Bill Watch is a service of the Knoxville Bar Association Legislative Committee. During the legislative session, the KBA will provide an updated report, through the support of Stephanie D. Coleman of Owings, Wilson & Coleman. The report will indicate progress and recent actions taken on the bills of interest to KBA members.
You can also get information about the General Assembly, including the text of bills and floor and committee calendars, by accessing the legislative web site at www.capitol.tn.gov.
February 8, 2019
Taxes/Constitutional Amendment – SJR 3 starts the process to change the constitution to prohibit the Legislature from levying any state tax on property. Tennessee has already constitutionally prohibited an income tax.
Attorney General/Constitutional Amendment - SJR 1 calls for an open nomination process by the Tennessee Supreme Court in selecting the State Attorney General, followed by a confirmation vote of the nominee by a majority of both houses of the Tennessee General Assembly. Tennessee is the only state in which the State Supreme Court appoints the attorney general. The votes taken by the court on nominees are not currently disclosed to the public. The resolution would require the votes of the Tennessee Supreme Court justices to be held in open court, with recorded votes. Once the nomination is made, the legislature would have sixty days to go through the confirmation process. In the event that the candidate is rejected, then the court would have 60 days to make another nomination.
Vocational Education / GIVE Act — Tennessee Governor Bill Lee announced his first legislative initiative, the Governor’s Investment in Vocational Education (GIVE), to expand access to vocational and technical training for Tennessee students. Senate Bill 805 provides funding for high school juniors and seniors to utilize four, fully-funded dual enrollment credits for trade and technical programs. Previously, high school students had access to only two fully-funded dual enrollment credits.
Relative Caregivers / Notice of Resources – On Tuesday, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved legislation to help relative caregivers receive information about resources and funding available to help care for a child or children under their guardianship. Senate Bill 12 directs the Department of Children’s Services (DCS) to distribute information on resources available to relative caregivers to the administrative office of the courts (AOC), which will then distribute the information to each court within the state that issues orders regarding child custody or guardianship, and the courts are directed to notify the relative caregivers about available financial resources. Relative caregivers do not receive the same financial benefits that foster parents receive.
Virtual Public School Act Extension — Senate Bill 20, extending the state’s Virtual Public School Act until 2023, was approved by the Senate Education Committee this week. The legislature passed the Virtual Public School Act in 2011. The act defines virtual schools as public schools that use technology to educate their students using the internet in an online or remote setting. Under this law, virtual schools must adhere to the same laws as traditional public schools on curriculum standards, class size, length of school year, regular student assessments, and teacher qualifications. The Department of Education has experienced difficulties in collecting reliable data in the schools due to TNReady testing issues. The bill will give the state’s Department of Education an additional four years to collect the data in order to thoroughly assess student progress in the schools.