Rep. Jay Reedy’s Newsroom

State Representative Jay Reedy Updates Construction Progress On McClure Bridge

April 30, 2018

(NASHVILLE) — State Representative Jay Reedy (R-Erin) and officials with the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) today announced that construction continues to steadily progress on the McClure Bridge project in Montgomery County.

Currently, various locations throughout the project are being cleared of impediments, and officials have begun the relocation of some streams. All necessary erosion control measures are in place, and the bridge contractor has also created the haul road so that crews and machinery will be able to begin bridge construction on the east side of the roadway.

Additionally, geotechnical engineers are collecting data and examining pier locations prior to drilled shaft installation, scheduled for mid-June. Contractors are also working with local utility districts for approval with the expectation that utility equipment will begin being relocated in early June.

Representative Reedy continues to partner with TDOT in efforts to further advance this important project. Once completed, it will improve overall safety and limit traffic congestion throughout District 74.

“Together, we have made considerable progress on the McClure Bridge over the course of the past year, and I am pleased that the project continues to move forward,” said Representative Reedy. “We know that this bridge is vital to traffic flow in our community, and we want to ensure minimal disruption for our citizens without jeopardizing their safety.”

In 2016, inspections on the McClure Bridge — which spans the Cumberland River and connects Montgomery and Houston Counties — revealed problems with one of the support beams. This discovery led to TDOT implementing a weight restriction of 21 tons in Montgomery County, which meant the bridge was off limits to loaded 18-wheelers.

Last August, the bridge underwent extensive repair work over the course of three weekends — including joint replacement, asphalt milling and replacement on the surface of the bridge.

The current structure will eventually be replaced by a new bridge; it is expected to be completed in the summer of 2021.

Jay Reedy serves as a member of the House Agriculture & Natural Resources Committee and Subcommittee, as well as the House Education Instruction & Programs Committee. He lives in Erin and represents House District 74, which includes all of Houston, Humphreys, and part of Montgomery Counties. He can be reached by email at Rep.Jay.Reedy@capitol.tn.gov or by calling (615) 741-7098.

Speaker Pro Tempore Curtis Johnson and State Representative Jay Reedy, Department of Education Announce Critical Growth Funds

February 22, 2018

(NASHVILLE) — House Speaker Pro Tempore Curtis Johnson (R-Clarksville), State Representative Jay Reedy (R-Erin), and the Tennessee Department of Education today announced that Montgomery County Schools have received district growth funding to support education initiatives in the county.

Specifically, Montgomery County received $3,566,500.

This funding is a direct result of a Republican-led effort by Tennessee General Assembly members to not only fully fund education in Tennessee but also provide $18 million to cover school district growth as part of Governor Bill Haslam’s Fiscal Year 2018 budget.

These significant investments will allow many of our state’s school districts with soaring populations to maintain proper student to teacher ratios so that they can continue offering quality education for our next generation of leaders.

“Montgomery County has been expanding at a rapid rate and it is critical that our educators have the tools they need to keep up with this growth. I’m always proud to stand with teachers as we work together to provide quality education in Tennessee,” said Speaker Johnson.

“My wife is a public school teacher and I have the pleasure of serving on the House Education Instruction & Programs Committee. Therefore, I know how impactful these growth funds should be for the teachers and students of Montgomery County,” said Representative Reedy.

This funding has been so well received by parents, education officials, and teachers that Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam added another $18 million in growth funds to his proposed Fiscal Year 2019 budget.

Curtis Johnson serves as the House Speaker Pro Tempore and is a member of the House Calendar & Rules Committee, the House Finance, Ways & Means Committee, the House Government Operations Committee, the House Business & Utilities Committee, the House Rules Committee, and the Joint Government Operations Committee. He is also a member of the House Business & Utilities Subcommittee, as well as the Joint Government Operations Commerce, Labor, Transportation & Agriculture Subcommittees. Johnson lives in Clarksville and represents House District 68, which includes part of Montgomery County. He can be reached by email at Rep.Curtis.Johnson@capitol.tn.gov or by calling (615) 741-4341.

