Such divisive issues as abortion, school vouchers, academic standards, higher-education funding, guns in parks, a fuel tax hike and an investment-income tax cut face hot debates in the weeks ahead.
But not this week.
When lawmakers gather again Monday afternoon, they must focus exclusively on Gov.
Haslam called the legislature into a special session to consider his health proposal without the distraction of other issues. A majority of lawmakers can approve, modify or reject the proposal, or adjourn the special session without acting on the plan at all.
Haslam will talk to a joint House-Senate session Monday evening, laying out his case for approving a plan that many members are loath to support because it's a negotiated deal with
What's ahead, this week and later:
The governor's plan is a more market-oriented approach to taxpayer-subsidized health insurance than the straight expansion of traditional
Leaders of both parties say there aren't enough votes in either chamber yet to pass the plan (17 in the 33-member
The outcome, the biggest test of Haslam's time in office so far, is uncertain. Tea party conservatives oppose virtually everything associated with Obamacare. Haslam says his plan isn't the
The same out-of-state big money that helped finance an unsuccessful campaign against re-election of three Democratic state
A coalition of health industry and health advocacy groups is responding with a radio and direct-mail campaign in support of the governor's plan.
The special session is tentatively set to run a week. The regular legislative session, set to begin
For the first time in 15 years, efforts to restrict abortion will be front and center.
Tennesseans who voted in November ratified an amendment to the state Constitution that removed any state right to abortion and gave the legislature authority to place whatever restrictions on abortion are permitted by federal law.
The amendment was designed to reverse a
With the floodgates opened, other bills are also being filed, including one requiring abortion providers to perform and show the woman ultrasound imaging and audio of the embryo or fetus 72 to 24 hours before an abortion. If she declines to watch, the provider must verbally describe the images to her, including "dimensions of the embryo or fetus, the presence of cardiac activity, and the presence of arms, legs, external members and internal organs, and provide a copy of the ultrasound image to the woman."
Vouchers allow students to take the taxpayer funding per-pupil from public schools to help pay tuition at private schools. Haslam has favored a limited voucher program, available to students in low-performing public schools and from households with poverty-level incomes, with caps on the number of vouchers awarded annually.
There will be efforts to repeal or alter
<p>Haslam, business groups and reform advocates oppose repealing the standards, which they say are needed to better prepare students for the workforce and which they say have been confused with controversies like textbook bias and sex education that have nothing to do with the standards. The state has put all the 2,000 math and English standards online at apps.tn.gov/tcas/ where Tennesseans can review and comment on them.
Discussion about a gasoline and diesel fuel tax increase, or a restructuring of transportation taxes in general, is amping up because highway construction and maintenance costs are outrunning the revenue generated by current fuel taxes.
The governor hasn't said whether he'll seek a tax hike this year. Sen.
There are proposals to phase out the state's personal income tax on dividend and bond-interest income. Haslam says the state can't afford to lose the
Senate Majority Leader
The governor presents his
Whether he'll propose a significant funding increase for higher education, which would offset another big tuition increase.
Whether he'll propose pay raises for teachers and state employees.
Whether he'll propose any new transportation funding proposals.
And how he plans to deal with a sharp downturn in business tax collections. His finance team has been examining why this downturn in revenue from the state's business taxes has occurred.
Gun advocates want to remove the authority of city and county governments to ban guns in local parks, if carried by handgun-carry permit holders. Others want to do away with the carry-permit system altogether, allowing anyone to carry a gun without a permit or training who is not prohibited by other laws from owning a gun.
Tennesseans ratified an amendment last November providing for appointment by the governor of all state appellate court judges, including those on the state
Currently, those "retention elections" occur within two years of the judge's appointment, and then every eight years for full terms.
Kelsey has filed a bill to allow the initial appointment to be for the remainder of the full eight-year term.
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