TCSA Capitol Update: February 27 - March 3, 2023
It was a very busy and eventful week at the General Assembly and a great time for county officials to show up in force and spend time with their legislators.
On both Tuesday and Wednesday, county highway officials were on hand in committee to see the Governor’s Transportation Modernization Act of 2023 (HB321/SB273) move forward. The path was smoother in the House Transportation Committee where the bill passed on a unanimous voice vote. The next day in Senate Transportation, presenters of the legislation and TDOT Commissioner Butch Eley faced more questions and opposition. The bill passed out of committee, but only on a narrow 5-4 vote. Members of the administration have expressed their appreciation of county government support of the bill and mentioned how critical it will be for state legislators to continue to hear from county officials over the next couple of weeks. We encourage you to contact your Senators and Representatives, let them know your support and ask them to sign onto the legislation as a co-sponsor to signal their support.
Other Administration Proposals
A couple of other key proposals from Governor Lee also progressed this week. Legislation to extend summer learning camps (SB249/HB68) and to establish new grants to help clean up brownfields (SB271/HB319) across the state are headed toward floor votes. The brownfields bill is on the consent calendar Monday night in both chambers. The summer learning camps proposal is also up for a floor vote in the Senate Monday night. It still has to move through the House Finance Committee.
The TCSA board voted to support a proposal to authorize counties and cities to levy adequate facilities taxes and impact fees. The bill, (HB1206/SB820) is having more trouble at the legislature. It is facing serious opposition from realtors and homebuilders. The proposal was scheduled for consideration in committees this week, but was deferred. If you would like your county to have the option to use these tools to help manage demands on county services caused by growth, let your legislators know.
A caption bill sponsored by the two speakers appeared in the House K-12 Subcommittee this week. An amendment was presented to re-write (HB1214/SB1194) to create two new types of charter schools - one to oversee homeschool students and another type to create charter boarding schools. The state charter commission would be able to authorize either type of charter school without the consent of the local school district. The amendment was outlined very briefly in the subcommittee by Chairman Mark White who was presenting the bill on behalf of Speaker Sexton. As soon as he concluded, a member of the subcommittee called for the question and the bill moved out without any discussion or questions. County associations have concerns over how these new types of charters would affect local funding. Both are authorized to recruit students from anywhere in the state. The bill does not clarify whether local funds have to be provided to these new organizations and if so, which county would pay the local share - the student’s home county or the county where the charter facility is located.
Also related to education, (SB910/HB1244), which would have created a process for returning to elected school superintendents, failed in the Senate Education Committee. Almost every year since Tennessee changed to appointed directors of schools, there has been a proposal to switch back. The bills rarely, if ever, have made it out of committee. This year was not an exception.
For more information about bills being considered by the General Assembly, check out the video recap on TCSA's YouTube Channel.