Jay Reedy serves as a member of the House Agriculture & Natural Resources Committee and Subcommittee, as well as the House Education Instruction & Programs Committee. He lives in Erin and represents House District 74, which includes Houston, Humphreys, and part of Montgomery Counties. He can be reached by email at Rep.Jay.Reedy@capitol.tn.gov or by calling (615) 741-7098.

State Representative Jay Reedy, Department of Education Announce Critical Growth Funds

February 21, 2018

This month, State Representative Jay Reedy (R-Erin) and the Tennessee Department of Education announced that Humphreys County Schools have received district growth funding to support education initiatives in the county.

Specifically, Humphreys County Schools received $39,000.

This funding is a direct result of a Republican-led effort by Tennessee General Assembly members to not only fully fund education in Tennessee but also provide $18 million to cover school district growth as part of Governor Bill Haslam’s Fiscal Year 2018 budget.

These significant investments will allow many of our state’s school districts with soaring populations to maintain proper student to teacher ratios so that they can continue offering quality education for our next generation of leaders.

“My wife is a public school teacher, and I have the pleasure of serving on the House Education Instruction & Programs Committee. Therefore I know how impactful these growth funds should be for the teachers and students of Humphreys County,” said Representative Reedy.

The inclusion of growth funding as part of the budget has been so well received by parents, education officials, and teachers that the governor has added an additional $18 million in growth funding as part of his Fiscal Year 2019 budget.

Jay Reedy serves as a member of the House Agriculture & Natural Resources Committee and Subcommittee, as well as the House Education Instruction & Programs Committee. He lives in Erin and represents House District 74, which includes all of Houston, Humphreys, and part of Montgomery Counties. He can be reached by email at Rep.Jay.Reedy@capitol.tn.gov or by calling (615) 741-7098.

Representative Jay Reedy, House Education Committees Support Tennessee’s Teachers & Students in 2017

November 17, 2017

(NASHVILLE) — During the 2017 legislative session, members of the House Education Administration & Planning Committee — led by Chairman Harry Brooks (R-Knoxville) — and the House Education Instruction & Programs Committee — led by Chairman John Forgety (R-Athens) effectively supported the educational goals and dreams of the state’s teachers and students.

Thanks to the hard work of State Representative Jay Reedy (R-Erin) and fellow members, these committees advanced a total of 80 legislative initiatives in 2017; fifty-eight were signed into law by Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam.

These initiatives enhance student and teacher safety, create new higher education opportunities, and improve access to high-quality education. Some of the legislation includes:

  • House Bill 22:     Places high school students on a fast track to their college degree.
  • House Bill 174:  Creates a culture of respect for educators by enacting the Teacher’s Bill of Rights.
  • House Bill 192:   Optimizes school hours for learning.
  • House Bill 310:   Creates high-quality education opportunities.
  • House Bill 322:   Enhances transportation safety for students.
  • House Bill 433:   Supports higher education opportunities for veterans.
  • House Bill 439:   Prepares school districts for adverse situations involving student safety.
  • House Bill 457:   Assists educators with the cost of classroom supplies and materials.
  • House Bill 530:   Helps military service members pursue their educational goals without fear of financial struggle.
  • House Bill 531:    Reconnects adults to higher education opportunities.
  • House Bill 980:   Funds a two-year scholarship program for students interested in earning their college degree while completing high school.
  • House Bill 1169:  Reinforces the importance of Tennessee history among students.

“We must prioritize the education and safety of our children because they are the key to the future success of our state,” said Representative Reedy. “When we support our teachers and allow our youngest citizens to achieve their educational goals and dreams, we all benefit. I renew my pledge to serve as a voice for these important groups in the House chamber, and I look forward to continuing our efforts to improve education in communities across Tennessee in 2018.”

“The men and women who serve on these committees have worked tirelessly in 2017 in order to ensure that Tennessee is a state that continues to experience rapid and significant improvements in education,” said Chairman Brooks. “As I reflect on our endeavors together, I know we made great strides supporting our students and teachers by providing them with additional tools and resources while also demonstrating our commitment to their safety.”

“In order for Tennessee to continue to serve as a model for economic success, I believe we must focus on and invest in initiatives that strengthen our education system,” said Chairman Forgety. “By creating laws that benefit both our students and educators, we are allowing them to succeed and solidifying the future of our state.”

