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By Pat Marsh, State Representative
A creative man is motivated by the desire to achieve not by the desire to beat others. ~ Ayn Rand
On Monday I had the privilege of going on a tour of Nashville Prep, a college prep, charter school right down the street from the Capitol. I did not know much about how charter schools operate so I was thankful to have been given such an informative tour. The teachers at this school have a very unique style of teaching that keeps the students’ attention and helps them learn better. Charter schools are becoming very popular in Tennessee, especially in inner-city areas such as Nashville and Memphis.
As a member of the Agriculture and Natural Resources committee, we went on a trip to the Ellington Agricultural Center on Tuesday morning for an overview of the department and a wonderful “grown in Tennessee” lunch. The Department of Agriculture has an annual budget of $88 million with 625 full time employees and about 250 seasonal workers. I learned that Tennessee has 166,897 acres of State Forests and the state has paid out more than $77 million dollars in the Tennessee Agricultural Enhancement Program since it started in 2005.
Of this amount, Bedford received almost $1.5 million and Lincoln almost $1.9 million. This is a great program and good for the Agriculture business in Tennessee because each recipient has to match the money they receive on the projects. That makes the $77 million the state spent become more like $200 million total spent growing the agriculture business in our state. Agriculture is a big business and is growing in Tennessee. The Agriculture classes at our state universities have grown in size, promising a bright future for Tennessee Agriculture.
The 25th annual Lincoln County “Hamburger Day on the Hill” was on Wednesday here in Nashville. This luncheon is greatly appreciated by the staff and is always a good time. We are very grateful to everyone from Lincoln County for hosting this and visiting us here in the legislature. The cattleman’s association cooked over 1,000 hamburgers and a lot of bar-b-que.
Most everyone here knows about this wonderful meal, and I had many people ask me for a ticket. It was a great success and served to educate legislators about Fayetteville and Lincoln County as well as show them how much we love big crowds, cooking, and having a good time. Thanks so much to everyone who had a part in this wonderful event.
Darrin Simms brought a group of Skills USA Officers from Lincoln County High School for a visit with the Legislature this week. Darrin and the six students met Senator Tracy and me in my office and we had a good visit with them and told them about how things work up here and then found out about their work at school and what they are planning after high school. They all have great plans for their future. Skills USA is a great program in our schools.
On Wednesday, I also got to visit with Dan Owen and a group of 4-H students from Lincoln County, as well as a group with the Young Bankers of Tennessee which included William Moore and Andrea Harris Sublett of First Community Bank of Shelbyville, and Luke Buckley, Nichole Warren, and Tiffany Allen of First Commerce Bank of Lewisburg and Fayetteville.
The Shelbyville Mayor Wallace Cartwright and the city council members were gracious hosts at a dinner this week for Senator Tracy and me at Stoney River Grill in Nashville. It was great to get to visit with City Manager Jay Johnson, City Recorder Vickie Haskins, and most of the council. They were in Nashville for their annual Tennessee Municipal meeting with a lot of cities from all over the state. They came by and watched part of the Senate and House Sessions before we went to dinner. I really appreciate all the time and work they put into their jobs for our citizens.
House Bill 839 passed on the House floor on Monday which changes the date by which children must turn four in order to enter public pre-kindergarten programs. The date was changed from September 30 to August 31 for the 2013-2014 school year and to August 15 for school years thereafter. This also allows children who were in certain pre-kindergarten classes to go ahead and enter kindergarten (although they may have slightly missed the age cutoff).
House Bill 9, which is an amendment to the current law, makes it so that all handgun carry permits, applications, and renewals are kept strictly confidential and not open for public record. According to Representative Lamberth (from Cottontown, TN), the sponsor of the bill, guns, pharmaceutics, and electronics are the main things that burglars are looking for. With the public records open, as they currently are, anyone can check to see if you have a gun in your house, including a burglar. Closing the records will increase safety for both handgun carry permit holders and others.
Another important bill that I wanted to tell you about is House Bill 194 which pertains to workers compensation. This bill is meant to provide more certainty for business owners while also protecting the interest of employees. Right now, the workers comp process is rather complicated and long. This bill will make it so that the process is taken out of the court system so that cases can be heard quicker and people can get their money in a more timely manner.