Lawmakers are starting to talk about adjourning for the year, but there is still plenty of work to be done at the Capitol.
With eyes on the finish line, here's a look at a few items of interest coming this week in Nashville.
Tension mounting between chambers
The divide between the Senate and House is growing wider over the IMPROVE Act — what some now call the 2017 Tax Cut Act — and what the best approach is. Senate members have said any alternative to raising the state's tax on gasoline and diesel "is a non-starter" despite House leaders working on alternatives to avoid any tax increase.
The two chambers are in very different positions on Gov. Bill Haslam's initiative to catch up on more than $10 billion in backlogged road and bridge projects around the state that's coupled with tax cuts elsewhere, like food and business taxes. The Senate is arguably farther in the process to get the plan to the floor for a vote, while the House continues to wrestle with some of the particulars of the bill.
The House is expected to roll out yet another alternative this week, with some suggesting it could come as soon as Monday.
Medical marijuana died, or did it?
Two weeks after Republican Rep. Jeremy Faison, of Cosby, said he wouldn't pursue his effort to establish a medical marijuana program in Tennessee because it wouldn't pass the Senate, a different version of a medical cannabis program is scheduled in a House subcommittee on Tuesday.
Rep. Sherry Jones, D-Nashville, intends to move forward with the bill even though it will likely face a steep climb to move forward.
The companion bill in the Senate was referred back to subcommittee two weeks ago, which doesn't bode well for the legislation this year, but it could indicate movement on the legislation in the future.
Can I get my iPad back?
A bill sponsored by lawmakers from Memphis would allow lawmakers to purchase electronics from the legislature that are being phased out or replaced. Legislators who are leaving office also would have the option to buy electronic equipment issued to them.
Annexation vs. de-annexation
Two measures that are at opposite ends of the debate regarding how cities grow their borders are expected to drive conversation this week.
One, which would delete population restrictions on non-contiguous annexation through resolution, is on the Senate's consent calendar for its Monday floor session and scheduled for a House subcommittee on Tuesday.
The other, which would allow city residents the option to vote to remove themselves from city borders, was delayed last week after senators disagreed on proposed amendments to the bill. The bill from Sen. Bo Watson, R-Hixson, is scheduled to be discussed again on Tuesday.
School bus bills reach tipping point
Several measures aimed at making school buses safer will face another test this week after touchy debate over the cost to schools and hypotheticals about future incidents.
Two measures, one from Rep. Joanne Favors, D-Chattanooga, who represents an area that includes where six children died in a crash late last year, were moved forward after rules were suspended Thursday on the House floor. Another, HB0392, from Rep. Kevin Brooks, R-Cleveland, would allow schools to put cameras on the outside of buses.
Favors' bill, HB0395, which would require seat belts to be on buses, has been amended after the estimated cost appeared to be a big concern for lawmakers during committee debate. Both bills are on the agenda of the House Education Administration & Planning Committee on Tuesday.
Haslam has a similar effort to increase bus safety by establishing an oversight program at public schools, HB0322, and that measure is scheduled for the House and Senate Finance committees on Tuesday also.
Reach Jake Lowary at 931-237-1583 and on Twitter @JakeLowary.
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