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Capitol Hill Weekly

May 1, 2012
State Senator Mae Beavers

The Tennessee General Assembly debated the state budget and major legislation this past week attacking prescription and synthetic drug abuse as the legislature prepares to close the 2012 legislative session. The legislation to curb drug abuse in Tennessee was among a list of key bills passed by the General Assembly this year.

Legislation to curb drug abuse lead list of major bills in 2012 session

Synthetic Drugs – Two key bills attacking the growing problem of synthetic or “designer” drug abuse are now on their way to Governor Bill Haslam for his signature after passage by State Senators this week. Senate Bill 3018, sponsored by Senator Mae Beavers, takes another approach to attack synthetic drug abuse by defining it to capture any analogues, which are chemical compounds having a similar structure to the banned drug. This legislation creates a new Class D felony offense for a person to knowingly manufacture, deliver, dispense or sell a controlled substance analogue. The proposal elevates penalties upon a second or subsequent violation to a Class C felony. If the violation involves the delivery, dispensing or sale of a controlled substance analogue to a minor, the offender will be punished one classification higher than the punishment for delivering, dispensing or selling to an adult. The bill also creates a new Class A misdemeanor offense for a person knowingly to possess or casually exchange under a gram of a controlled substance analogue.

“We are very hopeful that the new definition will give clarity regarding what constitutes the illegal drug, while strengthening penalties will make certain that these substances are out of reach of Tennessee’s youth,” said Senator Beavers.

Likewise, Senate Bill 2280 makes it a Class E felony to possess, use or sell synthetic substances intended to imitate controlled substances.

Synthetic drug products are sold under the guise of “bath salts” or “plant food” but are comprised of a class of chemicals perceived as mimics of cocaine, LSD and methamphetamine. The effects of synthetic drugs include impaired perception, reduced motor control, disorientation, extreme paranoia and violent episodes. Although the General Assembly has passed laws previously to ban the chemical compound used in synthetic drugs, unscrupulous chemists continue to modify molecules in the organic compound to avoid prosecution. Law enforcement officials have testified that by the time a new synthetic drug is discovered and banned, another altered form of the compound has taken its place.

Prescription Drug Abuse / Hospital Employees – The State Senate approved a House amendment and sent to the Governor legislation to authorize the Controlled Substance Database Committee to provide a hospital or mental health facility an employee’s prescribing information. Under current law, a hospital’s Quality Improvement Committee exists to evaluate the safety and quality of care provided to patients as well as qualifications and competency of healthcare providers in a confidential and privileged environment. Senate Bill 2407 would give hospitals more information about any potential for prescription abuse by their own employees.

Drug Test / Welfare Recipients – In similar action to prevent drug abuse, the Senate passed legislation which calls for drug testing for welfare applicants. The bill would apply to testing for illegal use of marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamine, amphetamine and opiates such as morphine, with the possibility that other drugs could be added later by rules set forth under the bill. Senate Bill 2580 applies to adult recipients of the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) program.

The drug testing plan includes a referral process for any applicant who tests positive to be referred to an appropriate treatment resource for drug abuse. If the applicant is otherwise eligible during the treatment period, he or she can receive TANF benefits during the treatment period for up to six months. If the applicant refuses treatment, he or she would be disqualified. After six months of disqualification, the applicant can reapply, but upon testing positive again he or she would become ineligible for one year.

Under the federal Welfare Reform Act passed in 1996, states were authorized to conduct drug testing for TANF recipients. The implementation would occur in phases over a two-year period under the bill. The Department of Human Services would develop appropriate screening techniques and processes to establish reasonable cause that an applicant for TANF is using a drug illegally. The applicant could then be required to undergo a urine-based drug test to be conducted by a drug testing agency. If the applicant tests positive, the drug test would have to be verified by a confirmation test before TANF benefits could be denied. No drug for which an applicant has a current valid prescription could be used as a basis for denial of benefits.

Issues in Brief

Womens' Health – Legislation was passed this week to create a safer medical climate for women after an abortion by requiring that physicians performing them must have hospital admitting privileges in the same or adjoining county of the locality in which it was conducted. The bill would help women who have complications following an abortion to receive better post-abortion care if they have an emergency and need to be hospitalized. This bill would ensure the physician responsible and knowledgeable of the woman’s specific condition and health history can attend her after she is admitted to the hospital.

