TN Legislative Session Begins With Big Issues On The Agenda

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

(Memphis) Tuesday marks the beginning of legislative battles that could change the political landscape in Tennessee.

The state’s legislative session kicked off Tuesday, and lawmakers will be wading through several hot issues over the next few months.

Several lawmakers from Memphis are trying to pass several big bills including Senator Mark Norris’s legislation involving rape kits.

This move comes after News Channel 3 uncovered 12,000 untested rape kits in Memphis.

“The legislation requires an accounting by local law enforcement agencies across the state so that we can really define the scope of the challenge we face,” said Norris.

It would also determine what kind of funding is available to test the backlog.

Mayor A C Wharton hopes state approves that funding since it’s in the state’s jurisdiction and sets new timetable for testing rape evidence.

“Once you gather the specimen, once you gather the evidence you have x number of days.  Thirty days I would say, quite frankly,” said Wharton.

Your child’s education is always a hot issue, and this year, lawmakers will consider approving school vouchers for low-income students, allowing them to move to private schools at taxpayers' expense.

Right now the debate is over how many families to include.

Governor Bill Haslam hopes it’s around 7,000 low-income families.

This session, everyone's eyes are on Governor Halsam, the General Assembly and the Obama Administration on any compromise over the Medicaid expansion.

State Representative GA Hardaway says the state must approve the expansion under the Affordable Care Act or the state will face major consequences because hospitals will miss out on money for treating the poor.

“We’re either going to accept that money or we’re going to kill citizens, kill jobs, and kill hospitals,” said Hardaway.

Also, in an effort to fight the state’s meth problem, lawmakers are considering a bill that would require you to get a prescription for Sudafed and other medications with pseudoephedrine, since that is a main meth-making material.