Will Tennessee lawmakers reach an agreement on the school voucher bill before the end of the session?


State leaders tell FOX 17 News there are two weeks left in the session and the big question remains: Will the school voucher bill pass on time?

There are currently three versions of the bill and differing opinions on how to reach an agreement. There are House, Senate and Gov. Bill Lee's versions of the bill.

Some Republicans believe they are close to an agreement, while other Democrats say they are so far apart that it will be impossible to find a middle ground before the end of the session.

The school voucher law, also known as the school choice law, would give families the choice of sending their children to private or public schools.

The Senate version of this bill passed that chamber, but the Governor's and House versions have yet to pass.

Governor Lee believes there are many good conversations underway to develop a statewide bill.

“There is broad public acceptance of parents having more choices about where their children go to school,” said Governor Lee. “Parents make the best decisions about where their children go and what they learn.”

In the House, this bill hasn't had a committee hearing in several weeks, and that's because Rep. William Lamberth says they're in no rush and are having ongoing conversations about things like open enrollment, testing and assessments.

“When you look at the various issues addressed in this bill, I think the House and Senate have never been closer together, and these conversations are going extremely well,” said Rep. Lamberth.

However, some Democrats are not as optimistic about this process or this bill.

FOX 17 News' Kaitlin Miller asked Senator Heidi Campbell: “Some people on the Republican side said today that the House and Senate are working well together and the school voucher bill is moving in the right direction. How do you react to that?”

Senator Heidi Campbell responded: “You know I don’t hear that. I heard that we are so far apart that it will really be almost impossible to find a middle ground.”

Senator Campbell says the session will likely end in two weeks and she doesn't expect all three parties to reach an agreement in time.

She also believes this bill is a fraud and will destroy public education by sending money to families who can already afford private school.

Rep. Lamberth says this bill will be discussed in committee next week and could advance in the House next week or the week after.

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