The House easily approved a bill requiring schools to charge in-state tuition to U.S.-born students who live with their undocumented parent and are sending the bill to the governor’s desk.
State law currently doesn’t provide for charging the students in-state tuition, although many schools do it anyway, officials say. Changing the law would protect the state from potential lawsuits, said the bill’s sponsor, Memphis Republican Rep. Mark White.
The chamber passed the bill on a bipartisan 63-27 vote, with all but one “no” vote cast by a Republican. Nine legislators abstained, including seven of them facing contested elections this year. They include:
* Republicans: Rep. Glen Casada of Franklin; Rep. Jeremy Durham of Franklin; Rep. Mike Sparks, of Smyrna; Rep. Billy Spivey of Lewisburg
* Knoxville Democrat Rep. Joe Armstrong
* Rep. Joe Carr, D-Lascassas, who is taking a bid for U.S. Senate in the Republican primary
* Not facing a contested election: House Speaker Beth Harwell of Nashville and Rep. Tilman Goins of Morristown, both Republicans
The effect of this legislation is limited compared to a similar bill that would give 14,000 undocumented immigrant students access to in-state college tuition, according to immigration advocates. Hitting on the touchy issue of illegal immigration, the legislature shelved that bill for the year.
Under the bill passed Monday night for U.S.-born children of undocumented immigrants, the state says 60 such students are now attending public colleges and universities and estimates another 200 students will enroll next year under this plan.
The Senate approved the bill on a 20-10 vote last month.
Documents obtained by the Memphis Business Journal through a Freedom of Information Act request show that up until Feb. 17 — a full year after Gov. Bill Haslam sent a letter to the state Department of Health and Human Services regarding a possible "partnership model" — little progress had been made.
However, the governor and the education commissioner warn there's little money to talk about how they can plug more cash into the funding formula. More on the launch on the BEP Task Force.
As frustration with Gov. Bill Haslam’s education commission continues, the governor said he’s yet to have talks with his cabinet about who will stay or go in a second term.
“I honestly think Commissioner Huffman is one of the very best education commissioners in the country. Period. I honestly feel that. I would love to have him around. The whole question about who’s going to stay for the second term, that’s a whole other issue. We’ve got 23 commissioners, six or seven members of the governor’s staff. First of all, I have to get re-elected. Second, we’ll have the discussions about who wants to stay and who all that fits with.”
That’s assuming he’s re-elected, although no credible opponent has filed to oppose him. Although, he does face frustrated former wild raccoon owner Mark “Coonrippy” Brown of Gallatin.
“You comfortable you can beat Coonrippy in the primary?” a reporter asked Haslam.
“We’ll have to see,” he laughed.
A special Supreme Court ruled that the state's method of judge appointment and retention does not violate the state constitution.
A five-member Special Supreme Court convened solely to hear a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the way appellate judges are initially chosen and later stand for reelection to office ruled today that the current retention election system for choosing appellate judges does not violate the state’s Constitution.
The Court also held that the issue raised in the lawsuit regarding how appellate judges are initially selected could not be decided as part of this proceeding, because the statutory authority for that initial judicial selection process – the Judicial Nominating Commission – expired in June 2013. Since the Judicial Nominating Commission is no longer the law of this state, there is no longer a real, live issue for the Court to decide.