Senate Bill 3323, sponsored by Senator Mae Beavers, follows expert testimony that patients have been left to fend for themselves for emergency follow-up care following complications. Experts maintain that complications of any procedure are best managed by those providers with the most experience in the particular field.

Embryo / Fetal Homicide – A bill has been approved to broaden the offenses for assault and criminal homicide committed against pregnant women to include an embryo. The embryo would be in addition to a fetus which was included as a separate offense and passed in 2011. Senate Bill 3412, sponsored by Senator Beavers, ensures that perpetrators are punished, regardless of the viability of the victim.

Severe Child Abuse / Parents – State Senators voted in favor of Senate Bill 2741 that would allow a parent to file a petition with the court to terminate the parental rights of the other parent if he/she has been found by a criminal court to have committed severe abuse of a child. Currently, a child’s parent is not allowed to petition for termination of parental rights under any circumstances. This legislation would provide a new ground that in the case of commission of incest, aggravated sexual exploitation or severe or aggravated child sexual abuse, rape, or sexual battery that termination of parental rights can be initiated.

Domestic Violence / 911 – Legislation which strengthens penalties against those convicted of domestic violence was approved, sending the bill to Governor Bill Haslam for his signature. The “Repeat Domestic Violence Offender” bill creates a new offense for repeat domestic violence offenders and prescribes mandatory jail time and enhanced fines for those who have committed serious bodily injury. Senate Bill 2251 provides at least 30 days in jail and a fine ranging from $350 to $3,500 for those convicted of a second offense for domestic violence when bodily injury occurs. Upon a third or a subsequent conviction, the mandatory jail time would increase to 90 days and a fine ranging from $1,000 to $5,000. In counting prior convictions, the bill provides for a ten-year look back provision for domestic violence due to serious bodily injury similar to the one used in the state’s drunk driving law.

Also, legislation passed this week that would make it a Class A misdemeanor offense for an individual to interfere with or prevent another person from placing a telephone call to 911 to request emergency assistance. Senate Bill 2836 aims to help victims of domestic violence who try to receive emergency assistance but are blocked in those efforts. The measure applies to those who block a person from requesting assistance from law enforcement, medical facilities, or other agencies or entities that provide assistance to that individual. It also makes it a Class A misdemeanor to intentionally render unusable a telephone that would be used for the purposes of obtaining aid.

Storm Victims – Legislation which would help storm victims who received damage due to the March storms was approved by the State Senate on final consideration. Senate Bill 2701 allows for citizens who suffered damages between March 23, 2011, and May 12, 2012 and who qualify for Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) assistance to apply for tax rebates on household appliances and furnishings of up to $3,200 per item and on building materials up to $500 per item. The rebates are capped at $2,500 per household.

Resolutions / Appellate Judges – The State Senate voted to approve on third and final reading a resolution that would allow Tennesseans to vote on whether or not they want to use a merit-based appointment system for selecting the state’s Supreme Court and intermediate appellate judges, followed by a retention vote of the people. Senate Joint Resolution 710 calls for appointment of state appellate judges in a manner similar to the federal model by allowing Tennessee’s Governor to appoint judges to the Supreme Court and state appellate courts, subject to confirmation by the General Assembly, for eight year terms. The resolution must be approved by a simple majority of the legislature this year after three readings and must receive a two-thirds majority of both chambers in the following General Assembly. Then it would go to a vote of the people in 2014.

Unemployment Insurance / Seasonal Workers – The Unemployment Insurance Accountability Act of 2012, Senate Bill 3658, strengthens the definition of employee misconduct to ensure that those who have been fired for cause no longer receive benefits. The act also enacts new work search requirements for unemployment beneficiaries. Those collecting unemployment benefits must provide detailed information regarding contact with at least three employers per week or must access services at a career center. The act also provides for random audits to ensure the integrity of beneficiaries’ job searches.

Similarly, Senators approved Senate Bill 3657, which establishes qualifications and criteria for determining benefit amounts paid to seasonal employees. The bill allows an employer to qualify as a “seasonal employer” for purposes of unemployment insurance benefits and establishes the benefits an employee of a seasonal employer will receive beginning in 2016.

