May every day be a new beginning, and every dawn bring us closer to that shining city upon a hill. ~ Ronald Reagan
The 2018 Legislative Session got underway in Nashville on Jan. 9 at 12 noon. This is the second year of the 110th legislative session, and it should be very short. Everyone wants it to end quickly so they can get out and get into the campaigning mode. All 99 House seats are up for re-election and half the Senate seats.
We have already learned that about one-fourth of the current House members are not going to be returning for various reasons. Some are retiring, some leaving for local offices and others leaving for federal positions. Our current Speaker, Beth Harwell, is not going to be back because she is running for governor.
The current session will make the first time since 1975 that the General Assembly will not conduct its committee business in the Legislative Plaza. We have all moved to the Cordell Hull building, which is next to the Capitol on the east side. The representatives will occupy three floors of this recently remodeled building. The senators will occupy one full floor, and our legal department and other staff will occupy the rest of the building. The new committee rooms are something to see and are equipped with the state’s world-class audio visual systems.
As the new session rolls around, there are many things you can do to stay involved in the legislative process. You can visit the General Assembly’s award winning website at www.capitol.tn.gov. With its remarkable online system, you will be able to watch live and recorded videos and track legislation easily.
As usual, all state representatives are limited to 15 pieces of legislation, and I have around 10 on my list already. This year, the House will focus on the state’s ongoing opioid drug epidemic which claimed the lives of more than 1,600 Tennesseans in 2016 alone. We will also focus on welfare reform in 2018, which will set out new requirements for welfare recipients which should help them and many companies that can’t find enough great workers.
Additionally, House members will work to reform the state’s juvenile justice system. Last fall, the Joint Ad Hoc Blue Ribbon Task Force on Juvenile Justice released its findings following an exhaustive study of the state’s current system. The overall goal of the task force was to shrink the number of nonviolent youths placed out of their homes and in turn save incarceration costs for the state.
Our state has been doing very well in the business climate, and in 2017 we reached a record low unemployment rate. In December we were at 3.1 % – a full percentage point lower than the national average. Also, since 2011, we have added nearly 400,000 net new private sector jobs.
I was pleased to see our district recently received two very important grants that will be very beneficial to our area. The Secretary of State, Tre Hargett, just sent me a letter to let me know that the Shelbyville-Bedford County Public Library was awarded a grant funded by the Tennessee Broadband Accessibility Act and the Department of Economic and Community Development. This Training Opportunities for the Public (TOP) grant will be used for trainers, hardware, and software for free technology training classes for our community.
In addition, Lincoln County Schools received a $25,000 Work-Based Learning Grant. This money was given to schools that have created special programs to promote career skills and readiness among Tennessee students.
I would like to invite any of the citizens of the 62nd District to come to Nashville and watch the legislative process. It is very exciting to witness and super important to our state that we do it correctly. If you need to reach me, my office phone number is 615-741-6824 and my email address is email@example.com.