Lest you think your state legislators are boring sticks-in-the-mud, Sen. Campfield with some photos from a reception of a handful of them, as he put it, "rockin' out." If anyone has video of the mentioned performance of "Rocky Top" on duck calls, please forward to jrlind[at]nashvillepost[dot]com.
Outgoing Rep. Richard Floyd’s eyes began to well up when he urged the House Education Subcommittee to approve a bill granting in-state college tuition to students illegally brought to the states as children.
“I want to do the right thing. And I'm asking you guys," he said as his voice broke, "just do the right thing."
The committee ultimately rolled the bill for a third time this session, this time at the request of House Education Committee Chairman Harry Brooks seeking more information about the college admission process.
After Floyd walked out of the committee room, so did several undocumented high school students and recent grads with the Tennessee Immigration and Refugee Rights Coalition, with watery eyes and red noses who expect to be back next week for the next hearing.
“I think we had the votes to get it out today, I just don’t want to rock the boat on them,” said Floyd about the committee, noting he is catching heat for this bill back home in Chattanooga. “This is a very serious thing to them back in their districts. If we intend to lead, we’re going to have to bite the bullet and make some tough choices.”
A similar measure repealing rules barring U.S.-born citizens from in-state tuition passed out of the full House Education Committee Tuesday and is headed to Finance, Ways and Means Committee.
Between high price tags and self-created delays, the House appears unlikely to pass major rollbacks of Common Core state standards this year.
The House Education Subcommittee on Tuesday pushed eight bills dealing with Common Core and the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) assessment to their last calendar. The postponement means the bills are likely to be heard in late March or April, leaving little time for the legislature to pass them before its expected pre-Easter adjournment.
All but two of of the bills targeting the education standards or its corresponding test carry price tags of at least $10 million, making them unlikely to pass in a year with down revenues, said Education Subcommittee Chairman Mark White. Others would cost the state up to an estimated $50 million and another would jeopardize federal funding topping out at $525 million.
“With today’s budget, you move a bill like this out, they will have to get their fiscal note in order first,” said White.
The proposals include requiring the state dump Common Core or PARCC tests and developing its own. Others mandate the state reimburse local school districts for the cost of implementing the new standards.
Of the eight bills, half of them were intentionally pushed back to the last calendar at the request of the sponsor, Rep. Rick Womick, R-Rockvale. So was another by Rep. Sheila Butt, R-Columbia. Three others were abandoned Tuesday by lawmakers who failed to make it to the committee to present their bill.
Although most of the legislation dealing with Common Core is stranded in the subcommittee, one easily one won approval Tuesday reiterating the state sets education standards while building transparency about where any data collected goes -- two common issues Common Core critics have with the standards.
“We’re weeding through this slowly but surely to make sure that we’re still picking our own textbooks, to make sure we’re not sharing data with the federal government, to make sure that, again, we’re setting the curriculum,” said Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey Tuesday. “I do believe that most cases that is the case, but if we have to make sure of that by putting in the code, that’s what we’ll do.”
The Senate, which has several forceful critics of the tests and standards, has yet to take up the bulk of their bills addressing Common Core. Lawmakers there expect to take those bills up in a dedicated committee hearing this session.
Stacey Campfield and Joe Carr had planned a little trade: send money for my campaign and I'll send some over for yours. And it got a little wonky:
Carr’s latest Senate campaign disclosure shows $6,200 in contributions from Campfield – $5,200 in a personal donation and another $1,000 from the senator’s reelection campaign, both dated Dec. 28. Campfield said Carr had told him the senator’s re-campaign would be receiving donations from Carr’s political action committee, Joe PAC. Campfield, in turn, said he agreed to contribute to Carr’s campaign.
Later, however, the senator said he decided – “in the last days before the filing deadline” for disclosure reports – that he would instead “just stay out” of Carr’s Republican primary campaign against U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander. Campfield faces Knox County Commissioner Richard Briggs in the GOP primary.
Believing Carr had already sent him the money, Campfield said, he sent money to Carr thinking it would be treated as a refund.
On his own state campaign disclosure, filed in January, Campfield lists the $1,000 sent to Carr’s campaign as a “returned donation.” He said in an interview that he thought of the $5,200 the same way.
As it turned out, however, Carr has not sent any funds to Campfield.
Carr said Tuesday that he still planned to send Campfield $1,000 through Joe PAC but had assumed the $5,200 from Campfield was a straight donation of personal funds. If Campfield wants a refund, however, Carr said it will be sent.
The governor says Chris Christie may come down to help him with his re-election efforts, which is an awfully big name to bring to town for a coronation, but here we are:
“If Chris came down, we’d love to have him,” he said, adding that the two had talked about events this summer or fall without nailing down a “definite plan yet.”
Whether the measure reflects the governor's intentions or handcuffs him is an open question, but the bill moves to the Senate. Surprisingly, Americans For Prosperity and the House Democratic Caucus have different feelings about the bill.