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Tuesday, May 3, 2016
Senate works toward ending Hall income tax (05/01/16)
The 109th General Assembly adjourned on April 22, 2016 to become a part of Tennessee history with the last week of legislative action seeing passage of some of the most important bills of the 2016 session. This includes legislation to phase out the Hall Income Tax, a bill to aid 100 percent service-related disabled veterans and the elderly disabled with property tax relief, the Public Safety Act to reduce crime and improve public safety, and the Rural Economic Opportunity Act to spur economic development in some of Tennessee's most economically distressed counties.. ...
Attractions beckon across Tennessee (05/01/16)
It was on the drive back from Lewis County when I really started thinking about it. For months I had been traveling this great state of ours, talking about things like the roughly 570 miles across, discussing with partners the diversity of the geography, history, music and attractions. We mapped out the daunting task of observing that diversity first-hand by visiting all 95 counties in a year's time -- to survey what was out there...
This year's legislative session helped Tennessee (04/24/16)
"A great accomplishment shouldn't be the end of the road, just the starting point for the next leap forward." -- Harvey Mackay We finished the 2016 legislative session on Friday, April 22nd. We passed about 1,200 bills over the course of the four months and passed a $34.8 billion balanced budget. ...
Legislators work to end Hall Income Tax (04/17/16)
The Tennessee Senate passed several key bills this week, including the state budget and legislation to curb opioid abuse, as the 2016 session of the Tennessee General Assembly draws to a close. The $34.9 billion debt-free budget proposes state government spending for the next fiscal year that begins July 1, 2016 and extends to June 30, 2017...
BEP legislation increases funds for state's schools (04/17/16)
A great piece of legislation that was passed this week was HB 2574 which amends the Basic Education Program (BEP) and fully funds it in 2016. Investing $223 million for this next year's BEP Enhancement Plan. This bill sets out how the program is funded and how the funds are distributed to our school systems. The Governor had a study task force look at this program for the past two years and they recommended the new program...
The Bible and the First Amendment (04/14/16)
MURFREESBORO -- Tennessee would become the first state in the nation to make the Bible its official state book if Gov. Bill Haslam signs legislation recently passed by the General Assembly. Haslam has raised questions, as has Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery, about the constitutionality of such a law...
Symphony concerts end, but music lives on (04/10/16)
References to the Nashville Symphony's previous annual concerts in Shelbyville have been popping up in my Facebook memories for days now. This would normally be the time of year when I'd be busy trying to get the word out about the concert. I've had several people stop and ask me when the concert would be this year...
Job creation bills advance in Senate (04/10/16)
Passage of key job creation legislation in the Senate Finance, Ways and Means Committee topped a busy week on Capitol Hill. This includes a major bill to spur economic development in some of the state's most economically distressed counties. Twenty-one of Tennessee's 95 counties are considered economically distressed, meaning that they are in the bottom 10 percent nationally in terms of unemployment, per capita income, and poverty. ...
Legislature moves quickly toward end (04/10/16)
"Coming together is a beginning; Keeping together is progress; working together is success." -- Henry Ford Only about 10 more days until the end of the 109th Legislative Session. We are proceeding quickly to an abrupt end, probably on April 19th. Thursday of this week I presented and passed four of my bills on the House floor and have two more to do next week...
State senators in process of wrapping up budget (04/03/16)
Action on Capitol Hill continued to shift from committees to the floor of the Senate this week as members of the Senate's Transportation and Safety, State and Local Government and Judiciary Committees worked diligently towards completing their business for the 2016 legislative session...
It's a honor to serve as State Representative (04/03/16)
"Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not." -- Dr. Seuss In my newsletter most weeks, I report how busy we are and how hectic Session is going. This week while sitting at my seat on the House Floor, I looked around and thought about what a privilege and honor it is to be part of this historic House. ...
