Did Rep. Doggett Vote For The Anti-LGBT Adoption Bill Without Knowing What Was In It?

This week the Tennessee House Judiciary Committee voted to advance HB 836 (SB 1304), a bill that would create a license to discriminate in child welfare services, to the House of Representatives for consideration.
Anti-equality lawmakers have also introduced another discriminatory child welfare bill, HB 1152 (SB 848), that has not yet advanced from committee. HB 836 will be heard by the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday March 26th. According to the Human Rights Campaign:

“If passed, these bills would allow state contractors who provide taxpayer-funded adoption and foster care services to refuse to make child placements with qualified, loving families if the family doesn’t share all of the agency’s religious beliefs. Under these proposals state-licensed child-placing agencies would be allowed to disregard the best interest of children and turn away qualified Tennesseans seeking to care for a child in need.

This would include LGBTQ couples, interfaith couples, single parents, married couples in which one prospective parent has previously been divorced or other parents to whom the agency has a religious objection.”

Apparently this is confusing to some legislators.

Jessica Yokley, a Lawrence County resident who ran against Doggett in 2018, posted on Facebook that she spoke with Rep. Clay Doggett (R-Lawrenceburg) yesterday, who seemed to not understand that the bill would allow adoption agencies in receipt of taxpayer funds to discriminate without fear of losing government contracts.

From Yokley’s post:

“Rep. Doggett called me yesterday. He stated his support of this bill was related to business owners having liberty and that this bill does not apply to entities who use tax dollars which is why he supported it. Rep. Doggett said he would not support the bill if it included entities who receive tax dollars or facilitate adoptions for children in state custody. He has already voted for the bill in Judiciary Committee. The fact is, not only does the bill NOT EXCLUDE entities who take tax dollars, it specifically allows the organizations to receive them!

You can read this for yourself in Paragraph C of the bill below. I have also sent this to Rep. Doggett so that he can see I am speaking the truth.”

Yokley then includes the text of the bill in her post, which you can read in its entirety here.

In the comments underneath the post, another Lawrence County resident posts an excerpt of her exchange with Doggett in which he says he’s “looking into it”… which is concerning since he already voted FOR the bill in committee.

This begs the question – how many other bills is Doggett voting on without understanding? And how many other Tennessee legislators are voting to allow discrimination with taxpayer dollars without even knowing that’s what they’re doing?

Whether or not you agree with the policy, we should all be able to agree that voting on a bill without understanding the fundamentals of what’s in it is a problem. Lawrence County residents are well within their rights to ask Doggett how that could be the case.

To hear more about the bill and why it’s “bad for kids”, watch our video from last week HERE, or check out this other post from Yokley, an adoptive parent herself, which initially called out Doggett and started their dialogue, including:

“How dare you risk a child’s chance at a stable home.”

And here’s more on the ramifications of the bill from HRC:

Preliminary findings from HRC and Clark University’s National Foster Care and Adoption survey found that:

  • Eighty-eight percent of LGBTQ people living in Tennessee are considering welcoming a child into their home via adoption or foster care in the future;
  • Further, 92 percent fear they will be discriminated against because they are LGBTQ while pursuing adoption or foster care;
  • Eighty percent have potential concerns about finding an LGBTQ-inclusive adoption or foster care agency in their city; and
  • Sixty-seven percent would be less likely to pursue adoption and foster care if a law allowing state-sanctioned discrimination was on the books in Tennessee.

These statistics are alarming, especially when the Tennessee legislature continues to push these harmful bills that ultimately lessen the pool of qualified foster and adoptive parents. Children should not be forced to age out of foster care without a family connection, or wait indefinitely in foster care when qualified families are ready to adopt or foster the child. This legislation exacerbates the problem and leaves more and more children waiting for forever homes.

If you agree that this bill is bad for kids, holler at Doggett or your reps.

The Holler has reached out to Doggett for comment.

OPINION: “HEADS UP! THIS IS IT.” #Vouchers #Wednesday

Nashville school board member Amy Frogge talks about a key vote on Governor Bill Lee’s voucher plan — a vote scheduled for Wednesday, March 27th.

First seen on the TN Ed Report. Follow @TNEdReport for more.

HEADS UP, everyone! THIS IS IT. Vouchers will be up for a key vote this coming Wednesday, March 27th, at 8 am in the full House Education Committee, and this is our best chance to stop them in Tennessee. IT IS SUPER IMPORTANT THAT WE ACT NOW.

Here’s information on the bill: HB 939/SB 795 would create a new form of vouchers in Tennessee called Education Savings Accounts (ESAs). ESAs have been described as “vouchers on steroids.”