Additionally, the successful outcomes produced by the committees did not go unnoticed by House leadership, especially Speaker Beth Harwell (R-Nashville).

“I want to personally thank the hardworking members of both House Education Committees for their work improving education across Tennessee,” said Speaker Harwell. “Their accomplishments during the 2017 legislative session will benefit current and future generations of our citizens and help our state maintain the economic momentum and prosperity we have experienced in recent years.”

Jay Reedy serves as a member of the House Agriculture & Natural Resources Committee and Subcommittee, as well as the House Education Instruction & Programs Committee. He lives in Erin and represents House District 74, which includes all of Houston, Humphreys, and part of Montgomery Counties. He can be reached by email at Rep.Jay.Reedy@capitol.tn.gov or by calling (615) 741-7098.

House Republicans Create A Culture Of Respect For Tennessee’s Educators

May 18, 2017

(NASHVILLE) – This week, Republican lawmakers passed legislation sponsored by State Representative Jay Reedy (R-Erin) that establishes a strong foundation for the rights of Tennessee’s educators.

House Bill 174, also known as the Teacher’s Bill of Rights, is supported by the Professional Educators of Tennessee. The legislation ensures that licensed educators in our state are treated with civility and that their judgment and discretion is respected.

The Teacher’s Bill of Rights promotes safe environments for educators and students and allows for the sharing of information about a student’s educational experience, health or safety between teachers and parents or legal guardians of students. It also affords educators the opportunity to review instructional materials and curriculum prior to their use and protects educators from using their own money to equip classrooms.

“Over the years, we’ve seen the rights of our teachers lag behind the rights of students,” said Representative Reedy. “This lack of respect is forcing many of our educators to leave the jobs that they love dearly. My hope is that House Bill 174 will reverse this trend; as long as I serve in the state legislature, I remain committed to serving as the voice of our teachers and students.”

The full text of House Bill 174 can be accessed by visiting the Tennessee General Assembly website at: http://www.capitol.tn.gov/Bills/110/Bill/HB0174.pdf

Jay Reedy serves as a member of the House Agriculture & Natural Resources Committee and Subcommittee, as well as the House Education Instruction & Programs Committee. He lives in Erin and represents House District 74, which includes all of Houston, Humphreys, and part of Montgomery Counties. He can be reached by email at Rep.Jay.Reedy@capitol.tn.gov or by calling (615) 741-7098.

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House Republicans Create A Culture Of Respect For Tennessee’s Educators

May 8, 2017

(NASHVILLE) – This week, Republican lawmakers passed legislation sponsored by State Representative Jay Reedy (R-Erin) that establishes a strong foundation for the rights of Tennessee’s educators.

House Bill 174, also known as the Teacher’s Bill of Rights, is supported by the Professional Educators of Tennessee. The legislation ensures that licensed educators in our state are treated with civility and that their judgment and discretion is respected.

The Teacher’s Bill of Rights promotes safe environments for educators and students and allows for the sharing of information about a student’s educational experience, health or safety between teachers and parents or legal guardians of students. It also affords educators the opportunity to review instructional materials and curriculum prior to their use and protects educators from using their own money to equip classrooms.

“Over the years, we’ve seen the rights of our teachers lag behind the rights of students,” said Representative Reedy. “This lack of respect is forcing many of our educators to leave the jobs that they love dearly. My hope is that House Bill 174 will reverse this trend; as long as I serve in the state legislature, I remain committed to serving as the voice of our teachers and students.”

The full text of House Bill 174 can be accessed by visiting the Tennessee General Assembly website at: http://www.capitol.tn.gov/Bills/110/Bill/HB0174.pdf

Jay Reedy serves as a member of the House Agriculture & Natural Resources Committee and Subcommittee, as well as the House Education Instruction & Programs Committee. He lives in Erin and represents House District 74, which includes all of Houston, Humphreys, and part of Montgomery Counties. He can be reached by email at Rep.Jay.Reedy@capitol.tn.gov or by calling (615) 741-7098.

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House Republicans Pass Resolution To Display The Tactile Braille American Flag

April 10, 2017

(NASHVILLE) — This week, Republican lawmakers unanimously passed House Joint Resolution 88 carried by Representative Jay Reedy (R-Erin) to honor Tennessee’s blind citizens and American history.

