Rep. Jeremy Faison’s Newsroom

Speaker Beth Harwell, Representative Jeremy Faison Request Comptroller Review Of TNReady Contracts

April 24, 2018

(NASHVILLE) — Under the direction of House Speaker Beth Harwell (R–Nashville), State Representative Jeremy Faison (R–Cosby) has officially requested a review by the Tennessee Comptroller related to recent testing issues of the TNReady school assessments.

The request follows several days of problems tied to TNReady’s online testing platform, the most significant of which occurred on Tuesday when the Department of Education reported its testing vendor had experienced a cyber-attack on its computer system. The day before and after this attack, many students were unable to log into or complete their tests. These tests are vitally important to students, teachers, and schools across Tennessee because they count for large portions of final student grades as well as final teacher evaluations and school rankings.

While the legislature passed a bill last week to keep this year’s tests from penalizing a student or teacher for the 2017-2018 school year, there are still multiple questions that remain to be answered by the Department of Education and its TNReady testing vendor, Questar.

“While we may have figured out a temporary fix for this year’s TNReady problems, there are still questions that need to be answered, especially related to the contract with the testing vendor,” said Faison. “We need to get all of the facts before us so we’re able to make the decisions necessary to best benefit the futures of our students, teachers, and school administrators.”

A few of the specific questions posed by Faison during initial talks with Comptroller Wilson include:

  • Are there clawback provisions available, financial or otherwise, for failures in testing procedures?
  • Is Questar required through their contract to act in full faith and fidelity in ensuring testing problems are solved?
  • Is Questar contractually required to protect all student testing data? If so, what remedies are available for any personal information accessed or lost during the system’s cyber-attack?

“We owe it to our students and parents to ensure that their personal and confidential information is not compromised, and what steps will be taken to ensure that information is not vulnerable,” continued Speaker Harwell. “These assessments are important for accountability, and we need teachers, administrators, parents, and students to have confidence in the integrity of the test.”

Fiscally Conservative Balanced Budget Passed By House Of Representatives

April 19, 2018

Representative Faison Helps Spearhead Effort To Fix TNReady Testing Problems

In the final few days of this year’s legislative session, the House of Representatives passed Tennessee’s annual budget with a near-unanimous vote. The bill’s passage was the culmination of months of tireless work crafting a fiscally responsible and balanced budget.

The $37.5 billion budget builds on previous legislative priorities by making strategic and thoughtful investments across state government. Because of the conservative fiscal choices lawmakers have made over the last several years, Tennessee currently ranks as the lowest taxed and lowest debt state in the entire nation.

When Republicans became the General Assembly’s majority party, Tennesseans asked for fiscal responsibility to be a priority looking forward. The 2018-2019 budget holds true to that principle while ensuring Tennesseans get the services they expect from state government.

As other states struggle with out-of-control spending and growing debt, Republicans in Tennessee have made responsible decisions that will continue to ensure the state is positioned to be a top leader in the country on jobs. Since Republicans took control of state government in 2011, over 400,000 new private sector jobs have been created in Tennessee. Additionally, the state has experienced its lowest unemployment rates in Tennessee’s 222-year history while students have become the fastest-improving in the nation across math, reading, and science.

As part of the budget debate, State Representative Jeremy Faison (R–Cosby) helped spearhead efforts to fix problems with one of the state’s standardized tests — called TNReady — that have once again plagued the 2018 testing assessments of schools across Tennessee. The discussions followed three days of problems tied to TNReady’s online testing platform, the most significant of which occurred on Tuesday when the Department of Education reported its testing vendor had experienced a cyber-attack on its computer system. The day before and after this attack, many students were unable to log into or complete their tests. These tests are vitally important to students, teachers, and schools across Tennessee because they count for large portions of final student grades as well as final teacher evaluations and school rankings. The solution agreed upon by lawmakers to address these TNReady problems include giving local education agencies the option to not count TNReady test scores for the year for both students and teachers, allowing each of these groups to be held harmless for the widespread TNReady failures experienced by school systems statewide in 2018.

