are the cover up by Republican leadership and their failure to secure a safe working environment for women working and interning at the State Capitol. Just what did they know and when did they know it and how long did they allow Jeremy Durham to continue his inappropriate behavior.The committee met a few minutes ago and unanimously adopted a resolution authorizing state Attorney General Herb Slatery “to conduct a full fair and thorough investigation of the allegations of disorderly and inappropriate behavior and misconduct by Representative Durham.”
Slatery will have subpoena powers to compel testimony and obtain evidence and will make a report at some point to the committee. Pith in the Wind
Four gun bills up for discussion before Tenn. Senate committeeA Senate committee will consider four bills Tuesday to make it easier for handgun-carry permit holders to go armed on college campuses, hold property owners liable for injuries suffered by a carry-permit holder and require private schools to have gun policies.
The bills are the first of several gun bills filed in the current legislative session coming up for public review, including a comprehensive bill that, among other things, would void local ordinances that ban the firing of guns in residential neighborhoods. That bill, Senate Bill 2273, has not been scheduled for review.
The Senate Judiciary Committee is set to hear these bills in its 3:30 p.m. CST meeting:
SB 1736, which declares that a person or business entity posting signs prohibiting guns on the property becomes liable if a handgun-carry permit holder is harmed, injured or killed. The owner would be responsible for damages, attorneys fees, expert witness expenses and other costs of a lawsuit. The responsibility of the owner would extend "to the conduct of other invitees, trespassers, employees, vicious animals, wild animals, and defensible man-made and natural hazards." The bill is sponsored by Sen. Dolores Gresham, R-Somerville, and Rep. Jeremy Faison, R-Newport.
SB1559, requiring all private K-12 schools and private colleges and universities to implement a written handgun-carry policy that either permits or prohibits permit holders to go armed on the school grounds and buildings, or parts of the campus. By Sen. Mike Bell, R-Athens, and Rep. Tilman Goins, R-Morristown.
SB2376, allowing full-time employees of public colleges and universities who have handgun-carry permits to go armed on any university-owned or controlled property. By Bell and Rep. Andy Holt, R-Dresden. Knoxville News Sentinel/Subscription
Tennessee Senate Refuses To Honor Latina Activist Renata Soto, Citing Objections To National GroupThe Tennessee Senate has refused to honor Nashville activist Renata Soto.
Senators voted Monday to reject a resolution that would congratulate Soto on being elected chair of the National Council of La Raza, a Latino-rights organization.
The resolution received just nine votes — half the number needed for passage. A dozen lawmakers abstained.
That group included Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris, R-Collierville. He said he has no problem with Soto, but many GOP senators take issue with La Raza, particularly its advocacy for undocumented immigrants. Norris cited one protest in particular.
"An event one day last year where illegal aliens were encouraged not to show up for work, and that sort of thing. And it was just more than some of my members could take," he said.
Norris was referring to the Day Without An Immigrant walkouts in 2006. La Raza was not an official organizer of those protests, but Soto was quoted in a local newspaper article as supporting the event. WPLN
Tennessee bill would restrict where welfare money is spentA pair of lawmakers on Monday announced a plan aiming to reduce fraud among Tennessee welfare recipients.
The effort — titled the “Act to Restore Hope, Opportunity and Prosperity for Everyone," — was touted by Sen. Kerry Roberts, R-Springfield, and Rep. Dan Howell, R-Cleveland, as an opportunity to provide assistance to those truly in need.
“We want to make sure that money is available to people who need it most,” said Roberts, who noted that Tennessee spends more proportionally than any other state on welfare programs. “According to the Census Bureau about one in four state dollars go into welfare programs.”
Howell contended that through the measures outlined in the legislation, the state could see an annual savings in excess of $123 million.
When asked how many welfare recipients he believed are currently defrauding the state, Howell said that although he had not seen an estimate of the total number of people committing fraud, he pointed to analysis of how much other states, including Illinois and Massachusetts have saved through similar efforts.
“We see this as a moral issue in Tennessee,” Howell said. “Taxpayers should know where their hard-earned dollars are going.”
Both lawmakers discussed the specifics of the legislation, which has three parts.
The first aspect would be to verify the assets of each welfare recipient. Howell said that’s necessary in order to ensure that “Joe Schmo with two vacation homes and an Escalade” is not reaping benefits while 7,000 people remain on the waiting list.