This proposed legislation is targeted not toward “children trapped in failing schools,” but toward wealthier families, with virtually no regulation or public accountability. Vouchers would be available in any district containing at least three schools in the bottom 10% of schools in the state, but vouchers would be made available to ALL students in that district, including those enrolled in high-performing schools and private schools.

Families making up to around $100,000 per year would be eligible for the voucher, and private schools would not be required to accept the voucher as payment in full. This means that more affluent families with children already enrolled in private schools could use the voucher to help offset their current payments for private school.


It will also allow students to cross county lines with their vouchers, which could wreak havoc on many rural school districts.

Local school districts will have to pay for the bulk of these vouchers. (For example, in Davidson County, the state would pay only about $3,600 toward the cost of the voucher, while Davidson County would be required to pay about $8,100 per voucher.)

On top of this, the state would withhold a 6% management fee for the voucher program. The governor has claimed that a limited amount of funding will be available to school districts to help offset the cost of the vouchers for three years, but this money could be revoked at any time- and worse, vouchers will create ongoing recurring costs that school districts will be unable to cover for an indefinite period of time.

Once the door to vouchers has been opened, it cannot be shut. Under this legislation, vouchers would become an entitlement for upper middle class private school parents and homeschool parents.

HERE’S HOW YOU CAN HELP:

1. We need as many people as possible to attend the hearing. It will be in House Hearing Room 1 of the Cordell Hull Building.

2. Contact members of the committee NOW, and encourage your friends to do so. (Obviously, constituents of these members will make the greatest impact.)

Mark White, Chair 615-741-4415
rep.mark.white@capitol.tn.gov

Kirk Haston, Vice Chair 615-741-0750
rep.kirk.haston@capitol.tn.gov

Debra Moody 615-741-3774 rep.debra.moody@capitol.tn.gov

Charlie Baum 615-741-6849 rep.charlie.baum@capitol.tn.gov

David Byrd 615-741-2190
rep.david.byrd@capitol.tn.gov

Scott Cepicky 615-741-3005
rep.scott.cepicky@capitol.tn.gov

Mark Cochran 615-741-1725
rep.mark.cochran@capitol.tn.gov

Jim Coley 615-741-8201
rep.jim.coley@capitol.tn.gov

John DeBerry, Jr. 615-741-2239 rep.john.deberry@capitol.tn.gov

Vincent Dixie 615-741-1997 rep.vincent.dixie@capitol.tn.gov

Jason Hodges 615-741-2043
rep.jason.hodges@capitol.tn.gov

Chris Hurt 615-741-2134
rep.chris.hurt@capitol.tn.gov

Tom Leatherwood 615-741-7084 rep.tom.leatherwood@capitol.tn.gov

Bill Dunn 615-741-1721 rep.bill.dunn@capitol.tn.gov

Harold Love, Jr. 615-741-3831
rep.harold.love@capitol.tn.gov

Antonio Parkinson 615-741-4575
rep.antonio.parkinson@capitol.tn.gov

John Ragan 615-741-4400
rep.john.ragan@capitol.tn.gov

Iris Rudder 615-741-8695
rep.iris.rudder@capitol.tn.gov

Jerry Sexton 615-741-2534
rep.jerry.sexton@capitol.tn.gov

Kevin Vaughn 615-741-1866
rep.kevin.vaughn@capitol.tn.gov

Terri Lynn Weaver 615-741-2192
rep.terri.lynn.weaver@capitol.tn.gov

Ryan Williams 615-741-1875
rep.ryan.williams@capitol.tn.gov

John Mark Windle 716-741-1260
rep.john.windle@capitol.tn.gov

SLATE OF HATE: Anti-LGBT “License to Discriminate” Bill Clears House

Bill awaits Senate hearing

This week, two pieces of legislation designed to permit and protect  discrimination against members of the LGBTQ community advanced in the state legislature.

Four years after the U.S. Supreme Court ruling finding same-sex marriage bans to be unconstitutional, conservatives, reeling in Tennessee, are still writing legislation to protect the unequal treatment of the LGBTQ community.

Pre-emption, discrimination all in one
House Bill 563, sponsored by Rep. Jason Zachary, R-Knoxville, District 14, passed on a 68-22 vote and is headed to the Senate.

The legislation is cleverly written to make it appear as if it bans discrimination against business owners. But it what it really does is protect company owners who do business with the government and discriminate against the LGBTQ community.

This legislation makes it illegal for state and local governments to consider “internal business policies,” such as a business owner’s choice to deny service to the LGBTQ community, as a factor in approving contracts and tax incentives.

The bill is likely to have unintended consequences because it didn’t stop with eliminating internal non-discrimination policies. The bill also eliminates wages, benefits and maternity leave as factors a government can consider before they sign contracts and make incentive deals with private businesses.

Though some parts of the state would likely be thrilled to pay incentives to a company that pays minimum wages and only meets federal requirements for health care and benefits, the state of Tennessee and major cities have asked more of the companies seeking tax incentives.

