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By Pat Marsh, State Representative
“If you don’t make dust, you eat dust.” ~ Jack MacAllister
I started my biggest bill in committee this week. This proposed legislation seeks to eliminate the Prevailing Wage law in contracting and construction in Tennessee. This is the wage that companies must pay their workers when working on state projects. It is mired down with wage surveys and unnecessary paperwork and contentious with many workers.
I have been asked to carry this bill by the construction and contracting industries in our state. I have been studying and learning more about why this wage was started and why we need to do away with it. If it passes, there should be many more construction companies that bid on state projects which means we should see much more competitive bids. I feel that if we pass this legislation, Tennessee will save millions of dollars a year on its construction costs.
On Wednesday, Jim Malone from Lincoln County came to visit us representing the Tennessee Association of Health Underwriters. Jim Tracy and I were able to sit down with the group for about 30 minutes and learn more about the insurance bills that are coming through the Legislature and also more about Obamacare and the Medicaid expansion proposal.
A group from the Shelbyville Fire Department who are with the Tennessee Firefighters Association stopped by to visit and provided lunch for the legislators and staff on Tuesday. It was great to see Terry Vinson, Brian Nicholson and Charles Armstrong and get to spend a few minutes with them learning about their concerns and about their project of getting smoke detectors in all homes in Bedford County.
Julie Avilla, from Lincoln County, came to spend the day in my office on Wednesday and was able to attend a few meetings with me and sit in on our committee meeting. Julie, age 13, is part of a group called Teen Eagle which is a group for teenagers to focus on developing leadership skills and gaining experience in civic and political matters. It was a pleasure to have her here for the day, and I hope that she was able to learn a lot about how the state government works.
The Tennessee School Superintendents had a very nice reception at the Sheraton on Tuesday evening, and I got to visit with Wanda Shelton from Lincoln County and Ed Gray and his wife, Joan, from Bedford County. They have very difficult jobs in our counties, and I really appreciate their hard work and dedication to our children. They are very valuable to me as a state representative because I have to reach out to them often to learn more about education issues in our district.
As an alumnus of the University of Tennessee, I was very happy to have participated in UT day on the hill this last week. Bedford County has 91 students enrolled at UT (this includes UT Knoxville, Chattanooga, Martin, Tullahoma, and Memphis) and Lincoln County has 102. I was impressed to find out that UT has students enrolled from every single county in Tennessee and also has the single-largest 4-H youth program of any other state. The UT alumni base is very large at 335,000 people, over half of which are current residents of Tennessee.
After putting in a request that a traffic study be performed at the intersection of SR15 (US 64 Bypass) and the Goodman Manufacturing Plant entrance, I received a letter this week stating that a traffic light is needed at this intersection. The request for a traffic light came after a tragic accident happened at this intersection last month. With this new traffic light, the intersection should be much safer for those coming and going from the Goodman Plant.
A bill is going through the legislature this year that would change the way in which beer is taxed in Tennessee. House Bill 999, referred to as the “Beer Tax Reform Act”, would not lower taxes on beer but would change the way in which the tax is computed so that it wouldn’t rise as fast as it has in the past. Due to the way that the tax is currently computed, Tennessee has one of the highest taxes on beer in the nation.
Representative Sexton (of Crossville) has two bills of interest that were heard in the legislature this week. The first is a bill that requires any school or organization with an active youth athletics program to adopt concussion policies for injuries. While very serious, concussions are often overlooked and not taken seriously enough. Another bill of his, House Bill 44, would make it so that licensed motorcycle drivers meeting special criteria can get a sticker to place on their motorcycle which authorized them to ride without a crash helmet. A special class will be required in order to meet this criteria.
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!