Axios Nashville

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Happy Tuesday, and happy anniversary of Adam's birth to all who celebrate!

😎 Today's weather: Sunny with a chance of Adam. High of 74.

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Today's newsletter is 919 words β€” a 3.5-minute read.

1 big thing: Lee's voucher push implodes

Illustration: Lindsey Bailey/Axios

Gov. Bill Lee confirmed his fight to expand school vouchers statewide in Tennessee has ended in defeat, at least for now.

Why it matters: Lee has spent years championing vouchers, which allow families to use state money to pay tuition at private schools. Taking the model statewide was a top priority for 2024.

  • The plan's implosion despite a Republican supermajority shows that an influx of money from pro-voucher groups has not beat back bipartisan skepticism.

Driving the news: Tennessee's House and Senate advanced widely different versions of the plan. The House included extra funding for public school priorities, while the Senate favored a more stripped-down approach.

  • Ultimately, the two chambers couldn't come to a consensus.
  • Multiple outlets reported negotiations had fallen apart last week. Lee acknowledged it in a statement yesterday morning, saying he was "extremely disappointed."

Flashback: Vouchers were top of mind for the Lee administration from his first days in office in 2019. A measure to create a voucher program passed narrowly that year after it was tailored to apply only in Davidson and Shelby counties.

  • An expansion to Hamilton County passed last year.
  • Lee announced his plan for a statewide program in November.

Between the lines: Local school leaders from across the state and the political spectrum roundly opposed the universal expansion push, saying it would sap money from public schools.

  • Lee and other proponents said it would give families options for schools that best suit their children.

State of play: While lawmakers didn't rally behind a plan for voucher expansion, they did still include $144 million meant to fund statewide vouchers in this year's budget. That money will sit unused.

  • Democratic state Sen. Raumesh Akbari said yesterday that "instead of throwing millions into a program that isn't effective," lawmakers should put more money toward public schools.

What's next: Lee said Republican leaders would revive the voucher expansion when they return to work in 2025. The Tennessee Journal noted the political playing field might have changed a bit by then.

  • The Journal reported five House Republicans are retiring this year, while 12 more face primary challengers in August.

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2. Major legislation pending as session winds down

Illustration: Allie Carl/Axios

The legislative session is coming to a whirlwind finish with prominent bills still hanging in the balance.

Expanding death sentences: The House passed a measure yesterday to expand the death penalty to people convicted of raping a child under the age of 12.

  • The legislation seems to be angling for a challenge to a 2008 U.S. Supreme Court ruling, which determined a death sentence for the rape of a child could only be pursued if the victim died. The Senate already passed the legislation, which heads to Gov. Lee's desk.

Arming teachers: A bill allowing public school teachers to carry a concealed gun in the classroom still needs House approval before heading to Gov. Lee.

  • The proposal sparked protests, including during the final Senate vote earlier this month.
  • The legislation requires that teachers get approval from district leadership before bringing their guns into the classroom.
  • Metro Nashville Public Schools spokesperson Sean Braisted told the Nashville Banner the district agrees "it is best and safest for only approved active-duty law enforcement to carry weapons on campus."

New Metro agency: Mayor Freddie O'Connell's administration wants to create an East Bank Development Authority to oversee the decades-long effort to build up that side of the Cumberland River.

  • The proposal got bogged down before picking up steam again last week.

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3. The Setlist: Nashville Ballet schedule unveiled

Illustration: Lindsey Bailey/Axios

πŸ€ Vanderbilt men's basketball coach Mark Byington added two promising transfer players to the roster. (Nashville Post)

🩰 The Nashville Ballet announced its 2024-25 season, including perennial favorite "Nashville's Nutcracker" and the premiere of "Frida & Diego's Dia de los Muertos." (Tennessean)

❓The Titans could be debating between wide receiver and offensive line with their first round pick in Thursday's NFL Draft. (ESPN)

4. Suara pushes for civil rights museum

Nashville leaders stand around Diane Nash at a ceremony honoring her last weekend. Photo: Nate Rau/Axios

On the same day Nashville celebrated civil rights legend Diane Nash, Metro Councilmember Zulfat Suara called on the city to expand its efforts to memorialize and preserve its past.

  • The city named the plaza in front of the historic Metro courthouse in Nash's honor. At a ceremony on Saturday, city leaders celebrated the success of the peaceful desegregation movement, which Nash helped lead.

What she's saying: "Ms. Nash just said the Nashville Civil Rights Movement was different from other cities," Suara said during her speech. "Why don't we have a civil rights and African American history museum in Nashville?"

State of play: The city has stepped up its efforts in recent years to hold up the leaders of the Civil Rights Movement.

  • Metro leadership previously renamed a stretch of Fifth Avenue North after John Lewis and the new Bellevue high school after Rev. James Lawson.
  • The downtown library has a Civil Rights Room that explores Nashville's history.

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5. πŸŽ‰ Let's party

Adam celebrating his 13th birthday many years ago. Photo: Courtesy of Adam Tamburin/Axios

πŸ‘‹ Adam here! The rumors, and the weather forecast above, are true: It's my birthday.

State of play: I love to treat myself, but it's always hard for me to decide exactly how to celebrate. So I'm crowd-sourcing.

πŸ‘‚ Tell me: How do you mark your happiest days in Nashville? Your answers can be as simple or as grandiose as you'd like.

  • If there's a restaurant where you splurge on special occasions, I want to know.
  • If you must have a cake from a certain local bakery, share your secret.
  • If your best days don't revolve around food, we are very different, but I'm still curious!

I'll share my itinerary in an upcoming edition. You'll get a shout-out if I take your advice.

Our picks:

🍢 Nate wishes the happiest of birthdays to Adam.

  • Although he is best known as an award-winning breaking news, higher education and investigative reporter, Nate knows Adam as a gold-medal friend and drinking buddy.

β˜• Adam is starting today with a pour-over at his favorite coffee spot.

This newsletter was edited by Jen Ashley and copy edited by Chris Speckhard.