The whole state benefits when economic development officials are allowed to recruit companies that pay high wages, offer health and leave benefits above what federal law requires and develop inclusive business practices.

This legislation should be considered an insult to every Tennessee business owner who pays above minimum wage, offers benefits they don’t have to or creates an inclusive and diverse workplace.

Instead, when it comes to government contracts and incentives, this legislation puts on equal footing companies that do the bare minimum and possibly discriminate with companies that do more for employees to recruit top talent.

The Senate version—SB0364—is in the Senate State and Local Government Committee waiting to be put on the calendar for debate.

Adoptions — but not for everyone
Another proposal, House Bill 836, would jeopardize good homes for Tennessee’s 8,000 children in foster care. The bill gives private child-placing agencies permission to deny any person seeking to foster or adopt a child if the placement would “violate the agency’s written religious or moral convictions.”

The state Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to debate the bill Tuesday, March 26.

The proposal, sponsored by Rep. Tim Rudd, R-Murfreesboro, District 34, will likely to come to a House floor the first week of April.

Watch our video on this bill HERE.


Read previous coverage of the anti-LGBTQ adoption bill here.

How they voted:
Full House of Representatives, House Bill 563, March 21:

Representatives voting for the bill:
Rep. Charlie Baum, R-Murfreesboro, District 37
Rep. Clark Boyd, R-Lebanon, District 46
Rep. Rush Bricken, R-Tullahoma, District 47
Rep. David Byrd, R-Waynesboro, District 71
Rep. Kent Calfee, R-Kingston, District 32
Rep. Mike Carter, R-Ooltewah, District 29
Speaker Glen Casada, R-Franklin, District 63
Rep. Scott Cepicky, R-Culleoka, District 64
Rep. Mark Cochran, R-Englewood, District 23
Rep. Jim Coley, R-Bartlett, District 97
Rep. John Crawford, R-Kingsport, District 1
Rep. Michael Curcio, R-Dickson, District 69
Rep. Martin Daniel, R-Knoxville, District 18
Rep. Clay Doggett, R-Pulaski, District 70
Rep. Bill Dunn, R-Knoxville, District 16
Rep. Rick Eldridge, R-Morristown, District 10
Rep. Jeremy Faison, R-Cosby, District 11
Rep. Andrew Farmer, R-Sevierville, District 17
Rep. Ron Gant, R-Rossville, District 94
Rep. Johnny Garrett, R-Goodlettsville, District 45
Rep. Bruce Griffey, R-Paris, District 75
Rep. Curtis Halford, R-Dyer, District 79
Rep. Mark Hall, R-Cleveland, District 24
Rep. Kirk Haston, R-Lobelville, District 72
Rep. David Hawk, R-Greeneville, District 5
Rep. Esther Helton, R-East Ridge, District 30
Rep. Gary Hicks, R-Rogersville, District 9
Rep. Matthew Hill, R-Jonesborough, District 7
Rep. Timothy Hill, R-Blountville, District 3
Rep. John Holsclaw, Jr., R-Elizabethton, District 4
Rep. Andy Holt, R-Dresden, District 76
Rep. Dan Howell, R-Cleveland, District 22
Rep. Bud Hulsey, R-Kingsport, District 2
Rep. Chris Hurt, R-Halls, District 82
Rep. Curtis Johnson, R-Clarksville, District 68
Rep. Kelly Keisling, R-Byrdstown, District 38
Rep. Sabi Kumar, R-Springfield, District 66
Rep. Justin Lafferty, R-Knoxville, District 89
Rep. William Lamberth, R-Portland, District 44
Rep. Tom Leatherwood, R-Arlington, District 99
Rep. Mary Littleton, R-Dickson, District 78
Rep. Susan Lynn, R-Mt. Juliet, District 57
Rep. Pat Marsh, R-Shelbyville, District 62
Rep. Debra Moody, R-Covington, District 81
Rep. Jerome Moon, R-Maryville, District 8
Rep. Brandon Ogles, R-Franklin, District 61
Rep. Dennis Powers, R-Jacksboro, District 36
Rep. John Ragan, R-Oak Ridge, District 33
Rep. Jay Reedy, R-Erin, District 74
Rep. Tim Rudd, R-Murfreesboro, District 34
Rep. Iris Rudder, R-Winchester, District 39
Rep. Lowell Russell, R-Vonore, District 21
Rep. Cameron Sexton, R-Crossville, District 25
Rep. Jerry Sexton, R-Bean Station, District 35
Rep. Paul Sherrell, R-Sparta, District 43
Rep. Robin Smith, R-Hixson, District 26
Rep. Mike Sparks, R-Smyrna, District 49
Rep. Ron Travis, R-Dayton, District 31
Rep. James “Micah” Van Huss, R-Gray, District 6
Rep. Kevin Vaughan, R-Collierville, District 95
Rep. Terri Lynn Weaver, R-Lancaster, District 40
Rep. Mark White, R-Memphis, District 83
Rep. Dave Wright, R-Corryton, District 19
Rep. Jason Zachary, R-Knoxville, District 14

