This week on Capitol Hill

Posted on Monday, March 11, 2013 at 2:24 pm

Sen. Jim Tracy

Sen. Jim Tracy

By Jim Tracy, State Senator

There was a lot of discussion this week over bills that concern Tennessean’s voting rights and promote a standard for a fair election process. Senate Bill 125 passed through the Senate State and Local Government Committee this week and was discussed in the Senate during Thursday’s session. This bill prohibits the use of state issued library cards as a method of identification at voting booths yet allows the use of a student identification cards issued by a college or university. The Senate approved Senate Bill 549 which only allows individuals who are legal U.S. citizens to enter or volunteer in polling places during elections.

The Senate also passed Senate Bill 240 which would allow homeschooled students to participate in school athletics in the public school which they are zoned for. Its companion bill, House Bill 222, is scheduled to go through the House Education Committee on Tuesday, March 12th.  House Bill 610 is the companion bill for Senate Bill 837 which would allow for a municipal and county-wide referendum to decide whether or not to allow the sale of wine in grocery stores in each city or county. This bill passed through the House Local Government Subcommittee this week with the deciding vote from Speaker Harwell. The bill has been placed on the House Local Government Committee calendar for March 12th.

We listened to a presentation by Senate Treasurer David Lillard in the Pension and Insurance Committee this week concerning his proposal to reform the Tennessee Consolidated Retirement System. This plan would go into effect July 1st of 2014 and only state employees hired after that date would be grandfathered into this system. Senate Bill 1005 would give retired employees a fixed pension based on the duration of time in which they worked for the state of Tennessee and their earnings during that time. Not only would this bill ensure a standard pension for each employee, but it would protect Tennessee tax payers. 

The Senate Transportation and Safety Committee voted to accept Senate Bill 846 which would allow for law enforcement to issue electronic citations or “e-citations” as opposed to hand written citations. This is expected to drastically shorten the amount of time required for a law enforcement officer to write a citation. It is thought that not only would this allow for more officers’ time to be delegated to other causes, but it will also promote safety for officers who are often put in harm’s way while standing on the side of the road to write a citation.

I am honored to have been named the 2012 Housing Hero by the Homebuilders Association of Tennessee this week. The Homebuilders Association of Tennessee is a nonprofit association made up of professionals who are involved in home building and construction. These individuals work together to promote affordable housing and jobs for Tennesseans through legislation, education, and communication. Great things can be accomplished by those who unite to endorse a common cause!

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