Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass… It’s about learning to dance in the rain. ~ Vivian Greene
I wanted to let you know that God and the church are very alive at the State Legislature! We open each and every floor session with a prayer and a pledge. Also, each Wednesday morning at 7:30 a.m., we have devotional in one of the committee rooms and usually have a guest speaker bring us a great message. In addition, on Thursday morning at 7 a.m., there is an additional Bible study going on in the Cordell Hull Building. These sessions really help many of us out and help us make it through the busy week.
We have 216 bills in our committee system this week, which is 130 less than we had in the second year of the 109th Legislative Session. This is 74 less bills than last year. I believe fewer bills are much better for our state. We already have too many laws.
This week has been very busy with visitors from our district. Laura Monks, president of the Shelbyville Tennessee College of Applied Technology, came up for a visit and so did Bedford County school board members Andrea Anderson and John Boutwell. I had a good long visit with Roger and June Debatin from the Flat Creek area of Bedford County and took them to one of my bill presentations in the committee room. Also Christy Jensen and Anita Teague with the Community Development Center in Shelbyville came up for Disability Day on the Hill. They do wonderful work for our less fortunate citizens, and we owe them our gratitude.
Tuesday at lunch, I went to the Tennessee Chamber’s event. Governor Haslam gave a wonderful talk about the positive things happening in Tennessee. I also got to visit Lincoln County Mayor Bill Newman.
The Tennessee Municipal Electric Systems had their Day on the Hill and reception Tuesday night. I got to visit with David Crowell of Shelbyville Power and Water and many more in their association during their reception that evening.
In our Agriculture & Natural Resources Committee meeting this week, we passed a landmark piece of legislation that greatly reduces the Department of Conservation and Environment regulations on waste water runoff in concentrated animal feeding operations. This bill drastically cuts the paperwork and costs in these operations.
Our friends Richard and Suzanne Bobo came up to attend the Monday night Legislative Session and watched some of the processes of creating new laws in our state.
I would like to share with you some information about how things work in the Tennessee State Legislature. I am often asked to explain the process of “how a bill becomes a law”: When there is an issue affecting the community that needs to be addressed, I will do a little research to see if there are any existing laws about the issue. It is possible that an existing law could be amended to address the concern. If none is found, then the bill is drafted by the legislative legal department and sent to the House Clerk’s Office to be assigned to the appropriate committee. The law requires that I get co-sponsors of the bill from the Senate, so I approach Senators who may be sympathetic to our issue and ask them to be a co-sponsor. The more co-sponsors I get from both the House and the Senate indicate the strength of the bill. After the bill is passed out of the subcommittee, the bill is sent to the full committee for a hearing.
As presenter of the bill, I may be questioned about the proposed legislation for clarification about the issue before it is voted on. Once passed by the full committee, any potential fiscal issues have to be addressed. Bills that cause the state to spend money must first go through the Finance committee and then to Calendar and Rules in order to be placed on the House Floor. Once calendared, I present the bill on the House Floor to be voted on by the members. A majority vote passes the bill.
When a bill is passed in the House, an identical bill must be passed by the Senate before reaching the Governor’s desk for his signature. Once the Governor signs a bill, it is officially law. It is a long, slow process because we want to get it thoroughly vetted and correct the first time, with no unintended consequences.
Please feel free to stop by my office in the Cordell Hull Building, Suite 540, 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!