School Choice Expansion Bill Will Only Benefit Hamilton County In Last Minute Legislative Action On Floor

Apr 24, 2023 | Political News

On Friday, school choice legislation to expand Tennessee’s Education Savings Account (ESA) pilot program to two additional counties hit a last minute snag as lawmakers sought to wrap up the 113th legislative session. 

In a vote on Wednesday, House Bill 0433 (HB0433), sponsored by Rep. Mark White (R-Memphis-District 83), passed on the House floor with a 57 to 35 vote but the Senate then refused to concur the House amendment that added Knox County to the bill the following day.

Corresponding Senate Bill 0012 (SB0012), sponsored by Sen. Todd Gardenhire (R-Chattanooga-District 10) passed on the Senate Floor back in February with a 20-6 vote. That version of the bill added only Hamilton County to the state’s ESA pilot program for Davidson and Shelby Counties. 

Initially approved by the Tennessee General Assembly in 2019, the pilot program meant to provide resource funding and school vouchers for lower-income students attending certain “priority schools” was tied up in court for two years.