The First Session is over
The first Session of the 107th General Assembly came to a close very late Saturday night, and the undivided Republican government got a lot done.
When the smoke cleared as the Legislature adjourned for the year late Saturday night, much of the political meat of the conservative agenda was passed by both Houses, including the replacement of unionized collective bargaining in our local school systems-by far the most contentious bill of the year. The law now requires teachers to be on the job for five years instead of three before they may receive tenure in local schools, and the most important education-related bill to come out of this legislative session may be the lifting of Tennessee’s previous cap on charter schools, giving parents greater choice than before in their child’s education. You’ll have to present a photo identification to vote at the next election, and corporations may make direct contributions to political candidates for the first time in Tennessee history, and active members of the General Assembly can raise campaign funds during the legislative session-since their opponents can already do so. The proposed amendment to the Tennessee Constitution which says that there is no “right to abortion” in that document is coming to a polling booth near you in November, 2014.
“Just a few more votes, and I think we’ll be out of here,” freshman Rep. Jeremy Faison told The Examiner late Saturday night, “I’m pleased with what we were able to accomplish here this session, and I think my constituents can be pleased too.” Many new legislators that had no record in January now have one to run on next year, and to receive feedback about from the folks back home. “By and large, I’m pleased,” said veteran Rep. Frank Niceley (R-Strawberry Plains) Friday night, “I think we’re borrowing more money than I would personally like, but this is still a really good budget, more fiscally responsible.” Niceley was referring to bond issues in the budget designed to help companies that are locating in Tennessee with their setup costs.
There were a few members missing late in the day Saturday, and widespread speculation curculated as to whether the missing legislators had been taken up in the Rapture.