State Senator Todd Gardenhire Lashes Out at Fellow Republicans As His Bill to Expand In-State Tuition Benefits Dies in Committee

State Rep Todd Gardenhire

For the fourth year in a row, Chattanooga-area State Senator Todd Gardenhire (R-Chattanooga), a Republican, has tried and failed to pass a bill that would grant in-state tuition discounts to illegal alien students in Tennessee.

Calling his defeat a “victim of election-year politics,” he told the Times Free Press, “It’s my understanding that the House leadership doesn’t want to schedule it for a vote in the House Education Committee,” adding that the Senate leadership wanted to wait until the bill passed in the House before taking it up.

Gardenhire spoke bitterly of his fellow Republican lawmakers, telling the Times, “The House for a third year in a row has killed it under the leadership of Beth Harwell.”

Turning his ire to the gubernatorial candidates who publicly opposed his proposal, the said this year’s failure was “very disappointing when you’ve got all four [Republican] gubernatorial candidates against it and one of them in particular, Diane Black, being personal about it.”

Upon hearing the news of the bill’s demise for this year’s legislative session, Black tweeted:

The Times reported:

The issue of in-state tuition has become a quest for Gardenhire who has advanced what he considers conservative arguments in favor of it, saying the students are already in Tennessee and aren’t going anywhere. Thus, he says, their ability to obtain technical or university degrees will allow them to earn more, lead more productive lives and result in their being less of a societal and economic burden.

Gardenhire in 2015 got the original bill through the Senate, but it failed on the House floor by a single vote. Speaker Harwell was out of the chamber at the time but said she would have voted against it.

The bill was originally tied to students’ participation in the federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program which granted administrative relief to eligible immigrant youths brought to the U.S. as children.

But the issue has become more complicated with the election of President Donald Trump who jettisoned the DACA program with the program now entangled in back and forth disagreements between Trump and congressional Democrats on other immigration issues.

Tennessee Star / Triton polling consistently shows that Tennessee’s Republican primary voters are solidly opposed to extending the in-state tuition benefit to illegal aliens:

In the six months between the June 2017 Tennessee Star Poll and the December 2017 Tennessee Star Poll, opposition to in-state tuition for illegal immigrant students among likely Tennessee Republican primary voters has actually increased–from 84 percent to 88 percent–while support has decreased–from 11 percent to 6 percent.


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8 Thoughts to “State Senator Todd Gardenhire Lashes Out at Fellow Republicans As His Bill to Expand In-State Tuition Benefits Dies in Committee”

  1. lb

    There must be a HUGE PAYDAY for him to keep pushing this so hard

  2. Donna Locke

    Rewarding illegality has done nothing but bring us more illegality.

    The Supreme Court decision that allowed illegal aliens to enroll in our public school system has destroyed our schools and greatly harmed the education of Americans. This situation is wrong and should be reversed. Billions of our tax dollars have gone to English language classes, free meals at school, and everything else for these foreign nationals who aren’t supposed to be here.

    These people should be deported.

  3. Wolf Woman


    “Victim of election year politics?” How about victim of a bad and unpopular bill?

    Now, please fade away into the sunset, Sen. Gardenhire.

  4. Stuart I. Anderson

    As for Sen. Gardenhire, I assume they do have Republican Primaries in Bradley and Hamilton Counties so I address the following question to ambitious Republicans in those counties paraphrasing Henry II: “Will no one rid us of this turbulent politician?”

    1. Betty

      Amen to that fire this corrupt actually a democrat butt!!! NOW!!!

  5. Gerald Mahoney

    *Senator Todd Gardenhire

  6. Bill

    Fine let them pay for it just like everyone else you moron! Is it not enough that the law is being broken? You want the tax payers to pay for it while having to pay for their own children’s tuition? Maybe a brain scan could prove beneficial to your proposed thinking. Tennesseans like myself do not have money trees in our back yards we can harvest every time politicians dream up some lame brain idea to give away our hard earned money. Maybe if your money came by way of back instead of mouth, you might consider the way tax payers feel.

  7. 83ragtop50

    Mr. Gardenshire – Your effort to give yet another taxpayer provided benefit to these illegals is not only a personal insult to Congressman Black but also to the approximate 85% of Tennesseans who oppose it. It becomes personal when you propose to support unwanted and illegal people residing within Tennessee. Your argument that they will remain here regardless is irrelevant and sophomoric. You need to either wholly support legal resident and CITIZENS or get out of the legislature.