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By Pat Marsh, State Representative
“Let us go forth to lead the land we love, asking His blessing and His help, but knowing that here on earth God’s work must truly be our own.” ~ John F. Kennedy
I guess the biggest bill with the biggest headline this week was the defeat of the wine in grocery store bill. I didn’t think it would pass, but surprisingly it made it through a couple of committees and then I thought it had a 50/50 chance. I think most of the leadership thought it would pass, but at the last minute the Chairman of the Committee changed his vote and the bill was defeated for this year. I know several of you were happy with the outcome and several were upset, but the legislature moves on to tackle other bills in the Legislative Session.
I have had many bills on our committee calendar this week and a lot of healthy discussion on most of them. We passed the Fairness in Ticketing bill out of our subcommittee this week and will hear it again next week in Full Committee. We are still working on the pole attachment bill that many of the electric co-ops and municipal electric people are working on.
The Bedford County Farm Bureau group came by my office for a good visit this week and we got to talk about many of the possible legislative concerns that they have this year. I knew about most of them, but they filled me in on others and asked for my support. I have found out that of all the support groups and lobbyists here in the legislature, the Farm Bureau is one of the best. They are always friendly, knowledgeable, and more than willing to help find good solutions to a problem.
Mary Lou Ott, representing Child Care Resource and Referral along with Holly Kinslow from Unionville visited my office this week to tell me all about what they do for children and childcare providers in Bedford and Lincoln counties. I also got to visit with Lynn Farrar and two other ladies who work with CASA which also helps with children who are in less than desirable situations. These people really are very passionate about their work and do a great job with small amounts of funds.
Along the same note, Shelly Gray who heads up a group of childcare providers from Bedford County asked for some help with some of their rules and regulations from the Department of Human Services. Senator Tracy and I were able to get her an appointment with the Commissioner. She came up for a meeting this week and left feeling that they really listened to her concerns and are going to try to do some things to help out. They have asked her to be on a panel later this month to talk about their program and to find ways to make it a much better program.
I had dinner at the Tennessee Residency on Wednesday with Governor Haslam and the First Lady. Throughout the months of session, they invite all of the legislators for dinner in small groups as a way to touch base and discuss various matters affecting Tennessee. The Governor asked us all to tell him about interesting stories that we had while campaigning and we got to know the other legislators much better after this wonderful dinner at their house.
A group of roughly 30 people came to visit the Capitol on Wednesday as part of Leadership Bedford. Speaker Beth Harwell spoke with the group on the House Floor to explain the legislative process and answer any questions that they had. Senator Tracy and I were able to spend a good deal of time with them throughout the day which is always a pleasure. We ended the day by having a group picture with Governor Haslam on the capitol steps. It is always great to have these leadership groups up for the day. I feel that they get to see so much of what goes on here and also get to tour the legislative plaza and the capitol and see and hear how much of the process works. Leadership Lincoln will be making a similar visit to the Capitol next month.
I found out last week that the House is having a legislative reunion on March 27th at the Ellington Agriculture Center here in Nashville for all the former State Representatives. I have contacted our 3 former reps-Tom Bagley from Fayetteville as well as Jack Bomar, and Curt Cobb both from Bedford County. I hope they can come to this and visit with some of their old friends here at the Legislature.
On Wednesday morning, I got to eat breakfast with the County Officials Association at the Sheraton Hotel and sat with Lincoln County Mayor Bevels and about 7 or 8 of the county commissioners and also with Tim Gill, the Lincoln County Road Commissioner. It was good to hear what is happening in Lincoln County and catch up with my friends. Anthony Taylor also stopped by to tell me why I should vote for Medicaid Expansion in Tennessee to help our many hospitals who really need the insurance payments from the many folks that can’t afford health care.
Senator Tracy and I are excited to be going to the Fabulous Fifties Show in Fayetteville this weekend. This is always a great show with all the local talent from Lincoln County. It makes you feel like you are in a New York theater because they are all so talented.
The “Tennessee Choice and Opportunity Scholarship Act”, proposed by Governor Haslam, passed out of the Education committee this past week. This bill is a voucher system that allows students from very low performing schools to be given a scholarship which will allow them to attend a private school or other, better performing, public school. We have great schools in Bedford and Lincoln Counties so this does not affect us. But, it may work to improve education in other parts of Tennessee.
A joint resolution was passed last week that will change how the state’s high court judges are selected. In a referendum vote, Tennessee voters will decide in November 2014 whether or not to change how judges are appointed to the state’s highest courts to a way that mirrors the federal government’s practice. If passed, this would allow the Governor to directly appoint judges of the Tennessee Supreme Court and courts of appeal which are then subject to confirmation by the state legislature.
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!