Behind the Headlines – March 29, 2019

Behind the Headlines – March 29, 2019


>>Announcer: PRODUCTION FUNDING FOR BEHIND THE HEADLINES IS MADE POSSIBLE IN PART BY THE WKNO PRODUCTION FUND, THE WKNO ENDOWMENT FUND, AND BY VIEWERS LIKE YOU. THANK YOU.>>Eric: THE STATE LEGISLATURE DEBATES SCHOOL VOUCHERS, THE DEATH PENALTY, AND MUCH MORE TONIGHT ON BEHIND THE HEADLINES. CAPTIONING PROVIDED BY
CAPTION ASSOCIATES, LLC
www.captionassociates.com>>Eric: I’M ERIC BARNES, PRESIDENT AND EXECUTIVE EDITOR OF THE DAILY MEMPHIAN. THANKS FOR JOINING US. I’M JOINED TONIGHT BY THREE LOCAL STATE LEGISLATORS. WE’LL START WITH KATRINA ROBINSON, STATE SENATOR. THANK YOU FOR BEING HERE. >>Robinson: THANK YOU FOR HAVING ME, ERIC.>>Eric: ANTONIO PARKINSON, A HOUSE MEMBER. THANK YOU TO BEING HERE. >>Parkinson: THANKS FOR HAVING ME. >>Eric: SENATOR RAUMESH AKBARI. THANK YOU TO BEING HERE. ALONG WITH BILL DRIES, REPORTER, THE DAILY MEMPHIAN. LET’S START WITH SCHOOL VOUCHER. THAT’S THE ONE GETTING THE MOST ATTENTION AND HAS THE HUGE IMPACT ON ALL THE CITIES PARTICULARLY IN THE STATE, BUT OBVIOUSLY WE’RE FOCUSED ON MEMPHIS TODAY. WHO WANTS TO START WITH THEIR TAKE ON THIS? IT’S A VOUCHER, THE GOVERNOR IS CALLING IT AN EDUCATION SAVINGS PLAN, BUT IT’S BASICALLY $7500 THAT FAMILIES CAN TAKE AND TAKE THEIR CHILD OUT OF A PUBLIC SCHOOL AND PUT THEM IN A QUALIFIED PRIVATE SCHOOL. THAT’S THE GIST OF IT, IS THAT CORRECT? WHO WANTS TO TAKE THEIR FIVE? RAUMESH?>>Akbari: I THINK THE INTERESTING THING ABOUT THIS PARTICULAR PIECE OF LEGISLATION IS THE GOVERNOR, IN MY OPINION, HAS TRIED TO SAY, WELL WE’RE GOING TO LEAVE FUNDING WITH THE LOCAL SCHOOLS FOR THREE YEARS, BUT I DON’T KNOW THAT THAT’S GOING TO HAVE ENOUGH OF AN IMPACT WHEN YOU’RE TALKING ABOUT STUDENTS LEAVING A SCHOOL SYSTEM. ALSO — >>Eric: AND BY THAT, THAT MEANS THE $7300 WOULDN’T COME OUT OF XYZ SCHOOL, THE STATE IS SAYING THEY’RE BACK-FILL THAT. >>Akbari: FOR THE FIRST THREE YEARS, BUT YOU LOOK AT WHO CAN QUALIFY, THE THRESHOLD IS PRETTY HIGH. YOU CAN MAKE 80,000 PLUS FOR A FAMILY OF FOUR TO BE ABLE TO QUALIFY AND YOU ONLY HAVE TO QUALIFY ONE TIME. AFTER THAT, YOU CAN MAKE A MILLION DOLLARS AND REQUALIFY, THERE’S NO REVISITING IT. PLUS, ONCE ONE CHILD IS IN, EVERY CHILD BORN THEREAFTER CAN TAKE ADVANTAGE OF IT. AND YOU CAN GO FROM KINDERGARTEN. THEY’RE TRYING TO SAY IT’S HYPOTHETICALED TO CHILDREN IN DEEP POVERTY, BUT THAT’S NOT THE CASE. >>Eric: IS THERE A REVISED PLAN YOU WOULD BE OPEN TO, OR YOU THINK THE PRINCIPLE OF VOUCHERS IS BAD? RAY THINK THE PRINCIPLE OF — >>Akbari: I THINK THE PRINCIPLE OF VOUCHERS. WE’RE LOOKING AT SEVERAL STATES, FLORIDA, LOUISIANA, CERTAINLY ARIZONA WHERE THE OUTCOMES FOR CHILDREN IS NOT IMPROVED. THERE’S BEEN A SIGNIFICANT AMOUNT OF MONEY DRAINED FROM THE TRADITIONAL FLOOL AND THE CHILDREN ARE NOT ACHIEVING. IF THERE WAS EVIDENCE TO SHOW THIS WORKS, THIS HELPS CHILDREN, MAYBE I COULD BE BEHIND IT, BUT NOT IN ITS PRESENT FORM.>>Eric: REPRESENTATIVE PARKINSON, YOU RAISED CONCERNS ABOUT WHAT TYPES OF SCHOOLS WOULD BE QUALIFIED TO ACCEPT THESE VOUCHERS THAT HAD THE LEGISLATURE THOUGHT THAT THROUGH. YOUR TAKE ON THAT SIDE OF THE ISSUE, WHICH SCHOOLS ARE GOING TO BE OKAY AND APPROVED, I GUESS WOULD BE THE WORD, WHICH VOUCHERS AND WHICH WOULD NOT?