House Bill 1035 advanced out of the Education Instruction & Programs Subcommittee this week and will now move on to the full Committee, where it is scheduled to be heard on Tuesday, March 24. The legislation establishes a process by which the state will formally replace the controversial Common Core education standards with a new set of standards crafted solely by Tennesseans.
As amended, the bill specifies that Tennessee is fully in charge of creating its own educational standards and ensures that none will be imposed on the state by the federal government in the future. The bill establishes a Standards Recommendation Committee that will be comprised of ten members, with four appointed by the Governor, three appointed by the Speaker of the Senate, and three appointed by the Speaker of the House of Representatives. In addition, the legislation requires the State Board of Education to cancel the “Memorandum of Understanding” that had previously been agreed upon concerning Common Core State Standards.
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Throughout the process of crafting these new education standards, House Bill 1035 provides multiple opportunities for public input and stresses transparency. Ultimately, the legislation will fully remove Tennessee from federal Common Core Standard guidelines while empowering Tennessee education professionals to craft new standards of educational excellence without undue influence from outside the state.
Do note that Common Core standards will not automatically disappear, as the new standards still have to be created, and this will take time. I still have some concerns about some of the wording in the bill, but I will keep you updated as things progress.
Policing For Profit
This week, the House Civil Justice Subcommittee heard testimony regarding House Bill 284, which deals with the issue of policing for profit in Tennessee. However, the legislation was taken off notice after an agreement was made with key law enforcement agencies to correct the problem internally.
As introduced, the bill requires law enforcement agencies to pay for the cost of returning a vehicle back to its original condition if it is dismantled, damaged, or altered during a search and seizure operation. This requirement would only apply if the driver or passengers are not charged with a criminal offense and nothing is seized, the forfeiture warrant is denied, or if the agency does not meet its burden of proof at the forfeiture hearing.
Proponents of the legislation note that Tennessee has experienced a serious problem over the years with certain law enforcement agencies policing for profit. This has resulted in many law abiding citizens being targeted for no reason and their personal property damaged and cash being seized.
The agreement negotiated before the bill was taken off notice involved numerous meetings with the Tennessee Department of Safety, the Tennessee Sheriff’s Association, the Tennessee Police Chief’s Association, and the Peace Officers Standards & Training Commission. Following several weeks of negotiations, all stakeholders involved agreed it made sense to develop a training curriculum to effectively deal with the problem internally, as opposed to creating a new state law.
The bill’s sponsors noted, however, they would not hesitate to take legislative action if the agreement does not move forward in the coming days.
Ag Day On The Hill
Ag Day at the Capitol is March 25, 2015.
Did you know that Tennessee has 76,000 farms representing 10.8 million acres in production. More than half of the state, 14 million acres, is in mostly privately owned hardwood forests? Tennessee’s top agricultural commodities include cattle, soybeans, corn, poultry, cotton, timber, greenhouse and nursery products, dairy products, wheat, tobacco, and hay. The industry has a $66 billion a year impact on the state’s economy and supports nearly 337,900 jobs.