Bill To Expand School Vouchers Passes House K-12 Subcommittee

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The Tennessee Conservative [By Jason Vaughn] –

Legislation that would expand school vouchers to students in Hamilton County passed the Tennessee House K-12 Subcommittee on Tuesday.

House Bill 0433 (HB0433), sponsored by State Representative Mark White (R-Memphis-District 83), would expand eligibility for an education savings account to Hamilton County students.

White first explained that he was asked to carry the House version of the bill by Senator Todd Gardenhire (R-Chattanooga-District 10). He stated that Gardenhire had detailed Hamilton County’s attempt to allow the school system the opportunity to show improvement over several years. Gardenhire noted that the system had seen “no real change.”

Representative Todd Warner (R-Chapel Hill-District 92) asked if there was any way to know a dollar amount that would be involved and how this would affect the school system.

The committee went out of session to allow John Patton from the American Federation for Children to respond. While he did not have a dollar amount, Patton noted that 11-12 thousand students currently attend independent schools in Hamilton County, while around 44,000 attend public schools.

Representative Gino Bulso (R-Brentwood-District 61) also asked Patton is he was aware of any evidence to suggest that ESAs were harmful to public school students. Patton stated that he was not. Bulso stated that he enthusiastically supported the bill.

After going back into session, Warner stated that he was in favor of school but struggled when that took money away from the public school system.

In response, Representative Bryan Richey (R-Maryville-District 20) said that the money did not belong to the public schools in the first place.

“I think parents having the opportunity to be able to make the decisions of what’s best for them when we’ve got taxpayer dollars at stake – not public school dollars that are set aside, they’re taxpayer dollars – to educate our kids, I support this piece of legislation. I would love to see it go ahead and expand to all 95 counties instead of just cherry picking the big metro areas across out state,” Richey said.

Following this, a voice vote was taken. Ayes prevailed and the bill was referred to the House Education Administration. Warner and Chairman Kirk Haston (R-Lobelville-District 71) asked to be recorded as no votes.

The bill has been placed on the Education Administration calendar for March 8.

Please consider contacting the following legislators on the House Education Administration Committee and express your support. 

Rep. Mark White (R-Memphis) – – 615-741-4415

Rep. William Slater (R-Gallatin) – – 615-741-2534

Rep. Charlie Baum (R-Murfreesboro) – – 615-741-6849

Rep. Gino Bulso (R-Brentwood) – – 615-741-6808

Rep. Ed Butler (R-Rickman) – – 615-741-1260

Rep. Monty Fritts (R-Kingston) – – 615-741-7658

Rep. Ron Gant (R-Piperton) – – 615-741-6890

Rep. John Gillespie (R-Memphis) – – 615-741-8201

Rep. Kirk Haston (R-Lobelville) – – 615-741-0750

Rep. Chris Hurt (R-Halls) – – 615-741-2134

Rep. Justin Jones (D-Nashville) – –  615-741-2184

Rep. Justin Lafferty (R-Knoxville) – – 615-741-4110

Rep. Harold Love, Jr. (D-Nashville) – – 615-741-3831

Rep. Sam McKenzie (D-Knoxville) – – 615-741-0768

Rep. Antonio Parkinson (D-Memphis) – – 615-741-4575

Rep. John Ragan (R-Oak Ridge) – – 615-741-4400

Rep. Robert Stevens (R-Smyrna) – – 615-741-3830

Rep. Todd Warner (R-Chapel Hill) – – 615-741-4170

About the Author: Jason Vaughn, Media Coordinator for The Tennessee Conservative  ~ Jason previously worked for a legacy publishing company based in Crossville, TN in a variety of roles through his career.  Most recently, he served as Deputy Director for their flagship publication. Prior, he was a freelance journalist writing articles that appeared in the Herald Citizen, the Crossville Chronicle and The Oracle among others.  He graduated from Tennessee Technological University with a Bachelor’s in English-Journalism, with minors in Broadcast Journalism and History.  Contact Jason at

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