>>Parkinson: YEAH, I RAISED A COUPLE OF CONCERNS. I DID SPEAK AS TO WHICH SCHOOLS WOULD BE ABLE TO ACCEPT VOUCHERS AND HONESTLY, ANY SCHOOL THAT’S A PRIVATE SCHOOL WOULD BE ABLE TO ACCEPT VOUCHERS. AND I THINK I RAISED THE CONCERNS OF SOME OF MY COLLEAGUES, YOU KNOW, BECAUSE PEOPLE CAN CREATE SCHOOLS THAT ARE SPECIFIC IN NATURE, YOU KNOW, GEARED TOWARDS A CERTAIN DEMOGRAPHIC OR A CERTAIN LIFESTYLE, AND, YOU KNOW, BE ABLE TO ACCEPT THOSE TAX-PAID VOUCHERS. BUT HERE’S ANOTHER THING THAT’S IMPORTANT. YOU HEAR THE ARGUMENT FOR VOUCHERS BEING ARGUED IN REGARDS TO SCHOOL CHOICE, BUT AT THE END OF THE DAY, IT’S NOT THAT PARENT’S CHOICE AS TO. >>THEY WANT TO SEND THEIR CHILD TO THAT PRIVATE SCHOOL. IT’S THAT PRIVATE SCHOOL’S CHOICE AS TO WHETHER OR NOT THEY WANT TO ACCEPT THAT STUDENT. SO THAT FLIES IN THE FACE OF THAT ARGUMENT OF WE’RE MAKING MORE CHOICE AVAILABLE FOR PARENTS AND FOR STUDENTS TO HAVE, WHEN AT THE END OF THE DAY, THAT PRIVATE SCHOOL CAN ACCEPT, REJECT BASED ON THEIR TERMS AS TO WHETHER OR NOT, YOU KNOW, THIS STUDENT ENTERS INTO THEIR SCHOOL.>>Eric: SENATOR ROBINSON, THOUGHTS ON THIS. I DON’T KNOW WHERE YOU’VE BEEN ON THIS DEBATE, BUT YOUR THOUGHTS ON THIS. IS IT SCHOOL CHOICE, IS IT VOUCHERS OF ANY FORM A GOOD DIRECTION TO GO?>>Robinson: I DON’T THINK IT’S A GOOD DIRECTION TO GO. THE BEST DIRECTION TO GO IS TO SUPPORT OUR PUBLIC SCHOOLS SCHOOLS, FUNNEL THAT FUNDING TO THE PUBLIC SCHOOLS ANSWER NOT AWAY FROM IT. YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT SPLITTING $25 MILLION BETWEEN THE SCHOOLS THAT ARE GOING TO SUFFER OUR KIDS BEING RIPPED FROM THEM, SO FOR ME, I DON’T SUPPORT VOUCHERS IN ANY FORM. >>Eric: AND THEY’RE TALKING ABOUT CAPPING 5,000 INITIALLY, 15,000 IS THE GOAL BY 2025, AND THE COST IS UP TO $125 MILLION. >>IF YOU LOOK AT THE MATH, THOUGH, CAPPING IT AT 5,000 STUDENTS AT 7300, 7500 PER, THAT COMES TO ABOUT 3300 STUDENTS, DOESN’T IT? IS THERE A GAP IN THE MATH HERE?>>THAT’S ONE OF THE POINTS WE’VE BROUGHT UP. I KNOW THE GOVERNOR IS STOCKPILING FUNDING, SO HE’S SAYING I’M GOING TO STOCK FILE 25 MILLION THIS YEAR, 25 IN A SUBSEQUENT YEAR AND 25 IN THE THIRD YEAR AND THEN WE’LL LAUNCH THE PROGRAM, BUT THERE’S GOING TO HAVE TO BE ANOTHER MECHANISM FOR FUNDING OR ANOTHER BUDGET ALLOWANCE IF YOU’RE GOING TO RAMP UP TO 5,000 STUDENTS. >>Eric: YOU’VE BOTH BEEN THROUGH ANOTHER VERSION OF THIS BILL THAT CAME UP DURING GOVERNOR HASLAM’S ADMINISTRATION, AND IT HAD SOME VERY REAL LIMITATIONS ON WHO COULD QUALIFY FOR THIS AND HE WAS PRETTY CAUTIOUS ABOUT THAT AND HAD SOME REAL CONCERNS ABOUT IT. THIS BILL IS MUCH DIFFERENT?>>Parkinson: THIS BILL IS A LITTLE BIT DIFFERENT, BUT I WANT TO GO BACK REAL QUICK TO THE QUESTION THAT ERIC BROUGHT UP AND THE FACT THAT ALL OF THESE BILLS START OFF AS WE’RE JUST GOING TO HAVE A LIMITED AMOUNT OF VOUCHERS, LIMITED AMOUNT OF CHARTER SCHOOLS, BUT YOU SEE WHAT IS HAPPENING. THE FLOODGATES FOR THE CHARTER SCHOOLS HAVE OPENED UP AND NOW THEY’RE TRYING TO OPEN UP THE FLOOD GATES TO VOUCHERS ALSO. IT ALWAYS STARTS LIKE THIS. WE’RIST GOING TO — AND THE LAST THING, THE WHOLE ISSUE, THE WHOLE IDEA OF WE’RE HERE TO SAVE THE POOR MINORITY CHILDREN, BECAUSE THAT’S WHAT THEIR TARGET IS, WE’RE HERE TO SAVE THE POOR MINORITY CHILDREN. THE THING IS THIS. IF IT’S SUCH A GOOD IDEA AND SUCH A NOBLE EFFORT, THEN REDUCE THE PRICES OF THE PRIVATE SCHOOL TO THE MINORITY CHILDREN CAN AFFORD TO GO. >>Eric: THERE IS A QUESTION ABOUT THAT AND I’LL GO BACK TO BILL. MOST OF THE PRIVATE SCHOOLS IN MEMPHIS, THAT $7300 MIGHT COVER — >>Parkinson: BOOKS. >>Eric: IT MIGHT COVER HALF. THE BIGGEST ONES ARE $20,000.