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.

“Bad For kids” Anti-LGBT Adoption Bill Passes Committee

‘Religious or moral convictions’ will shield agencies that discriminate

There are about 8,000 children in Tennessee in foster care or available for full adoption.

Under a new law, private agencies working with the state could deny these children a home with a same-sex couple or any LGBTQ Tennessean.

Under House Bill 836, private child-placing agencies could deny any person seeking to foster or adopt a child if the placement would “violate the agency’s written religious or moral convictions.”

The legislation also ties the hands of the Department of Children Services, which works with a network of private adoption agencies to find homes for the children in state custody. Under the rules of the bill, DCS could not deny an agency’s license or service contract for discriminatory practices against LGBTQ families.

The bill—sponsored by Rep. Tim Rudd, R-Murfreesboro, District 34, and co-sponsored by Rep. John Ragan, R-Oak Ridge, District 33—passed the committee on a voice vote with only Rep. Jason Potts, D-Nashville, voicing opposition. Members of the House Judiciary Committee will hear the bill next week.

Stacie Odeneal—an attorney in Lawrence County, the immediate past chair of the Tennessee Bar Association’s section on juvenile law, a child welfare law specialist and an adoptive parent and foster parent—appeared at the House Children & Families Subcommittee meeting to speak against the bill.

“I’m here to tell you this bill is bad for three reasons: One, it’s bad for kids; it’s bad for business; and three, it creates a solution for a problem that doesn’t exist right now,” Odeneal said. “It’s bad for kids because it eliminates options. Right now we have about 8,000 children in foster care—about half of those don’t have stable homes.”


 

Odeneal explained that similar laws were currently being argued in federal court and cited a situation in Pennsylvania where a private adoption agency on a government contract denied an adoption to same-sex couple.

“When we allow people to discriminate; when we tell them ‘you’re welcome here to do business, but you’re not welcome to have a family;’ when we tell children ‘you don’t deserve a home;’ we’re hurting them,” Odeneal said. “This does nothing but protect business interests, what we need to do is protect children. We need to give them all the opportunities.”

How they voted:
House Children & Families Subcommittee, March 12; voted Aye in support:
Rep. Mary Littleton, R-Dickson, District 78
Rep. Michael Curcio, R-Dickson, District 69
Rep. Jeremy Faison, R-Cosby, District 11
Rep. Curtis Johnson, R-Clarksville, District 68
Rep. Iris Rudder, R-Winchester, District 39

Voted No against the bill:
Rep. Jason Potts, D-Nashville, District 59

STATEWIDE CHARTER AUTHORIZATION BOARD: Gov. Lee’s Attack On Public Schools Continues

State Sen. Brian Kelsey (R-Germantown) and State Rep. Mark White (R-Memphis) are carrying SB 796 and HB 940, a signature piece of Gov. Bill Lee’s K-12 education initiative which would create a statewide charter authorizer board, allowing charter schools to completely bypass the local school board and the wishes of the actual parents, and instead go straight to a state board for approval.

The legislation would set up a nine-member board appointed by the governor, with confirmation by the House and Senate, to run what would become a statewide charter school district.

From The Daily Memphian:

“White didn’t want to use the word ‘bypass’ but acknowledged the legislation would remove the step for charter applicants to go to the Tennessee Board of Education if turned down by local boards.”

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.

Cheatham, Claiborne, Robertson, and Williamson County school boards – as well as McMinville schools – have all received letters of intent from charter schools this year. (As a reminder, Williamson County has been assured by their legislators they won’t have vouchers and charter schools… but what if the state charter authorizer disagrees?)

Just like with Lee’s “Education Savings Accounts” (aka “SCHOOL VOUCHERS”), the winners with this bill are private, for-profit charter schools.

Governor Lee’s attack on our Public Schools continues.

Whatever your position on Charters, most people agree local school boards know the needs of their districts better than the state. This appears to be another instance of the governor/Tennessee Republicans saying they prefer local control and “small government” only when it’s convenient.

