VIDEOS: Haslam Supports Tort Reform, Backs Expanded Role for Charter Schools

Gov. Bill Haslam detailed his legislative priorities on Capitol Hill Thursday morning, laying out a laundry list of issues he wants to clean up in this year’s legislative session.

His three-pronged agenda focuses on education, tort reform and government efficiency.

“When I first started all this, I said our goal is to make Tennessee the number-one location in the Southeast for high-quality jobs, and we have a legislative effort that reflects that,” he told reporters early Thursday morning before lawmakers called both chambers into session.

His plan includes lengthening the time it takes for teachers to earn tenure.

In addition, Haslam said he wants to increase the role of charter schools in Tennessee. He is proposing lifting the cap on charter schools and providing for open enrollment and allowing lottery scholarships to be used for summer courses. He furthermore said that when the state takes over a failing school as part of the First to the Top legislation approved last year, it should be able to contract with charter schools in an effort to improve opportunities for the students affected.

Haslam also said he wants lawmakers to limit certain payouts in personal injury lawsuits and reduce the number of Tennessee Regulatory Authority board members from four to three.

This package of bills does not include a formal jobs package even though he ran his election campaign saying he wanted to help create jobs. He said he didn’t think legislation could directly create jobs.