Presented First Bill
I presented my first bill in committee this week. HB 1032, known as the Uniform Foreign-Country Money Judgements Recognition Act, passed through the Civil Justice Subcommittee and will be heard in the full judiciary committee this Wednesday. I also will be presenting two other bills this week, HB 496 and HB 404. I am excited to be fully engaging in the lawmaking process and doing what I can to improve life for Tennesseans.
House Republicans Applaud Governor Lee’s State Of The State Address
This week, House Republicans gathered in the Capitol to hear Governor Bill Lee’s first State of the State Address. During his remarks, the Governor presented his budget priorities, which emphasized continued improvements in Tennessee’s education system, overhauling our criminal justice system, and improving access and the quality of healthcare available to Tennesseans, while lowering overall costs.
House Republicans were pleased to see the Governor’s proposed budget includes a record-breaking deposit to the Rainy Day Fund that will lift the state savings account to an historic $1.1 billion. Additionally, the budget does not take on any long-term debt and manages to cut more than $40 million in costs without compromising the quality of services available to our citizens.
In his address, Governor Lee also provided more detail on the Future Workforce Initiative and several of his already publicly announced education initiatives. He also discussed several new efforts for public education, including the following:
- A $71 million pay raise for teachers across Tennessee and investment in professional development programming.
- A three-year pilot program to provide support services for high school students in Tennessee’s 15 distressed counties.
- Establishing the Governor’s Civics Instructional Seal to support and recognize those schools that prioritize teaching our nation’s history and civic values.
- Providing approximately $175 million in new funding to support teachers and students in our traditional public schools.
House Republicans also supported Governor Lee’s efforts to be tough on crime but also smart on crime through criminal justice reform and investments in public safety. These include:
- Establishing the Criminal Justice Reinvestment Task Force to make communities safer by reducing recidivism through proposed legislative and budgetary changes.
- Launching the Volunteer Mentorship Initiative to partner incarcerated individuals who are working toward obtaining higher education with a mentor.
- Increasing funding to the Electronic Monitoring Indigency fund to use GPS monitoring of low-risk, non-violent individuals instead of incarceration.
As for modernizing our healthcare system, House Republicans agree with the Governor about the need for transparency and competition, both of which are reflected in the recent CARE Plan — rolled out by Republican leaders a few weeks ago.
Additional health provisions include:
- Launching the Health Care Modernization Task Force to bring the private sector, policy makers and communities together to develop reforms and improve the value of care for all Tennesseans.
- Cracking down on expensive Medicaid fraud by expanding the state’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit with an additional 24 positions dedicated to identifying fraud and waste.
- Serving thousands of additional vulnerable Tennesseans by investing an additional $11 million into the Behavioral Health Safety Net and Regional Mental Institutes.
- Increasing, by as much as $8.6 million, funding for graduate medical education at Tennessee’s medical schools and critical incentive programs that provide financial support to resident physicians who commit to living and working in our rural communities.
In the weeks ahead, House Republicans will continue to lead on these important issues and support commonsense initiatives that reflect our conservative values.
Republican Leaders Fight To Protect Tennessee’s Unborn Children
Thursday morning, House Republican lawmakers strongly approved a measure that will protect our unborn children, known as the Heartbeat bill.
House Bill 77 passed by a 65-21 vote tally, and it is the latest in a series of Republican-led pro-life initiatives. House Republicans also supported and passed the Tennessee Infants Protection Act during the 110th General Assembly, which prohibits abortions, except in medical emergency, after 24 weeks and requires testing to determine viability of an unborn child if a woman is at least 20 weeks pregnant.
House Republicans Support Local Police And Firefighters
This week, House Republicans formally introduced House Bill 937 which increases supplemental wages for those who protect and serve our communities, and those who are called upon to respond during fires and other emergencies after they complete 40 hours of in-service training.
The measure, which is part of Governor Lee’s legislative package for the year, is a small way Republican leaders can support our brave local police officers and firefighters in their daily efforts.
House Bill 937 advanced out of the Cities & Counties Subcommittee on Tuesday. It will now be heard by members of the House Local Committee.
For more information, please click here.
Republican Leaders Increase Penalties Against Drug Dealers
On Wednesday, House Republicans advanced legislation that builds upon efforts to address the ongoing opioid and drug crisis by strengthening penalties against synthetic drug traffickers in Tennessee. House Bill 942 increases penalties against fentanyl dealers and those who traffic any derivative or analogue of this deadly synthetic drug.
While new data suggests deaths involving pain relievers and the overall number of opioid prescriptions available in Tennessee communities have both recently decreased, the Department of Health reports deaths caused by synthetic opioids have steadily risen over the past few years.
House Bill 942 is part of the Governor’s legislative package, and it will now be heard by members of the House Judiciary Committee.
For more information, please click here.
Republican Lawmakers Advance Governor Lee’s Key Priorities
Republicans leaders also advanced several key pieces of Governor Lee’s agenda this week. They include:
House Bill 949: Expands access to vocational and technical training for Tennessee students through the Governor’s Investment in Vocational Education (GIVE) initiative.
House Bill 947: Secures our Tennessee schools by providing funding to help with the placement of a School Resource Officer (SRO) and additional safety measures in every Tennessee school.
House Bill 1138: Phases out the 10 percent tax on smaller gyms and fitness facilities in efforts to improve health outcomes across the state.
House Bill 941: Eliminates the $180 expungement fee associated with clearing records of certain criminal charges.
We will continue to follow these and additional items on the Governor’s agenda as they make their way through the committee process and to the House floor in the weeks ahead.
Tennessee Emergency Management Agency Updates Recent Severe Weather & Flooding
The Tennessee Emergency Management Agency announced Thursday a State of Emergency remains in effect as many west and middle Tennessee counties continue to address flooding issues dating back to a severe weather event in late February.
Since Feb. 23, approximately 83 of Tennessee’s 95 counties have reported flood damages and impacts, along with 19 counties issuing State of Emergency declarations.
Damage assessments are expected to continue for several weeks, given that many communities still have flooding. The flood waters will need to recede entirely in many locations for thorough damage assessments to occur.
Tennessee has reported four weather-related fatalities as a result of the severe weather and flooding.
A Cleanup Help Line has been established to help flood survivors with free home and property debris cleanup through volunteer relief agencies. It can be accessed by calling 1-833-556-2476.
If you have suffered damage or need repairs with your home, you are urged to notify your county emergency management. A list of county EMA contacts by region is available by clicking here.