Kingsport Times News Thursday, October 30, 2014

Regional & National

Top issues facing Tenn. lawmakers in 2014

January 11th, 2014 2:07 pm by Associated Press

Top issues facing Tenn. lawmakers in 2014

Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Here are some of the issues lawmakers are expected to tackle in the upcoming legislative session.

BUDGET: Tennessee's more than $30 billion budget is growing at a sluggish pace, and most of that growth is eaten up by increases in Medicaid spending. Lawmakers are required by the state constitution to pass a balanced budget.

CHARTER SCHOOLS: A bill to create a statewide authorizer for charter schools failed in the closing days of last year's legislative session, but proponents hope for a quick passage this year. Another proposal called the "parent trigger" would allow for a vote among parents at public schools to convert schools into charters.

COMMON CORE: An effort to back away from a common set of standards for reading and math could pitch members of the GOP against each other. Gov. Bill Haslam has argued that Tennessee's Common Core standards make the state more competitive in attracting businesses to the state.

GUNS IN PARKING LOTS: Republican leaders appear hesitant about revising a bill to allow people with handgun carry permits to store weapons in vehicles parked at work. An attorney general's opinion last year said that the law doesn't prevent employers from firing workers who violate their parking lot gun bans.

METHAMPHETAMINES: Calls for requiring prescriptions for cold medicines used to make methamphetamines were bolstered by a recent Vanderbilt poll indicating wide support for the change. But pharmaceutical industry groups claim the poll results are misleading and that public opinion is still against requiring doctor's prescriptions for medicines like Sudafed.

SCHOOL VOUCHERS: The governor last year supported a limited school voucher program for the state, while Senate Republicans pushed for a more expansive program.

TEXTBOOKS: Critics of the state's textbook commission say the panel doesn't do enough to keep bias out of school books, and are calling for an overhaul.

WINE IN SUPERMARKETS: A bill to allow supermarkets to sell wine failed in a House committee last year. The speakers of the House and Senate are strong proponents of giving the voters of cities and counties to decide whether to allow wine sales in grocery and convenience stores.


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