Speaker Beth Harwell’s Newsroom

Harwell leads House to hold teachers harmless for testing data

April 26, 2018

NASHVILLE – As the 110th General Assembly began to wrap up its business for the year yesterday, Speaker Beth Harwell (R-Nashville) and the House of Representatives fought for a last-minute provision in an education bill to hold teachers completely harmless for the student achievement data generated from the 2017-2018 TNReady assessments.

“I am proud we were able to pass this legislation to protect teachers before adjourning for the year,” said Speaker Harwell. “We want accountability for our schools, but we need to ensure that the system is working properly before we use that data to grade performance.”

Specifically, the measure that passed will not allow any adverse action to be taken against student, teacher, school, or local school district based, in whole or in part, on student achievement data generated from the TNReady assessment this year.

Speaker Harwell and House Government Operations Committee Chairman Jeremy Faison earlier this week asked the Comptroller to review the contract with testing vendor Questar and report the findings back to the committee.

More information can be found here.

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.”

Representative Carter’s Bill Moving Tennessee Away From Mandatory Emissions Testing Passes

April 17, 2018

HB 1782 cosponsored by Speaker Harwell and Hamilton County Legislative Delegation

(NASHVILLE) – An initiative sponsored by State Representative Mike Carter (R-Ooltewah) and cosponsored by Tennessee House Speaker Beth Harwell (R-Nashville), State Representative Marc Gravitt (R-East Ridge), State Representative Patsy Hazlewood (R-Signal Mountain), State Representative Gerald McCormick (R-Chattanooga), and State Representative JoAnne Favors (R-Chattanooga) requiring counties to take all necessary steps to end mandatory vehicle emissions testing in Tennessee has passed in the House chamber.

House Bill 1782 — approved by a 96-0 vote tally by House members Monday night — would apply to citizens of Hamilton, Davidson, Rutherford, Sumner, Williamson, and Wilson Counties where vehicle emissions testing is still required prior to vehicle registration or renewal.

The 1990 Federal Clean Air Act required the state to develop more restrictive regulations to control air pollution from mobile sources in counties which were not meeting the Federal Standards for air quality.

Currently, testing is done on vehicles with a model year of 1975 and newer if they are powered by a gasoline or diesel engine and weigh up to 10,500 lbs.  Over 1.5 million vehicles went through emissions testing in Tennessee last year in the six counties where it is required.

The idea for House Bill 1782 resulted from a conversation between Representative Carter and a constituent last year who voiced her concerns about the burdensome costs of testing on her family. Once the Tennessee Department of Environment & Conservation (TDEC) released a report last August revealing that all 95 Tennessee counties met federal air quality health standards, it became clear to Representative Carter that mandatory testing was no longer needed.

“The idea that we have to choose between clean air and this costly, burdensome practice impacting Tennessee’s working families is a false choice, and I reject it,” said Representative Carter. “Vehicle emissions testing has outlived its usefulness, and House Bill 1782 moves Tennessee away from it. This measure will have a life-changing impact on our working families while also maintaining total air quality. I look forward to its passage in the Senate, and I know it is in great hands with Senator Bo Watson leading the efforts in order for it to clear its final legislative hurdle.”

“Our citizens who can least afford to participate in this obsolete form of testing are being unfairly penalized,” added Speaker Harwell.  “I am proud to have cosponsored legislation that will enable them  to save more of their hard-earned money and won’t harm air quality in cities and towns across the state.”

House Bill 1782 now awaits passage in the Senate. For more information about this initiative, click here.

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.

House Leadership Welcomes Representative Jerome Moon To Republican Caucus

January 17, 2018

Moon receives committee appointments from House Speaker Beth Harwell

(NASHVILLE) — Recently, the House of Representatives officially gaveled into session, marking the beginning of the second half of the 110th General Assembly in Tennessee.

As part of the opening week ceremonies, State Representative Jerome Moon (R–Maryville) officially joined his colleagues in the House and was selected to serve on three committees by House Speaker Beth Harwell (R–Nashville): the House Business & Utilities Committee, the House Business & Utilities Subcommittee, and the House Insurance & Banking Committee.

A former Blount County Chairman, Representative Moon was officially sworn in to represent House District 8 on December 12, 2017. He replaces Art Swann who became a State Senator following Doug Overbey’s resignation to join the Trump Administration.

“We are very excited to have Representative Moon join our 74 member caucus,” said House Majority Leader Glen Casada (R–Thompson’s Station). “He has done an incredible job as a long-standing member of the Blount County Commission, and his addition to the General Assembly will be a true asset to the entire state of Tennessee.”