House Joint Resolution 88 calls for a tactile braille American flag to be displayed in the new Cordell Hull legislative office building, which the General Assembly is set to move into later this year.

The braille American flag serves as a valuable teaching and learning aid for instructing blind students about its place in American history. It is composed of braille figures in the upper left corner that represent the stars of the 50 states. They are arranged in nine rows of alternating clusters. The long smooth horizontal lines represent the red stripes. Each red stripe is lined with the appropriate braille dots to indicate the stripe’s color. The long raised textured areas on the flag represent the white stripes. They are also lined with the appropriate braille dots to indicate the stripe’s color.

Randolph Cabral, founder of the Kansas Braille Transcription Institute, created the flag to honor his father, Jesus Sanchez Cabral. Jesus Sanchez Cabral was a decorated U.S. Army Air Corps veteran who bravely served the United States during World War II. Glaucoma robbed him of his sight 10 years before his death. It also hampered Cabral’s ability to post and fly the American flag on his front porch, a duty he cherished as a patriotic veteran.

“The tactile Braille American flag is a remarkable tribute to a man who proudly served this country and demonstrated his patriotism by honoring our colors every day of his life,” said Representative Reedy. “It will enable future generations of our blind citizens to understand the flag’s importance and place in our history.”

The American Braille flag is a powerful symbol for more than 30 million blind and low vision Americans. In 2008, the United States Congress authorized its placement at Arlington National Cemetery as a tribute to blind veterans. It is displayed by thousands of sighted and blind civilians, veterans, hospitals, memorial parks, elected officials, schools for the blind, and many other places.

Jay Reedy serves as a member of the House Agriculture & Natural Resources Committee and Subcommittee, as well as the House Education Instruction & Programs Committee. He lives in Erin and represents House District 74, which includes all of Houston, Humphreys, and part of Montgomery Counties. He can be reached by email at Rep.Jay.Reedy@capitol.tn.gov or by calling (615) 741-7098.

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Rep. Jay Reedy’s Legislative Update: 03/31/17

March 31, 2017

Broadband Accessibility Act Clears Additional Key Legislative Hurdle

House Bill 529, the Tennessee Broadband Accessibility Act, cleared an additional key legislative hurdle this week after gaining unanimous approval from the House Finance, Ways & Means Subcommittee.

As introduced, the Tennessee Broadband Accessibility Act seeks to expand broadband internet services across the state, especially to Tennessee’s rural areas that currently completely lack coverage.

Tennessee ranks 29th in the country for broadband access, with 13 percent of the state lacking accessibility to high speed internet. While only 2 percent of the state’s urban citizens lack access, 34 percent of rural residents are without coverage, placing them at a distinct disadvantage over their city counterparts.

House Bill 529 addresses broadband accessibility and adoption through business investment and deregulation. Coupled with the state budget, the legislation makes targeted investments through grants and tax credits that focus on the state’s unserved areas. The legislation also permits the state’s private, nonprofit electric cooperatives to provide retail broadband service — something they have been completely unable to do in the past.

Earlier this year, the Tennessee Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations (TACIR) produced a report that outlined several municipal broadband failures and made recommendations about how more Tennesseans can adopt broadband services. Of particular interest, the report noted, is finding ways to provide broadband access to Tennessee’s rural areas.

House Bill 529 will next be heard by the full Finance, Ways & Means Committee.

House Approves Legislation Protecting Identities Of Minors In Crime Situations

Earlier this month, House lawmakers unanimously approved legislation designed to protect the identities of Tennessee minors who fall victim to crimes, especially those that are sexual in nature.

House Bill 344 protects the identities of minors in a crime situation, unless a court waives confidentiality at the request of the victim’s parent or legal guardian. The legislation designates as confidential a minor’s name, contact and personal information — including social security number — as well as photo or video evidence of the crime and any relationship between the minor and offender.

It does not hinder the ability of law enforcement agencies and legal representatives to prosecute offenders in order to ensure that justice is served.

Supporters of the legislation agree that minors who have been victimized, especially from those crimes that are sexual in nature, should not be subjected to additional emotional or psychological damage caused by having their identities and other sensitive information revealed to the public.

