Political Science 315
May 3, 2010
Final Exam Take Home Fourty-ninth governor of Tennessee, Bill Haslam, has previously stated that his first year in office he let the Tennessee General Assembly take the lead, but planned on being more proactive within his second year in office. We can see evidence that supports this by comparing the Governor's official "timelines" from 2011 to 2012. During Haslam's first year in office, which included 114 events, we see far more 'summits,''roundtables,' and 'listening sessions' than actions (Humphrey,1). This year, for example, Governor Bill Haslam will have twice as administration bills before the Legislature as opposed to 2011. In his first year in office, Haslam presented twenty-four bills to the Legislature. This year Haslam presented a package of fifty-five administration bills, and is more actively trying to set the Legislative agenda. In 2011, Governor Haslam's major anti-crime effort included assigning Safety Commissioner Bill Gibbons to successfully negotiate a compromise bill on methamphetamine abuse. In 2012 the Governor's anti-crime package is much more in depth, and targets repeat domestic violence offenders (Humphrey, 1). This new anti-crime plan includes mandatory jail time for repeat domestic violence offenders and tougher penalties for gun-related gang crime. Any second time repeat offender for crimes of domestic violence, which include harm to a spouse, child, girlfriend or boyfriend, will face mandatory jail time of 45 days, and 120 days for any offenses thereafter. Current law requires probation for domestic offenders unless prosecutors prove jail time is needed. Safety Commissioner Bill Gibbons stated, "In Shelby County, about 30 percent of domestic violence involves repeat offenders. It's an important message for judges to be able to tell offenders that if they do it again they will go to jail." With domestic violence consisting of almost half repeat offenders, I agree that this new crime plan is a good way to reduce violence across Tennessee (Locker). This plan would also require doctors and pharmacists to check a database for prescription drugs before to see if patients are receiving pain-killing drugs from other providers before perscribing and dispensing the drugs themselves. Haslam also included enacting tougher sentences for gun possesion for those with prior felony convitions, creation of statewide meth-lab cleanup system, diverting more nonviolent drug offenders from prison into a drug court treatment program, and moving aggravated assualt, robbery, and aggravated burglary from Class C to Class B felonies when committed by three or more individuals into the new anti-crime plan. From this information we see that Haslam has been significantly more assertive in 2012 than in 2011 (Locker). Another area where we see the Governor being more assertive is education. Last year Haslam had only three bills, two of which affected education in Tennessee. One, teacher tenure reform, which requires teachers to be on the job five years instead of three to secure tenure, and would create a way for job security to be revoked due to poor teaching. Haslam stated the following after the vote: "If our goal in education is to grow the number of college graduates and provide a better educated work force for employers looking to relocate or expand in Tennessee, then our effort begins with making sure every child in every classroom learns from a great teacher (Johnson)."
The Governor also passed the charter school reform in 2011. In his second year as Governor, Haslam continues to push for education reforms. This year he is pushing for changes in state law to allow local schools to develop merit pay for teachers and eliminate mandates on average class sizes (Humphrey). Haslam believes schools should be able to waive requirements for teaching degrees and fixed pay scales in the hiring of teachers, especially in the subjects of math and