Legislative Update, January 23, 2021

Tennessee General Assembly information, click HERE. For information on State Senators, including phone numbers and email addresses, click HERE; for House members, click HERE. For information on legislation, click HERE.

Don’t forget that you can now watch the Senate committee meetings and floor sessions online by going HERE; House committee meetings and floor sessions online HERE.

Phone calls can go to the legislative Switchboard at 615-741-3011 or to the Toll Free number 1-800-449-8366+1 last four digits of office phone number (available online).

“On some positions, cowardice asks the question, it is expedient?  And then expedience comes along and asks the question—is it politic?  Vanity asks the question—it is popular?  Conscience asks the question is it right? And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, no politic, nor popular —but must take it because it is right.”

Last Sunday sermon given by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr

FOR YOUR PRAYER LIST:

Please continue to remember Rep. David Byrd who is battling Covid. He’s still on the trach ventilator so he isn’t able to speak yet but he did mouth some words and even gave a little smile.  Wife Sherry was able to spend a little time with him today (Jan 19) so she FaceTimed  family so he could see him Mom. He still has rehabilitation and speech therapy ahead of him when he is able. State Sen. Ed Jackson tested positive for COVID-19 and is quarantining at his Nashville home while Sen. Becky Massey is isolating during the special session. You will want to remember both these senators.

First Extraordinary Session of the 112th General Assembly was adjourned Sine Die Friday morning.


In the House 23 bills were filed, in the Senate 24 bills were filled. If you want more details on the bills passed (mentioned below), click on the bill number, then on the SUMMARY tab. I understand that the General Assembly will reconvene on February 8 for the regular session.

 

FROM THE TENNESEAN: In whirlwind special session, Tennessee lawmakers approve $160M package of education bills aimed at learning loss, literacy .

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Today, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee, Lt. Gov. McNally, Speaker Sexton and members of the General Assembly closed a historic special session to address learning loss and the negative effects on student proficiency in reading and math marked by time away from the classroom due to COVID-19.

“COVID-19 has severely disrupted education in Tennessee. Our decisive action to intervene on behalf of Tennessee students will equip them for success, educating our kids better in the future than before the pandemic,” said Gov. Lee. “I thank the General Assembly for their swift passage of legislation that will benefit our students.”

In addition to interventions for Tennessee students, the passed legislation increases the salary component of the education funding formula by 4%.

“I am grateful for a productive and efficient conclusion to a legislative session focused on helping children, parents and teachers,” said Lt. Gov. McNally (R-Oak Ridge). “Tennessee has made tremendous improvements in education over the last decade. The coronavirus public health crisis began to put all of that at risk. The steps we took this week will reverse the learning loss that has taken place and prevent any further erosion of our progress. I appreciate Governor Lee calling this special session to draw our attention to the pressing needs of education in this state. The House and the Senate came together to ensure our progress continues. I appreciate the efforts of each and every one of my colleagues for their efforts this week on behalf of our students, teachers and parents.”

Gov. Lee’s slate of education priorities included learning loss, phonics-based reading instruction and accountability measures to inform student progress.

“This is a momentous day for Tennessee, for our students, and for our parents because our General Assembly has drawn a line in the sand, and we have said we can no longer accept that only one third of our students are proficient in reading and in math,” said Tennessee House Speaker Sexton (R-Crossville). “We want to be number one in education; I appreciate Gov. Lee for his vision, as well as Lt. Gov McNally, and the House and Senate for their partnership as we all have worked together this week to transform educational outcomes for Tennessee students.”

Accountability to Inform – SB 7001/HB 7003

Extends hold harmless provisions from the 2019-20 school year to the 2020-21 school year so that students, teachers, schools and districts do not face any negative consequences associated with student assessments
Provides parents and educators with assessment data including TCAP testing to provide an accurate picture of where Tennessee students are and what supports are needed to offset any learning losses
Passed the Senate 23-5; passed the House 71-17.

Intervening to Stop Learning Loss – SB 7002/HB 7004

Requires interventions for struggling students including after-school learning mini-camps, learning loss bridge camps and summer learning camps, beginning summer 2021
Program prioritizes students who score below proficient in both reading (ELA) and math subjects
Creates the Tennessee Accelerated Literacy and Learning Corps to provide ongoing tutoring for students throughout the entire school year
Strengthens laws around a third grade reading gate so we no longer advance students who are not prepared
Passed the Senate 23-4; passed the House 70-21.

Building Better Readers with Phonics – SB 7003/HB 7002

Ensures local education agencies (LEAs) use a phonics-based approach for kindergarten through third grade reading instruction
Establishes a reading screener for parents and teachers to identify when students need help, well before third grade
Provides training and support for educators to teach phonics-based reading instruction
Passed the Senate 25-3; passed the House 84-5.

Increased Funding for Teachers, Schools – SB 7009/HB 7020.

Appropriates the funding for these initiatives, adding over $100 million to Tennessee’s public education system.

  • $535,200 in state dollars is set aside to administer the literacy program.
  • $81 million is appropriated to establish and support the learning loss remediation and student acceleration programs.
  • In addition to these funds, $42.9 million is allocated to LEAs to be used to increase teacher salaries from January 2021 through June 2021.
    Passed the Senate 23-5; passed the House 91-0-1.

New Charges Filed Against Tennessee State Senator Katrina Robinson, Two Others in Fraud and Money Laundering Case .

FBI probe of Tennessee lawmakers could last months, experts say .

State Sen. Jeff Yarbro asks AG for opinion on Tennessee lawmakers who may have aided Jan. 6 Capitol riot .

Former Sen. Jim Tracy joins Commerce Department .

Gov. Lee tweets ‘abortion isn’t healthcare’ .

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