>>IT IS SIGNIFICANTLY DIFFERENT. IN GOVERNOR HASLAM’S PIECE OF LEGISLATION, ONE CAPPED AT A 5,000 RANGE PER CHILD. THE SCHOOLS ACCEPTING VOUCHERS COULDN’T DISCHARGE ANY MORE THAN THAT ALLOWANCE AND YOU COULDN’TITE AT HOME. WITH THE ESA VOUCHER, YOU HAVE MORE NREXABILITY. SAY I WANT TO HOMESCHOOL MY CHILD WITH A SPECIAL PROGRAM, I CAN USE THOSE DOLLARS TO PAY FOR THAT PROGRAM. SO GOVERNOR HAS LAMB’S PIECE OF LEGS WAS VERY NARROW IN SCOPE. THIS ONE IS VERY BROAD AND THE DIFFERENCE IS GOVERNOR HASLAM THEY HAVE ACTUALLY FUNDED THE PROGRAM. HE FUNDED POSITIONS TO DEVELOP THE PROGRAM, WHEREAS GOVERNOR LEE HAS PUT SIGNIFICANT INVESTMENT AND A TIMELINE OF INVESTMENT IN THIS ACTUAL PROGRAM, WHICH IS A LOT DIFFERENT AND A LOT MORE SERIOUS.>>Eric: SENATOR ROBINSON, WHAT DO YOU HEAR FROM YOUR SOUTH WINDS? IS — YOUR CONSTITUENTS? IS THIS A PRIORITY IN DISTRICT 33? ARE PEEK KNOCKING DOWN YOUR DOOR TO UK TALK TO ABOUT THIS?>>NO ONE IS KNOCKING DOWN MY DOOR BAIG I WANT TO SEND ME CHILD TO PRIVATE SCHOOL. I TOOK MY CHILD FROM A CHARTER SCHOOL TO A PRIVATE SCHOOL, SO WE EXPERIENCED WHAT IT WAS LIKE TO HAVE A CHILD IN ONE SETTING AND MID EDUCATIONAL CAREER, ANOTHER SETTING. IT WAS AN UPHILL BATTLE FOR HIM. I DON’T THINK THE FOCUS FOR OUR PARENTS IN OUR COMMUNITY IS TO MAKE SURE UR KID GOP TO ANY SCHOOL THEY WANT TO GO TO. THEY WANT TO MAKE SURE THE SCHOOL THEY GO TO NOW IS WELL FUNDED AND WELL SUPPORTED. >>Eric: THREE DEMOCRATS, JUST OF THE WAY OF THE SCHEDULING, SO SOME OF THE PUSHBACK, I IMAGINE PEOPLE ON THE OTHER SIDE, I’LL STAY WITH YOU, SENATOR, THAT YOU’RE AGAINST THIS VOUCHER PROGRAM, BUT THERE ARE A LOT OF PROBLEM SCHOOLS IN SHELBY COUNTY, RIGHT? AND WHAT DOES WORK? WHAT ALTERNATIVE IS THERE TO IMPROVE THE EDUCATION OUTCOMES FOR SO MANY KIDS IN MEMPHIS?>>I THINK THERE’S A LOT OF OPPORTUNITY TO BETTER SUPPORT OUR STUDENTS AND OUR EDUCATORS, TO MAKE SURE WE’RE TEACHING CURRICULUM THAT PREPARES OUR STUDENTS FOR LIFE AFTER HIGH SCHOOL. I THINK THERE’S AN OPPORTUNITY TO INVEST IN WRAP-AROUND SERVICES, SCHOOL COUNSELORS, SCHOOL NURSES. THERE ARE FAR MORE THINGS WE CAN DO TO IMPROVE OUR PUBLIC SCHOOL SYSTEM THAN VOUCHERS.>>Eric: ALL THAT’S EXPENSIVE, RIGHT? IS THAT — >>DEPENDS ON WHO’S TALKING ABOUT IT. >>Eric: I IMAGINE A LOT OF PEOPLE LISTENING SAY THAT’S GREAT, BUT THAT MEANS MORE AND MORE MONEY INTO THE SCHOOLS. AGAIN, I’M JUST PUSHING BACK A LITTLE BIT, BUT I THINK PEOPLE SAY WE’VE GIVEN SOME OF THESE SCHOOLS A CHANCE, WE PUT A LOT OF MONEY INTO THEM, THE OUTCOMES HAVEN’T IMPROVED. WHY SHOULDN’T WE LOOK AT DIFFERENT PATH?