State Rep. Antonio Parkinson, a Memphis Democrat who serves on the House Education Committee, pointed that out, calling the legislation a bad idea:

“I think you’re totally negating an entire elected board by the people that was put in place to make those decisions. It’s unfortunate because in most cases we hear our colleagues from the other side of the aisle saying they want smaller government. But this is not smaller government when you’re adding more bureaucracy and more heavy-handedness from the state in regards to local government.”

Senator Kelsey had this to say on behalf of Lee:

“The governor believes we should have an authority in Tennessee that’s dedicated toward approving or disapproving our charter schools to ensure that we have quality charter schools in the state. I’m honored to be able to carry the legislation for him.”

The bill is expected to draw immediate opposition, but it just passed a House Education subcommittee.

Rep. Jason Hodges (D-Clarksville) strongly opposes the legislation, telling The Holler it’s being pushed by groups who are unhappy with the public schools in their own area, but would affect schools everywhere – even areas like Montgomery County which are proud of their schools:

“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.”

Many others disagree as well.

Jim Wrye, chief lobbyist for Tennessee Education Assocation:

Allan Creasy, who recently ran for state house in the Memphis area:

Rep. Gloria Johnson (D-Knoxville):

If you agree, holler at Governor Lee HERE, Senator Kelsey HERE, and Rep. White HERE.

Rep. Lynn Defends Extra Waste Because “Landfill-Mining” May Be A Thing One Day

Bill, written by corporate special interest group, aims to prohibit cities from regulating plastic containers

As local governments around the world are proposing rules to keep plastic out of rivers and lakes, Tennessee’s legislature is headed the opposite direction.

House Bill 1021, sponsored by Rep. Susan Lynn, R-Mount Juliet, District 57, would prohibit local governments from regulating single-use food containers, plastic grocery bags or eating tools, such as straws. The legislation appears to be copy-and-pasted from the website of corporate special interest group ALEC.

Lynn, who presented the legislation Monday, March 11 to the House Consumer and Human Resources Committee, consulted corporate lobbyists multiple times during her testimony. At one point, the committee chairman Rep. Clark Boyd, R-Lebanon, District 46, called a five-minute recess, during which he, Lynn, Rep. David Hawk, R-Greeneville, District 5, and the corporate lobbyists could be seen leaving the meeting together.

‘Alarming level of microplastics in the Tennessee River’
Though no local governments have enacted rules that would be affected by this preemption law, there is an excellent reason to enact regulations that reduce single-use plastic items: the Tennessee River is one of the most plastic-polluted rivers in the world.

A 2019 report, conducted by geology and hydrology professor Dr. Martin Knoll of the University of the South in Sewanee, said microplastic levels in the Tennessee River are among the highest ever measured.

The study concluded half — 48 percent — of the microplastic in the Tennessee River is polyethylene (plastic bags) and another 17 percent was polypropylene, a water-resistant plastic used widely in food packaging.

National Geographic, which also reported on the study, says freshwater rivers in the United States dump between 5 million and 14 million tons of mircoplastic into oceans each year.

“Scientists have found microplastics in 114 aquatic species, and more than half of those end up on our dinner plates… Enough research has been done now to show that the fish and shellfish we enjoy are suffering from the omnipresence of this plastic.”

Local control
Lynn’s bill to preempt local governments from enacting rules is part of a disturbing trend by the Republican majority to intrude on decisions best made by community leaders.

Rep. Bob Freeman, D-Nashville, District 56, said cities — especially large cities that have challenges distinctly different from small communities — need autonomy to confront those issues.

“In Nashville, we have roughly 700,000 people. The amount of waste that’s produced by 700,000 people, as you can imagine, is fairly substantial,” Freeman said addressing the bill sponsor. “I struggle to understand why you would carry this bill that would essentially take away the ability from large cities that are dealing with this issue — any ability they would have to regulate issues that they see first hand… you have no issue with taking away a local government’s ability to regulate and manage themselves?”

Rep. Lynn responded, “I have no issue with taking this away from a local government. Are they next going to ban—I don’t know—your cereal box?”

Clean water concerns voiced
Rep. Dwayne Thompson, D-Cordova, District 96, challenged the bill sponsor on why she would want to block a local government seeking rules that protect Tennessee’s lakes and rivers.

“I’m committed, like Rep. Freeman, to a great business climate here, but I’m also committed to a clean and healthy environment for our families here to live in,” Thompson said.