Specific highlights of the 2018-2019 budget include:

  • Opioids — The multi-faceted plan, called Tennessee Together, is comprised of legislation, $30 million in funds through the budget, and other executive actions to battle opioids through the three major components of prevention, treatment, and law enforcement. In 2016, there were over 1,600 opioid-related overdose deaths, one of the highest in the nation, and statistics show the numbers are only increasing. Each day in Tennessee, at least three people die from opioid-related overdoses — more than the daily number of traffic fatalities. Tennessee Together limits the supply and dosage of opioid prescriptions, with reasonable exception and an emphasis on new patients, as well as education for elementary and secondary schools through revisions to the state’s health education academic standards. The plan increases state funding to attack the illicit sale and trafficking of opioids through additional law enforcement and training and includes updates to the controlled substance schedules in order to better track, monitor, and penalize the use and unlawful distribution of dangerous and addictive drugs — including fentanyl. Finally, the plan provides every Tennessee state trooper with naloxone for the emergency treatment of opioid overdose prior to paramedic arrival.
  • School Safety — House lawmakers approved recommendations made by a working group organized to make suggestions for immediate enhancements to school safety across the state as part of this year’s budget, including a review and risk assessment of all school facilities to identify vulnerabilities, an increase in available resources to help secure school resource officers, and a statewide technology application for anonymous reporting of security threats. The 2018-2019 budget and school safety plan doubles the amount of recurring school safety grant funding for schools, which can be used for resource officers or other facility security measures. To address immediate needs while further state, local, and federal conversations around school security and budgeting take place, total state school safety grant funding will increase by more than 500 percent for the upcoming fiscal year.
  • Education — The approved budget fully funds education in Tennessee with more than $200 million in new funding for K-12 education, $55 million for a teacher pay raises, $114 million in additional funding for higher education initiatives, $11 million for an energy-efficient schools program, and $9 million in nonrecurring funds to purchase equipment at the 27 Tennessee Colleges of Applied Technology to improve and modernize a broad variety of workforce development programs.
  • Juvenile Justice — The Juvenile Justice Reform Act of 2018 includes $4.5 million in the 2018-2019 budget for targeted investments that support evidence-based programming and community resources — especially in the state’s rural and distressed counties. The measure overhauls the current system of juvenile justice for the first time in more than 20 years by tackling inefficiencies and variations in the system. The program empowers members of local law enforcement communities to intervene in instances involving minor offenses in order to better address a youth’s underlying issues. It also limits probation and incarceration for minor offenses while maintaining judicial discretion. Research suggests that taking youths out of their homes and schools for minor offenses increases the risk of recidivism, diverts resources from youth who pose a risk to the community, and unnecessarily uses taxpayer dollars. Often, studies show, community-based services are more effective and are a wiser use of resources.
  • Economic Development — The 2018-2019 budget includes investments in several key business-friendly programs, including $128 million in new funding for employment job growth, funding to bring the state’s Rainy Day Fund to $850 million — the highest amount in state history, $15 million in broadband accessibility grant dollars, and $10 million in nonrecurring funds for the Aeronautics Development Fund to create jobs and investment opportunities in Tennessee’s aviation industry.
  • Additional Investments — Other important funding contained in this year’s budget includes $3 million in funds for school districts to address the extra costs associated with purchasing buses equipped with seat belts, $10 million for repairs on the state’s important short-line railroads, $11.7 million to help individuals with developmental disabilities, an additional $136 million for TennCare — the state’s version of Medicaid, and funding for capital construction projects and maintenance across the state.

With the budget officially passed, lawmakers now turn their attention to debating the last few legislative items for the year while remaining focused on continuing work to make Tennessee an even better place to live, work, raise a family, and retire.

Measure Sponsored By Representative Faison Removing Barriers For Those Seeking Fresh Start Passes In House

April 6, 2018

Speaker Beth Harwell cosponsors legislation promoting employment and reducing recidivism

(NASHVILLE) — House members have unanimously approved legislation sponsored by State Representative Jeremy Faison (R-Cosby) and cosponsored by Tennessee House Speaker Beth Harwell (R-Nashville) removing barriers for Tennesseans who are seeking a fresh start in life.

House Bill 2248 — also known as the Fresh Start Act — is designed to further reduce Tennessee’s recidivism rates by providing a pathway to employment for citizens who are returning to their communities following incarceration and who desire a fresh start in life.

