FROM REP. JOHN HALKSLOW
Gov. Bill Lee announced this week that on Thursday, Feb. 24, he will share legislation on a new student-based funding formula known as the Tennessee Student Achievement Investment Formula (TISA).
“After an extensive process involving thousands of Tennessee residents, we are on the verge of achieving a renewed approach to public education that prioritizes students and invests in Tennessee’s future,” Governor Lee said. “I thank our partners in the General Assembly who have worked with us for several months to improve the way public schools are funded, and I hope we will do so during the current legislative session.”
TISA will include the following components:
Student-based funding begins with a base amount of funding for each public school student.
Additional funding may be allocated based on weights to meet the individual needs of students.
Direct funding is another opportunity for students to receive additional funding to support certain programs, such as tutoring.
Incentives for outcomes are awarded based on student achievement to give schools the opportunity to help all students realize their full potential.
Tennessee Department of Education Commissioner Penny Schwin appeared before members of the House Education Committee on Wednesday to answer questions about the proposed new funding formula before its presentation next week.
Schwin noted that Tennessee is one of about nine states that still use the resource-based education funding model. She added that moving to a student-based funding formula would help “ensure that students who need resources and additional support receive the funding tied to them.”
According to Schwin, the amount the state will spend on each student that exceeds the established base amount of funding will be “very different” with the new plan depending on the specific needs of each student.
“Those schools that have a high concentration of students who are in economically disadvantaged conditions are likely to have extra funding in addition to what they are already receiving,” she added. “Very honestly, it brings the greatest benefit to our rural and urban communities.”
It is expected that after the release of the new formula, school districts will receive information on how much funding they will receive from the current funding formula of the basic education program compared to the proposed new formula for students.
VOTING FOR RANGING ELECTION PROHIBITED
Both chambers of the General Assembly this week passed legislation banning voting in a run-off election or an immediate second round in state and local elections.
Ranking is a method of voting in which voters evaluate candidates by preference. The winner is the candidate who received the majority of votes of the first choice. If none of the candidates receives a majority of the votes of the first choice, the candidate with the least advantage is eliminated, and his votes are redistributed among the other candidates.
“It’s a confusing methodology of summing up votes,” said 18-year-old House of Representatives sponsor Kevin Vaughan, R-Collierville. “The method of counting votes is confusing and complicated, it distrusts the total number of votes, and what we have heard from voters is simple and transparent.”
It has been proven that instant voting in the second round increases voter confusion, reduces voter turnout and confidence, and yields results that do not leave candidates in a majority vote.
The House of Representatives bill of 1868 is sent to the governor’s desk for signature. To learn more about the bill, visit here.
LEGISLATION CREATES A NEW UNIVERSITY
The House Education Administration’s Committee on Education this week approved legislation that officially establishes the South Tennessee University campus in Pulaski, Tennessee. The College is a four-year university of the humanities, originally established as Martin’s Methodist College in 1870. The boards of both schools approved the merger last year.
The Pulaski Campus ranks fifth in the University of Tennessee system. The school is located approximately 75 miles southwest of Nashville near the Alabama border.
The original college was named after Thomas Martin, who presented $ 30,000 in his will to establish a school for girls in Giles County in 1870. A new section of the college began in 2021, when Martin’s Methodist College merged with the University of Tennessee system and became the Southern University of Tennessee. The 2019 House of Representatives bill gives the University of Tennessee trustees the same powers, authority and freedom to take the necessary action to fulfill the university’s mission. The 2019 House of Representatives bill passes to the Calendar and Rules Committee before going to the House of Representatives for a full vote.
PILOT PROGRAM HELPS LOW-INCOME STUDENTS
The pilot program, approved by the General Assembly last year, is already helping some Tennessee college students with the lowest incomes stay in classes, tnAchieves CEO Chrisie DeAlehandra told a House Education Committee member on Wednesday, February 16th.
The first grants were awarded to students eligible for the Tennessee Promise Scholarship, last fall to cover non-tuition costs that could prevent them from earning a college degree or certificate.