Tennessee Game and Fish Commission – Legislation that keeps in place a citizen board to ensures the state’s natural habitat is protected through sound management practices has been approved by the General Assembly. The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Commission is the board which sets policy for the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA). The Commission is currently in “wind down” after sunset legislation to continue it failed in the House Government Operations Committee. Without action by the legislature, the Commission will expire on July 1, leaving management of the state’s natural resources in limbo. Senate Bill 3590 establishes the Tennessee Game & Fish Commission to carry on the commission’s duties after it expires.

Oklahoma Fugitive from Justice Wanted for Embezzlement Arrested Here

April 30, 2012
by: 
Dwayne Page
Rodney Scott Anderson
Sean William Cavanaugh
Royce Avon Foster
Billy Dewayne Elliott
Christopher Lloyd Stanford

The DeKalb County Sheriff's Department has picked up a fugitive from justice wanted in Oklahoma for embezzlement.

44 year old Rodney Scott Anderson of West Elm Street in Duncan City, Oklahoma is charged with being a fugitive from justice. His bond is $50,000 and he will be in court May 3. Sheriff Patrick Ray reports that on Friday, April 27 Anderson was a passenger of an automobile stopped by a deputy on Highway 70. A check through the National Crime Information Center revealed that Anderson is wanted in Jefferson County, Oklahoma for embezzlement.

Meanwhile, Sean William Cavanaugh of Oak Drive, Smithville is charged with public intoxication, assault, and criminal trespassing. His bond is $4,500 and he will be in court June 7. Sheriff Ray reports that on Monday, April 23, Cavanaugh came to the residence of a man and woman on Oak Drive. Cavanaugh tried to fight the man in the yard. The man and his wife asked Cavanaugh several times to leave the property but he refused. The man took Cavanaugh to the ground and held him there until law enforcement officers arrived. Cavanaugh had left his vehicle in the street, blocking the roadway to keep anyone from leaving. The arresting officer found Cavanaugh to be very intoxicated with a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage on his person. He was very unsteady on his feet.

26 year old Michael Andrew Snyders of West Main Street, Smithville is charged with a second offense of driving on a revoked license and felony evading arrest. He was also issued citations for speeding, going 70 miles per hour in a 55 mile per hour zone; reckless driving; and improper passing, driving on both sides of the roadway and passing cars on double yellow lines. His bond is $7,500 and he will be in court on May 3. Sheriff Ray said that on Monday, April 23 an officer tried to stop Snyders on Highway 70 for speeding. Snyders pulled over to the side of the road as if he were stopping, but he accelerated and turned down West Main Street in Liberty then to Highway 53 where the pursuit was terminated. A bystander told the officer that Snyders went down Green Hill Road in Liberty. The officer turned down Green Hill Road, met Snyders, and stopped him. A computer check revealed his license to be revoked for driving under the influence on March 10, 2006 in DeKalb County.

50 year old Earl Joseph Yost of Brooke Lane, Sparta is charged with public intoxication. His bond is $1,500 and he will be in court on May 10. Sheriff Ray reports that on Friday, April 27, Yost was walking in the roadway on Highway 70. A deputy stopped to make a welfare check of Yost and found him to be very unsteady on his feet. He had a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage on his person. Yost was arrested for his own safety.

41 year old Jerry Eugene Kirby of Buffalo Valley Road, Baxter is charged with public intoxication. His bond is $1,500 and he will be in court June 7. Sheriff Ray reports that on Friday, April 27, a deputy answered a domestic violence call at a business on Highway 70. Upon arrival, the officer found Kirby trying to get into a vehicle. He had a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage on his person and he was unsteady on his feet. His speech was also very slurred.

42 year old Royce Avon Foster of Jacobs Pillar Road is charged with theft of services. His bond is $3,500 and he will be in court on May 3. Sheriff Ray reports that on Friday, April 27, Foster allegedly obtained electricity services through Caney Fork Electric Cooperative in the amount of $505 without paying for it. He had allegedly illegally connected an electric service box to his home.

32 year old Jamie Edward Carroll of Gentry Avenue, Smithville is charged with three counts of a fourth offense of driving on a revoked license. Carroll, in court on Thursday, April 26, was released on an OR (On Recognizance) bond. Later that night, a DeKalb County Sheriff's Department Drug Detective stopped Carroll on Old Mill Hill Road and issued him a citation for a fourth offense of driving on a revoked license. Two days later, on Saturday, April 28 Carroll was stopped on College Street in Smithville for failure to maintain lane of travel. A computer check revealed this his license were revoked for driving on a revoked license on February 3, 2009. He has three other cases of driving on a revoked license pending against him in court. His bond is $10,000 and he will be in court on May 10.