The second part of the legislation would be to monitor the purchases made by those receiving welfare. That, the lawmakers said, is necessary in order to determine whether or not someone is using their EBT card in the right places. Tennessean/Subscription
Drug Testing for Benefits Yields Few Positive ResultsOfficials say less than 0.2 percent of people who have applied for welfare since July 2014 have failed a drug test mandated for some.
Citing data provided by the Department of Human Services to The Tennessean, the newspaper reports that 65 of 39,121 people applying for Families First cash assistance benefits tested positive for drugs since the law was implemented.
Since the law started, 609 people have been asked to take a drug test, with 544 testing negative. An additional 116 refused to participate in an initial drug screening questionnaire, automatically disqualifying them from benefits. Memphis Daily News
Online testing fiasco sends Tennessee ed officials back to the drawing board
On a day that was supposed to mark a new era of online testing in Tennessee, a major technology failure led State Department of Education officials to scrap their new online exam and revert to paper-and-pencil tests.Within minutes after some schools statewide began administering the TNReady test developed by North Carolina-based Measurement Inc., the company’s online platform experienced a severe network outage, prompting state officials to order districts to stop the testing immediately if they were experiencing technical difficulties.
By the end of the day, the issues not resolved, Education Commissioner Candice McQueen emailed district directors to stop the process altogether because, she said, “we are not confident in the system’s ability to perform consistently.”
The admission and change of plans are a major blow to McQueen and her Education Department, which have worked with Measurement Inc. since October 2014 to develop a new assessment that moves Tennessee schools to online testing and also is aligned with Tennessee’s current Common Core standards. Even before then, the state had preparedfor years for the switch to online testing.
“Like you, we are incredibly disappointed that the MIST platform was not accessible to schools across the state as the Part I testing window opened,” McQueen wrote directors. “We understand that the shift to paper and pencil testing has many scheduling implications for your schools, teachers, and students. We thank you for your patience and cooperation as we transition to a test medium that we are confident will allow all students to show what they know.”
Just last week, state education leaders briefed reporters about contingency plans if technical glitches or system failures occurred. The plan was to give individual districts discretion in ordering backup paper-based tests, plus flexibility in taking the test outside the testing window, scheduled for Feb. 8 through March 4.
State education officials never hinted that a technical failure of this magnitude was a possibility. In fact, they expressed optimism in the wake of months of capacity tests, significant investments in server capacity, and on-the-ground visits to local districts that tested the program.
But after Monday’s fiasco and concerned about more disruptions, state officials didn’t even attempt to salvage TNReady’s online exam for the second part of the testing window, scheduled for April 18 through May 13. Chalkbeat Tennessee
Why Haslam's School Spending Increase Isn't the Best Thing EverOK, we get it that Gov. Bill Haslam is painfully short on accomplishments with only two years left in office, and he needs to puff up things a little. But this is ridiculous. Spinning madly, Haslam now is claiming he’s put record spending for education in his FY17 state budget.
Worse, the gullible MSM are falling for it, letting the governor play them like a fiddle at the Grand Ole Opry.
When Haslam gave his State of State address a week ago (a really boring speech even by Haslam standards, by the way) he boasted he was adding more money to public schools without a tax increase than ever before in Tennessee history—the key phrase being "without a tax increase." He didn’t break it down for us. Still, using our powers of deduction, we figured there had to be at least one bigger spending increase that camewith a tax hike, right?
Well the next morning right off the bat, here comesThe Tennessean with a banner headline: A RECORD BOOST FOR EDUCATION.
Catchy, but wrong. In his speech, even Haslam didn't make that claim.
But now the governor himself has dropped his little caveat about the tax increase, and he’s just outright bragging that he—the Great Bill Haslam—is doing something historic. In Memphis to the Commercial Appeal editorial board, he said:
We just have to do the right thing. When you make a record investment in education, I'm not certain how anybody can say we're not committed to doing what we can.We asked the governor’s budget office what the hell he was talking about, and they did some digging and responded with the numbers. In point of fact, no matter what the governor might say, his increase—$238 million—isn't the most ever but would become the second largest increase behind Gov. Phil Bredesen’s $352 million in FY08, which was funded by a cigarette tax hike. Pith in the Wind
Crockett Policy Institute
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