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By Pat Marsh, State Representative
“The only thing that stands between a man and what he wants from life is often merely the will to try it and the faith to believe that it is possible.” ~ Richard M. DeVos
It certainly looks like the Legislature is trying to be more efficient this year versus the last legislative session. We have filed about half as many bills which I think is a good thing. In 2011, 2,825 bills were filed. This year, only 1,171 bills have been filed with about one week left to file. Most of these bills tweak old legislation that has been determined to have some problem and needs improving or eliminating.
I have about 10 bills that I am carrying this session. One of them helps the Department of Financial Institutions by allowing them to accept payment by electronic transfers. Currently, they can only receive payment by cashier’s check, and this would now allow them a quicker and less costly way of doing business.
The other bills are basically clean-up bills that remove some antiquated ways of doing business or help the state and businesses save money by opting out of useless regulations.
I received the Tennessee Comptroller’s Quarterly Fiscal Affairs Report and wanted to share with you some of their findings about our state:
● The current state budget, enacted by the General Assembly, is balanced not only as required by Article II, Section 24 of the state Constitution, but also on a recurring basis.
● In the first five months of the current fiscal year, general fund collections increased 3.63% over collections from the same period during the previous year.
● Our current state debt is not excessive.
● We have budgeted on a recurring basis for payment of principal and interest on state-issued bonds.
● The state’s retirement plan is sound.
● The post-employment benefit obligation for our retirees is manageable.
● The state’s unemployment trust fund is solvent.
In contrast with many other state governments, Tennessee is financially healthy. This favorable financial outlook is in large part a result of the willingness of the General Assembly to enact budgets that have forgone, reduced or eliminated expenses, as well as the ability of the administration to create efficient operations.
I had a conversation with Walt Wood, the Industrial Recruiter and head of Bedford County Chamber, this week, and he gave me some good news about Economic Development in Bedford County. He stated that in 2012, fifteen companies added or are in the process of adding 946 new permanent jobs with a total investment of over $40 million. This significant investment demonstrates the positive business climate in Shelbyville and Bedford County. Several companies are already planning expansions for the new year, and we want to support our great community by encouraging continued economic growth.
Thomas Hastings brought approximately 30 students from his AP History class at Lincoln County High School to the Capitol this week. They were chosen as one of a very few classes from across the state to view the original copy of the Emancipation Proclamation at the Tennessee State Museum. They came by my office for a visit, and I gave them all Tennessee Blue Books to take back to their homes or classes. Debbie Broadway was also with the group helping Thomas with the tour. It was great to see all the young ladies and men here at the Capitol learning about their state and viewing such an important document.
Dexter Sullivan with the Lincoln County School Board came up on Tuesday to go with me to hear a presentation on vouchers, virtual schools and charter schools. It was all very interesting, and I hope to learn more on these subjects as the session moves forward. We are working very hard in the Legislature to bring our school rankings up.
One of the figures making its way around the Capitol is that Tennessee Schools are ranked 46th in the nation for all students (based on 4th grade math scores). We must try to change this by thinking in some new ways that haven’t been tried before.
We had 6 receptions on Tuesday night of this week, and I appreciated getting to meet and visit with all who came up for these. I was able to see my cousin, Battle Bagley, at the Insurors of Tennessee reception and catch up on folks in Lincoln County.
On Monday morning, I also got to have a tour of the Tennessee National Guard facility on Sidco Drive in Nashville and hear from General Max Haston. I was amazed to see all that is going on right here in Tennessee. We have a “State of the Art” facility that can handle most disasters or crises that can come up in our state. We are truly in good hands.
I want to give you an update on some key pieces of legislation filed this year. The first is House Bill 118 by Rep. Jeremy Faison which is a bill to prevent businesses, schools and colleges from banning firearms in their parking lots. This bill would give the state’s 390,343 handgun carry permit holders the legal ability to store firearms in their vehicles parked on company or school property.
The State Senate is expected to vote on two constitutional amendments on Thursday. Both measures are sponsored by Senator Brian Kelsey of Germantown. One would prohibit the state from ever adopting a personal income tax, and the other would allow the governor to appoint appellate judges, subject to legislative confirmation.
Please feel free to stop by my office or give me a call if you have any questions or concerns. You can reach me at (615) 741-6824 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I am honored to represent the people of the 62nd district!