Week two of the Legislative Session in Nashville has gotten off to a very good and very busy start!
Before getting into detail as to what’s happening here at the Capitol in Nashville, I’d like to focus a bit on some important things that have been happening on the home front in the 92nd District.
Over the past few weeks, I’ve been privileged and honored to host a series of town hall style meetings across the District. I’ve also been able to attend and participate in other gatherings of involved, active citizens. Meeting and sharing thoughts and concerns with folks from Franklin, Marion, Lincoln, and Marshall Counties has been humbling.
As I’ve met with folks across the District, I’ve been sharing a list of legislative proposals that I’ve been working to bring to the House floor. Late this week I filed my first bills for the Legislative Session, including:
· HB1860 – This bill would allow counties and municipalities to notify residents of the arrival and/or presence of certain sexual offenders.
· HB1859 – This bill would modify the forms used to apply for free or reduced lunches at public schools so that the qualification threshold would not be posted on the form itself. It would also require that 10% of applications submitted undergo income verification, and that notification of such a verification process be included on the form.
· HB1861 – This bill would modify the tax penalties for seniors under the Hall Tax so that only the amount of income over the taxable threshold would be taxed. At present, once that threshold is crossed by even just $1, then all income is taxed at the same rate triggered by the threshold.
I have several other bills in various stages of the legislative process and am also interested in supporting some of the proposals being brought by my colleagues from across the state. I look forward to explaining some of the purpose and reasoning behind each of my bills in future columns. Not only do I appreciate your feedback on these things, I rely on it.
Please feel free to stop by my office, give me a call, or shoot me an email if you have any thoughts, questions, concerns, or ideas to share. My office is in suite 110 of the War Memorial Building in Nashville, my number is (615)741-4170, and my email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also connect and let me know what you think on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/RepSpivey.
One recurring theme of discussions and area of concern across the 92nd District and the entire state is the subject of Common Core. One would expect this nationally centralized approach to education to grate on political conservatives who oppose the centralization of power. Yet, as we are learning, there are a great many professing conservatives who embrace the standardization embodied by the Common Core initiative.
The philosophy of centrally planned education has made the Common Core a hot button issue. For many – myself included – the ideas behind centrally planned education sure sound a whole lot like the ideas behind centrally planned insurance and centrally planned economics. They all seem very much like birds of the same feather to me. The more I meet and share thoughts with folks from around the District, the more I realize that many, many people from the 92nd District see it the same way.
So it is that Common Core is now both the source and object of great passion.
On one level, this passion is entirely appropriate. The way we handle education literally shapes the culture for better or for worse. That said, based on the way our culture is looking right about now, we ought to be more willing than ever to put everything on the table and have an honest, hard, and convicting look at what we are doing and why.
What we don’t need to do is just take the word of professed “experts” (who are mostly the same “experts” who gave us the “inferior approaches” they now criticize) and jump headlong into an untested and enormously expensive centralized approach to education. Without knowing much at all about what it ultimately will cost local governments, it seems to have advanced quite far into implementation. The “wait and see the details after enacting it” approach to change is a pitch we’ve heard before and are greatly suffering from now. How can we take the same “let’s pass it so we cans see what’s in it” approach with something as precious and important as the education of our children? I intend to lead the effort to extract the costs, transparently discuss them, and make sure the cost burden is not passed on to local governments. My time as Chairman of the Marshall County Commission made me very sensitive to unfunded mandates.
As the saying goes: “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.”
We need details and answers to important questions before completing our plunge into the Common Core. We need these details and answers now.
We are now watching the centralization of power philosophy do its thing to health care in America. Do we really want the same approach taken to education in Tennessee?
If we do choose this approach, how much will it cost?
And who will be forced to cover that financial burden? You will certainly hear more from me on these questions as the next few weeks unfold.
These are questions worth asking and they are questions worthy of answers. Yet as we pursue this conversation, it’s important that we not allow our good and proper passions to burn out of control. As this important debate rolls on, let’s strive to have factual, detailed answers. Let’s be respectful of people even when we completely disagree with their position on this or any other issue. Let’s be patient and gracious towards one another personally, knowing that we are all works in progress and that we all have much to learn on this and every other subject of depth.
In other words, let’s pursue education not just in policy, but personally.
Let’s be a good example of the best that the free exchange of thought in the marketplace of ideas has to offer. Let’s honor our God, our State, and our families with our behavior as we all learn together. Let’s never stop listening.
Our children are watching and learning from us … for better or for worse.