In-state tuition bill dead; sponsor blames election year politics

Sen. Todd Gardenhire says the push to allow some undocumented students living in Tennessee to pay in-state tuition rates at public colleges is dead for the year because of election-year politics, reports the Times Free Press. The sponsor of SB2263 let the bill die without seeking a vote in the Senate Education Committee’s last meeting of the session on Wednesday, saying it was sure to fail.

Gardenhire said House leadership doesn’t want the bill to come up for a vote, while Senate leaders insist the House act first before allowing the measure to move forward.

The senator said this year’s governor’s race knocked the bill off course. He noted the House for the third year in a row “has killed it under the leadership of Beth Harwell,” the Republican House speaker who is running for governor.

He called it “Very disappointing. Very disappointing when you’ve got all four [Republican] gubernatorial candidates against it and one of them in particular, Diane Black, being personal about it.”

…Black, a Gallatin Republican running for governor, last week blasted the legislation and appeared to take a personal swipe at Gardenhire, saying that “too many times, so-called conservatives get elected promising to fight against liberal policies, only to embrace them once in office. It’s a shame to see our state legislature do just that.”

That drew a stinging rebuke from Gardenhire, a decades-long convervative, who has avoided taking sides in the Republican gubneratorial primary.

“I’m not only offended, but I’m very upset about that,” Gardenhire said, citing President Ronald Reagan’s famous “11th Commandment” against publicly criticizing other Republicans. “So, her day of reckoning will come when she comes to Hamilton County.”

He also said he was surprised “they did that without talking to both sides. I don’t understand when people do what they do and hurt children.”

See also The Tennessean report, which includes this Gardenhire comment:

“The House leadership in the last five years has consistently not wanted this bill to move forward. There’s people on what I would call the Roy Moore faction of the Republican party, have put out a tremendous amount of misinformation about what this bill does and what it doesn’t do,” Gardenhire said before the committee meeting.


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