Local lawmakers react to controversial school voucher vote

Politics

House Speaker Glen Casada’s handling of a vote on the controversial school voucher bill is being questioned. 

After a 49-49 deadlock vote, it passed by only two votes. News Channel 11’s CBS affiliate in Nashville, WTVF, reported why those two votes changes are the focus of an FBI investigation. 

The school voucher bill passed the Tennessee House by only slight margins. The initial vote was at 49-49 until speaker of the house, Glen Casada, kept the vote open for forty minutes. 

That’s when a “no” vote turned into a “yes.” The ending vote turned into 50-48.

Now, the FBI is investigating the vote made by the Tennessee House. 

Representative Timothy Hill voted to pass the bill but says he’s never seen the board held open for that long on any vote while he has been in office.

“The primary reason I voted the way that I did is because there was an amendment filed through the committee process that limited the process of the bill to two counties. There was a lot of shock that the board was left open for any amount of time because that’s fairly abnormal. If there’s any wrongdoing that takes place we would want to know about it and try to clean house,” said T. Hill. 

Representative John Holsclaw voted against the bill but said it’s not unusual for incentives to be offered for votes. 

“My vote was a no because you know, I am a representative and I’ve heard my teachers that they were not in favor of it. If you voted for it you can more likely can get more funding for a project you’ve been pushing for your area. It works that way sometimes,” he said.

Holsclaw said it’s not illegal to be offered incentives and doesn’t think that the FBI is going to find anything illegal. 

“I don’t see a need for FBI investigation. I think its a waste of time. There’s no reason for it because this is just politics and the way it works. At the end of the day, they’re going to come up with nothing in my opinion,” said Holsclaw. 

Representative David Hawk says he was one of the people approached by Casada to change his vote. 

“He came to me on the house floor where I sit at my desk on the house floor, told me that the vote was very close on the voucher issue, and asked me if I could vote for the voucher legislation,” said Hawk.

He said their interaction was brief but got heated, 

“I responded very quickly saying there’s nothing that he or speaker Casada had that I wanted.”

Representative Hawk said he has not been made aware of an FBI investigation but isn’t surprised regarding any finds that may be made regarding the speaker of the house. 

News Channel 11 has reached out to several lawmakers in our region including Representatives Matthew Hill, John Crawford, Bud Hulsey, Hary Hicks, and Jeremy Faison on the matter. We have not received a statement from them. Representative Micah Van Huss’ assistant says he is on vacation. 

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