>>WELL, ERIC, THEY HAVEN’T FULLY FUNDED THE BEP FROM THE VERY BEGINNING. >>Eric: THE BEP — >>BASIC EDUCATION PLAN. >>THEY IT DID — THEY DID IT ONE YEAR AND THAT’S IT. >>YOU CAN START THERE AND YOU FACTOR IN ACCOUNTABILITY AS WE’RE GIVING THESE TAX DOLLARS TO THE PRIVATE INSTITUTIONS. DO THEY HAVE THE SAME ACCOUNTABILITY AS THE PUBLIC SCHOOL HAS TO THE STATE? DO THEY HAVE TO TAKE THE TN READY TEST? WHAT’S THE ACCOUNTABILITY? WILL THE STATE HAVE OVERSIGHT OVER THEIR CURRICULUMS AND MAKING SURE THEY’RE TEACHING TO A STARN THAT THE STATE SETS FOR EVERY OTHER STUDENT? THOSE ARE SOME OF THE THINGS THAT HAVE TO BE THOUGHT ABOUT AND FACTORED IN ALSO. AND AUTONOMY. GIVING OUR TEACHERS THE ABILITY TO TEACH WOULD HELP. YOU KNOW, SHORING UP AND ACTUALLY, YOU KNOW, UNDERGIRDING OUR EDUCATORS. YOU KNOW, A GOOD TEACHER IS THE START AND SHORING UP THE PARENTS. MAKING SURE THE PARENTS ARE INVOLVED IN THE KID’S EDUCATION.>>Eric: YOU MENTIONED, ONE OF YOU MENTIONED CONCERNS ABOUT CHARTER SCHOOLS, CHARTER SCHOOLS HAVE TAKEN MONEY OUT OF THE SYSTEM. SOME OF THEM HAVE BEEN SUCCESSFUL, SOME OF THE iZONE SCHOOLS HAVE BEEN SUCCESSFUL. ARE THERE THINGS THAT ARE WORKING IN TERMS OF — MEMPHIS HAS BEEN THIS KIND OF EXPERIMENT FOR THE LAST TEN YEARS IN TERMS OF CONSOLIDATION, DECONSOLIDATION, CHARTER SCHOOLS, ACHIEVEMENT SCHOOL DISTRICT, THE iZONE SCHOOLS. ALL KINDS OF THINGS HAVE GONE ON. DO YOU LOOK AND SAY THESE THINGS ARE WORKING, LET’S DO MORE OF THAT?>>YES. IF YOU LOOK AT SHELBY COUNTY AND THE SCHOOL SYSTEM, THAT’S THE ONLY SCHOOL SYSTEM ACROSS THE STATE THAT REALLY HAS BEEN IMPROVING. NOW, A LOT OF FOLKS WILL SAY, WELL, YOU STARTED SO LOW, THERE’S ONLY ROOM TO GO UP, BUT YOU LOOK AT DAVIDSON COUNTY, THEIR ACHIEVEMENT LEVEL IS ACTUALLY GOING DOWN. >>Eric: IN THE PROBLEMATIC SCHOOLS?>>OVERALL, BUT I’M SURE THE PROBLEMATIC SCHOOLS ARE THE ONES SKEWING THAT NUMBER, BUT YOU LOOK AT THE iZONE, THE SUCCESS OF IT, HOW THEY REALLY HAVE BEEN ABLE TO DO SIGNIFICANT TURNAROUND. IT COMES TO FUNDING, WHETHER THERE’S GOING TO BE FEDERAL OR STATE FUNDING THAT WILL HELP SHORE UP THESE TYPES OF OPERATIONS THAT WORK. AND LOOKING AT SOME OF OUR CHARTER SCHOOLS THAT ARE DOING GREAT THINGS, LIKE ST. ANDREW HAS A CHARTER SCHOOL THAT IS AMAZING. EVERY CLASSROOM HAS TWO TEACHERS IN THERE AND THEY’RE SMALL CLASS SIZES. YES, THIS COSTS MONEY, BUT IF YOU INVEST ON THE FRONT END, THEN YOU’LL HAVE A QUALIFIED WORKFORCE. I THINK IF YOU HAVE A CHILD THAT BECOMES AN EDUCATED ADULT, YOUR CRIME WILL GO DOWN, YOUR HEALTH OUTCOMES GO UP. IT’S A SIGNIFICANT INVESTMENT ON THE FRONT END, BUT YOU HAVE TO CALCULATE THE SAVES ON THE BACK END. >>Eric: BILL.>>Bill: SO IF MEMORY SERVES ME CORRECTLY, HOUSE EDUCATION APPROVED IN THIS PAST WEEK?>>THEY DID. >>Bill: AS WE RECORD. SO DOES THAT MAKE PASSAGE ON THE HOUSE FLOOR MORE LIKELY? WILL THERE BE AMENDMENTS? WHAT DO YOU SEE HAPPENING?>>NO, IT DOESN’T MAKE PASSAGE ON THE HOUSE FLOOR MORE LIKELY. THEY REALLY WORKED TO GET THAT BILL PASSED. SOME OF THOSE VOTES FLIPPED ON AT THAT MOMENT THAT WERE REPUBLICAN VOTES, AND SO I THINK IT WAS MUCH MORE NARROW THAN WHAT THE VOTE COUNT ACTUALLY LOOKED LIKE, AND SO WE’LL SEE WHAT HAPPENS ON THE HOUSE FLOOR. YOU KNOW, THERE’S GOING TO BE AN ACCOUNTABILITY IN REGARDS TO LEGISLATORS THAT ARE VOTING TO SUPPORT OR VOTING AGAINST THIS BILL BECAUSE YOU THINK ABOUT IT NOW, YOU’RE TAPPING INTO SOME OF THESE RURAL AREAS, SOME OF THESE AREAS ONLY HAVE ONE SCHOOL, SO YOU’RE TAKING MONEY OR TAKING STUDENTS OUT OF THAT ONE SCHOOL, YOU’RE TALKING ABOUT POSSIBLY SINKING COMMUNITIES WHEN THESE SCHOOLS DRY UP OR THEY DON’T HAVE THE FUNDING TO CARE FOR THE REST OF THEIR CHILDREN.