Rep. John DeBerry, D-Memphis, District 90
Rep. Johnny Shaw, D-Bolivar, District 80
Rep. Rick Staples, D-Knoxville, District 15
Rep. John Mark Windle, D-Livingston, District 41

Representatives voting No against the bill:
Rep. Bill Beck, D-Nashville, District 51
Rep. Karen Camper, D-Memphis, District 87
Rep. Jesse Chism, D-Memphis, District 85
Rep. John Ray Clemmons, D-Nashville, District 55
Rep. Barbara Cooper, D-Memphis, District 86
Rep. Vincent Dixie, D-Nashville, District 54
Rep. Bob Freeman, D-Nashville, District 56
Rep. Yusuf Hakeem, D-Chattanooga, District 28
Rep. G. A. Hardaway, D-Memphis, District 93
Rep. Jason Hodges, D-Clarksville, District 67
Rep. Darren Jernigan, D-Old Hickory, District 60
Rep. Gloria Johnson, D-Knoxville, District 13
Rep. London Lamar, D-Memphis, District 91
Rep. Harold Love, Jr., D-Nashville, District 58
Rep. Larry Miller, D-Memphis, District 88
Rep. Bo Mitchell, D-Nashville, District 50
Rep. Antonio Parkinson, D-Memphis, District 98
Rep. Jason Potts, D-Nashville, District 59
Rep. Jason Powell, D-Nashville, District 53
Rep. Mike Stewart, D-Nashville, District 52
Rep. Dwayne Thompson, D-Cordova, District 96
Rep. Joe Towns, Jr., D-Memphis, District 84

Representatives Absent or Missed Vote:
Rep. Dale Carr, R-Sevierville, District 12
Rep. Patsy Hazelwood, R-Signal Mountain, District 27
Rep. Bob Ramsey, R-Maryville, District 20
Rep. Bill Sanderson, R-Kenton, District 77
Rep. Bryan Terry, R-Murfreesboro, District 48
Rep. Rick Tillis, R-Lewisberg, District 92
Rep. Chris Todd, R-Jackson, District 73
Rep. Sam Whitson, R-Franklin, District 65
Rep. Ryan Williams, R-Cookeville, District 42

(another) BAD WEEK FOR WORKING WOMEN

Republican lawmakers on the House Employee Affairs Subcommittee rejected four bills that would improve working conditions for women and families in Tennessee—all in less than an hour.

Read more

Gov. Lee’s Charter School Agency Bill (TEA Called “Worst Ever”) Passes Ed Committee

Gov. Bill Lee’s proposal to create a new state agency to oversee charter schools Tennessee passed the House Education Committee today on a 13-9 vote.

House Bill 940, as amended by the committee, would create a new charter school commission within the state education department and take over duties relating to charter schools currently handled by the state board of education.

The most controversial component of the legislation—a measure that would allow the new commission to approve charter school applications anywhere in the state without local school board input—was removed at the behest of nervous Republicans who likely heard an earful from their local public education officials.

In the bill’s current form, new charter applications would first be heard by local school districts. In the event that local school officials deny an application to open a new charter school, the new nine-member commission, appointed by the governor and approved by the legislature, could hear an appeal from the charter applicant and overturn the local decision.

As we previously wrote, charter schools are essentially private schools which take public school dollars away from brick and mortar public schools. Many are fly-by-night operations that take as much public money as they can and then disappear.

In the past week, New Vision Academy closed down in Davidson County because of problems with building fire codes. According to reports, a federal investigation also is being conducted into its operators.

This bill would mean charter schools like New Vision could be approved by a board that doesn’t even live in an area, leading to money for those kids being steered away from that area’s public schools – including in rural areas of TN which already barely have enough money to fully fund their existing public school systems.

Rep. Antonio Parkinson (D-Memphis) seemed to take morbid delight in the fact that this would mean charter schools opening up in districts around the state the way they have been in Shelby County, and had this to say:

“One thing I do like about this bill: Everybody gets a taste of the charter medicine throughout the state… everybody gets an opportunity to feel what we’ve been feeling in Shelby County. Under the state school board, there have been 70+ applications, but the board only approved 3- and the 3 were in Shelby and Davidson County. Imagine that. This opens up a nice little floodgate for the rest of y’all to see what we’ve been screaming bloody murder about. Y’all get a chance to feel what that feels like, and see what we’ve been screaming about the last few years.”

