“No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we’ll ever see on this earth!” ~ Ronald Reagan
I have three bills going through the Legislature this week and so I have been very busy working the committee system to make sure I have the necessary votes to pass them out and on to the next committee.
I am carrying a bill that would change the tax structure on Railroad Diesel fuel . This bill has some big implications for Bedford County since we have a short line railroad that receives funding from the Railroad Equity Fund. We are attempting to change the tax from a sales tax to a cent per gallon tax just like we have in the trucking industry. We have 18 short line railroads in Tennessee that serve 40, mainly rural, communities across the state. Because of access to rail lines, we have approximately 20,000 jobs in Tennessee working with our short lines railroads and we need this change to keep these companies viable in our communities.
I went to a very nice reception put on by Habitat for Humanity and got to visit with Pam Birtcil, the Bedford County director. We were certainly surprised when Governor and Crissy Haslam walked into the room. They had a large crowd and announced that this year Tennessee will finish its 4,000th house. What a great program in our state.
Next week is Lincoln County’s “Hamburger Day on the Hill”. Mayor John Ed Underwood, City Manager Scott Collins, and Chamber Director Carolyn Denton were here in Nashville passing out meal tickets for this huge event next Wednesday. The officials from Fayetteville and Lincoln County will be here along with the Lincoln County Cattlemen’s Association to feed over 1000 people at the Legislature. This event gives Lincoln County a lot of positive exposure plus everyone loves the burgers.
It was also fun to visit with Dr. Dale Hasty last week when he was up for the Optomologist Association meeting and reception. This week I also got to visit with Hershel Thrasher of the Shelbyville Housing Authority during one of their statewide meetings.
As usual, there was some interesting legislation being heard this week in the State Legislature. The House voted this week to require legislative approval of any Medicaid expansion.
Senate Bill 1425 passed on a unanimous vote which allows schools to safely post Holiday decorations (such as Christmas, Hanukkah, or Easter decorations) without the risk of being sued. This will give teachers, administrators, and students the ability to participate in religious holidays and celebrations without fear of a lawsuit being filed.
The District Attorneys here in Tennessee are supporting a bill that is aimed to decrease drunk driving and DUI instances in the state. This bill is being called Dustin’s Law named after Dustin Leford who was killed at the age of 24 because of a drunk driver. His family now wants to pass a bill honoring his death by changing the punishment which repeat drunk drivers are given. This bill would actually decrease the amount of jail time given to repeat drunk driving offenders and instead give them more time at a treatment facility for offenders who continue to be charged with drunk driving. The Attorney General’s office cited instances of people who have received upwards of 10 DUIs. Hopefully this bill will save many lives in Tennessee!
I was happy to learn of a bill this week that will add curriculum to our school system in order to better teach our children about the federal government and how it operates. House Bill 1129 will ensure that our students learn all about what makes our country great and unique. The curriculum will include studies of the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution, and the branches of the federal government. In other words—Civic Classes.
Another good bill I heard in committee this week is the “Rural Bridge Relief Act of 2014”. This bill authorizes local counties who are in financial distress to use a portion of the state’s bridge grant funds to pay the local share of project costs that are required by current state law. Hopefully our area will never need to use these funds, but it’s good to know that the State has the resources to help us if we need it.
I plan on going to Fayetteville this Friday to attend the retirement ceremony for Bill Miller at Goodman Corporation. Bill has done a wonderful job at Goodman and will be really missed. I have not heard anything but good words about Bill and his leadership at Goodman. Hope you have a wonderful retirement. (I don’t think he will slow down much!)
On Saturday morning I am looking forward to having a great meal provided by Glenn Oldham and all the fine folks at the Lincoln County Farm Bureau. Lincoln County has a large agricultural background. The farmers there are very active in the Farm Bureau and all the ladies there surely know how to put on a great meal.
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!