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Governor Bill Haslam's signature proposal to create a program that would cover tuition at two-year colleges for any high school graduate is headed to a full House vote. The Tennessee Promise program is part of Haslam's "Drive to 55" campaign to improve the state's graduation rates from the current 32 percent to 55 percent by 2025 and to help improve overall job qualifications and attract employers to the state. Haslam wants to pay for the program by using $300 million in excess lottery reserve funds and join it with a $47 million endowment.
The state Senate has passed a bill to allow Tennesseans to openly carry guns without a state-issued permit. The measure would keep the background checks and training requirements in order to carry concealed firearms, but would allow anyone legally allowed to own a gun to carry it openly. The bill would also remove state restrictions on the location of ammunition when firearms are being transported in vehicles, and would allow guns to be removed from cars on school property for the purposes of storing them in another part of the vehicle.
Tennessee lawmakers are considering a bill that allows pregnant mothers with drug addictions to face criminal punishment if the baby is harmed. The bill aims to change a previous law which eliminated the criminal penalty. The bills would allow a mother to be prosecuted for an assaultive offense or homicide if she takes an illegal drug while pregnant and the baby is addicted, harmed or dies because the drug use.
Gasoline prices continued their spring push this week amid tightened supplies and increasing demand. The national average for a gallon of regular unleaded is the highest since August of last year. Sunday's national average for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline was $3.58, 3 cents more than last week. Tennessee's average of $3.41 jumped 7 cents from last week.
With less than a week remaining before the April 15th tax deadline, the IRS is reminding taxpayers that options are available if you can't file your form or pay your taxes on time. You can submit a filing extension and request payment options online. The IRS expects Tennessee taxpayers to submit about 190,000 filing extension requests by the April 15th deadline. To avoid the late filing penalty, taxpayers should file a tax return or an extension form by April 15th, even if they can't pay the full amount due. Tax returns or extension forms can be filed online free at IRS.gov through the Free File program.