TN Legislature Notes 2/13

Category: State Issues

With a busy day in store for the Tennessee General Assembly, several notable items will be heard in subcommittees and committees relative to higher education.

In the House Civil Justice Subcommittee, HB118 (Faison, R-Cosby) will be heard.  HB118 is the companion bill to SB142 (Ramsey, R-Blountville) relative to firearms in personal vehicles that passed the Senate last week.  The legislation, as drafted, would permit valid handgun carry permit holders to transport and store firearms and ammunition in personal motor vehicles in areas not otherwise prohibited by federal law.  The bill, if passed as written, will permit students, employees, and visitors on campus (with valid handgun carry permits) to transport and store firearms in their personal vehicles despite current University policy to the contrary.  The legislation would essentially undermine the University’s current authority to create and enforce a policy on this topic. The legislation also impacts private business, courthouses, K-12 education, hospitals–most public and private employers in the State of TN.  Advocates can tune in live to this subcommittee hearing at 3:00PM CST.  HB118 is fourth on the agenda.  Click here to view the meeting.

There are also several items to note on the docket of the Senate Education Committee.   The committee meeting is also scheduled at 3:00 PM CST and can be viewed live here. There are two items on the agenda, both relating to higher education.

SB8 (Summerville, R-Dickson) prohibits any higher education institution from granting preference based on race, gender, or ethnicity to any student, employee, or contractor.  Currently, “preference” in this legislation is undefined and could impact any number of recruiting and programmatic areas, including all female, all male groups such as fraternities and sororities.  The intent of the legislation will likely be further defined in the committee meeting today, and we’ll post updates accordingly.

SB19 (Tracy, R-Shelbyville) establishes an additional award, the STEM stipend, from net lottery proceeds for Tennessee HOPE scholarship recipients who are majoring in STEM fields; sets STEM stipend at $1,000 for the 2013-2014 academic year subject to appropriation and sufficient net lottery proceeds.  The TN Lottery Program currently faces a growing solvency problem (expenditures exceed revenues due to the number of program recipients).  Discussion over this issue may occur in today’s committee meeting.  We’ll post updates after the adjournment of the Committee meeting.