terri lynn weaver

Lee declines to sign teacher training bill over cost dispute

Gov. Bill Lee speaks to reporters after a bill signing ceremony in Nashville on May 24, 2021. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Gov. Bill Lee has declined to sign a bill sponsored by Rep. Terri Lynn Weaver (R-Lancaster) and Sen. Janice Bowling (R-Tullahoma) allowing school districts to establish their own teacher training programs.

The governor’s objections had less to do with the bill’s substance than concerns that the fiscal note was revised from $470,000 to “not significant,” despite his administration presenting evidence to the contrary. The lack of funding for the program is “something that will need to be addressed” in the upcoming budget year, Lee wrote.

Lee has not vetoed any bill since coming into office in 2019 and he’s now only allowed three to become law without his signature. In 2019, he didn’t sign the bill creating Tennessee’s online sports gambling program. In 2020, he declined to sign a resolution ratifying the Tennessee Emergency Communications Board’s increase in the 911 surcharge from $1.16 to $1.50. The latter was also sponsored by Bowling.

Here’s a copy of the letter Lee sent to House Speaker Cameron Sexton (R-Crossville) and his Senate counterpart, Randy McNally (R-Oak Ridge):

Dear Speaker Sexton and Lieutenant Governor McNally:

I am writing to inform you that I am returning HB1534/SB653 to become law without my signature. As our state faces a teacher shortage, we support alternative pathways to teacher licensure. These efforts cut back red tape and ensure more qualified professionals can teach our students. I am not signing the bill solely because of a cost discrepancy.

Unfortunately, this legislation incurs a cost that was not accounted for by Fiscal Review during the legislative process. Fiscal Review adjusted the fiscal note downward from several hundred thousand dollars to “not significant.” At the end of the legislative session, our team provided Fiscal Review with evidence of the costs associated with implementation and asked for correction.

The requested correction was not made, and the lack of adequate funding to support this legislation is something that will need to be addressed in the budget process in the year ahead in order to ensure proper implementation.

With your continued partnership, we have once again created and enacted a balanced budget that maintains Tennessee’s position as a leader in fiscal responsibility. We must be vigilant about thoroughly accounting for costs in the fiscal review process to ensure we maintain that fiscal prudence.

Our team at the Department of Education is available to discuss the cost assumptions on this matter at your convenience. We will also communicate our concerns with the bill sponsors and relevant committee chairs.

Thank you for your prompt attention to this fiscal matter and I look forward to supporting more qualified teachers in our state.

Respectfully,

/signed/

Bill Lee

Former commissioner reports Rep. Weaver to DC police

Rep. Terri Lynn Weaver (R-Lancaster) attends a briefing on the coronavirus pandemic in Nashville on March 16, 2020. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

A former commissioner in then-Gov. Ned McWherter’s administration has reported state Rep. Terri Lynn Weaver (R-Lancaster) to law enforcement for taking part in Washington protest that turned into a riot.

“I respectfully inform you that Terri Lynn Weaver… was a participant,” Dudley Taylor wrote to D.C. Police Chief Robert Contee. “She posted photos and informed The Tennessean, the daily newspaper in Nashville, that she was ‘in the thick of it.’ She claimed to be a ‘patriot,’ of course.”

Contee in an email thanked Taylor for his report.

“I will ensure our FBI partners have this information,” Contee wrote.

Taylor is a Knoxville attorney who served as revenue commissioner for McWherter. He is also a former member of the Tennessee Registry of Election Finance and was the Democratic nominee in the open 2nd Congressional District won by Republican Jimmy Duncan in 1988.

Taylor wrote in his letter that if his report qualifies for a $1,000 reward, he will donate it to the family of the U.S. Capitol Police officer who was killed in the riot.

Rep. Weaver calls for Casada’s resignation as speaker

Add Rep. Terri Lynn Weaver (R-Lancaster) to the list of lawmakers calling for Glen Casada to step down as House speaker.

“The choices made by these people – including the Speaker – should have consequences,” The Hartsville Vidette quoted her as saying. “That teaches a lesson to everyone.”

“If one’s going to step up to a place of authority – mayor, county commissioner – there is a level of representation you’ve got to bring to the table,” she said. “Bad choices bring bad consequences and bad consequences have victims. Good choices make good things happen.”

State Rep. Terri Lynn Weaver says House Speaker should resign

That brings the list of Republicans calling for Casada to step aside to seven. The other are:

  • Speaker Pro Tem Bill Dunn of Knoxville.
  • Rep. David Hawk of Greeneville.
  • Rep. Patsy Hazlewood of Signal Mountain.
  • Rep. Jeremy Faison of Cosby.
  • Majority Whip Rick Tillis of Lewisburg.
  • Rep. Sam Whitson of Franklin.

Meanwhile, Casada was spotted at the Iroquois Steeplechase race in Nashville over the weekend with fellow Republican lawmakers and lobbyists, per the Nashville Scene’s Stephen Elliott.

Also, U.S. Rep. Phil Roe (R-Johnson City) said Casada should step aside.

“I think it’s a distraction for our state” Roe told WCYB-TV. “We’re doing wonderful in the state of Tennessee and I think probably he needs to think about removing that distraction.”

Marriage bill stalls amid debate over who can perform ceremonies

A seeking to allow more elected officials to officiate over wedding ceremonies has run into trouble in the House amid a myriad of questions about the purpose of the legislation.

Andy Sher of the Chattanooga Times Free Press reports that Rep. Ron Travis (R-Dayton) put off the bill after extensive questioning on the House floor about the need for extending the officiating power to all current and former state lawmakers (the speakers of both chambers can already solemnize weddings), plus nearly 1,700 city or town council members.

The bill would also specify that that ministers, preachers, pastors, priests, rabbis, or other spiritual leaders must be ordained or “otherwise designated in conformity with the customs of a church, temple or other religious group or organization” in order to preside over weddings.

“We have right now in Tennessee a situation where people are going online and getting an online ordination in order to marry friends and family members,” said House Judiciary Chairman Michael Curcio (R-Dickson). “Right now we don’t know under the eyes of the law whether those are legal marriages. So we desperately need clarification.”

Continue reading