>>AND LEGISLATION THAT WAS PASSED OUT OF THE EDUCATION COMMITTEE, FINANCE IS USUALLY WHERE THE HOLD-UP IT. AT ONE POINT, THEY DID ACTUALLY MAKE IT TO THE FLOOR ON A BILL, BUT THEY DID NOT HAVE THE VOTES. THEY WERE WORKING HARD. I HAD PEOPLE I NEVER TALK TO IN MY LIFE BEFORE IN THE CHAMBER THAT WERE LOBBYING ME. I THINK IT WILL BE QUITE THE BATTLE.>>AND AGAIN, AS ANTONIO POINTED OUT, THE RURAL SCHOOL DISTRICTS HAVE CONCERNS ABOUT THIS. >>WE RECEIVED LETTERS FROM RURAL AND SUBURBAN SCHOOL BOARDS STRONGLY OPPOSING THIS LEGISLATION. THESE LEGISLATORS ARE GOING TO REALLY BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE BY THEIR PEOPLE. >>Eric: WE’LL MOVE ON. I MENTIONED DEATH PENALTY. THERE’S A NUMBER OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE ORIENTED BILLS MOVING THROUGH THE LEGISLATURE RIGHT NOW. THE STATE SENATE PASSED LEGISLATION THURSDAY THAT REMOVED APPELLATE COURT REVIEW FROM DEATH PENALTY CASES. I’M GOING TO LOOK AT YOU AS THE LAWYER AT THE TABLE AND TALKD÷y6 ABOUT WHAT THIS BILL MEANS OR COULD MEAN IF IT GOES FORWARD. >>IT’S GOING TO REMOVE ONE ADDITIONAL STEP FOR FOLKS TO BE ABLE TO DECISION THEIR DECISION. NOW, THE PEOPLE WHO SUPPORT IT SAY YOU CAN GO STRAIGHT TO THE STATE SUPREME COURT. YES, BUT THERE ARE STILL DIFFERENT LEVELS OF REVIEWER. SO IT’S DISAPPOINTING. TENNESSEE IS NOT LIKE OTHER STATES WHERE THAT’S KIND OF BEEN THE COMPARISON. WE ACTUALLY HAVE AN APPELLATE CRIMINAL COURT LEVEL THAT YOU CAN GO TO. OTHER STATES ACROSS THE COUNTRY DON’T, SO THAT’S WHY THEY’RE SAYING ALABAMA AND TENNESSEE ARE THE ONLY TWO THAT HAVE THIS LEVEL OF REVIEW. YES, BECAUSE OUR COURT SYSTEM IS STRUCTURED A LITTLE DIFFERENTLY. I THINK IT DOES A REAL DISSERVICE AND EVEN ON THE FLOOR IN THE DISCUSSION, THERE WAS A CONCEPT OF, WELL, A LOT OF THESE PEOPLE, EVEN THOUGH THEY ARE FOUND INNOCENT ARE NOT INNOCENT. I THINK IF WE GO IN THAT DIRECTION OF DISCUSSION, IT GETS REALLY DANGEROUS. >>Eric: YOU SPOKE OUT AGAINST IT, SENATOR ROBINSON. WHAT WAS YOUR OPPOSITION?>>ABSOLUTELY. TENNESSEE, LIKE SENATOR AKBARI SAID, IS ONE OF TWO STATES THAT REALLY GETS IT RIGHT. WE HAVE A CRIMINAL COURT OF APPEALS THAT HEARS DEATH PENALTY CASES. NOT NECESSARILY DIRECTLY APPEARED TO THE SUPREME COURT, THAT WOULDN’T NECESSARILY MAKE THE OUTCOME BE DIFFERENT, BUT I WOULD RATHER HAVE A SECTION LEVEL OF REVIEW AT WELL. WE OVERTURN AT LEAST 50% OF OUR CASES IN TENNESSEE, AND 47% OF THOSE CASES COME FROM WESTERN TENNESSEE, WHICH AFFECTS ALL OF US, AND A LOT OF THOSE CASES ARE AFRICAN AMERICAN. SO YOU HAVE TO THINK ABOUT THE IMPACT THAT IT HAS LONG-STANDING. OF COURSE, THERE ARE OTHER STATES THAT DON’T DO IT. THERE ARE OTHER STATES THAT USED TO DO IT AND DON’T DO IT MIRACLE BUT I WOULDN’T SAY THAT TENNESSEE IS IN THE WRONG FOR HAVING A CRIMINAL CRIMINAL APPEALS, BUT THERE’S A REASON THE PROCESS IS PUT IN PLACE AND WE’RE MAKING GREAT STRIDES WHEN WE MAKE SURE WE DOT EVERY I AND CROSS EVERY T IN OUR CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM. I THINK IT’S A MISTAKE ON OUR PART TO DO AND I CURIOUS TO SEE WHAT THE RAMIFICATIONS ARE GOING TO BE. >>Eric: LET ME MOVE ON A LITTLE BIT TO POLICE OVERSIGHT BOARDS. THERE GETS COMPLICATES. BILL, YOU WANT TO SET THIS UP, THE BACKDROP ON THIS?