28 year old Billy Dewayne Elliott of South College Street, Smithville is charged with domestic assault, simple assault, reckless endangerment, and simple possession of a schedule IV drug. His bond is $10,000 and he will be in court on June 21. Sheriff Ray said that on Saturday, April 28 Elliott allegedly assaulted a female at Redneck Beach on Holmes Creek Road by picking her up and slamming her to the ground while she was trying to break up a fight between Elliott and a family member. A man who had come to the defense of the woman suffered bruises and cuts after being hit in the face by Elliott, who was intoxicated. Elliot is also accused of driving recklessly on the beach during this time, ramming his vehicle into his brother's truck with someone inside, putting campers and their children in danger. After Elliott was placed under arrest, an officer conducted a pat down search and found in Elliot's front pocket a plastic bag containing four whole pills and ten half pills of xanax.

32 year old Christopher Lloyd Stanford of Toad Road, Dowelltown is charged with domestic assault. His bond is $2,500 and he will be in court on May 17. Sheriff Ray said that on Sunday, April 29, Stanford allegedly assaulted a female by hitting her in the mouth with his fist, causing her mouth to bleed. He also allegedly grabbed her throat and choked her. Another female got a red mark on her arm trying to intervene.

Fire Destroys Home on Magness Road

April 30, 2012
by: 
Dwayne Page
Photo provided by David and Dama Agee

A fire Sunday afternoon destroyed a home at 379 Magness Road

Central dispatch received the call at 3:19 p.m.

County Fire Chief Donny Green said that firefighters found the blaze coming through the roof and heavy smoke from the structure upon their arrival. They were unable to save the home.

According to Chief Green, no one lived there and the cause of the fire is undetermined but is under investigation by the sheriff's department.

Members of the Blue Springs, Short Mountain Highway, and Keltonburg stations responded along with tanker truck #1, DeKalb EMS, deputies of the Sheriff's Department, and Constable Johnny King.

DCHS Fighting Tiger Band Honors Its Finest During Awards Banquet

April 30, 2012
by: 
Dwayne Page
­Marching Band Top 10
Musicianship Award
Solo and Ensemble Superior Award
Band Queen - Kristen Campbell

The DCHS Fighting Tiger band honored it's finest Saturday evening during the annual banquet held at the High School.

The awards are as follows:

Marching Band Top 10
#1 Dalton Vaughn
#2 Kristen Campbell
#3 Devon Owens
#4 Briana Vidal
#5 Gatlin Dougherty
#6 Courtney Caldwell
#7 Heather Vidal
#8 Megan Cantrell
#9 Renny Mason
#10 Hannah Cantrell

Marching Band Student Selected Awards:
Best Musician – Kristen Campbell
Best Marcher –Heather Vidal
Most Improved Musician – Caleb Rowland
Most Improved Marcher – Tristen Young
Most Athletic Color Guard – Megan Cantrell
Best Color Guard Performer – Martha Martin
Most Dedicated Color Guard – Renny Mason
Most Improved Color Guard – Alli Sobotka
Most Dedicated – Elizabeth Lasser
Best All Around – Dalton Vaughn
Band Queen – Kristen Campbell

Director's Awards
Musicianship Award - Hannah Cantrell, Elizabeth Lasser, Kristen Campbell, Emma Rigsby, Gatlin Dougherty, Dalton Vaughn
Most Improved Musician Award – Yesenia Cintron, Erika Brown, Dillan Day
Most Improved Color Guard – Samantha Hayes
Color Guard Spirit Award – Ben Mahaffey
Color Guard Leadership Award – Renny Mason
Best All-Around Percussionist – Dalton Vaughn
Positive Mental Attitude Award – Sarah Cantrell
Louis Armstrong Jazz Award – Emma Rigsby
John Philip Sousa Award – Heather Vidal
The Fowler Stanton Leadership Award – Renny Mason

Meanwhile, the Spring Concert is set for Tuesday, May 8th and Alumni are invited to return to perform with the band. Please prepare your music ahead of time since there will only be one rehearsal to prepare the concert. If you are interested, contact Band Director Jonathan Wright at jwright1@k12tn.net or you can contact him through the Facebook page. The program will feature a "Pops" concert with music by Coldplay, Michael Jackson, Frank Sinatra, etc.

