March 28 – April 1
House begins work on common sense
Voter photo ID plan
On Thursday, the house took a major first step towards enacting a common sense reform that was a cornerstone pledge to voters last fall. HB seven passed the State and Local Subcommittee and is expected win approval from the full Committee next week.
The legislation simply requires a voter to present qualified photo identification before voting. Voters without proper identification shall be allowed to cast provisional ballots.
State Representative Dennis Powers said, “We told Tennesseans during the campaign last year we will take steps to ensure validity and integrity are part of our voting system. This legislation provides a simple check and balance at the ballot box to make sure every Tennessean’s vote will count. This is a common sense reform citizens have asked for time and time again. We are working hard to live up to the pledges we make to voters.”
In the mid-week, the House Judiciary Committee passed the “Exclusionary Rule Reform Act” which will close off a technicality from being abused by some of Tennessee’s most violent criminals.
The chairman of the committee sponsored the legislation after advocating for the legal fix over the last few years. News reports have highlighted an alarming trend of criminals using the exclusionary rule to get evidence gathered against them thrown out of court. This legislation merely codifies a good faith exception to the rule which provides judges an avenue to keep the evidence when a minor, technical mistake was made in the course of the investigation.
Powers stated, “There is no excuse for a harmless and minor glitch, which has no bearing on a criminal investigation and case, to be the reason a violent criminal escapes prosecution. This common sense fix will ensure the integrity of our judicial system and let victims of crime know their attackers will be brought to justice.”
The legislation will soon go to the full House of Representatives for a vote on final passage.
In the House Finance Subcommittee, legislation known as the “Empowering Educators with Equal Access” reform was passed through to the full Committee. House Speaker, Rep. Beth Harwell, ensured passage of the much-needed reform by casting the decisive vote in the subcommittee.
Late on Wednesday, legislation co-sponsored by to stem the tide of illegal immigration in the state, was passed in the house state and local subcommittee. The three pieces of legislation make up a comprehensive plan for greater enforcement and stronger guidelines on illegal immigration. The sponsor stated, “By taking a comprehensive approach that targets three distinct areas of the law, we can bring the reform demanded by so many of our citizens. I believe this plan will place Tennessee at the forefront of State efforts to combat illegal immigration and provide a blueprint for other States to follow.”
Powers joined the Governor and the First Lady of Tennessee with teachers, parents and guardians at Algood Elementary School in Putnam County on Monday. During the visit, the First Lady learned about the Algood school’s unique plan to improve parent and family participation, having adopted the Putnam County Schools Family Engagement Plan. “Education is a shared responsibility by the schools, parents, and communities, and I’m very impressed with the school system’s family engagement plan,” said the First Lady. “It recognizes that parents and guardians are a vital part of a child’s learning, and creates a comfortable environment for parents and teachers to work together.”
The house will soon vote on a measure to protect teachers from being disciplined for pointing out weaknesses in scientific research. The legislation encourages critical-thinking skills in the classroom and merely requires public schools to “create an environment” in which teachers “respond appropriately and respectfully to differences of opinion about controversial issues.