>>Bill: WE HAVE A CIVILIAN LAW ENFORCEMENT REVIEW BOARD CALLED CLERB IN THE VERNACULAR HERE. WE’VE HAD SEVERAL ITERATIONS OF IT AND IN THE RECENT REFORMATION, THERE WAS A LOT OF DISCUSSION ABOUT WHETHER THAT BOARD COULD OR WOULD HAVE SUBPOENA POWER. ULTIMATELY WHAT PASSED WAS EXTENDING THE MEMPHIS CITY COUNCIL SUBPOENA POWER TO THE CIVILIAN LAW ENFORCEMENT REVIEW BOARD. NOW THERE’S STATE LEGISLATION THAT WOULD ESSENTIALLY UNDO THAT, AND I MIGHT ADD THAT THERE ARE A LOT OF LEGAL QUESTIONS ABOUT WHETHER THE CITY COUNCIL CAN EXTEND ITS SUBPOENA POWER TO THE BOARD.>>Eric: AND THIS WOULD AFFECT ALSO, I THINK IT’S NASHVILLE AND KNOXVILLE THAT HAVE BOARDS LIKE THIS, POLICE OVERSIGHT BOARDS THAT HAVE HAD SUBPOENA POWER IN THE PAST THAT WOULD ACTUALLY TAKE THAT — MEMPHIS HASN’T REALLY GOTTEN THERE YET, BUT IT WOULD TAKE IT AWAY FROM NASHVILLE AND KNOXVILLE. YOUR TAKE ON THE ROLE OF THE OVERSIGHT BOARDS AND THE STATE LEGISLATURE STEPPING IN ON THESE LOCAL DECISIONS.>>YOU KNOW, THE ROOT OF THE PROBLEM IS THE STATE LEGISLATURE HAVING THIS HEAVY-HANDED APPROACH WHEN IT COMES TO THE BIG FOUR CITIES IN OUR STATE AND THEIR ABILITY TO SELF-GOVERN. AND THIS IS ONE OF THOSE EXAMPLES OF THE STATE DOING THAT AND IT COMES FROM THE SAME MEMBERS EACH YEAR THAT WANT TO TAKE THAT HEAVY-HANDED APPROACH TOWARDS THE CITIES. YOU KNOW, IT. >>Eric: YOU HEAR FROM LEGISLATION FROM CHATTANOOGA, FROM KNOXVILLE. IT’S A VERY REPUBLICAN-HEAVY — IT’S A DOMINANT, SUPER MAJORITY STATE LEGISLATURE, GOVERNOR, SENATE AND HOUSE. BUT DO YOU HEAR LEGISLATORS FROM OTHER CITIES SAYING WHY ARE THEY LEGITIMATING US?>>WELL, THERE ARE IN THIS SITUATION, WE HAD THE CHIEF OF POLICE FROM KNOXVILLE IN THE COMMITTEE ROOM, IN THE HEARING, AND THEY’VE HAD SUBPOENA POWER FOR OVER 20 YEARS NOW. AND IT’S WORKED FOR THEM. AND, YOU KNOW, TO HEAR THE SPONSOR SAY THAT THIS IS ABOUT BEST PRACTICES, WELL, THAT WAS BEST PRACTICE. IT WAS WORKING FOR THEM. AND SO, YOU KNOW, THEY SHOULD — I THINK FUNDAMENTALLY THAT, YOU KNOW, THOSE THAT ARE PUT IN ELECTED POSITIONS AT THE LOCAL LEVEL SHOULD BE ABLE TO EXERCISE THE POWERS THAT THEY WERE ELECTED FOR, AND WE SHOULD BE SUPPORTIVE OF THOSE VERSUS THAT OF BEING HEAVY-HANDED AND SQUASHING. BECAUSE THE LAST THING ON THAT IS THAT THEY DON’T WANT THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT DOING IT TO THE STATE. THEY ABHOR THAT, BUT THEY — IT’S ALMOST LIKE THE ABUSED CHILD GROWING UP TO BE AN ABUSER, BUT THEY DO THE SAME EXACT THING TO THE CITIES, AND I THINK IT’S SOMETHING THAT SHOULD BE CHANGED.