The Tri-Star State: Tennessee’s Top Lawmakers Flex Muscles In Final Stretch Of Session | Nashville Public Radio

The Tri-Star State: Tennessee’s Top Lawmakers Flex Muscles In Final Stretch Of Session

It’s been quite a week in the Tennessee General Assembly.

Gov. Bill Lee’s Education Savings Account passed in the House on a narrow, last-minute vote. It also passed in the Senate.

Both chambers also released their ideas on budget, and it’s clear they are not on the same page. WPLN’s Sergio Martínez-Beltrán says a lot of the drama has to do with both chambers trying to show their strength.

The following are excerpts from recent interviews and floor sessions:

Rep. Jason Zachary, R-Knoxville, on why he decided to flip his vote to "yes" on school voucher vote in the House:

“I told leadership, I made it very clear to the governor, that unless this was streamlined —where Knox County was removed and held harmless— that I couldn’t support the bill. And I was assured that on the House side, Knox County would be taken out.”

House Speaker Glen Casada on whether promising Zachary to drop Knox County from ESA bill was transparent or backroom dealmaking:

“You know it unfolds in various and sundry ways. It unfolded the way it did. It’s quite legal and it’s the right thing to do and I’m proud (Zachary) came to me for that.”

Sen. Jeff Yarbro, D-Nashville, on how he sees the school voucher debate:

“If the people in this room believe that this reform were going to improve the lives of the students in your county, you would be fighting for your county to be included. If you believe it would genuinely change the trajectory of lives of the children you represent, you'd be offended that your county wasn’t included. But it’s the exact opposite.”

Our ongoing conversations about Tennessee politics are available in The Tri-Star State podcast. You can listen by visiting or subscribe using your favorite podcasting app.