The performance begins at 7:00 p.m.. Warm up will begin at 6:00 p.m.. An evening rehearsal will be Thursday May 3rd from 7:00 p.m. until 9:00 p.m.. A meet and greet will be held at 6:00 p.m. for everyone to catch up. If you are interested in performing, let Mr. Wright know and he will have copies of the music for you to pick up and prepare.

You can visit the band online at www.dekalbband.com and on facebook at https://www.facebook.com/DekalbBand

DCHS Prepares for End of Course Testing

April 30, 2012
by: 
Dwayne Page
Lisa Cripps

End of Course testing will be held at DeKalb County High School during the next two weeks.

According to Lisa Cripps, Supervisor of Instruction for grades 7-12, students will be tested in the subjects of Algebra I and II, English 9, 10, and 11, U.S. History, and Biology. This test will count 25% of each student's grade. All assessments will be taken in a secure environment with proctors or monitors in each test setting. Most of the proctors are community volunteers who are willing to give of their time for our students.

"We ask that parents help in the testing process by making sure their child gets a good nights rest and is on time daily for their test," said Cripps. "If students miss the testing window this semester there isn't another opportunity to take the EOC until the next end of course testing next school year," she said.

"We'd like to thank our teachers for the hard work they put in everyday to ensure the best quality education for DeKalb County students," said Cripps.

April Proclaimed Sexual Assault Awareness Month

April 29, 2012
by: 
Dwayne Page
Rachel Pugh Advocate for Genesis House and County Mayor Mike Foster

County Mayor Mike Foster last week signed a proclamation designating April as "Sexual Assault Awareness Month" in DeKalb County.

Rachel Pugh, advocate for the Genesis House in Cookeville was present for the signing of the proclamation.

The mission of Genesis House is to help victims of domestic and sexual violence find safety in their lives and the self-sufficiency and healing needed to become independent of abuse. It is also the mission to keep the community enlightened in the dynamics of domestic and sexual abuse and its prevention by providing comprehensive educational programs.

Genesis House is a private, non-profit agency that is dedicated to empowering victims of domestic and sexual violence by providing a pathway to a safe and self-sufficient life.

Services include a 24 hour crisis line, crisis intervention, court advocacy, domestic and sexual violence and self-esteem support groups, individual counseling, and referrals to other community agencies for housing, employment, and other needed services.

The 24 hour crisis line is 1-800-707-5197

The proclamation is as follows:

"Whereas, sexual assault affects every person of DeKalb County as a victim survivor or as a family member, significant other, neighbor, or co-worker of a survivor; and

Whereas, many citizens of DeKalb County are working to provide quality services and assistance to sexual assault survivors; and dedicated volunteer help staff 24 hour hotlines, respond to emergency calls and offer support, comfort, and advocacy during medical exams, criminal proceedings, and throughout the healing process; and

Whereas, DeKalb County staff and volunteers of sexual assault programs are promoting prevention education by offering training to schools, churches, and civic organizations, as well as medical, and mental health, law enforcement, education, and criminal justice personnel regarding sexual assault issues; and

Whereas, it is vitally important that continued education efforts to provide information about prevention and services for sexual assault be supported and enhanced; and

Whereas, it is critical to intensify public awareness of sexual assault, to educate people about the need for citizen involvement in efforts to reduce sexual violence, to increase support for agencies providing sexual assault services, and to increase awareness of the healing power of creative expressions; and

Whereas, Genesis House requests public support and assistance as it continues to work toward a society where all women, children, and men can live in peace, free from sexual violence and exploitation;

Now therefore, I, Mike Foster, County Mayor of DeKalb County do hereby proclaim the month of April, 2012 as Sexual Assault Awareness Month in DeKalb County".

DCHS Prom Night

April 27, 2012
by: 
Dwayne Page
Limo Ride to the Prom

DeKalb County High School students adorned their formal wear and posed for pictures with their dates, friends, and family as they excitedly awaited departure from the school for the prom Friday evening

This year's prom was held off campus at the Embassy Convention Center in Murfreesboro

Stretch limousines picked up several groups for the ride to the dance.

The prom of course is one of the last big events of the school year prior to graduation on Friday, May 18th

Corporal Travis Bryant Honored for Five Years of Service to Smithville Police Department

April 27, 2012
by: 
Dwayne Page
Corporal Travis Bryant Honored for Five Years of Service

The Smithville Police Department is honoring one of its own.