>>Eric: BILL, YOU MENTIONED EXPUNGEMENTS. MAYBE WE’LL MOVE THERE. >>Bill: WE’VE CERTAINLY SEEN GOVERNOR LEE ADOPT THAT POLICY AFTER YOU WORKED FOR MANY YEARS TO ABOLISH THE FEE AND BRING THE FEE DOWN IN THAT REGARD. IT’S BEEN A LONG HAUL. >>IT HAS. PRETTY MUCH FOR THE LAST, I GUESS THREE AND A HALF YEARS, AND CERTAINLY THE LAST TWO YEARS, WE’VE BEEN SUCCESSFUL REDUCING THE FEE. AT ONE POINT, TENNESSEE HAD THE THIRD HIGHEST FEE IN THE ENTIRE COUNTRY. >>Bill: 450. >>YEAH, $100 FOR THE CLERK’S FEE AND 350 FOR THE EXPUNGEMENT. WE REDUCED IT TO 350 AND 180 THE YEAR BEFORE, BUT GOVERNOR LEE STEPPED IT UP IN A WHOLE DIFFERENT WAY, COMPLETELY ELIMINATING THE FEE FOR CASES DISPOSED OF THROUGH DIVERSION. THAT’S PRETTY PHENOMENAL. IT’S GOING TO GET PEOPLE’S LIVES BACK ON TRACK WK WHAT AS EXPUNGEMENT?>>IT’S TO BE ABLE TO CLEAR YOUR CRIMINAL RECORD. IN TENNESSEE, THOUGH, YOU’RE TALKING ABOUT VERY LOW-LEVEL CRIMES THAT CANNOT BE VIOLENT. YOU CAN ONLY EXPUNGE A MAXIMUM OF TWO, EITHER TWO MISDEMEANORS OR ONE MISDEMEANOR, ONE FELONY, AND YOU HAVE TO HAVE — FIVE YEARS HAVE HAD TO PASS BEFORE YOU REOFFEND. YOU HAVE TO HAVE PAID ALL YOUR FEES AND EVERYTHING. WE’RE TALKING ABOUT PEOPLE WHO TRULY HAVE DON’T RIGHT THING, THEY MADE ONE MISTAKE AND NOW THEY’RE TRYING TO GET THEIR LIVES BACK ON TRACK. THIS WILL HELP THEM GET JOBS, LOOKING AT RENTAL HOW LONG, PURCHASING HOW LONG IN GENERAL. TO SAY I DON’T HAVE A CRIMINAL RECORD MAYOR IS HUGE.>>Eric: AND CLARIFICATION, TWO OVER THE COURSE OF YOUR LIFE OR TWO AT A TIME?>>TWO, PERIOD. IF YOU HAVE MORE THAN TWO OFFENSES, YOU ARE NOT ELIGIBLE FOR EXPUNGEMENT.>>Bill: SO WHEN REPUBLICANS IN THE TENNESSEE LEGISLATURE TALK ABOUT CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM AND THE REPUBLICAN GOVERNOR TALKS ABOUT CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM, IS THAT THE SAME KIND OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM THAT DEMOCRATS IN THE TENNESSEE LEGISLATURE ARE TALKING ABOUT?>>SOME OF IT IS. SOME OF IT IS, BUT I THINK WE COME FROM, IN A LOT OF CASES TWO, VERY DISTINCT DIFFERENCES IN OUR REASONS FOR DOING IT. I WOULD TO SAY THAT MOST OF THE DEMOCRATIC REASONS FOR DOING IT IS MORE FROM A HUMANITARIAN STANDPOINT AND GIVING PEOPLE THE ABILITY TO LIVE THEIR LIVES. NOW THAT THE REPUBLICANS ARE SEEING HOW IT’S TAXING OUR BUDGET AND LOCKING EVERYONE UP, SO THEN, YOU KNOW, CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM BECAME FASHIONABLE AND SO I THINK THOSE ARE THE AREAS — THAT’S THE DISTINCT DIFFERENCE IN THE AREAS THAT IT’S COMING FROM.>>Eric: SENATOR ROBINSON, WHAT DO YOU SEE IN THE SENATE ON THIS ISSUE? WHERE IS THE DIVIDE?>>REPRESENTATIVE PARKINSON MAKES A GREAT POINT. THERE ARE COMMONALITIES, BUT TWO DIFFERENT STANDPOINTS TAOS WHY WE’RE DOING WHAT WE DO. I THINK A LOT OF DEMOCRATIC PERSPECTIVE ON CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM IS ROOTED IN HUMANITARIANISM. FOR INSTANCE, WE HAVE A DIGNITY BILL THAT MAKES SURE WE PROVIDE FEMININE HYGIENE PRODUCTS TO WOMEN WHO ARE IN PRISON. WE HAVE THINGS WE’RE TALKING ABOUT DECRIMINALIZING WOMEN WHO ARE PREGNANT AND ON DRUGS. SO — BUT IN CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM, WE’RE TALKING FROM THE OTHER SIDE, WE’RE TALKING ABOUT MAKING SURE WE INCREASE PAY FOR CORRECTIONAL OFFICERS OR INCREASE TRAINING OR ALLOW THEY WILL TO BE ABLE TO CARRY THEIR GUNS IN CERTAIN SITUATIONS. SO THERE ARE TWO STARK DIFFERENCES IN WHAT WE SEE AS CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM IN THE LEGISLATURE.>>SENATOR AKBARI, DOES THE MOTIVATION MATTER AS LONG AS THE PROPOSAL GETS PASSED?