At one point, Rep. Lynn appeared to argue in favor of the bill, which will protect plastic solid waste, by suggesting that “someday our landfills will be mined for items that might be of some value.”

Procedural snag
The House Consumer and Human Resources Committee will hear the bill again March 18.

During the meeting on March 11, Rep. Hawk voiced support for the bill, but protested the procedure because Rep. Lynn did not present an amendment to the bill being considered by the Senate.

Part of the reason for the late amendment from the Senate was that the bill was initially filed as a caption bill to change the deadline for counties to provide updated maps to the legislature. (Note: A caption bill is a legislative placeholder that sometimes has nothing to do with its initial stated purpose.) As of this writing, the legislature’s website has still not updated the bill with Lynn’s amendment, which re-writes the entire bill miles away from its starting position.

After the recess called by chairman Boyd, Rep. Lynn agreed to delay a vote until next week.

How they’ve voted so far:
House Consumer Subcommittee passed the bill on a Voice Vote, Ayes Prevailing:
Rep. Mike Sparks, R-Smyrna, District 49
Rep. Clark Boyd, R-Lebanon, District 46
Rep. Mark Cochran, R-Englewood, District 23
Rep. David Hawk, R-Greeneville, District 5
Rep. Lowell Russell, R-Vonore, District 21
Rep. Barbara Cooper, D-Memphis, District 86

You can watch the full committee hearing here.

After Mocking Casada Critic For Beastiality, Rep. Holt Calls Constituent “Mentally ill”

Last week the Jackson Sun reported that Rep. Andy Holt had tweeted a juvenile graphic mocking Republican Madison County Commissioner Jay Bush as being “Someone who would sneak into your house at night, eat all your raw hot dogs, and finger your cat” – echoing an insulting meme that had been posted on the page of Speaker Casada’s PAC (and is still there).

Holt’s post was in response to Bush saying there’s nothing “conservative” about Glen Casada needing another $7 Million to run the Tennessee House and giving his Chief of Staff a $130,000 raise in one year – which is objectively true.

After deleting the post, Holt then mocked anyone who found the whole thing distasteful.

It turns out insulting those who disagree with him was not an isolated incident for Holt.

Holt has once again insulted someone who disagrees with him, this time a constituent who had the nerve to disagree with him on a post on His Facebook page celebrating the passage of the “Heartbeat Bill” – a constitutionally suspect bill which seeks to ban abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected (usually around 6 weeks) and makes no exceptions for rape and incest – meaning a young high school girl raped and impregnated by her coach would be forced to carry the baby to term.

(An Oregon man was just imprisoned for raping and impregnating an 11 year-old girl. Rep. Gloria Johnson had an amendment which would have protected that girl, but she, and her amendment, were ignored)

Holt’s Facebook post celebrated the passage of the bill as “great news”:

Most of the comments underneath the post were in agreement with him, but a few were not.

Caroline Ideus, a constituent of Holt’s, left a comment calling the passage of the bill “terrible”, adding:

“Decisions about a woman and her baby should be between her and her healthcare provider, not the government. The GOP is all about small government, but wants to govern everything about women’s health when most of the GOP lawmakers are men.”

Holt responded:

“Ms. Ideus, thank you for acknowledging that the abortion procedure (for which you are advocating), is actually about a mother and her BABY. You are so entrenched in political ideology that your willing to condone the life of a baby human’s life. Liberalism is truly a mental illness…

Ideus’ Twitter profile says she’s an English teacher at UT-Martin, which is in Weakley County – one of the counties Holt represents.

Holt’s “your” typo and misuse of the word “condone” aside, it seems fair to say that calling a constituent who disagrees with you “mentally ill” and making light of mental illness in general is beneath the dignity of any office.

But maybe Andy thinks the rules don’t apply to him, as he clearly didn’t when he didn’t get that permit for his hog farm. 

If you agree that this is not how state legislators should act, holler at Rep. Andy Holt and let him know HERE.

The full exchange:

 

OPINION: Tennessee Teachers Could Be Next To Strike

This post from organizer/journalist Chris Brooks was first seen on the TN Ed Report. Follow @TheAndySpears for his take on politics and policy and subscribe to the TN ED REPORT HERE.  