According to DeAlehandra, a total of 1,197 grants were distributed among 668 students in 85 state counties. The average grant amount was $ 184. Of the amount awarded, 27 per cent went to the use of computers / technology, while 20 per cent went to gas / transport and 18 per cent to food. Other uses included housing, textbooks, materials, and tuition fees. Grant dollars were provided under Bill 006 and approved by the General Assembly in 2021.
“Students reported that 85 percent of them return (to class) in the spring,” De Alejandro said. “It’s far superior to what we see with our typical low-income students. If you look at the state average, it is 49 percent. “
Grant students had a family income of $ 30,000 or less.
RELIGIOUS FREEDOM IS PROTECTED
Republicans in the House of Representatives on Monday passed a law that further protects the right of Tennessee citizens to hold religious services during a state of emergency, major disaster or natural disaster. The measure was passed by the House of Representatives: 73 Republicans voted in favor and 19 Democrats voted against.
The House of Representatives Bill 1694 prohibits a state, government agency, or government officials from restricting worship or activities during an emergency, such as a pandemic or natural disaster.
The First Amendment guarantees the right of all citizens to freely practice their religion and to assemble peacefully in their chosen house of prayer. Although Tennessee has not imposed any restrictions on religious services since the beginning of the pandemic, other states have done so. The 1694 House of Representatives bill guarantees that the government will not violate these rights. Now the bill is awaiting approval in the Senate Chamber.
GOP seeks to STOP EARLY RELEASE
Legislation that excludes the possibility of parole for those convicted of certain violent crimes was passed by the Criminal Justice Subcommittee this week.
Bill 2656 requires offenders to serve 100 percent of sentences handed down by a judge or jury for an additional 14 violent crimes. These crimes include aggravated assault, attempted first-degree murder with grievous bodily harm, second-degree murder, aggravated murder in a car, aggravated abduction, aggravated abduction, aggravated abduction burglary, serious crime, child neglect or danger, car theft, and possession or use of firearms during a dangerous crime among other types of violent crimes.
“During my 36-year career in law enforcement, I saw firsthand the pain caused to the victims and their families by these senseless crimes,” said a spokesman for Bad Halsey State, R-Kingsport, a retired police lieutenant. . “This bill sends a strong message that we will not tolerate these violent crimes in our state, ensuring that those who commit them serve their full sentences.”
Speaker of the House of Representatives Cameron Sexton, R-Crossville, has partnered with Halsey to serve as one of the main sponsors of the bill when it passes through the committee. He is now moving to the House Justice Committee for further discussion and debate.
“(It) ensures that violent criminals serve the entire sentence after the conviction, not just part of it,” Speaker Sexton said of the law.
Last year, state lawmakers approved the truth in the reform of punishment for 31 crimes, historically against women and children.
TRANSPARENCY IN NATURE
Republican legislation to improve the transparency of Tennessee sentencing was passed by a subcommittee of the House of Representatives on criminal justice this week.
Bill 2657, also known as the Law on the Transparency of Victims’ Sentences, is designed to better inform victims of crime and their families of the length of punishment that offenders will serve if the verdict is announced by a judge or jury. He is now moving to the House Justice Committee for further discussion and debate.
Speaker of the House of Representatives Cameron Sexton, R-Crossville, collaborated with State Representative Michael G. Curcio, R-Dixon, one of the main sponsors of the bill. Bill 2657 requires all Tennessee courts to record, orally or in writing, the estimated number of years and months that elapsed before an offender would be entitled to parole.
Improving the transparency of sentencing will provide victims with accurate information about the person who committed the crime against them, so that they know whether the person will serve the entire sentence – a certain number of years or 100 percent of the sentence – or only part of the right to probation. early release.
A NEW STATE SONG HAS BEEN ADOPTED
On Thursday, February 17, members of the House were treated to a performance of the recently adopted state song “I’ll Leave My Heart in Tennessee.” The song was performed by Dailey & Vincent along with songwriter Karen Stanley, left. In February, lawmakers unanimously approved a 1731 House of Representatives bill that added the song to the list of officially recognized state songs. The song was unanimously approved by the Senate on Monday. The House of Representatives bill of 1731 is now being sent to the governor’s desk for his signature.
(Representative John Holsklaw represents Carter County at the Tennessee Legislature)
FROM REP. JOHN HALKSLOW