Harwell's bill limit proposal finds GOP resistance
NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -
The 108th General Assembly began Tuesday and lawmakers have plenty of pressing issues on their agenda this year.
A House committee has voted to dial back Republican Speaker Beth Harwell's proposal to limit the number of bills each lawmaker can file each year.
Harwell had sought to set an annual cap of 10 bills per lawmaker, but the panel instead voted to recommend a 15-bill limit.
The move could result in 485 more bills being filed than under Harwell's original proposal if approved by the full House on Friday.
Harwell nevertheless praised the House Rules Committee action as a step toward changing the culture in the chamber that has never before imposed limits on how many bills each member could file.
The panel's vote came after several Republicans raised questions about the 10-bill limit at a caucus meeting earlier on Tuesday.
Whether or not to allow school vouchers in cities like Nashville will take center stage in the Legislature this year.
Lawmakers could make a decision if all Tennessee students should have the option of using school vouchers or should they be available for poorer communities.
Metro Schools parent Chelle Baldwin joined other parents in forming the group Standing Together 4 Strong Community Schools to fight against the likely school voucher legislation.
"I think it's paramount that we speak up and we have a vehicle for saying, 'this is what we want. This is what we need, and this is what will make it successful,'" Baldwin said.
"Our current education system is one-size-fits-all. Zip codes and imaginary lines dictate the fate of our children, and we believe parents are in the best position to decide what schools are best for their kids," said Justin Owen, with the Beacon Center of Tennessee.
Other issues up for debate
Parent trigger legislation is also expected to be debated on Capitol Hill, which would allow parents to decide the fate of a struggling school.
Charter schools will be discussed, including who gets the last word on approving them -- state or local officials. This comes after last year's controversy involving Metro schools and the approval of Great Hearts Academy.
Democrats want to expand Pre-K to more families.
Should teachers and staff to be allowed to carry firearms while at school? Lawmakers are calling for one armed officer at every school.
Wine in grocery stores will once again be up for discussion. Supermarkets continue their push to sell wine in their stores.
Guns in trunks legislation -- should employers should be required to allow workers to keep firearms in vehicles parked in company lots?
School voucher vote in Nashville
Meanwhile, the Metro Council will vote on a resolution about school vouchers at its meeting Tuesday.
Some council members say if the state wants to allow vouchers, then the state should pay for it and not drain money out Metro Nashville Public Schools.
"I'm not saying don't do it. I'm saying if you mandate it, don't give us an unfunded mandate. Pay for the mandate," said Councilman Steve Glover.
Another issue included in the Metro Council resolution is that of a statewide charter school authorizer, which would take the power away from local school boards to make decisions about which charter schools come to the district.
Copyright WSMV 2013 (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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