Or, as Rep. Jason Hodges (D-Clarksville) put it:

“Just because someone’s unhappy with the schools in their district doesn’t mean they need to take steps to destroy the schools in my district or other districts. The bill wouldn’t just affect their communities, it affects all communities. Charters may not be in Montgomery County yet, but if this happens they’ll be there soon destroying our public school system. No thank you.”

Two issues almost completely absent from the Education Committee’s debate of the bill: the costs passed onto local school districts when a new charter school opens and the academic effectiveness of charter schools in Tennessee.

The legislature changed state law in 2002 to allow for the creation of charters schools, which are funded by state and local tax payers but operate independently, picking their own curriculum and managing their own budgets.

Over the years, lawmakers have loosened the rules and added tax dollar investments to allow for more charter schools and enrollment at charter schools has jumped more than 500 percent since 2010.

The program keeps growing in spite of the fact that, statewide, students at Tennessee’s charter schools under performed district-run schools on end-of-course exams.

And according to a 2018 report by the Tennessee Department of Education, “both charter schools and district-run schools display considerable variation in overall effectiveness” as it relates to student academic progress.

Still, there are 116 charter schools operating in Tennessee today. And Gov. Lee’s new charter school agency could expand the charter footprint even further.

The academic growth and success of students should be primary consideration when lawmakers consider whether a program is worthy of additional investment. But that issue was not discussed on March 20.


Next step:
The bill will be heard next by the House Government Operations Committee, which meets next on Monday, March 25 at 2 p.m.

How they voted: House Education Committee passed the bill 13-9, March 20.
Representatives voting for the bill:
Rep. Charlie Baum, R-Murfreesboro, District 37
Rep. David Byrd, R-Waynesboro, District 71
Rep. Scott Cepicky, R-Culleoka, District 64
Rep. Bill Dunn, R-Knoxville, District 16
Rep. Tom Leatherwood, R-Arlington, District 99
Rep. Debra Moody, R-Covington, District 81
Rep. John Ragan, R-Oak Ridge, District 33
Rep. Iris Rudder, R-Winchester, District 39
Rep. Jerry Sexton, R-Bean Station, District 35
Rep. Kevin Vaughan, R-Collierville, District 95
Rep. Mark White, R-Memphis, District 83
Rep. Ryan Williams, R-Cookeville, District 42

Rep. John DeBerry, D-Memphis, District 90

Representatives who voted against the bill:
Rep. Mark Cochran, R-Englewood, District 23
Rep. Jim Coley, R-Bartlett, District 97
Rep. Kirk Haston, R-Lobelville, District 72
Rep. Chris Hurt, R-Halls, District 82
Rep. Terri Lynn Weaver, R-Lancaster, District 40

Rep. Vincent Dixie, D-Nashville, District 54
Rep. Jason Hodges, D-Clarksville, District 67
Rep. Harold Love, Jr., D-Nashville, District 58
Rep. Antonio Parkinson, D-Memphis, District 98

Absent/Missed the vote:
Rep. John Mark Windle, D-Livingston, District 41

Rep. Deberry Questions Need For Anti-Discrimination Commission, Calls Minority & Human Rights “murky”

This week at a budget meeting in the House Finance, Ways, and Means Committee, Rep. John Deberry Jr (D-Memphis) questioned the need for the Tennessee Human Rights Commission which was established to uphold the rights of Tennessee’s minority and disability communities.

Read more

OPINION: Gov. Lee’s Vouchers Undermine Schools TN Should Be Supporting

Brad Fiscus is a veteran teacher, a leader in the Tennessee Conference of The United Methodist Church, and a member of the Williamson County Board of Education, the following Op-ED are his personal views and do not represent the thoughts or opinions of Williamson County Schools or the Board of Education. 

During Tennessee’s State of the State address, Governor Bill Lee made it clear that
privatizing public education would be a significant initiative of his legislative agenda.
While he professed his support for public schools, he also laid out his plan to strip away
funding from public schools.

Read more

TN GOP Kills Clemmons Net Neutrality Bill, Comcast and AT&T Get Their $$ Worth

Net neutrality is an issue that extends far beyond Tennessee, but could have major implications for Tennessee business owners. Under current state laws, there are no net neutrality rules.

With net neutrality rules, major broadband internet providers like Comcast Xfinity and AT&T are classified as “common carriers.” The distinction means internet service providers must treat all internet content and data equally — “net neutrality.”

Functionally, net neutrality means that internet providers are not allowed to block websites they don’t like or are owned by a competitor. They also cannot charge more to subscribers for using data hogs like YouTube and Netflix over Twitter or local news sites.

