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Tenn. Bill to Dock Welfare Checks if Students Fail Withdrawn

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A Tennessee lawmaker who proposed a "pay cut" to parents on federal public assistance whose children failed to advance to the next grade withdrew his bill yesterday, according to the Associated Press.

State Sen. Stacey Campfield, a Republican who wanted parents to lose up to 30 percent of their Temporary Assistance for Needy Families benefit checks if their children failed, withdrew the measure after 40 minutes of discussion on the Senate floor. His intention was for the proposal to be studied over the summer in a committee, soliciting input from the governor's office and child advocacy groups.

Apparently Campfield was not interested in hearing from an 8-year-old girl who, with her mother, wanted to speak to him about the bill before the debate—a fact that captured media attention when he said the child had been used "as a prop" by special interests. The girl's mother founded Gideon's Army, a child advocacy group.

House Democratic Caucus Chairman Mike Turner of Nashville described the bill as "mean-spirited" in a news report. "We ought to start taking 30 percent of the legislators' salary for putting such bills forward," he said.

Not everyone was against the measure. Kyle Mallory, a social studies teacher and Republican Party chairman for Stewart County, was quoted in the Tennessean as saying that he has seen parents be derelict in their duty to get their middle school students to school on time.

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