Chris Brooks is a former organizer with the Tennessee Education Association and currently works as an organizer and staff writer for Labor Notes.

Tennessee teachers have taken a pummeling over the years.

They’re grossly underpaid and their professional autonomy has been stripped away. Their students are over-tested and their schools underfunded.

But what has been the collective response?

To lie low.

Keep their heads down.

This is especially true of the leadership in their union, the Tennessee Education Association. They’ve pursued a strategy of “it’s better to be at the table than on the menu.”

This strategy emphasizes access over confrontation. They hope that small incremental change will be possible through a combination of lobbying and writing checks to political campaigns. And since the union isn’t being adversarial, isn’t pushing too hard or too fast, they hope they won’t be a target for political retribution.

Those hopes have been misplaced.

Across the state, conditions in schools have only gotten worse. Tennessee consistently ranks near the bottom of the country in per-pupil spending. Experienced and qualified teachers are leaving the profession in droves.

Now, newly elected Governor Bill Lee is taking direct aim at public education. He just announced a state budget that doubles funding for charter schools and is pushing lawmakers to approve $25 million for vouchers. Governor Lee’s disastrous privatization agenda will further drain resources from schools that are already struggling to get by.

The lesson here is that we can’t incrementally lobby our way out of the hole we are in.

Lying low doesn’t work, but there is another way.

All across the country, teachers are supercharging the routine of lobbying and elections with a far more powerful tool: they are going out on strike.

Teachers in West Virginia, Arizona, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Kentucky have used collective action to transform the political landscape. They’ve decimated charter and voucher legislation, stopped further spending cuts, and pushed policies that actually benefit student outcomes: lower class sizes, more nurses and counselors, an end to toxic testing, and paying teachers adequately so school systems can retain them for more than a few years.

There is clear tangible evidence that strikes work. A new report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities found that “protests by teachers and others last year helped lead to substantial increases in school funding in Arizona, North Carolina, Oklahoma, and West Virginia.”

It didn’t matter that striking is illegal in many of these states or that the state government is dominated by anti-union Republicans.

When teachers found the courage to strike they found out that the community—and often even their boss—had their back

With so many school districts struggling to make ends meet, striking teachers found that their demands for increased state funding had the support of their local administrators. Because superintendents closed their schools during the nine-day West Virginia strike, teachers didn’t lose pay and the strike rolled on.

Parents know that issues like class size and funding matter. It’s common sense. Would you rather your child be in a classroom with twenty other students or forty? Do you want your child to be taught by a capable, qualified professional or to be endlessly drilled in preparation for a high-stakes test?

Unsurprisingly, teachers everywhere have received an outpouring of support from parents and community members when they hit the picket lines.

Teachers living with anemic unions and deteriorating conditions in their schools have created their own Facebook groups to communicate with each other and coordinate actions across school sites. Examples include West Virginia Public Employees United, KY 120 United, and Arizona Educators United.

Now there is TN Teachers United.

“This group is for any public school educator who is tired of their students’ needs being put last and is tired of their voices being ignored,” said Lauren Sorensen, a second grade teacher at Halls Elementary School in Knox County and a longtime leader in her local union. “If you are ready to organize and act, then join us.”

The group was formed following a video call organized by Labor Notes between Tennessee teacher activists and two of the rank-and-file organizers of the statewide walkouts in Arizona and West Virginia (see video below).

Tennessee teachers face the same issues and challenges as teachers in West Virginia and Arizona—and they are just as resourceful.

They just have to ask themselves: are they going to keep lying low or are they going to start fighting back?

Chris Brooks is a former organizer with the Tennessee Education Association and currently works as an organizer and staff writer for Labor Notes.

VIDEO: “HEARTBEAT BILL” FLOOR DEBATE HIGHLIGHTS (Plus Gloria Johnson)

Watch TN’s mostly male House of Representatives pass the “Heartbeat Bill”, which would force women to carry their rapist’s child to term, after Speaker Glen Casada ignored State Representative Gloria Johnson‘s amendment to offer those women protections.

READ MORE HERE.