For small business owners, the most important net neutrality protection may be that common carrier internet providers would be prohibited from giving preferential treatment — like faster speed — to one website over another. Think: Amazon.com and Walmart.com, who might be willing to pay a premium for internet speed, versus your online craft supply shop.

While there are currently no net neutrality rules in place in Tennessee, it’s unclear whether large internet providers will or have begun making changes to boost profits.

To ensure Tennessee small business owners and consumers would always have access to a fair, equal internet content, Rep. John Ray Clemmons, D-Nashville, District 55, introduced the Tennessee Neutrality and Internet Consumer Protection Act.

Unfortunately, the proposal, HB 1060, died this week in the Utilities Subcommittee. You can watch the full debate here.

HIGHLIGHTS:

 

Chairman Pat Marsh asked Clemmons if any companies in Tennessee were blocking and throttling, to which John Ray responded that they were not, pointing out that this would be a way to be “progressive” about the issue and that since they weren’t that would mean they weren’t getting hurt by the bill.

Rep. Clark Boyd suggested it should remain a federal issue, prompting Leader Karen Camper to point out that some (particularly Republican) members use that excuse when it’s convenient:

“I think members believe that when it’s something that’s important to them.”

According to campaign contributions, AT&T gave $81,500 to 86 members of the Tennessee General Assembly in 2018, including five of the seven members of the Utilities Subcommittee. In 2018, Comcast gave $50,850 to 50 members of the General Assembly, including six of the seven members of the Utilities Subcommittee.

How they voted: Utilities Subcommittee, March 13;
On a voice vote, Nays prevailed. Representatives voting no:
Rep. Pat Marsh, R-Shelbyville, District 62
Rep. Clark Boyd, R-Lebanon, District 46
Rep. Kent Calfee, R-Kingston, District 32
Rep. Timothy Hill, R-Blountville, District 3
Rep. Jerome Moon, R-Maryville, District 8

Representatives in support of the bill:
Rep. Karen Camper, D-Memphis, District 87
Rep. Jason Powell, D-Nashville, District 53

“Small Government” TN House GOP Overrules Police Oversight Board Authority

Debate moves to the full Tennessee Senate

A proposal to eliminate subpoena power from police community oversights boards passed the Tennessee House on a 66-26 vote, with 65 Republicans voting in favor plus one Democrat: Rep. John Mark Windle (D-Livingston).

4 Republicans voted against: Rep. Martin Daniel (Knoxville), Rep. Bill Dunn (Knoxville), Rep. Jeremy Faison (Cosby), and Rep. Justin Lafferty (Knoxville).

Rep. John DeBerry (D-Memphis), who has previously supported School Vouchers and voted in favor of the Heartbeat Bill, was marked “Present but not voting”.

A police community oversight board has operated — with subpoena power — in Knoxville, Tenn. for two decades with no interference from the state legislature. State lawmakers only seem to take notice when Nashville voters approved a ballot initiative to create a new community oversight board in November.

The legislation, HB0658/SB1407, falls into a trend where the majority party in the state – which fancies itself “small government” when convenient – strips power away from local governments by changing or blocking city decisions through new state law.

Rep. Bo Mitchell, D-Nashville, District 50, took issue with state lawmakers changing the rules after local governments and voters took action.

“Overturning elections just because you don’t like the results is not what this body is meant to do,” Mitchell said.

Here’s our previous article on this issue. Call your senators if you agree non-Nashville legislators shouldn’t be overriding something Nashville voted overwhelmingly in favor of.

