TN Legislature kicks off session Tuesday - Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

TN Legislature kicks off session Tuesday

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(WMC-TV) - The Tennessee Legislature is back in session and several hot topics are on the table for lawmakers.

On the education front, there are two very controversial issues on the agenda, one of those being school vouchers or "opportunity scholarships" as some are calling them.

"Would allow low income children to take the funds we spend on them which is $9,000 or $10,000 and take it to whatever school they want to take it to, which is another public school in the system or a private school," said State Senator Brian Kelsey.

Also on the education agenda, charter schools and who should have a final say in approving them: the state by way of a state charter authorizer or local districts.

Democrats may not have a big say this session, as republicans can virtually do as they please because of their super majority. That is, unless there is a division between the conservatives and moderates of the party.

Though, State Representative Antonio Parkinson believes it is just going to take reaching across party lines.

"I think democrats can get as much done as they want to get done," said Parkinson. "It's a matter of working across the board to come up with legislation that just makes sense to everybody."

Another big issue for Kelsey is making sure TennCare is not expanded as part of the Affordable Care Act.

The federal government pledged to cover the expansion for the first three years, though Kelsey doubts that considering the federal debt. Parkinson says the solution should be simple.

"At the end of the day we need to see how many citizens in TN don't have insurance plain and simple, he said.

Additionally, Parkinson plans to introduce two pieces of legislation in an attempt to cut down on gun violence in Memphis.

"Go after those that supply guns to minors. That's a major issue for us here in the city of Memphis. I have legislation also that will make anyone who uses a gun in commission of a crime that will make the penalties much stiffer," said Parkinson.

The Tennessee Legislative session begins at noon Tuesday.

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