Proponents also stress that the bill ensures offenders will still be held accountable for their actions.

The full text of House Bill 344 can be accessed by visiting the Tennessee General Assembly website at: http://www.capitol.tn.gov/Bills/110/Bill/HB0344.pdf

House Republicans Pass Legislation Strengthening Tennessee Campaign Finance Laws

The full House passed legislation this week to strengthen Tennessee campaign finance laws, with House Republicans leading the charge to require funds donated to a campaign be deposited and maintained in a traditional bank or credit union account insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC).  Current statute allows campaign funds to be invested in a private or publicly traded company, causing ethics concerns and a gap in transparency in the state’s campaign finance laws.

The legislation places Tennessee in line with other states that limit lawmakers to maintain funds in federally-backed accounts.

Under House Bill 704, any investment not authorized would be prohibited and the candidate, or in the case of a multicandidate political campaign committee, the treasurer, would be subject to a civil penalty by the Registry of Election Finance of not more than $10,000 or 115 percent of the amount invested.

The legislation also strengthen the state’s campaign finance laws by requiring that any interest, dividends, or income earned on campaign funds by an investment made legally be reported on the candidate’s financial disclosure.

The bill now travels to the desk of Governor Bill Haslam to be signed into law.

Bill Aimed At Safeguarding Personal Information Of Tennessee Tourists Moves Forward

On Monday, lawmakers unanimously approved legislation that safeguards the personal information of Tennessee tourists who visit state parks by restricting access to the personal information of park guests.

Under current law, Tennessee state parks must disclose personal information of its guests when it receives a public records request, because there is no exemption protecting this information.

This personal information includes the name, phone number, address, and email address of any guest at a state park. In addition, reservation information, such as the dates of a particular guest’s stay, is also not protected.

House Bill 312 promotes privacy and security for all state park guests by creating an exemption to the current public records requirement. The move places Tennessee state parks on equal footing with the private sector regarding the privacy of personal information.

Currently, at least 25 states protect this personal information from public disclosure.

State Representative Jay Reedy’s Legislative Wrap-Up: 03/24/17

March 24, 2017

Legislation To Help Adults Without A Degree Access Higher Education Moves Forward In House

Legislation spearheaded by House Republicans to help adults without a degree access higher education moved forward this week after getting a positive nod from the House Government Operations Committee.

House Bill 531, named the Tennessee Reconnect Act, would make Tennessee the first state in the nation to offer all Tennessee adults without a degree access to community college tuition-free – and at no cost to taxpayers.

Currently, Tennessee adults without a degree or certificate can already attend Tennessee Colleges of Applied Technology (TCATs) tuition-free, and House Bill 531 would add community colleges into that same category. The legislation expands on a program launched in 2015 aimed at attracting approximately 900,000 Tennesseans who have earned some college credit, but not enough to earn a degree

To be eligible for Tennessee Reconnect, a student must be a Tennessee resident for at least one year preceding the date of application and must not already have an associate or bachelor degree. Other requirements include completion of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) where the applicant is deemed an independent student, participation in an approved advising program, and enrollment in any of the state’s 13 public community college’s degree or certificate programs for six semester hours. In order to maintain the Tennessee Reconnect grant, the student must enroll in classes leading to an associate’s degree or certificate continuously and maintain at least a 2.0 GPA.

Supporters of the legislation agree the new Reconnect program is a tremendous investment in the state’s economy, giving adults new opportunities for career growth while also providing employers with the skills and credentials they are seeking from the workforce.

The program will begin with the 2018-19 school year upon approval.

Second Meeting Of Legislative Task Force On Opioid Abuse Kicks Off At East Tennessee State University

This week at East Tennessee State University (ETSU), the second meeting of the legislative task force on opioid and prescription drug abuse kicked off. House Speaker Beth Harwell helped lead the discussion with stakeholders from across the state who attended the meeting to speak out about Tennessee’s growing drug epidemic.

Dr. Robert Pack, director of the ETSU Center for Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention and Treatment, addressed the current status of the situation locally and stated that ETSU and their partners are looking to make an impact within the eight-county region that makes up northeast Tennessee.

