House and Senate Pass UT Board of Trustees Legislation; But Versions of Bill Vary

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The UT FOCUS Act, which would reconstitute and restructure the UT Board of Trustees passed this week on both the Senate and House floors with differing versions of the bill, with the Senate voting 27-3 and the House voting 51-41.

The Haslam Administration proposed the measure in an effort to help the UT Board of Trustees operate more efficiently and effectively. The University of Tennessee supports the legislation, which is based on best practices for higher education governing boards as described by the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges (AGB).

Several amendments were proposed on the House floor on Thursday, leading to a heated debate on the legislation. In the end, only Rep. David Hawk’s (R-Greeneville), the bill’s sponsor, amendment was adopted.  The amendment provides that there will be a non-voting student member on the full UT Board of Trustees, which is now the primary difference between the House and Senate versions of the bill.

Next Steps: Procedurally
Since the House and Senate bills differ, the just-passed House bill will now head back to the Senate on the “Message Calendar.” The Senate vote is not yet scheduled but is expected to occur sometime next week.

The House debate and vote on the bill can be viewed online here.

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