By Pat Marsh, State Representative
“You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.” ~ C.S. Lewis
The Committees here at the General Assembly are slowing and two of my Committees have closed for the year. I got my bill dealing with abolishing the prevailing wage out of full committee and it now moves to Calendar and Rules and then hopefully to the full floor of the House.
I have had several visitors this week come by my office and also come to watch our Legislative Session in action. Lynn and Henry Hulan of Shelbyville came up to view the Monday night session, and Ben, Lana, Walker, and Isabella Craig dropped by the office during a Capitol visit while on Spring break.
Tuesday was a very special day here at the Capitol – “Ag Day on the Hill”. We had horses, mules, cows, goats, and sheep outside our doors and all kinds of booths set up inside the Plaza to promote agriculture in the state. In my Agriculture Committee, we heard all about the great things our farmers do all across the state. Agriculture in Tennessee consists of almost 400,000 farmers and is a $3.5 billion industry. It also consists of 306,000 4H-ers and over 13,000 FFA members in the state. The Commissioner of Agriculture, Julius Johnson, spoke to us about how Ag is growing in Tennessee and about the growth in Ag classes at our colleges and universities. I also learned about a new big dairy farm that is starting up in Bedford County. I was really glad to hear about all of the positives in our Ag business across Tennessee.
On Tuesday, Duck River Electric’s board had several legislators for lunch and then had all legislators for a grand reception that evening. It was great to see Jim Allison and the many local directors at the event. We talked about all of the current legislation that concerns them so that I am able to understand those issues from a different viewpoint. Also, Britt Dye and the board of Fayetteville Public Utilities were at the reception and I got to visit with many friends from Lincoln County.
On Wednesday, I had a visit from the Tennessee Fuel and Convenience Store Association and got to visit with Bobby Ledlow of Shelbyville and Bill and Jared Parsons of Fayetteville. They had about four bills that they wanted to discuss with me that affected their industry. That is the way things work here; if you don’t tell us what you like or, more importantly don’t like, you or your industry could be hurt.
I got invited to go to a picnic at the Governor’s Residence on Wednesday evening with all of the other legislators as well as all of our staff members. I really don’t see how Governor Haslam has enough time to do and go like he does. He has a lot of energy and always seems to be happy and positive and seems to be everywhere.
This week a great piece of legislation that addresses school bullying was passed. HB 860 gives schools more power to combat the growing issue of bullying in our schools. The bill addresses various guidelines for how schools can discipline bullies who physically attack other students.
The bill covers physical attacks on school grounds, as well as school-sponsored trips and activities that might take place off school grounds. The bill also provides for an investigation procedure to determine if a student who physically attacked another was doing so in self defense. I believe this is a great piece of legislation that is very thorough in its attempts to address any instance in which physical violence occurs at our schools. What it does in a nutshell – if there is a fight, now both sides are disciplined and probably suspended. Under the new law, the innocent party, or one who is bullied, is not deemed guilty
Another important bill that passed out of the education committee this week is House Bill 866 which deals with treating allergic reactions in schools. This bill would require that every school have a supply of epinephrine auto-injectors, also know as epipens, on hand in order to treat students and faculty who may experience a serious allergic reaction while at school. These epipens are very important and can save someone’s life if their allergic reaction is severe enough. It will be great for all of our schools to have these on hand in case of an emergency.
Haslam decided Wednesday to abandon efforts for the year to pass his school voucher bill to provide opportunity scholarships to a limited number of low-income students in the state’s lowest-rated schools. Senate Education Committee Chairman Dolores Gresham and Senator Brian Kelsey had been leading an effort to broaden the voucher bill to cover far more students than the Haslam bill. Their plans called for transforming the governor’s bill with amendments to accomplish that goal. By removing the bill from further consideration in the Senate, Governor Haslam has eliminated any possibility for a voucher bill to pass this year.
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!