Pack added it was important to look at all options on the table in coming up with solutions to the opioid epidemic in Tennessee and that each individual looking for help is different – needing varying treatment ranging from abstinence programs to certain medication which help break the addiction itself.

In 2015, 1,451 Tennesseans died from drug overdoses, the highest annual number in the state’s history. In addition, the number of babies born who have been chronically exposed to opioids is high, particularly in East Tennessee. The Tennessee Department of Health reports that from 2000 to 2012, the rate of babies born with exposure increased 15 fold.

The Centers for Disease Control estimates that prescription opioid abuse has a total economic burden of $78.5 billion per year in the United States. There is an estimated $7.7 billion criminal justice cost across the country.

New Law Will Allow School Personnel To Assist Students During Adrenal Crisis

This week, lawmakers passed legislation to give school personnel the ability to administer lifesaving medical treatment to Tennessee students suffering from adrenal insufficiency caused by conditions like Addison’s disease.

House Bill 121 permits any properly trained school employee to administer a lifesaving injection as a form of medical treatment to students who are suffering from adrenal insufficiency and are experiencing an adrenal crisis on campus.

Addison’s disease is a life-threatening illness that prevents a person’s body from creating hormones that help it respond to stress. An adrenal crisis can be triggered by an injury, surgery, infection, or even emotional stress. Death may occur without immediate treatment.

One notable individual who suffered from Addison’s disease was President John F. Kennedy. The 35th President of the United States collapsed twice in public because of adrenal insufficiency: once at the end of a parade during an election campaign and once on a congressional visit to Britain.

When children experience a medical emergency like an adrenal crisis and need treatment, every second counts. The passage of this bill paves the way for quicker response times during emergencies by allowing a properly trained staff member to perform a heroic act that will save a life.

The full text of House Bill 121 can be accessed by visiting the Tennessee General Assembly website at: http://www.capitol.tn.gov/Bills/110/Bill/HB0121.pdf

House Republicans Honor Fallen TBI Special Agent With Passage Of House Bill 482

A bill sponsored by House Republicans honoring fallen Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) Special Agent De’Greaun Reshun Frazier unanimously passed in the House Chamber this week.

House Bill 482 designates the future home of the TBI Crime Lab & Consolidated Headquarters in Madison County to be named the ‘Special Agent De’Greaun ReShun Frazier TBI Crime Lab & Regional Headquarters’.

Special Agent Frazier was shot and killed during an undercover drug operation in Jackson on Aug. 9, 2016. He is the first and only TBI agent ever to be killed in the line of duty. Frazier’s name will now be immortalized in the bureau’s history and serve as a reminder of the ultimate sacrifice he made.

Before joining the TBI, Frazier also served as a member of the local Drug Enforcement Administration Task Force for the Millington Police Department, as well as a reserve deputy for the Shelby County Sherriff’s Department. He was also a police officer for the University of Memphis and for Southwest Tennessee Community College.

House Leaders Advance Legislation Establishing Long-Term Care For Those With Autism Spectrum Disorder

This week, members of the House Health Committee advanced legislation that that would establish a long-term system of care for individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and their families.

House Bill 384 establishes the Tennessee Council on Autism Spectrum Disorder. This 16-person advisory council would make recommendations and provide leadership in program development regarding matters concerning all levels of ASD services in health care, education, and other adult, adolescent, and children’s services.

Specifically, the Council will be charged with seven tasks:

  • Assessing the current and future impact of Autism Spectrum Disorder on Tennesseans;
  • Assessing the availability of programs and services currently provided for early screening diagnosis and treatment of ASD;
  • Seeking additional input and recommendations from stakeholders that include providers, clinicians, institutions of higher education, and those concerned with the health and quality of life for individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder;
  • Developing a comprehensive statewide plan for an integrated system of training, treatment, and services for individuals of all ages with ASD;
  • Ensuring inter-agency collaboration as the comprehensive statewide system of care for Autism Spectrum Disorder is developed and implemented;
  • Coordinating available resources related to developing and implementing a system of care for autism spectrum disorder;
  • Coordinating state budget requests related to systems of care for individuals with autism spectrum disorders based on the studies and recommendations of the council.

