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Grills: We’re all in this together

Our state and our nation will likely experience some very difficult times in the days ahead. When the worst situations arise, the best place to start is with prayer. Please pray for one another, have patience, and help each other. We’re all in this together.

The safety and the health of our loved ones is what matters most right now.

My colleagues and I in the General Assembly along with Gov. Bill Lee have taken extraordinary steps this week to pass an emergency budget that helps minimize the disruption of state business and services as much as possible. We are taking swift action to ease the tremendous burden this unexpected health event will have on our fellow Tennesseans.

First, unemployment benefits will be extended to employees who are out of work due to businesses that temporarily close. There are currently no state mandates on businesses to close or reduce their capacity

The governor is currently working on relief options for our local governments impacted by possible loss of revenue.

At this time, all Tennessee school districts have agreed to follow Gov. Lee’s request to close until March 31.

The Tennessee Department of Education applied for and received two nutrition waivers from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to provide School Food Authorities (SFAs) flexibility to continue to provide meals to at-risk students.

We must continue to support students and teachers. The legislature will ensure no school districts, schools, school district employees, or students are adversely impacted by the school closures or other hardships related to COVID-19 or the tornadoes. This legislation, House Bill 2818, holds them harmless as it relates to TNReady testing, teacher evaluation growth scores, final grades, school and district accountability assessments, BEP-related requirements, and post-secondary readiness assessments for the 2019-20 school year.

House Bill 2472 allows higher education scholarship programs and financial aid funding to continue without interruption during the current COVID-19 outbreak.

At this time, Gov. Lee has encouraged child care facilities to remain open to meet child care demands but each facility will decide whether or not to remain open.

I appreciate Gov. Lee, my fellow members of the General Assembly, Health Commissioner Lisa Piercey, the Coronavirus Task Force and countless other health state and local professionals who are working day and night to provide the latest information to help Tennesseans stay healthy.

To help prepare for the anticipated high demand on our health care system, we are including a $19 million investment in our emergency budget that will strengthen the safety net for health care services, especially in our rural communities.

The governor’s administration has authorized the order of an additional 570 ventilators to support Tennessee hospitals that may need additional resources.

Information is quickly evolving during this outbreak and will very likely change again in the coming days and weeks.

At the end of this hiatus, the legislature will get back to the work we began in January.  There is still more to be done.

Tennessee has a proud tradition of being a fiscally conservative state and we are solidly prepared for the financial challenges that lie ahead. I am grateful for the confidence and trust you’ve placed in me to represent House District 77.

When this crisis is over, we will emerge stronger and more prepared.  Please continue to keep your neighbors and families in your prayers.  We must remember the Lord was not surprised when this started.  It’s good to know that in times like these that God is in control. We can find comfort in His mighty hand and His loving heart.

If I can be of any assistance please contact my office at 615-741-0718 or  [email protected].


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The Tennessee House Republican Caucus is dedicated to preserving Tennessee values and leading the nation with conservative policy.

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