As Jeff Woods wrote earlier, Jonathon Fagan over at the Murfreesboro Post is reporting that Jim Tracy and Bill Ketron are disturbed to discover that, if any voucher bills are passed, they would apply to accredited Muslim schools:
Tracy, a member of the Senate Education Committee, expressed “considerable concern” with directing tax dollars to Islamic schools, but he said disallowing Category III schools would also disqualify private schools, such as Montgomery Bell Academy, Ensworth and Harpeth Hall, all of which qualify for the program through SACS accreditation as well.
Ketron, who sponsored anti-Shariah Law legislation in 2009, said the voucher bills have advanced too quickly in the legislature this year and more consideration is needed on the measure.
“This issue gives me pause in voting for the governor’s voucher proposal,” he said. “These issues warrant further assessment.”
“What’s the rush? Do we need to send these proposals to summer study (committee)?” he questioned.
It's hard for me to believe that this concern is genuine. I mean, obviously, if you want to rewrite laws about school funding to give public money to private religious schools, you have to give them to all qualifying private religious schools, regardless of the religion. There's no amendment — hell, there's no bill — you could write that would stand up to a legal challenge that would let you exclude qualified Muslim schools from funding. Ketron likes to act the fool, but by now he knows this. And Jim Tracy certainly does.
But it's not hard for me to believe that the State Senate would, yet again, come up with some reason to make life difficult for the governor. They use the cover of pretending that they, oops, didn't realize this would apply to all religious schools to stick it to Haslam yet again by refusing to pass his legislation.
Still, one wonders what the game plan here is. Haslam remains wildly popular, so it's not like voters at home are cheering whenever people in his own party thwart him. The supermajority was supposed to prove that the Republicans could effectively run things, but this kind of infighting seems to prove, instead, that Republicans will fight with anyone, even someone on their side.
The question is whether Haslam will ever figure out how to fight back.