Letter to the Editor, March 31 (03/31/16)
To the Editor: I was saddened to read in the Shelbyville Times-Gazette about the resignation of Mark Clanton as the public works director for the City of Shelbyville. Having known Mr. Clanton and worked directly or indirectly with him over the past 20 years, I can say the City of Shelbyville has some mighty big shoes to fill. ...
DUI bill among several still awaiting House votes (03/27/16)
"Every successful individual knows that his or her achievement depends on a community of persons working together." -- Paul Ryan We are winding down here at the General Assembly. Most committees have closed and the floor debates on proposed legislation are at a fast and sometimes continuous pace. I have about five or six more bills to try to pass and they should be heard on the House floor in the next two weeks...
Letters to the Editor, March 24 (03/24/16)
To the Editor: Alzheimer's devastates millions of American families, overwhelms our health-care system and threatens Medicare. According to a recent survey by the Alzheimer's Association, 73 million American voters know someone with Alzheimer's...
Vouchers would greatly impact public schools (03/20/16)
There was a discussion of the proposed school voucher program on the Times-Gazette website the other day, in the comments under a blog post about the wheel tax. I don't want to definitively answer the question of whether a voucher system would be good or bad, but I do want to respond to one commenter saying that a voucher system would not have any financial impact on public school systems. It would have an impact -- and potentially a large one...
Long, busy week for state legislators (03/20/16)
"Never go backward. Attempt, and do it with all your might. Determination is power." -- Charles Simmons On Wednesday of this past week, Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey announced that after 24 years serving in the State Legislature, he will not be seeking re-election. ...
Ramsey has been a successful leader (03/20/16)
The announcement that Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey will not seek re-election after 24 years of service in the legislature headlined a busy week on Capitol Hill. Ramsey spent four years in the House of Representatives before being elected to the Senate, where he led the charge to gain a Republican majority, then super majority. He was elected as lieutenant governor/speaker of the Senate in 2007 as the first Republican to serve in the position in 140 years...
Congratulations on new position (03/20/16)
To the Editor: Congratulations to Mark Clanton (former Shelbyville public works director) on his new job. He is leaving a huge pair of shoes to fill. He has shown through love by the city, the taxpayers, the employees under him, you don't have to have a paper saying you have a college degree to be well liked, respected, and excel at your job...
Letters to the Editor, March 17 (03/17/16)
To the Editor: I want to take this opportunity to thank the mayor, council and the other employees of the city for 16 1/2 years to be your Public Works director. It has been a pleasure to serve the citizens of this great community over these past few years...
Welfare fraud bill approved by Senate (03/17/16)
Legislation aiming to reduce fraud and abuse in Tennessee's welfare system was approved by the State Senate this week. The proposal makes substantial changes to the way the Tennessee Department of Human Services (DHS) contracts and monitors third-party agencies that receive taxpayer money to feed children and adults...
Teachers urged to be Promise mentors (03/17/16)
"A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus, but a molder of consensus." -- Martin Luther King, Jr. I wanted to tell you about House Bill 1642 which encourages public school teachers to be Tennessee Promise scholarship mentors. ...
Johnson resignation request must be discussed (03/09/16)
There's been a lot of buzz in Shelbyville since city council member Sam Meek seemingly out of the blue called for City Manager Jay Johnson's resignation at a recent study session. Lots of questions have floated throughout the streets and on social media about the foundation of Meek's demand -- he never gave a solid reason during the session -- causing a great deal of speculation about what, if anything, is going on inside City Hall...
Letter to the Editor, March 9 (03/09/16)
To the editor: Jay Johnson has impressed me as knowledgeable and friendly while sharing information or sending me to the place I need to go to find the information I have requested. His experience in business development while in his previous position in Williamson County gives him a unique skill set compare to most city employees and especially city managers...
House bill eliminates unnecessary testing (03/06/16)
"The care of human life and happiness, and not their destruction, is the first and only object of good government." -- Thomas Jefferson The Department of Education (DOE) came to speak with me this week about House Bill 1537, known as the 'Student Testing Transparency Bill', which passed on the House floor Thursday morning...