When everything seems to be going against you, remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it. ~ Henry Ford
We had a short week at the Legislature due to Monday being a holiday. Therefore, the three days we did work were packed with many meetings and appointments in my office. I presented two bills in the committee system this week and passed two bills on the House floor on Thursday. Our Business and Utilities Committee calendar has been long and some of the bills have been contentious. We have had to vote some of the questionable bills and amendments down. It is amazing what some people come up with that they think should become law. We have to study them long and hard and make sure that they are really needed and that they don’t have unintended consequences. I also try to find some industry expert in that particular area to talk to and make sure that they think the bill is actually needed.
Tuesday, the Tennessee Association of County Election Officials (TACEO) came to the Cordell Hull Building for their Day on the Hill, and I got to spend some time with Dan Long and Karen Avilla from the Lincoln County Election Commission. Summer Leverette and Shelia Allen, our Bedford and Lincoln County election administrators, couldn’t come because they have the Special Election to elect our new senator starting this week. Everybody, please go vote! Early voting started on the 21st and the Election Day is March 13. If you are unsure of your polling place or want to see a sample ballot, you can visit www.govotetn.com or download the free GoVoteTN app from the Tennessee Secretary of State.
On Wednesday, the Tennessee Bankers Association had their annual meeting in Nashville and their legislative reception at the War Memorial Building that evening. I got to visit with many of our local bankers and got to see my brother, Bill, who is with First Commerce Bank out of Lewisburg and Fayetteville. I then got to visit with Scott Cocanougher, with First Community Bank in Shelbyville, and then went to eat with him.
Since Tennessee has become the first state to give all Tennesseans access to free college tuition, the state has continued to make great strides in ensuring that each student completes college and enters the workforce with degrees in a timely manner. Currently, the House is working on the Complete to Compete initiative, which restructures the Promise and HOPE scholarships to make sure that student are on track to graduate. In addition, we are working to require community colleges to implement structured schedules already prepared for students according to their prospective degree.
The Legislature is also leading the efforts to reform Tennessee’s welfare system through reinstating work requirements for individuals receiving benefits from the state’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and TennCare. There are approximately 58,000 adults currently not meeting the work requirement but still receiving assistance. Through this reinstatement, these individuals will be able to secure meaningful employment by capitalizing on the available jobs in this hot jobs market. This will transition them from dependency to independence and self-sufficiency and get them off the welfare rolls.
These stipulations would not apply to residents who currently depend on these key benefits in the 16 counties designated as distressed by the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development and to Tennessee’s senior citizens or disabled residents.
Likewise, the Tennessee Department of Finance and Administration is working to file a waiver that institutes practical work requirements for individuals enrolled in TennCare. We want Tennessee residents to have meaningful employment so they can take care of their families and make contributions to their communities.
A bill of interest by Representative Hulsey is HB 1515. There are three main parts to this bill:
- Currently, if the driver of any vehicle damages another vehicle and damages done exceed or appear to exceed $500, the driver commits a Class A misdemeanor. Below $500 will result in a Class B misdemeanor. This bill increases the damage amount from $500 to $1,500.
- This bill will increase the property damage amount that triggers the reporting requirement from $400 to $1,500.
- This bill increases the minimum deposit bond that one must pay to satisfy any judgement or judgments resulting from the accident that may be recovered against the driver from $500 to $1,500.
On Monday, I am going to Thomas Magnet School in Shelbyville to read to several of their classes, one of which is my grandson Walker’s kindergarten class. I am looking forward to this classroom meeting and surely hope I don’t make many mistakes.
I really appreciate the many people who come by and say hello. The work is good, but being able to see and visit with people from the district makes it a real joy. Call me at 615-741-6824 or email me at email@example.com if you are coming by or if I can do anything for you.