The Tennessee Council on Autism Spectrum Disorder would consist of the Commissioner of Health, the Executive Director of the Commission on Children & Youth, the Commissioner of Intellectual & Developmental Disabilities, the Commissioner of Education, the Commissioner of Human Services, the Commissioner of Commerce & Insurance, the Deputy Commissioner of TennCare, the Commissioner of Mental Health & Substance Abuse, one representative of the council on developmental disabilities, and nine adult individuals who have a diagnosis of ASD or that are either family members or primary caregivers of individuals with ASD.

Autism’s most-obvious signs tend to appear between 2 and 3 years of age. In some cases, it can be diagnosed as early as 18 months. The Autism Society currently estimates that about one percent of the world population has ASD, affecting over 3.5 million Americans, and one in every sixty-eight children. The organization also notes that Autism Spectrum Disorder is the fastest growing developmental disability in the United States.

State Representative Jay Reedy’s Legislative Update: 03/16/17

March 16, 2017

House Republicans Demonstrate Continued Support For Military Veterans, Families

House Republicans demonstrated continued support for veterans and their families this week, moving forward with two major bills to expand access to education in Tennessee. The House Government Operations Committee gave a positive nod for the Support, Training, and Renewing Opportunity for National Guardsmen (STRONG) Act to create a pilot program to provide eligible members of the Tennessee National Guard funding toward a first-time bachelor’s degree through a tuition reimbursement program.

In addition, House lawmakers passed House Bill 433 this week that will make it easier for veterans to determine how their military training can count as credit in Tennessee’s colleges and universities.

The STRONG Act provides an opportunity for those who protect and serve our state and country to receive their bachelor’s degree, a move that gives Tennessee’s National Guard a competitive edge in recruitment. As a last-dollar reimbursement, the amount of state tuition reimbursement is offset by any other funds received. To be eligible, the individual must be currently serving with the Tennessee National Guard in good standing, have applied for federal tuition assistance, and be admitted to any Tennessee public community college, public university, or private college or university which is regionally accredited. The student must maintain a minimum grade point average of 2.0.

Currently in Tennessee, 27.7% of veterans have some college or an associate’s degree, while 24.3% have a bachelor’s degree.

In addition to making it easier for veterans to determine how their military training can count as credit in Tennessee’s colleges and universities, House Bill 433 grants in-state tuition to anyone currently living in Tennessee who is using VA educational benefits, regardless of their official home of record. That change brings Tennessee into compliance with new provisions in the GI bill, ensuring that about 13,000 Tennessee service members, veterans, and their dependents continue to receive education benefits under the federal program.

The proposal also updates Tennessee’s Veterans Education Transition Support (VETS) Act which encourages enrollment of veterans and removes barriers known to impede their success in attaining higher education credentials.

The legislation enhances the VETS Act and makes Tennessee the second state in the nation to develop a web-based dashboard to help prospective student veterans determine how their military training counts. Under the new program, a veteran or service member will be able to click on the specific military occupational specialty he or she possesses and instantly see what academic credit they qualify for at each of Tennessee’s public institutions, before they enroll. The easy-to-use system will help the state recruit and keep military service members in Tennessee.

The bill also calls on the Tennessee Higher Education Commission (THEC) to select representatives of various state colleges and universities by December 2018 to work collaboratively in adopting policies for Prior Learning Assessments (PLAs) for veterans. Currently, PLA credit can vary significantly from one institution to the next. The group will identify and develop uniform methods to assess and maximize academic credit for veterans based on the experience, education, and training obtained during their military service.

As the 2017 legislative session continues, House Republicans remain committed to helping veterans, their families, and all those involved with protecting Tennessee and the United States on a daily basis.

Lawmakers, Farmers Celebrate Annual ‘Ag Day On The Hill’ Event

House lawmakers joined with farmers and agriculture groups from across the state this week to celebrate Tennessee’s annual ‘Ag Day on the Hill’ event at the Legislative Plaza in Nashville. Governor Bill Haslam has also proclaimed the date ‘Agriculture Day’ as part of the annual national observance to recognize the important contributions of farmers and forestland owners provide to the state and nation.

