NASHVILLE - State senators on Thursday passed legislation that creates a school voucher program for students from lower-income families in Hamilton County and the state's three other largest counties.
The measure passed on a largely partisan 20-10 vote with one Democrat, Sen. Douglas Henry of Nashville, joining with majority Republicans. Several Republicans did not vote.
Similar legislation in the House has not started to move.
Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey, R-Blountville, praised the bill, sponsored by Sen. Brian Kelsey, R-Germantown, saying, it will provide "opportunity scholarships for parents who have their children trapped in a failing school but don't have the means to take them anywhere else."
But Sen. Andy Berke, D-Chattanooga, charged it was little more than a retread of 30-year-old ideas. He complained that majority Republicans this year are pushing a series of "divisive" partisan bills that depart from recent bipartisan approaches on education reform.
For complete details, see tomorrow's Chattanooga Times Free Press.