Currently, Tennessee requires licenses for 110 different jobs; many impact those seeking manual labor or other industrial-related work. State licensing boards can deny a license for these professions to individuals with past criminal records, including lower-level forms of crime classified as misdemeanors.

As passed, House Bill 2248 requires that denials and refusals for license renewals based on a prior criminal conviction are only allowable when the criminal offense directly relates to an individual’s ability to perform duties associated with the occupation or profession they are seeking a licensure for — excluding violent felonies.

“Those who are directly impacted by this legislation have already paid their debt to society,” said Chairman Faison. “Additional punishment is completely wrong. I am pleased that this bill removes a significant barrier to employment for them.”

House Bill 2248 moves those seeking a fresh start in life on a pathway from dependency to independence, and I am proud to have supported this important initiative,” said Speaker Harwell. “It also saves taxpayer money on the cost of incarceration and will enable more of our citizens to capitalize on a greater number of high-quality jobs available in Tennessee.”

According to the Council of State Governments (CSG), nearly 10 million U.S. adults return to their communities following incarceration every year; upon their release, many face significant barriers to securing employment. CSG estimates that occupational restrictions can result in 2.85 million fewer people employed nationally and also raise consumer expenses by more than $200 billion.

For more information about House Bill 2248, please click here.

Initiative Sponsored By Representatives Hawk, Faison Supporting Tennessee’s Dairy Farmers Passes In House

April 4, 2018

(NASHVILLE) — Wednesday morning, House Republicans voted unanimously to pass an initiative sponsored by State Representative David Hawk (R-Greeneville) and State Representative Jeremy Faison (R-Cosby) supporting Tennessee’s dairy farmers.

House Bill 2153 encourages consumers to purchase local dairy products by informing them that their milk was created right here in Tennessee through product labeling.

The measure comes as a group of East Tennessee dairy farmers recently expressed concerns over the future of their businesses due to contract issues and falling profits. In fact, Dean Foods recently informed approximately 100 farmers nationwide — including 11 in East Tennessee alone — that it would stop buying their milk as of May 31.

Representatives Hawk and Faison have led efforts to save the state’s dairy farming industry in the General Assembly. They hope this initiative will persuade citizens of our state to “buy local.”

“This recent situation is crippling small business owners whose farms have been in their families for generations,” said Representative Hawk. “House Bill 2153 is a small way we can support their continued viability. We encourage our citizens to back their local dairy farmers. ”

‘Tennesseans need to rally around our local dairy industry,” said Representative Faison. “What we have seen in East Tennessee could very easily have a ripple effect on communities across our state. I am hopeful that this initiative will help our citizens realize the importance of buying local as it relates to dairy.”

For more information about House Bill 2153, please click here.

David Hawk serves as the House Assistant Majority Leader. He is also a member of the House Agriculture & Natural Resources, House Rules, and House Finance, Ways & Means Committee, as well as the House Finance, Ways & Means Subcommittee. Hawk lives in Greeneville and represents House District 5, which includes part of Greene County. He can be reached by email at Rep.David.Hawk@capitol.tn.gov or by calling (615) 741-7482.

Jeremy Faison serves as Chairman of the House Government Operations Committee. He is also a member of the House Calendar & Rules Committee, the House Health Committee and Subcommittee, the Joint Government Operations Committee, Joint Government Operations Commerce, Labor, Transportation & Agriculture, Joint Government Operations Education, Health & General Welfare, and the Joint Government Operations Judiciary & Government Subcommittees. Faison lives in Cosby and represents House District 11, which includes Cocke and part of Jefferson and Greene Counties. He can be reached by email at Rep.Jeremy.Faison@capitol.tn.gov or by calling (615) 741-6871.

Representative Faison’s Measure Saving Tennessee Taxpayers An Estimated $6 Million Annually Passes In House

March 16, 2018

(NASHVILLE) — This week, House members supported passage of a measure sponsored by State Representative Jeremy Faison (R-Cosby) that is designed to save Tennessee taxpayers an estimated $6 million dollars annually on the cost of state testing.

House Bill 2247 — which passed by a 94-0 bipartisan vote — is designed to simplify testing methods for students while also outlining expectations for Tennessee’s educators.

The measure reduces a requirement for the creation of new test questions on state assessments from 70 percent annually to just 30 percent. This will free up additional resources in order to streamline reporting of results to students, teachers, and families.