This year, ‘Ag Day on the Hill’ activities included farm animals — horses, cows, goats, sheep, piglets, and chicks — and a variety of farming equipment on display at the entrance to the Legislative Plaza in Nashville. Representatives from agricultural organizations and agencies were also available to discuss programs and opportunities for those interested in farming and forestry in Tennessee.

In addition, a potato bagging and calf bottle feeding contest between House and Senate lawmakers took place, with the Senate claiming the calf feeding victory and House members winning the potato bagging challenge. Following the contest, the Farm & Forest Families of Tennessee organization presented a check to Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee in honor of contest participants.

The day’s events also included a sweet potato bagging project to benefit the Society of St. Andrew and a silent auction benefiting Second Harvest and the Ag in the Classroom program.

Tennessee has more than 67,000 farms representing 10.9 million acres in production. More than half of the state, 14 million acres, is in mostly privately owned hardwood forests. Tennessee’s top agricultural commodities include cattle, soybeans, corn, poultry, cotton, timber, greenhouse and nursery products, dairy products, wheat, tobacco, and hay. The industry has a $70 billion a year impact on the state’s economy and supports more than 340,000 jobs.

General Assembly Passes Property Tax Relief Bill For East Tennessee Fire Victims

Property owners could receive prorated 2016 property tax assessments

This week in Nashville, House members passed legislation to provide additional support to East Tennessee families that had property damaged by wildfires that swept through Sevier County and surrounding areas last November.

The bill calls for prorating the 2016 tax assessment for a homeowner’s real property or a business owner’s personal property, if it sustained damaged from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) certified disaster area last year. House Bill 52 is modeled after similar legislation that granted tax relief to victims of the 2010 floods in Nashville.

The legislation would not become effective until it is approved by a two-thirds vote of the local governing body of the county or city in which the property is located. The new legislation would also require fire victims to provide a listing of the destroyed, demolished, or substantially damaged personal property for which the tax relief is sought.

If the tax computed for the 2016 tax year has already been paid by the property owner prior to proration, he or she would receive a refund under the new law.

Lawmakers Pass Resolution To Raise Awareness Of Malignant Brain Tumors In Children

This week, Republican lawmakers unanimously approved a resolution designating May 17, 2017 as Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG) Awareness Day in Tennessee.

The resolution was initiated by constituent Elizabeth Psar and is designed to increase attention to the leading cause of cancer death in children — DIPG. DIPG is a type of brain tumor that is highly aggressive and has a zero percent survival rate.

These tumors are difficult to treat because they are often found near the base of the brain on the brainstem, which controls many of the body’s vital functions. Those who are diagnosed are typically between the ages of five and nine. Patients often stop breathing or go into full cardiac arrest as the cancer spreads throughout their body.

Proponents of the legislation hope that by spreading the message about DIPG, they can help educate Tennessee parents and caregivers, while also trying to increase resources that will lead to researchers discovering a cause and cure for this disease.

Tennessee Department Of Environment & Conservation Seeks Environmental Achievers

Nominations now open for the 2017 Governor’s Stewardship Awards

The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) is inviting Tennesseans to submit nominations for the 2017 Governor’s Environmental Stewardship Awards.

The Governor’s Environmental Stewardship Awards include multiple unique categories: Building Green, Clean Air, Energy and Renewable Resources, Environmental Education and Outreach, Land Use, Materials Management, Natural Heritage, Sustainable Performance, and Lifetime Achievement.

Any individual, business, organization, educational institution, or agency is eligible, provided it is located in Tennessee and the project was completed during the 2016 calendar year. All nominees must have a minimum of three consecutive years of overall environmental compliance with TDEC. Self-nominations are encouraged.

As Tennesseans continue to make the state a stronger and healthier place through innovative ideas and collaboration across industries, these annual awards help motivate and empower individuals, organizations, and communities to keep pushing the needle on stewardship efforts across the state.

A panel of judges representing agricultural, conservation, forestry, environmental, and academic professionals will select award recipients based on criteria including level of project or program completion, innovation, and public education. The deadline for nominations is March 31, 2017. Award recipients will be announced in May 2017.

For more information about each category, judging criteria, and nomination forms, visit TDEC’s website at http://www.tn.gov/environment/gov-awards.shtml.