The state's Department of Human Services has laid off more than 120 people in its Family Assistance division, which has seen a drop in the number of people using some of its main programs. Chris Bundgaard at News2 has more info on the layoffs and the prospects for more cuts in the near future.
Via Pith, a compromise has taken banning center lanes off of the table, but Mayor Karl Dean's signature bus rapid transit project will still need approval from the General Assembly if it has any form of dedicated lane.
As for the final legislation pertaining to The Amp, Turner said it's bad, but better than the original Senate language that would have effectively killed the project as it's currently proposed.
"I'm not comfortable with the deal, no, because I think we're stepping in — we've set a precedent here," he said. "And I think it's going to get very burdensome for the state to have to do this if we starting having to approve individual projects across the state like that. It's worked fine the way we do it. They say this is a new type of project, of course that's not what this is about, this is a political thing. This is the best thing for Metro Nashville, best thing we could've done. It's the compromise we ended up with."
Mike Schatzlein, president and CEO of Saint Thomas Health Services and chair of the Amp Coalition, had the following to say this afternoon:
“We are satisfied with the outcome in the General Assembly today. This bill clearly defines approval levels of local and state participation in the transit project process. We look forward to our continued involvement in planning for Middle Tennessee’s urgent and growing transit needs. The Amp Coalition will stay committed to educating the community and region about the benefits of The Amp as the first step in a Middle Tennessee transit strategy.”
After a House committee yanked the life out of two of Rep. John DeBerry’s education bills, he snatched up his things, quietly stormed down the hallway to his office and slammed his heavy wooden door behind him.
The bang of the door and the crash of his things hitting the ground inside the small ground-level office of the calm yet emotional Memphis Democrat rang out in the hallway.
Moments before, no one on the 12-member Finance, Ways and Means Subcommittee Tuesday would give DeBerry a motion to take up his bills. Beyond the procedural lack of the motion making an up-or-down vote on his bills impossible, members failing to offer a motion on a bill is one of the chief insults a committee can bestow upon a bill or its sponsor.
DeBerry finds himself politically straddling fences in the General Assembly. Last election cycle, he was the chief beneficiary of campaign contributions from education reform advocates that tend to find more allies on the Republican side of the aisle. That, and his support for education reforms like vouchers and school choice, put his political views fundamentally at odds with the vast majority of his fellow Democrats.
The lack of a motion meant the committee killed two of his bills in the hearing Tuesday afternoon. One would have allowed the school districts charged with turning around the state’s worst schools — which largely sit in Memphis — to recruit students outside their school zones. Another would have lowered the voting threshold needed for parents to turn around management or operators of their struggling schools. Both were controversial, although less so than other education bills up for consideration this year.
Although the bills were on their way to the Senate floor, Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey said he wasn’t familiar with the legislation and isn’t surprised by the decisive move in committee to kill legislation when the legislature is looking to adjourn.
“We’re at the end of session where that’s what happens,” Ramsey said. “Bottom line is this is the time of year where stuff like that happens. That’s the reason why we have two houses, that’s the reason we have separation of powers, so nobody rubber stamps what the other person does.”
Earlier in the morning, another bill DeBerry was rooting for also died. Noting a lack of support on the full Finance Committee, Rep. Bill Dunn withdrew a bill that would have allowed the state to pay private-school tuition for students attending the state’s worst schools.
McDaniel predicts open-carry will get disappeared; fears 'every gang-banger in Memphis' would go armed
Rep. Steve McDaniel doesn't think House Finance will let unpermitted open-carry see the light of day:
McDaniel said he doubted that the bill would ever reach the floor for a House vote as the legislature steams toward a conclusion early next week. “It’ll never get out of House Finance," predicted McDaniel, who said emphatically that he was personally disinclined to vote for the measure.
“Hell, no!” said McDaniel, who said that, if the measure passed, “Every gang-banger in Memphis will end up packing. Can you imagine?”