How they voted: Full House of Representatives, March 14;
Representatives voting in support of bill:
Rep. Charlie Baum, R-Murfreesboro, District 37
Rep. Clark Boyd, R-Lebanon, District 46
Rep. Rush Bricken, R-Tullahoma, District 47
Rep. David Byrd, R-Waynesboro, District 71
Rep. Kent Calfee, R-Kingston, District 32
Rep. Mike Carter, R-Ooltewah, District 29
Speaker Glen Casada, R-Franklin, District 63
Rep. Scott Cepicky, R-Culleoka, District 64
Rep. Mark Cochran, R-Englewood, District 23
Rep. John Crawford, R-Kingsport, District 1
Rep. Michael Curcio, R-Dickson, District 69
Rep. Clay Doggett, R-Pulaski, District 70
Rep. Rick Eldridge, R-Morristown, District 10
Rep. Ron Gant, R-Rossville, District 94
Rep. Johnny Garrett, R-Goodlettsville, District 45
Rep. Bruce Griffey, R-Paris, District 75
Rep. Curtis Halford, R-Dyer, District 79
Rep. Mark Hall, R-Cleveland, District 24
Rep. Kirk Haston, R-Lobelville, District 72
Rep. David Hawk, R-Greeneville, District 5
Rep. Patsy Hazelwood, R-Signal Mountain, District 27
Rep. Esther Helton, R-East Ridge, District 30
Rep. Gary Hicks, R-Rogersville, District 9
Rep. Matthew Hill, R-Jonesborough, District 7
Rep. Timothy Hill, R-Blountville, District 3
Rep. John Holsclaw, Jr., R-Elizabethton, District 4
Rep. Andy Holt, R-Dresden, District 76
Rep. Dan Howell, R-Cleveland, District 22
Rep. Bud Hulsey, R-Kingsport, District 2
Rep. Chris Hurt, R-Halls, District 82
Rep. Curtis Johnson, R-Clarksville, District 68
Rep. Kelly Keisling, R-Byrdstown, District 38
Rep. Sabi Kumar, R-Springfield, District 66
Rep. William Lamberth, R-Portland, District 44
Rep. Tom Leatherwood, R-Arlington, District 99
Rep. Mary Littleton, R-Dickson, District 78
Rep. Susan Lynn, R-Mt. Juliet, District 57
Rep. Pat Marsh, R-Shelbyville, District 62
Rep. Debra Moody, R-Covington, District 81
Rep. Jerome Moon, R-Maryville, District 8
Rep. Brandon Ogles, R-Franklin, District 61
Rep. Dennis Powers, R-Jacksboro, District 36
Rep. John Ragan, R-Oak Ridge, District 33
Rep. Jay Reedy, R-Erin, District 74
Rep. Tim Rudd, R-Murfreesboro, District 34
Rep. Iris Rudder, R-Winchester, District 39
Rep. Lowell Russell, R-Vonore, District 21
Rep. Bill Sanderson, R-Kenton, District 77
Rep. Cameron Sexton, R-Crossville, District 25
Rep. Jerry Sexton, R-Bean Station, District 35
Rep. Paul Sherrell, R-Sparta, District 43
Rep. Robin Smith, R-Hixson, District 26
Rep. Mike Sparks, R-Smyrna, District 49
Rep. Bryan Terry, R-Murfreesboro, District 48
Rep. Rick Tillis, R-Lewisberg, District 92
Rep. Chris Todd, R-Jackson, District 73
Rep. Ron Travis, R-Dayton, District 31
Rep. James “Micah” Van Huss, R-Gray, District 6
Rep. Kevin Vaughan, R-Collierville, District 95
Rep. Terri Lynn Weaver, R-Lancaster, District 40
Rep. Mark White, R-Memphis, District 83
Rep. Sam Whitson, R-Franklin, District 65
Rep. Ryan Williams, R-Cookeville, District 42
Rep. Dave Wright, R-Corryton, District 19
Rep. Jason Zachary, R-Knoxville, District 14

Rep. John Mark Windle, D-Livingston, District 41

Representatives voting No against the bill:
Rep. Bill Beck, D-Nashville, District 51
Rep. Karen Camper, D-Memphis, District 87
Rep. Jesse Chism, D-Memphis, District 85
Rep. John Ray Clemmons, D-Nashville, District 55
Rep. Barbara Cooper, D-Memphis, District 86
Rep. Vincent Dixie, D-Nashville, District 54
Rep. Bob Freeman, D-Nashville, District 56
Rep. Yusuf Hakeem, D-Chattanooga, District 28
Rep. G. A. Hardaway, D-Memphis, District 93
Rep. Jason Hodges, D-Clarksville, District 67
Rep. Gloria Johnson, D-Knoxville, District 13
Rep. London Lamar, D-Memphis, District 91
Rep. Larry Miller, D-Memphis, District 88
Rep. Bo Mitchell, D-Nashville, District 50
Rep. Antonio Parkinson, D-Memphis, District 98
Rep. Jason Potts, D-Nashville, District 59
Rep. Jason Powell, D-Nashville, District 53
Rep. Johnny Shaw, D-Bolivar, District 80
Rep. Rick Staples, D-Knoxville, District 15
Rep. Mike Stewart, D-Nashville, District 52
Rep. Dwayne Thompson, D-Cordova, District 96
Rep. Joe Towns, Jr., D-Memphis, District 84

Rep. Martin Daniel, R-Knoxville, District 18
Rep. Bill Dunn, R-Knoxville, District 16
Rep. Jeremy Faison, R-Cosby, District 11
Rep. Justin Lafferty, R-Knoxville, District 89

Present Not Voting:
Rep. John DeBerry, D-Memphis, District 90

Absent or Missed Vote:
Rep. Dale Carr, R-Sevierville, District 12
Rep. Jim Coley, R-Bartlett, District 97
Rep. Andrew Farmer, R-Sevierville, District 17
Rep. Darren Jernigan, D-Old Hickory, District 60
Rep. Harold Love, Jr., D-Nashville, District 58
Rep. Bob Ramsey, R-Maryville, District 20

GOP Williamson School Board Member Uses Math To Rip Lee’s Voucher Plan

Andy Spears owns the public policy consulting firm Spears Strategy which provides policy and advocacy consulting to school systems, non-profits, and parent groups. Spears holds a Ph.D. in Public Administration with an emphasis in education policy. Over the past 15 years, he has worked in public policy roles in state and local government in Kentucky and Tennessee. Follow @TheAndySpears for his take on politics and policy and subscribe to the TN ED REPORT HERE.

