Legislative Update | April 17, 2017


APRIL 17, 2017

The House and the Senate moved forward on Governor Haslam’s IMPROVE Act earlier this week. Lawmakers in both chambers passed the tax plan out of their Finance Committees. Now, the IMPROVE Act will move to the House floor on April 19th. This vote will determine the rest of the legislative session. If the bill passes the House, the Senate will take it up for consideration shortly after. If the Senate passes it, then budget discussions will begin quickly after the votes.

This would mean adjournment would be set for a date in mid-May.

If the bill does not pass, a major roadblock will pop up in the anticipated budget process. The legislative session could then run until mid-June.

This will be the most-watch part of session in the coming week.

Updates on Legislation

The Senate passed legislation [SB0723] that will clarify and define the 1st Amendment rights of students and faculty on public college campuses in Tennessee. The bill, supported by the University of Tennessee, is sponsored by Sen. Doug Overby (R-Maryville) and Rep. Eddie Smith (R-Knoxville).

A State House committee tabled a bill that would have allowed in-state tuition for undocumented students. [HB0863] was drafted to specifically authorize undocumented students in Tennessee to be eligible for in-state tuition at public colleges and universities. Following a long and emotional debate in the committee, the bill failed by just one vote.

Another bill [HB660] was also taken up by the committee. Unlike [HB0863] this bill did not authorize any group to receive in-state tuition; rather, the bill authorized the governing boards of public colleges and universities to have greater latitude in determining policies affecting in-state and out-of-state tuition. The bill failed on 6-6 vote when one member was out of the room. The sponsor, Rep. Mark White (R-Memphis) announced he will ask for the bill to be reconsidered by the committee. It has been put on the House Education calendar for April 18th.

In the Senate, both bills passed out of the Senate Education Committee and were awaiting further action from the House before going to the Senate floor for a vote.

[SB1085], a bill that would require that “undefined words be given their natural and ordinary meaning, without forced or subtle construction” has been placed on the Senate Judiciary Committee calendar for April 18th. This bill could jeopardize the legal status of same-sex couples when they seek marriage licenses, attempt to divorce or attempt to establish custody.

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