#HeartbeatBill #HB0077

TN GOP Kills Bill To Stop Shaming Hungry Students

Republicans voted 4-2 to defeat The Tennessee Hunger-Free Students Act-a bill with three measures to ensure students can eat school lunches and not be punished when parents fail to pay meal fees or a meal debt.

The bill sponsor Rep. John Ray Clemmons (D-Nashville) said the bill would stop school employees from throwing away a served meal if the student could not pay, and would also prohibit schools from punishing or shaming students who accumulated a meal debt.

Quite often, the students who accumulate meal debt come from families who are in debt themselves. In fact, in 2015 a study showed that 80% of Americans are caught up in the chains of debt. Unfortunately, not many of these families will be aware of debt settlement and therefore they will continue to struggle. These students shouldn’t be punished or shamed.

Clemmons:

“We certainly do not want to have a child stigmatized or punished in any way for simply incurring a lunch debt at no fault of their own. We have had incidents in recent years in Tennessee where students have been treated adversely or stigmatized in some manner. Whether it’s being made to eat in the principal’s office and eat a peanut butter sandwich by themselves simply because they had a lunch debt, or being prevented from going on field trips because of a lunch debt, we want to prevent these types of things… this is no fault of the child.”

House Bill 0827 would also have required schools to contact a guardian after a student accumulates a debt of five meals or more.

The K-12 Education Subcommittee heard the bill March 6. You can watch the full presentation here.

Here’s a clip of the vote:

Republicans Seemed Supportive, But Then…
Both Rep. Terri Lynn Weaver, R-Lancaster, District 40 (last seen defending her support for the bust of the KKK Grand Wizard bust in the capitol by saying “some of my best friends are black”) and Rep. Mark White, R-Memphis, District 83, spoke seemingly in support of children eating school lunches despite a meal debt… but would eventually go on to vote it down.

Rep. White said:

“Any adult who would shame a child over an issue like this-shame on them.”

But then he used his remaining time to fixate on the unspecified cost of school lunches.

The fiscal note included on the original version bill, which White read aloud, said local school districts would lose an unknown amount of revenue on meal debts left unrecovered, but “Otherwise, the fiscal impact of the legislation is considered not significant.”

Rep. Iris Rudder spoke up as she voted, saying she was inclined to vote yes but decided at the last minute that she didn’t understand the bill.

Reps. Weaver, White, and Rudder ultimately voted against the bill-possibly denying lunch to some students who incurred a meal debt.

Shame indeed.

It should be noted that the very same day this bill was voted down for reasons of fiscal responsibility the Tennessean broke a story that under Speaker Glen Casada taxpayers have paid $7 Million more to run the TN House, and that his Chief of Staff is being paid $200,000 per year – a $130,000 raise from last year.

It should also be noted that today Rep. Weaver today gave a passionate speech in favor of the heartbeat bill HB 0077 and adamantly insisted we do everything in our power to protect the sanctity of life – but apparently that doesn’t extend to children of school age.

Rep. Kirk Haston, a coach and teacher out of Lobelville, was the only Republican to vote in favor of the bill.

Rep. John Ray Clemmons, who is running for mayor of Nashville had this to say to The Holler about the failure of his bill:

“With this legislation, we intended to protect children from stigmatization and bullying as a result of incurring a lunch debt. As we all know, incurring a lunch debt at school is no fault of a child and is often not the fault of a parent who is doing the best they can to provide for their child. Under no scenario should a child should be treated differently or adversely or discriminated against in any way if they’ve incurred a meal debt in our state. This legislation would have protected our children. I am disappointed that a few Republicans killed what should have been a non-partisan piece of legislation to protect innocent children.”

How they voted: K-12 Education Subcommittee, March 6;

Representatives voting Aye:
Rep. Kirk Haston, R-Lobelville, District 72
Rep. John Mark Windle, D-Livingston, District 41

Representatives voting No against the bill:
Rep. John Ragan, R-Oak Ridge, District 33
Rep. Iris Rudder, R-Winchester, District 39
Rep. Terri Lynn Weaver, R-Lancaster, District 40
Rep. Mark White, R-Memphis, District 83

SILENCED: Speaker Casada Ignores Female Rep’s Rape & Incest Exceptions Amendment

Today Tennessee Republicans passed the “Heartbeat Bill”, which would ban abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected – generally around 6 weeks into a pregnancy – by a 67-21 vote, with 7 abstentions.

