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Legislative Update from Representative Chris Hurt

House Republicans Focus On Education

This week, House Republicans continued their commitment to Tennessee’s future leaders so they are better prepared for success. This commitment includes an $11.3 billion total investment for Fiscal Year 2019-2020. Additionally, $6.5 billion will directly benefit K-12 education in our public schools. Our K-12 investment allocates $71 million in teacher salaries, $46 million to fully fund the state’s Basic Education Program (BEP), and another $40 million to help secure our schools.

Additionally, several of the Governor’s education initiatives continue to move through the committee process in the House. They include:

  • House Bill 947: Provides a new investment in school safety to better protect teachers and students through school resource officers and other safety measures. House Bill 947 is now headed to Calendar & Rules Committee.
  • House Bill 949: Known as the Governor’s Investment in Vocational Education (GIVE) Act, House Bill 949 expands vocational and technical training opportunities for our students.  The measure now heads to the Finance, Ways, & Means Committee for a vote.
  • House Bill 952: Increases Career Technical Education (CTE) opportunities for Tennessee students so they are better prepared to meet the demands of 21st Century Workforce. Members of the House Finance, Ways, & Means Subcommittee are expected to take up this initiative next week.  I’m a co-sponsor on this bill and helping to move it through committee on behalf of the administration and Governor Lee.

Because of our recent, strategic Republican-led investments in education, Tennessee students are the fastest improving in the entire nation across math, reading, and science, and last year, we achieved the best high school graduation rates ever — 89.1 percent. When we invest in our students, teachers, and schools, Tennessee’s future looks bright.

Republican-led CARE Plan Initiatives Continue To Advance

This week, components of the Republican-led CARE Plan also gained momentum in the House. These legislative initiatives are a part of a patient-centered, free market approach to transform healthcare in Tennessee through Consumerism, increasing Access, improving Rural health systems, and Empowering patients to ensure individuals and families make all medical decisions, instead of insurance companies or the government.

They include:

  • House Bill 419: Creates the Tennessee Right to Shop Act, which promotes consumerism, improves pricing transparency, and will assist in lowering overall costs. The measure now heads to the full House Insurance Committee.
  • House Bill 498: Allows Tennessee to adopt the Katie Beckett waiver to help families receive critical care for their children. This initiative now heads to the Finance, Ways, & Means Subcommittee.
  • House Bill 753: Improves healthcare access in rural Tennessee communities through the use of Telemedicine.
  • House Bill 786:  Protects pharmacies and pharmacists from excessive claw backs due to clerical errors and non-fraudulent issues. The legislation also levels the playing field between local pharmacies and pharmacy benefits managers (PBMs) by requiring certain contract protections for pharmacies, proper network notification requirements, and truth in marketing and advertising by PBMs.

The overall goal of the CARE Plan is to increase access and the quality of care available to Tennesseans, while driving down overall costs and protecting all patients — with or without preexisting conditions. This extensive healthcare plan will be implemented throughout the 111th Tennessee General Assembly.

Republicans Advocate For Mining Safety

This week, Republican lawmakers passed House Bill 925 in support of Tennessee’s miners and their safety.

House Bill 925 streamlines response protocols for rescue teams during mining emergencies, while also saving taxpayer dollars. Additionally, the measure ensures that all companies who operate at all 11 Tennessee mines are meeting federal safety standards.

Our miners are the backbone of Tennessee’s economy, and we must ensure their safety as they work to provide for themselves and their families.

House Bill 925 now awaits action in the Senate. For more information, please click here.

Republican Leaders Fight For Critical Local Infrastructure Funding

Republican leaders unanimously approved House Bill 531, which calls for the continuation of key funding to help address infrastructure needs in Northeast Tennessee and rural communities across the state.

This measure seeks to make the two percent local match requirement for the State-Aid Local Asphalt Program permanent. The overall goal of this initiative is to guarantee our rural Tennessee counties have critical resources to keep up with growing infrastructure demands.

Roads, bridges, and highways are critical to the economic success of Tennessee communities, and House Republicans understand it’s imperative that we make strategic investments to maintain them and promote transportation safety.

This legislation accomplishes these goals and will also help attract new industries and jobs — especially to our rural regions.

The full text of House Bill 531 can be found here.

House Republicans Fight To Address Distracted Driving

This week, House Republicans continued to address distracted driving in communities across our state by advancing House Bill 164.

 The measure expands the offense of holding cellphones while driving from school zones to statewide implementation. The overall goal of the initiative is to improve public safety by reducing instances of distracted driving.

Tennessee currently ranks first in distracted driving deaths. Additionally, the number of deaths caused by distracted driving in our state is five times higher than our national average.

Click here to read the full text of House Bill 164.

Republicans Express Support For The Nation Of Israel

This week, House Republicans expressed their support for the nation of Israel by passing SJR 58 on the House floor.

While certain Congressional members are questioning the United States’ loyalty to one of our longest and most trusted middle-east allies, Tennessee lawmakers stand in support of this great nation.

Read the full text of the legislation here.

Tennessee’s Unemployment Rate Hits Record Low in February

According to Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development (TDLWD), the statewide unemployment rate in Tennessee dropped to a new historic low in February. The seasonally adjusted rate of 3.2 percent is 0.1 of a percentage point lower than the previous historic low.

 Tennessee reached its previous record low unemployment rate of 3.3 percent in October 2018 and it remained at the level for four consecutive months. The state began tracking unemployment rates in 1976.

Over the past year, Tennessee’s February unemployment rate decreased from 3.6 percent of 3.2 percent.

House Republicans have worked hard to create a business climate that would create such a historically low unemployment rate, and they remain committed to legislation that will ensure Tennessee is the best state to live and work in.

Despite record-low unemployment across the state, the 82nd District is still lagging behind in terms of economic development. I have had continued conversations with other House members in West Tennessee as well as Governor Lee about bringing jobs to our region of the state. I have heard good news in regards to the Megasite in Haywood County and I am anxiously awaiting reports from the various departments to see how they plan to help the distressed counties in our area. Governor Lee’s first executive action was aimed at helping formulate a plan for distressed counties and there are a large number of them in the western grand division. It is dire that we aim to get on par economically with the other two grand divisions.








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