In an absolutely epic Twitter thread yesterday, Williamson County School Board member Eric Welch makes a case for vouchers.

Actually, he makes a case for voucher-level funding for public schools. Welch uses math to make his case.

Here are some examples:


Welch notes the significant funding gap between vouchers and the dollar amount per student Williamson County receives from the state based on the BEP formula. This is an important distinction.

Factors involved in generating the total number are based on a school system’s average daily attendance. That number then generates a number of teachers, administrators, and other positions.

The state funds each system’s BEP teacher number at 70% — that is, the state sends 70% of the average weighted salary (around $45,000 currently) to the district for each teaching position generated by the BEP.

Let’s be clear: The BEP is inadequate. Every single district hires more teachers (and other positions) than generated by the BEP. Local districts fund 100% of those costs.

Before the state was taken to court over inadequate funding, the BEP Review Committee used to list a series of recommendations on ways to improve the funding formula to adequately meet the needs of our state’s public schools.

While routinely ignored by policymakers, this list provided a guide to where Tennessee should be investing money to improve the overall public education offered in our state.

Here are some examples from the most recent version of this list:

Fund ELL Teachers 1:20 — COST: $28,709,000

Fund ELL Translators 1:200 COST: $2,866,000

Instructional Component at funded at 75% by State COST: $153,448,000

Insurance at 50% COST: $26,110,000

BEP 2.0 Fully Implemented COST: $133,910,000

Some notes here –

First, BEP 2.0 was frozen by Governor Haslam as he “re-worked” funding distribution and supposedly focused on teacher pay.

Next, the state currently provides districts 45% of employee health insurance for ONLY the BEP -generated positions. Districts must fund 100% of the benefit cost for teachers hired about the BEP number.

Finally, beefing up the instructional component by 5% as recommended here would mean significant new dollars available for either hiring teachers or boosting teacher pay or both.

Here are some “wish list” items on teacher pay, which reflect that our state has long known we’re not paying our teachers well:

BEP Salary at $45,447 COST: $266,165,000

BEP Salary at $50,447 COST: $532,324,000

BEP Salary at Southeastern average $50,359 COST: $527,646,000

BEP Salary at State average (FY14) $50,116 COST: $514,703,000

These are FY14 numbers — so, that’s been a few years. Still, funding teacher pay at the actual average spent by districts (just over $50,000 a year) would mean significant new funding for schools that could be invested in teacher salaries. We don’t fund teacher pay at the actual average, though, we fund it at a “weighted” average that is thousands less than this actual number. Then, districts receive only 70% of that weighted number per BEP position.

Making the large scale jump necessary to truly help direct state BEP dollars into teacher paychecks and provide a much-needed boost to salaries would cost close to $500 million. Bill Lee’s budget this year provides a paltry $71 million, continuing the tradition of talking a good game while letting teacher pay in our state continue to stagnate.

Here are some other recommendations — ideas that Welch suggests districts could pursue if only they were funded at the same level Bill Lee is proposing for private schools:

Change funding ratio for psychologists from 1:2,500 to 1:500 $57,518,000

Change funding ratio for elementary counselors from 1:500 to 1:250 $39,409,000

Change funding ratio for secondary counselors from 1:350 to 1:250 $18,079,000

Change funding ratio for all counselors to 1:250 $57,497,000

Change Assistant Principal ratio to SACS standard $11,739,000

Change 7-12 funding ratios, including CTE, by 3 students $87,928,000

New BEP Component for Mentors (1:12 new professional positions) $17,670,000

Professional Development (1% of instructional salaries) $25,576,000

Change funding ratios for nurses from 1:3,000 to 1:1,500 $12,194,000

Change funding ratios for Technology Coordinators from 1:6,400 to 1:3,200 $4,150,000

Increase Funding for teacher materials and supplies by $100 $6,336,000

Instructional Technology Coordinator (1 per LEA) $5,268,000

If you look at these numbers, you see that a state committee of professional educators (the BEP Review Committee) has been telling state policymakers that Tennessee needs to do more.

They’ve been saying it for years.

Now, we have a Governor who is suggesting that instead of spending state dollars to meet these needs, we’re going to spend them to prop up private schools with little to no accountability.

Holler at Governor Lee HERE. And for more on education politics and policy in Tennessee, follow @TNEdReport.