“America was not built on fear. America was built on courage, on imagination and an unbeatable determination to do the job at hand.” – Harry S. Truman
I wanted to give a huge thank you to Commissioner Linda Yockey and the rest of the Bedford County Commission for working with Bruce Nelson from the State of Tennessee Real Estate Asset Management to purchase the old Social Security Building. They plan to repurpose this building for preserving records and making it easier and quicker to locate them. The fees charged by the county archives office will pay for all the building expenses. Commissioner Yockey worked hard to make this vision come to life and her persistence paid off big time.
This week, I would like to share with you some information about how things work in the Tennessee State Legislature. I am often asked to explain the process of “how an idea becomes a law”. A bill can come to us in several ways. Sometimes a lobbyist or a state department brings a bill to me. When that happens, it’s usually because there’s a section of outdated code that is interfering with businesses or not keeping up with our modern technology. These are typically the easiest bills to pass because everyone works hard to help me educate the other members on the merits of the bill and why it is needed. However, I also receive requests from the local leaders and constituents in our district.
This past fall, I received a call from a friend, David Trisdale, asking me if I could help one of our citizens with a problem. At his suggestion, I called Rick Akers, who lives in Southern Bedford County. Rick is a collector of antique slot machines and told me he found out he had been breaking the law since he moved to Tennessee. In our state, you cannot own, buy, or sale slot machines- even though they are never used for gambling purposes. Therefore, Rick and I set out to try to correct this problem. Rick told me how Mississippi had passed legislation to make it legal in their state. We got a copy of that legislation and gave it to our legal department where they drew up wording for Tennessee. Next, I showed the bill to a few people who typically enforce gambling violations. They didn’t see a problem because it only applies to collectors. I spoke to Senator Shane Reeves and got him on board because every bill requires both a House and Senate sponsor.
We then filed the bill with the House clerk’s office. It went through two readings on the House Floor and then the clerk’s office assigned it to be heard in the proper committees. I started out this week in the Criminal Justice subcommittee on Tuesday. I stood before about 10 members of the committee and I stated the problem. I then explained how my bill would not only correct the issue, but had the potential to bring a new type of business to Tennessee in the future. Rick Akers also was present, so I asked him to testify before the committee. Rick explained his hobby and the type of machines he collected. He also told the committee about the events he attends and how Tennessee was often mentioned as a potential location, but then quickly taken off the list when they learned it wasn’t legally allowed- preventing us from receiving the economic benefit of these multi-million dollar auctions and conventions.
Next week, I go before the full Judiciary Committee and will give the same spill before about 20 legislators. If it passes there, the legislation will be assigned to the Calendar and Rules Committee, and hopefully will be given a place on the House Floor calendar. When it goes to the House Floor Session, I will be called up to present the bill to the entire House of
Representatives. It must receive a majority of votes from the members before it can pass the chamber. This entire process must also take place in the Senate by Senator Reeves. If it passes both chambers, then it must go to the Governor for his signature in order to become law. I will keep you updated on the process and let you know how it proceeds.
We passed legislation last week that will officially let everybody know that Tennessee is known as the Volunteer State. As we all know in Lincoln County, we believe that name happened because of Camp Blount on the Elk River around the time of the War of 1812 and the Indian wars. As the story goes, Governor Willie Blount, along with Davy Crockett, Sam Houston, and Andrew Jackson, put out the call for approximately 3,000 volunteers to gather in Fayetteville to go to fight the British in New Orleans. Around 10,000-12,000 men showed up and they marched 500 miles to New Orleans and defeated the British in a matter of days. Andrew Jackson called these men his “Tennessee Volunteers.” And even now, we have a great football team by the same name.
I was excited to get a copy of a letter Secretary of State Tre Hargett sent to Rita Allen at the Shelbyville-Bedford County Public Library. They are going to receive a Training Opportunities for the Public (TOP) grant in the amount of $6,650. This will provide our community with trainers, hardware, and software for free technology training classes. A huge thank you to the Department of Economic and Community Development and Secretary Hargett for this much needed funding.
I had the pleasure of meeting and hosting Ina Zwigl, an exchange student from Austria, as a House Floor page on Thursday. Ina is staying with Brenda Knight in Shelbyville where she is a sophomore at Community High School. Brenda and I thought it would be a good idea to show Ina how the Tennessee Legislature worked. Ina is a bright young lady and we all had a great and educational visit.
Don’t forget that early voting is underway for the March 3rd primaries. In Bedford and Lincoln Counties, you can vote early at the County Election Commission offices through February 23rd. To verify the times and addresses, you can visit www.GoVoteTn.com. There’s also a free GoVoteTN app you can download for your phone. The app contains sample ballots and you can use it to check your voter registration status. You can also use the app to verify your precinct if you want to vote on Election Day.
As always, feel free to stop by my office at the Cordell Hull Building Suite 676 or give me a call if you have any questions or concerns. You can reach me at (615) 741-6824 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also find information on my Facebook page. https://www.facebook.com/RepPatMarsh/