“Optimism is essential to achievement and it is also the foundation of courage and true progress.” ~ Nicholas M. Butler
I had a great week this past week meeting with several people from our district. Monday evening I had the honor of presenting a proclamation to Coach Phillip Fulmer and his wife, Vicky. For this event, Coach Louis Thompson of Fayetteville was my guest. Coach Thompson sat on the House floor with me and got to watch the legislators in action. He also got to spend some quality time with Coach Fulmer and many former players and coaches from UT, Knoxville. But, Coach Thompson wore his Crimson Tie with pride. Brooke Grubb, the assistant district attorney general, also sat with me on the house floor on Monday night.
On Tuesday morning, I got to eat breakfast with the Bedford and Lincoln County election officials. Sheila Allen, Beth Bryant and Dan and Barbara Lang of Fayetteville were there, along with Summer Leverette, Danny Robbins and Bob York from Shelbyville. I then got them to come by my office for a short visit and gave them one of our new Tennessee Blue Books which are actually orange this year.
This week I also got to visit with Leigh Johnson Cooksey, a 10th grade teacher from Cascade High School in Bedford County. She was here visiting the Education Committee meetings to learn more about the process here at the General Assembly and to hear about proposed education legislation. I also got to visit with Tim Gill, our Lincoln County Road Superintendent, and Becky Bartlett, Lincoln County’s Clerk and Master, at the County Government Association meeting.
During my Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee meeting this week, we had budget reviews from several departments, and I wanted to share some facts with you. The Department of Environment and Conservation oversees 54 state parks and 82 natural areas and has a yearly budget of $363 million. Their expenses are 29% state parks and 63% environmental activities. Over the last 4 years, this department has eliminated over 400 positions and is issuing the required permits at a 96% on-time basis. They have been cutting out government waste and still performing great services.
I also heard from the TWRA. They manage 160 wildlife areas, 9 fish hatcheries, 250 boat access areas and 2 million acres of land. Hunting and fishing in Tennessee creates over 26,000 jobs and pays over $167 million in local taxes. I found out that Lincoln County is the #2 county in the state for cattle production with Bedford County sitting at #3. Greene County in East Tennessee is the largest cattle producer in the state.
The Department of Economic and Community Development (ECD) gave its yearly review to our Business and Utility Committee on Wednesday and here are some of the highlights: 155,000 new private sector jobs created since January 2011(6th in the nation for job growth); 23,000 new jobs committed from 187 projects in 2013; 9.8% growth in personal income (2nd in the Southeast-14th in the nation); 1st in the southeast for manufacturing job growth; 8th in the nation in export trade
We have a great ECD group that is really working hard everyday to keep jobs in Tennessee and to recruit new jobs into our state. They told us that because we are a right to work state and are a low tax state that they have many companies very interested in coming to Tennessee. We need to work hard in our counties to be very attractive to new prospects. We need to work hard in Bedford County to provide prospects with an Industrial Park that will satisfy their needs just like Lincoln County has with their two industrial parks to attract business to their county. Build it and they will come!!
I wanted to tell you about a couple more bills that will be heard in the legislature this year. Senator Janice Bowling is carrying a bill that would keep Daylight Savings time all year round. I like that idea, but am studying it to make sure it doesn’t cause any unintended consequences.
We all know of the crisis that has occurred in Washington, D.C. involving the Federal budget. Because of this, Tennessee wants to take a stand. Tennessee legislative leaders are joining together to sponsor a resolution calling for a balanced federal budget through an amendment to the U.S. Constitution. In order for this to pass, 34 states have to participate and there are currently 20 states that are doing so. We want to become the 21st state to participate to get the finances in Washington in order.
Another notable bill this year is House Bill 2476. Currently in Tennessee we have inmates on Death Row who cannot receive lethal injection because we do not have the resources needed to complete injection. This bill is proposing that if lethal injection is unavailable, then electrocutions should replace lethal injection until injections become available again.
Please feel free to stop by my office at War Memorial Building G-19A 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!