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By Pat Marsh, State Representative
“When your values are clear to you, making decisions becomes easier.” ~ Roy E. Disney
This past week was a week of great debates and long Session meetings. We all knew that it was getting close to the end of the yearly Session, and some of the biggest and most controversial bills would be up for vote.
Based on the Tennessee constitution, the only requirement that the state legislature has is to pass a balanced budget which we successfully did. This year’s budget is approximately $32 billion which is less than a 1% increase over last year’s budget. We also voted to put another $100 million in Tennessee’s Rainy Day Fund which is the state’s savings account. This brings the total to $456 million that we have available in that fund and $239 million in the TennCare Rainy Day Fund. These should not be used unless we really need it for an emergency.
I got a report from the Department of Transportation this past week stating that we have two very important road projects that have been approved in Bedford County. One of these projects is on State Route 16, Madison Street, which will put a fifth lane (a turning lane) in the road. The other is the widening of Highway 41-A, Tullahoma Highway, for an additional 1.9 mile portion of that road project. Both of these road projects are to start this year.
On Tuesday night, the Tennessee Trucking Association had a reception for the General Assembly, and I got to visit with Tommy Hodges from Shelbyville and many of my trucking friends from all over the state. Most people don’t realize that the trucking business is as big as it is. In Tennessee, 1 in 7 jobs are connected to the trucking industry.
On Friday, one of Bedford County’s greatest citizens, Johnny Deason, was recognized for his lifelong work as the longest running volunteer fireman in the state. Mr. Johnny had been a volunteer fireman for 67 years and retired in 2011. Jim Tracy and I were supposed to be there, but we were still in Session and had to stay in Nashville to vote. I am sorry that I missed this special event. Congratulations, Mr. Deason, and thanks so much for all you have done for our community.
This past week, Governor Haslam and his office fed all the General Assembly breakfast and lunch in his office at the Capitol. He and his staff are very busy and active and are always willing to help us when we ask. Since we were hearing bills on the House floor all day long, not having to leave the Capitol for food made things much easier for us so we could get all of our work done.
As this session draws to a close, I wanted to impress upon you the importance of Christian faith to the General Assembly. At the capitol we are blessed to have many members and staff personnel that come from various backgrounds and faiths. Every Wednesday morning at 7:30 a group of us have a non-denominational devotional. There is also a group that prays before each House session. It is during meetings like these that we put our arguments on hold to pray for guidance and strength. I firmly believe that our faith allows us to step back from politics and remember that we all share the same goal: to continually improve the state of Tennessee.
Last Thursday, my office had the honor of hosting the Lincoln County Leadership group here in Nashville. With the organization of Mr. Jim Malone, about 32 Lincoln County residents came to the Capitol to take a tour, visit with their legislators and see how things run here in the state legislature. I always enjoy visiting with these groups and was especially impressed by all of the bright, young people that were with group.
House Bill 192 passed out of both the Senate and the House recently. This bill increases the annual income a person at least 65 years of age may earn and still be exempt from the Hall tax from $26,200 to $33,000 for single filers and from $37,000 to $59,000 for persons filing jointly. This bill will help many people across the state who are at the point where they are dealing with the Hall tax.
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!