Welfare for grades bill pulled, Campfield vows to bring back in 2014

Thursday, April 11, 2013 at 2:12pm
Sen. Stacey Campfield talks with media after pulling his welfare bill. (Photo by Andrea Zelinski/Southcomm)


A plan to tie welfare benefits to student performance is off the table in the General Assembly, for now.

The sponsor of the legislation — which has drawn the attention of late night TV shows and criticism across the country — has agreed to put the plan on hold to study the issue over the next year.

“I thought a lot of people were caught up in the misperception of what this legislation actually did and didn’t want to make a bad political move, necessarily, for something that they truly believed in as a good piece of legislation,” said Sen. Stacey Campfield (R-Knoxville) who sponsored the bill.

After about an hour of debate, Campfield put the bill in a “study committee” with plans to examine the issue in the political offseason and prepare it for a comeback in 2014 when the legislature returns.

Under the legislation, benefits given to parents under the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program would be reduced 30 percent if a child fails to graduate to the next grade level. Parents could earn the money back by showing proof they attended at least two parent-teacher conferences, have taken parenting classes or have enrolled their student in tutoring programs or summer school.

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle took issue with aspects of the bill, with several Republicans saying they are on board with the intent but worry there were too many concerns for them to support it.

Shortly before the vote, Gov. Bill Haslam told reporters he has “major problems” with the bill, but stopped short from threatening veto. He said legislating parental involvement should apply “to all families, not just to certain low-income families that we happen to have a hook on because they received benefits through us.”

Haslam also said the lack of data indicating whether the penalty would be effective also gave him pause.

Campfield said the plan is to study the issue in a “summer study” committee. Typically, moving the bill to a study committee saves face for legislators who see the bill lacks the support to pass. Many of those study committees never meet, although Campfield said he is dedicated to examining the issue

7 Comments on this post:

By: Number on 4/11/13 at 2:03

The people of Tennessee deserve better than this pitiful excuse of a legislator. What an absolute waste of the state's time and resources this clown continually exhibits. It is an insult .... AN INSULT .... That this bureaucrat actually believes that the solution to the problem is to take away resources from those that are down and out. Stacey is a laughing stock and embarrassment. The lack of leadership on the hill is so repulsive and shameful. I am so tired of turning on the Daily Show with John Stewart and watching him make fun of Tennessee for having numbskull law makers. I believe in Tennessee. I know we can do better. We have the right principles! But something has got to change!

By: pswindle on 4/11/13 at 6:33

When is he up for re-election? It can't come too soon.

By: Ask01 on 4/12/13 at 1:45

Hopefully, the next election cycle, this action will prove so reprehensible, those who voted for him originally will see the light and exercise the option to vote him out.

For that matter, his entire career should be considered cringe worthy and induce, in addition to nausea, vomiting, and intestinal distress, a large number of people to elect almost anyone to replace him.

Since the Bloom County and Outland comic strips has ended, perhaps Bill the Cat could be an option. At least he intends to be a joke.

By: Rocket99 on 4/12/13 at 7:19

Ms. Campfield just needs to come on out of her closet and embrace her true self and love her true self instead of hateing herself and directing her pain on everyone else.

She always aims at a minority group of some sort with her foul, misguided, stupid legislation.

By: Ask01 on 4/13/13 at 12:12

This story showed up on the MSN website.

How proud you've made us, Senator Campfield!!

What a wonderful public face to show the world representing Tennessee.

If anyone wonders why the state is at the bottom of so many lists, just look and wonder at those in power.

By: yogiman on 4/15/13 at 6:10

What is in the brain this man is using for aid to a family? I child's school grades?

It's pretty obvious he isn't making good enough grades to be in our legislature. I wonder how well he did when in school.

By: CoyoteCrawford on 4/15/13 at 11:40

Now I would go for tying state representatives’ pay to sound legislative performance. In this scenario, the citizens of Tennessee would save a bundle…especially with the Republican super majority.