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Wednesday, April 24, 2019

House approves voucher bill
The House of Representatives narrowly approved Gov. Bill Lee's controversial school voucher legislation Tuesday despite strong opposition from residents across the state. It will effect Nashville and Memphis bills initially but Lee wants it expanded statewide. Eleventh District Republican Jeremy Faison voted for the voucher bill. The passage came after a 40-minute deadlock where the vote was stuck at 49-49, in part due to an absent lawmaker. In a dramatic turn, Rep. Jason Zachary, switched his vote after House Republican leaders held closed door negotiations in which the Knoxville Republican received assurances about additional changes to the bill. Zachary's change resulted in the chamber stamping its approval on Lee's school voucher-style program with a 50-48 vote. Earlier in the day a Senate finance committee similarly approved the measure by a one-vote margin. The voucher bill would provide public money for parents who unenroll a student from their public school district and allow them to spend the funds on private school. Opponents say the state would do better to improve failing schools for all students. And they oppose taxpayer money going for a private education when many public school districts in the state are already struggling financially.

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