Jerome and his wife, Deborah, have two daughters and four grandchildren.

“It is great to have Representative Jerome Moon as a member of our Republican Caucus,” said House Republican Caucus Chairman Ryan Williams (R–Cookeville). “His enthusiasm for the residents of District 8 and the issues that impact the East Tennessee region will benefit our entire caucus and enable us to better serve the residents of our state.”

House Leadership Welcomes Representative Kevin Vaughan To Republican Caucus

January 17, 2018

Vaughan receives committee appointments from House Speaker Beth Harwell

(NASHVILLE) — Recently, the House of Representatives officially gaveled into session, marking the beginning of the second half of the 110th General Assembly in Tennessee.

As part of the opening week ceremonies, State Representative Kevin Vaughan (R–Collierville) officially joined his colleagues in the House and was selected to serve on three committees by House Speaker Beth Harwell (R–Nashville): the House Business & Utilities Committee, the House Business & Utilities Subcommittee, and the House Insurance & Banking Committee.

This year, legislators are looking to build upon the success of the previous legislative session that saw wasteful government spending cut from the budget, taxes reduced for all Tennesseans, measures passed to encourage job growth and numerous government reforms.

“It is great to have Representative Kevin Vaughan as a member of our Republican Caucus,” said House Republican Caucus Chairman Ryan Williams (R–Cookeville). “His enthusiasm for the residents of District 95 and the issues that impact the West Tennessee region will benefit our entire caucus and enable us to better serve the residents of our state.”

Kevin and his wife Johnna have been married for 28 years and have two kids, Alex and Grayson. In addition to many other hats Kevin wears, including serving as a thirty-year member of First Baptist Church in Collierville, he is also the owner of a real estate and development consulting firm.

“Kevin’s conservative beliefs and small business experience will be a true asset to the legislature and state of Tennessee,” continued House Majority Leader Glen Casada (R–Thompson’s Station). “We all look forward to rolling up our sleeves and working with Representative Vaughan this session.

 

 

 

State Representative Mike Sparks Appointed Vice-Chair Of Calendar & Rules Committee By Speaker Harwell

January 16, 2018

(NASHVILLE) — State Representative Mike Sparks (R-Smyrna) has been appointed Vice-Chair of the House Calendar & Rules Committee by Tennessee House Speaker Beth Harwell (R-Nashville).

2018 marks his eighth year in the Tennessee General Assembly. As Vice-Chair of the House Calendar & Rules Committee, Representative Sparks and his fellow committee members will schedule bills for consideration on third and final reading and entertain debate on the merits of legislation recommended for passage by the eleven standing committees.

“I am honored to receive this appointment from Speaker Harwell to serve as Vice-Chair of the House Calendar & Rules Committee,” said Representative Sparks. “Together with my committee colleagues, I know we will further our work advancing sensible legislative initiatives that benefit all Tennesseans throughout the 2018 legislative session.”

“Representative Sparks has demonstrated his leadership during his service as a member of our General Assembly,” said Speaker Harwell. “We are fortunate to have him, and his knowledge and experience will benefit this important committee.”

Mike Sparks serves as Vice-Chair of the House Calendar & Rules Committee. He is also a member of the House Insurance & Banking and House Business & Utilities Committees, as well as the House Business & Utilities Subcommittee. Sparks lives in Smyrna and represents House District 49, which includes part of Rutherford County. He can be reached by email at Rep.Mike.Sparks@capitol.tn.gov or by calling (615) 741-6829.

Representative John Holsclaw Appointed Chairman Of Business & Utilities Subcommittee By Speaker Harwell

January 11, 2018

(NASHVILLE) — This week, State Representative John Holsclaw (R-Elizabethton) was appointed Chairman of the House Business & Utilities Subcommittee by Tennessee House Speaker Beth Harwell (R-Nashville).

Holsclaw — who is in his fourth year serving the residents of District 4 — is also currently a member of the House Business & Utilities Committee. This group of effective lawmakers considers legislative initiatives related to utilities, communications, and legislation impacting trade. It also reviews the rules and regulations for all licensed professionals, businesses, and organizations.

“I am honored to receive this appointment from Speaker Harwell and to serve as Chairman of the House Business & Utilities Subcommittee,” said Representative Holsclaw. “Together with my committee colleagues, I know we will further our work supporting community development across our state this year.”

“Representative Holsclaw has demonstrated his leadership during his service as a member of the House Business & Utilities Committee and the General Assembly,” said Speaker Harwell. “We are fortunate to have him, and his knowledge and experience will benefit this important committee.”

