A plan to overhaul the way workers’ compensation claims are handled will be debated in the Tennessee General Assembly this week. Under the current system, if there is a dispute between an employer and an employee over how much money is owed, the disagreement is usually settled by a judge.
“Only Tennessee and Alabama involve the courts like this,” said Blake Farmer who covers the state Capitol for WPLN.
It’s an arrangement that has left many unhappy. Some employers claim the current system is too costly, while injured workers complain it takes too long to get paid.
The state Legislature will spend time this week hammering out the details of a school voucher bill. Those specifics will determine who will be able to use public money to attend private school. Governor Bill Haslam has said he wants to make vouchers available only to students who attend failing schools and qualify for free or reduced prices lunches. If the governor gets his way, then most of the students who qualify for vouchers will be from Memphis where 69 of the state’s 83 lowest performing schools are located, and 85 percent of students are economically disadvantaged.
The state could soon decide which charter schools can open up in Memphis and Nashville. A proposed bill in the Tennessee General Assembly aims to wrest control of that process away from the school boards in the state’s two largest cities.
In its first test, a House subcommittee passed the bill Tuesday, but there was one Republican lawmaker who voted no. Representative John Forgety is a retired educator from Athens.
Like last year, some Republicans in the state Legislature want to pass a bill that would allow people to store guns in their cars. The House sponsor of the legislation, State Representative Jeremy Faison says he doesn’t have a gun carry permit, but nevertheless he keeps a gun in his car while it is parked in the state Capitol parking lot, “I’m not ashamed of it, I’ll tell anybody that. I’ll tell the highway patrol,” Faison said. “Let’s be honest, there’s not a parking lot in Tennessee today that doesn’t have a gun inside [a] car.”
When the Tennessee General Assembly convenes this week, they’ll be many fresh faces in the crowd in Nashville, especially among the majority party. Half of Tennessee’s House Republicans have fewer than two years of experience. Among the new lawmakers, there are lawyers, military veterans, and even a preacher, but many describe themselves as small business owners. “That’s on both sides of the aisle,” said Blake Farmer who is covering the state Legislature for WPLN in Nashville.