Corporal Travis Bryant has been presented a certificate of achievement in recognition of five years of dedicated service with the Smithville Police Department.

Corporal Bryant received the award from Chief Randy Caplinger on Wednesday, April 25

Others on hand for the observance were Mayor Taft Hendrixson and Alderman/Police Commissioner Shawn Jacobs.

Corporal Bryant serves as the department's evidence officer and radar instructor and he has helped the department secure more than $90,000 in grants through the Governor's Highway Safety Office to buy equipment such as in-car cameras, radars, computers, and overtime funding for saturation patrols, traffic control, and DUI enforcement, along with free specialized training.

Chief Caplinger said the department plans to make it a practice of honoring other members of the department for specific years of service.

(Pictured left to right: Alderman/Police Commissioner Shawn Jacobs, Corporal Travis Bryant, Chief Randy Caplinger, and Mayor Taft Hendrixson)

DeKalb Jobless Rate Drops to 8.1%

April 27, 2012
by: 
Dwayne Page

DeKalb County's unemployment rate dropped to 8.1% in March, down from 8.5% in February and much lower than the rate of 9.5% in March, 2011.

The local labor force for March was 9,810. A total of 9,020 were employed and 790 were unemployed.

DeKalb County's unemployment rate for March was the fifth lowest among the fourteen counties of the Upper Cumberland region as follows:

Pickett County- 13.9%
Van Buren- 11.3%
White- 10.6%
Clay- 10%
Jackson-9.7%
Cumberland-9.4%
Warren-9.1%
Fentress-9%
Overton-8.9%
DeKalb-8.1%
Macon-8%
Smith-7.6%
Cannon-7.4%
Putnam-7.2%

County non-seasonally adjusted unemployment rates for March 2012 show the rate decreased in 89 counties, increased in five counties, and remained the same in one county.

Tennessee's unemployment rate for March fell to 7.9 percent, down from the February revised rate of 8.0 percent. The national unemployment rate for March 2012 was 8.2 percent, 0.1 percentage point lower than the February rate.

The state unemployment rate is seasonally adjusted while the county unemployment rates are not. Seasonal adjustment is a statistical technique that eliminates the influences of weather, holidays, the opening and closing of schools, and other recurring seasonal events from economic time series.

Knox County had the state's lowest major metropolitan rate of 5.7 percent, down from 6.1 percent in February. Davidson County was 6.6 percent, down from 7.0 percent in the previous month. Hamilton County was 7.4 percent, down from 7.6 percent, and Shelby County was 9.1 percent, down from the February unemployment rate of 9.2 percent.

State General Assembly Approves Kindergarten Legislation

April 27, 2012

The state Senate gave final legislative approval Thursday night to a bill that would mean most kids turning 5 after Aug. 31, 2013, would have to wait a year before entering public kindergarten that year. The cutoff date would move up to Aug. 15 in 2014 and all subsequent years.

Currently, children may enter kindergarten if they turn 5 on or before Sept. 30 of the school year in which they are entering. That date remains in effect for children who will be entering kindergarten in the upcoming 2012-13 school year. Parents may still "hold back" their children for a year if they feel they are not ready for school.

The House approved the bill Wednesday, the Senate followed through on a 21-10 vote Thursday night and it now goes to the governor, who has signaled no opposition to the bill.

House Bill 2566 as amended would move up the eligibility date in two phases: Children entering kindergarten must be 5 years old on or before Aug. 31 for the 2013-14 school year, and on or before Aug. 15 for all subsequent school years.

The bill contains two exceptions:

If the director of schools finds, through evaluation and testing at the request of the parent or guardian, that a child who is 5 on or before Sept. 30 is "sufficiently mature emotionally and academically," then the child may be permitted to enter kindergarten.

Children who participated in a pre-kindergarten program during the 2012-13 or 2013-14 school years may enter kindergarten in the 2013-14 or 2014-15 school years respectively.

Sen. Roy Herron, D-Dresden, argued that even though the eligibility window is only being altered by six weeks, parents of children who are affected will face another year of paying for child care and the child will be behind a year. "For those who are struggling to make ends meet, it's another year of child care and it's financial," Herron said.

Sen. Jack Johnson, R-Franklin, said the bill was sought by kindergarten teachers in his area because many of the youngest children who enter kindergarten aren't ready for it

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