John Holsclaw serves as Chairman of the House Business & Utilities Subcommittee. He is also a member of the House Business & Utilities and House Health Committees. Holsclaw lives in Elizabethton and represents House District 4, which includes Unicoi and part of Carter Counties. He can be reached by email at Rep.John.Holsclaw@capitol.tn.gov or by calling (615) 741-7450.

Speaker Harwell Appoints Representative Howell To Ocoee River Recreation & Economic Development Board

August 1, 2017

Board will oversee future investments made to preserve the treasured Ocoee River and maintain economic growth

(NASHVILLE) — Tennessee House Speaker Beth Harwell (R-Nashville)  today appointed State Representative Dan Howell (R-Georgetown) to the Ocoee River Recreation & Economic Development Fund Board.

The board was created with the passage of House Bill 74 sponsored by Howell during the 2017 legislative session. This critical initiative saves Tennessee’s prized Ocoee River by supporting recreational water releases on the Ocoee River and also encourages economic growth in the region the Ocoee serves.

The Ocoee River Recreation and Development Fund Board consists of 15 members; each is eligible to serve four-year, renewable terms. The group will oversee future investments in the famed waterway made through the Ocoee River Recreation & Economic Development Fund.

Additionally, they will apply for grants and matching funds in order to sustain the popular whitewater river. They will also request and receive gifts, contributions, and any other donations from public or private sources, create a nonprofit organization for the purpose of fulfilling the mission of the development fund, adopt policies and guidelines for fund usage, conduct studies and make recommendations concerning the Ocoee River management zone, and submit annual reports to the governor, speakers of both the House and Senate, as well as the appropriate legislative committees.

The Ocoee is the most popular whitewater river in the nation; more than 5 million people have utilized it over the last 10 years. The river also hosted the whitewater slalom events during the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta; it creates an estimated 640 jobs for Tennesseans through tourism and has a total economic impact of $43.8 million in the southeastern portion of our state.

“I am honored to be appointed to the Ocoee River Recreation & Economic Development Fund Board by Speaker Harwell,” said Representative Howell. “I know our work will continue to enhance our local economy by maintaining and creating jobs; it will also guarantee that our residents and citizens across the country are able to enjoy these historic waters for many more years.”

“Representative Howell is a tremendous asset to this important group that will ensure the Ocoee remains protected and the economic future of southeast Tennessee is sustained,” said Speaker Harwell. “I appreciate his passion for preserving a part of our state’s history, and I thank him for his willingness to serve.”

For more information about House Bill 74/Public Chapter 434, please visit the Tennessee General Assembly website at http://publications.tnsosfiles.com/acts/110/pub/pc0434.pdf

Dan Howell serves as the Chairman of the Joint Government Operations Judiciary & Government Subcommittee and as the Vice-Chairman of the House Local Government Committee. He is also a member of the House Government Operations and Joint Government Operations Committees, as well as the House Local Government Subcommittee. Howell lives in Georgetown and represents House District 22, which includes Meigs, Polk, and part of Bradley Counties. He can be reached by email at: Rep.Dan.Howell@capitol.tn.gov or by calling (615) 741-7799.

###

Harwell appoints Mayor Jill Holland to the Emergency Communications Board

July 25, 2017

NASHVILLE – Speaker Beth Harwell (R-Nashville) today announced the appointment of Jill Holland to the Tennessee Emergency Communications Board. Holland is the Mayor of McKenzie, Tennessee.

“Mayor Holland is uniquely qualified to serve on the Tennessee Emergency Communications Board, and I believe the board will benefit from her voice and expertise,” said Speaker Harwell. “I am grateful that she accepted this appointment, and have full confidence that she will be a great asset to the board’s work within our local communities.”

Holland has been the Mayor of McKenzie since 2010 and served on the City Council from 2004 to 2010. She has also served on the McKenzie Special School District Board. Holland is active in her community and region and has held leadership positions in the Tennessee Municipal League, and the West Tennessee Mayors Association.

“I am honored Speaker Harwell has appointed me to the Tennessee Emergency Communications Board,” said Mayor Holland. “I am excited to be a major asset in ensuring all Tennesseans have life-saving access to 911,” she added.

The Tennessee Emergency Communications Board was established to protect and promote the public safety and welfare of the citizens of the state by assisting emergency communications district boards of directors in the areas of management, operations, and accountability, and by establishing effective and efficient emergency communications for all the citizens of the state. More information on the board can be found at www.tn.gov/commerce/section/e911.

###