>>NO, IT DOES NOT OBVIOUSLY. AND THAT’S HOW I WAS ABLE TO FIND COMMON GROUND IT WITH. NIM YOU HAVE THE NATIONAL BLACK CAUCUS OF STATE LEGISLATORS AND ALEC COMING TOGETHER AND SAYING THIS IS IMPORTANT, IT’S A BIG DEAL. NO, IT DOES NOT MATTER, I’M FOR IT. >>Eric: I KNOW IN MANY STATES, THIS INITIATIVE TO REDUCE EXPUNGEMENTS AND SO ON, IT WAS CONSERVATIVE LEGISLATURES, CONSERVATIVE GOVERNORS. YEAH, IT WAS ABOUT THE MONEY, BUT ALSO A LOT OF CONSERVATIVE SOUTHERN LEGISLATORS ARE CHRISTIAN, BORN AGAIN, SO I THINK IN DEFENSE, THERE ARE MANY PEOPLE WHO LOOK AT IT THAT WAY. MAYBE NOT ALL OF THEM, BUT I JUST WANT TO TRY TO BALANCE OUT THE TABLE A LITTLE BIT.>>LET ME REVERSE THE DEFENSE. YOU HAVE TO REMEMBER, THOSE SAME LOCK ‘EM UP, LOCK ‘EM UP, LOCK ‘EM UP INITIATIVES CAME FROM THE SAME ORGANIZATIONS THAT ARE NOW TELLING THEM TOWN LOCK THEM. IT’S NOT — TO UNLOCK THEM. IT’S NOT ABOUT THEIR CHRISTIAN VALUES AS MUCH — >>WELL, IT GOES BACK TO BILL CLINTON. >>HE WAS UNDER THAT SAME ORGANIZATION, UNDER ALEC THAT, CAME UP WITH THE LOCK ‘EM UP, LOCK ‘EM UP, LOCK ‘EM UP, BUT NOW THEY ARE TAKING THOSE ORDERS FROM ORGANIZATIONS LIKE ALEC AND BEACON CENTER AND KOCH BROTHERS AND NOW THEY’RE MARCHING TO THOSE ORDERS. NOW IT JUST CHANGED BECAUSE IT WAS SUCH A LOUD SCREAM ABOUT BUDGETS, YOU KNOW, WHEN IT CAME TO THAT PASS POLICY THAT THEY HAD TO REVERSE IT OR THEY’D GO BROKE. >>Eric: BILL. >>Bill: YOU ALSO HAD THE GOVERNOR, WHO A MAJOR THEME DUR HIS CAMPAIGN WAS THAT HE HAD BEEN PART OF A SECOND CHANCE PROGRAM IN TERMS OF BEING A MENTOR FOR SOMEONE WHO WAS IN PRISON.>>YEAH, PERFECT TIMING. >>I THINK THE MOTIVATION IS HUGE. LIKE HE’S A — SO FAR, BEEN VERY SINCERE AND LIKE YOU’RE TALKING ABOUT BEING INVOLVED IN THIS TYPE OF WORK. 15, 16 YEARS BACK, RUNNING FOR GOVERNOR WAS NOWHERE ON HIS RADAR, AT LEAST WHAT HE SHARE WITH US. I THINK IT’S SINCERE. WE’LL SEE, BUT TOUCHE IS RIGHT, WE DID HIT A BILLION DOLLARS IN INCARCERATION COST LAST YEAR FOR THE FIRST TIME. >>Eric: YOU’RE THE NEWEST MEMBER, RECENTLY ELECTED. YOUR FIRST THOUGHTS. IS IT WHAT YOU EXPECTED?>>IT’S EVERYTHING I EXPECTED AND MORE. >>YEAH.>>THIS HAS BEEN A VERY ACCELERATED LEARNING PROCESS, VERY EYE-OPENING. MY BACKGROUND IS BUSINESS, EDUCATION, IT’S HEALTHCARE, AND SO I SERVE ON THE JUDICIARY AND ENERGY COMMITTEE WHERE MY EXPERTISE LIES.>>FUNNY ABOUT THAT. >>ING, I’VE HAD A GREAT EXPERIENCE GETTING TO KNOW OTHER LEGISLATORS AND WHAT IT TAKES TO MAKE A BILL PASS AND WE’RE GOING TO SEE WHAT WE CAN DO WITH THAT.>>Eric: WELL, THANK YOU ALL FOR BEING HERE AND THANK YOU FOR JOINING US. JOIN US AGAIN NEXT WEEK. CAPTIONING PROVIDED BY
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www.captionassociates.com>>Announcer: PRODUCTION FUNDING FOR BEHIND THE HEADLINES IS MADE POSSIBLE UP, BUT NOW THEY ARE TAKING THOSE ORDERS FROM ORGANIZATIONS LIKE ALEC AND BEACON CENTER AND KOCH BROTHERS AND NOW THEY’RE MARCHING TO THOSE ORDERS. NOW IT JUST CHANGED BECAUSE IT WAS SUCH A LOUD SCREAM ABOUT BUDGETS, YOU KNOW, WHEN IT CAME TO THAT PASS POLICY THAT THEY HAD TO REVERSE IT OR THEY’D GO
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>>Announcer: PRODUCTION FUNDING

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