House Bill 2247 ensures that our children are being properly prepared and that our teachers better understand where they need to focus their time and energy in the classroom,” said Chairman Faison. “We want our state’s testing process to be seamless for all involved — not frustrating. I will continue to work with the Department of Education in order to identify other areas where we can improve testing efficiency and save additional money for our taxpayers.”

Under the leadership of Chairman Faison and his Republican colleagues, our students are the fastest improving in the entire country across math, reading, and science. Last fall, high school graduation rates for the 2016-2017 school years reached 89.1 percent — the highest in Tennessee recorded history

For more information about House Bill 2247, please click here.

Jeremy Faison serves as Chairman of the House Government Operations Committee. He is also a member of the House Calendar & Rules Committee, the House Health Committee and Subcommittee, the Joint Government Operations Committee, Joint Government Operations Commerce, Labor, Transportation & Agriculture, Joint Government Operations Education, Health & General Welfare, and the Joint Government Operations Judiciary & Government Subcommittees. Faison lives in Cosby and represents House District 11, which includes Cocke and part of Jefferson and Greene Counties. He can be reached by email at: Rep.Jeremy.Faison@capitol.tn.gov or by calling (615) 741-6871.

State Representative Jerome Moon Passes First Bill In House Chamber

February 23, 2018

House Bill 1670 streamlines reappraisal process for county property assessors

(NASHVILLE) — State Representative Jerome Moon (R-Maryville) has officially passed his first bill as a member of the Tennessee General Assembly and the House Republican Caucus.

House Bill 1670 streamlines the process for county property assessors as it relates to reappraisals conducted on cities situated in more than one county. Currently, there are 20 Tennessee cities that meet this specification.

The measure will now head to Governor Bill Haslam’s desk where it will be signed into law.

“My first year as a member of the House Republican Caucus has been an incredibly rewarding experience,” said Representative Moon. “I am proud to serve the people of our community, and I am grateful to work with my colleagues in order to advance Tennessee’s conservative values. Together, I know our efforts will ensure that our community, region, and state continues to thrive.”

Moon is sponsoring 6 bills and co-sponsoring 7 additional initiatives during the 2018 legislative session.

The full text of House Bill 1670 can be found by click here.

Jerome Moon serves as a member of the House Insurance & Banking and the House Business & Utilities Committees. Moon is also a member of the House Business & Utilities Subcommittee. He lives in Maryville and represents House District 8, which includes part of Blount County. Moon can be reached by email at: Rep.Jerome.Moon@capitol.tn.gov or by calling (615) 741-5481.

State Representative Jeremy Faison Supports Tennesseans On The Road To Recovery

February 23, 2018

(NASHVILLE) — This week, State Representative Jeremy Faison (R-Cosby) sponsored passage of legislation that improves access to support for Tennesseans currently enrolled in recovery programs.

House Bill 1721 — which passed in the House chamber by a 92-0 vote tally — helps those on their journey to becoming productive citizens by allowing judges involved in individual cases to use discretion as it relates to extending the duration that a hardship license is valid.

Under current law, hardship licenses are only valid for a period of up to six months. However, House Bill 1721 could extend their duration to 12-18 months for individuals who are committed to successfully completing recovery programs.

Evidence suggests that many enrolled in these types of plans require anywhere from 12-18 months in order to properly finish them.

“I am grateful that this initiative will enable more of our citizens to utilize available tools in order to move from a lifetime of dependency to one of independence,” said Representative Faison. “When our citizens have the support they need, as well as a strong desire and work ethic to get their lives back on track, we all benefit.”

For more information about House Bill 1721, please click here.

Jeremy Faison serves as Chairman of the House Government Operations Committee. He is also a member of the House Calendar & Rules Committee, the House Health Committee and Subcommittee, the Joint Government Operations Committee, Joint Government Operations Commerce, Labor, Transportation & Agriculture, Joint Government Operations Education, Health & General Welfare, and the Joint Government Operations Judiciary & Government Subcommittees. Faison lives in Cosby and represents House District 11, which includes Cocke and part of Jefferson and Greene Counties. He can be reached by email at: Rep.Jeremy.Faison@capitol.tn.gov or by calling (615) 741-6871.