The bill makes no exceptions for rape or incest, meaning even a teenager impregnated after being raped by her basketball coach would have to carry the baby to term.

Rep. Micah Van Huss, who carried the bill, famously said he “could not find the evil” in that scenario.

The passage of the bill was contentious. Rep. London Lamar stood up and objected, saying as the only woman of child-bearing age she should have more say over what happens to her body than the mostly male TN House.

From Rep. Lamar London:

Rep. Gloria Johnson also stood to talk, and was the only female Rep with an amendment scheduled to be heard, but was ignored, as was her amendment for the bill which would have allowed for exceptions in the cases of rape and incest.

Johnson followed all the protocol to have her amendment heard, and it was on the schedule, but Speaker Casada – who has admitted that he has taken the lead on this legislation in the hopes that it will end up in front of the Supreme Court – adjourned, then came back and ignored Johnson’s amendment.

These bills are unconstitutional, as even the committee lawyer admitted.

Women were outside in the hallway protesting the bill loudly.

 

Here are some other reactions:

State Senator Jeff Yarbro:


State Rep. John Ray Clemmons:

If you believe Speaker Casada silencing Rep. Johnson was wrong, and that women should have a say in what happens to their bodies, holler at him HERE.

REACTIONS: BIPARTISAN BLOWBACK TO CASADA’S BLOATED BUDGET

Yesterday the Tennessean put out a scathing report of the skyrocketing cost of running the Tennessee State House under Speaker Glen Casada, who fancies himself a “fiscal conservative” but clearly does not walk the walk.

From the Tennessean:

“Since House Speaker Glen Casada became the chamber’s leader, the size and cost of running the Tennessee General Assembly is increasing, forcing the lower chamber’s leader to ask the governor for an additional $7 million.”

The report from Joel Ebert points to staff fees like the $130,000 raise (!) he gave his Chief of Staff Cade Cothren, an outrageous number by any stretch of the imagination.

Cothren now makes just shy of $200,000 to run the Speaker’s office. As a reminder, the legislature is in session for approximately one-third of the year each year.

From Ebert’s report:

“Cothren earns $199,800 a year. Last year, when Casada was the House majority leader, Cothren made $68,400 as an executive assistant and policy researcher… 31-year-old Cothren is the third-highest paid legislative employee, behind Senate Clerk Russell Humphrey and Rick Nicholson, McNally’s chief of staff… Cothren has worked for state government since 2013. Nicholson and Humphrey first started working for the state in 1995 and 1998, respectively… Cothren makes more money than Lee’s chief of staff and all but three commissioners in the governor’s 23-member Cabinet… And his salary is significantly higher than the last three House chiefs of staff.”

(Cothren was last seen lying to the face of a protester of the bust of the first KKK Grand Wizard Nathan Bedford Forrest about misspelled emails.)

Regarding the office of the Speaker, the article goes on:

“It costs more than $5.1 million to pay for the salaries of employees in those offices, the analysis found. At this time last year, salaries for those same House offices cost taxpayers about $3.8 million.

If you have an issue with this, holler at Casada HERE.

In the meantime, here are some reactions from Tennesseans from both parties across the state… Despite Majority Leader William Lamberth playing the good soldier and calling the increased size and cost of operations in the House “extremely conservative” (apparently forgetting what words mean) the reaction to the article on both sides of the aisle has been one of shock and disgust:

Rep. Mike Stewart, the House Democratic caucus chairman, had this to say:

“It sounds like fiscal conservatism means about as much with Tennessee Republicans as it does with the Republicans up in Washington.”

Madison County Commissioner, District 9 – Republican Jay Bush:


Democratic State Senator Jeff Yarbro:


Democratic State Rep. Gloria Johnson (who says she still hasn’t received a $3 key to her office!):


Longtime political operative Holly Mccall (who contributes to the Holler):

Williamson County Tweeter @StormResist:


Former State House Candidate Allan Creasy:


From John Harris, who manages Tennessee Firearms Association, Inc.: