Rep. John Crawford’s Newsroom

State Rep. John Crawford honored with National Association of Secretaries of State Medallion Award

September 15, 2020

(NASHVILLE) — State Rep. John Crawford (R-Kingsport) received the distinguished National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS) Medallion Award from Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett.

The NASS Medallion Award allows individual Secretaries of State to recognize outstanding service and dedication to furthering the mission of the association within each state. It was created to honor individuals, groups, or organizations with an established record of promoting the NASS’ goals in one or more of the following areas:

              • Elections, with special focus on voter education and participation.
              • Civic education, including the teaching, promotion and study of this subject.
              • Service to state government, specifically as it relates to the duties of the office of the Secretary of State.
              • A commitment to giving – a business or individual whose philanthropic contributions have significantly enhanced the quality of life in a local or regional area within a state, or within an entire state.

“Representative Crawford is well-deserving of the NASS Medallion Award,” said Secretary Hargett. “Representative Crawford has been a diligent supporter of meaningful legislation that enhances election security, protects voter data, and makes it easier than ever to register to vote in our great state. It’s my privilege to present him with this award.”

“It is an incredible honor to receive this prestigious award and to support the work of my friend, Secretary Tre Hargett,” said Rep. Crawford. “The effective partnership between our General Assembly and our constitutional officers has been instrumental in addressing our unique and emerging needs as a state. In the years ahead, I know that together, we will continue to build upon the remarkable economic growth and prosperity all three grand divisions of Tennessee have recently experienced.”

Additional information about the NASS can be found on their website at: NASS.ORG

John Crawford serves as Chairman of the House Local Government Committee. Crawford is also a member of the Calendar & Rules, and Finance, Ways, & Means Committees, as well as the Cities & Counties, Elections & Campaign Finance, and the Property & Planning Subcommittees. Crawford lives in Kingsport and represents Tennessee House District 1, which includes a portion of Sullivan County. He can be reached by email at: Rep.John.Crawford@capitol.tn.gov or by calling (615) 741-7623.

 

 

General Assembly reconvenes for 61st extraordinary session

August 14, 2020

This week, the General Assembly reconvened in Nashville for the 61st Extraordinary Session in Tennessee history.

As part of this historic special session, four new committees were created so that every House member had the opportunity to work on the three issues that comprised Governor Lee’s call for the session.

These panels focused on setting new standards to address the possibility of frivolous lawsuits related to the Covid-19 pandemic, increasing access to telehealth services for Tennessee patients during these unprecedented times, and holding those who promote lawlessness or who attack law enforcement and first responders accountable.

The special session began at 4 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 10 in the House chamber, and it concluded shortly after 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 12 with the sine die adjournment resolution.

 

 

Republican leaders increase access to telehealth services for Tennesseans

During the special session, House Republicans led efforts to increase access to telehealth services for Tennesseans through passage of House Bill 8002.

This legislation has been a priority of House Republican leadership throughout the 111th General Assembly, and it was carefully vetted to prioritize Tennessee patients having access to their very own doctors and health care providers.

House Bill 8002 increases access to electronic health care services and provides payment parity for clinically appropriate, medically necessary services so insurance companies reimburse providers at the same rates they would for in-person visits.

Under this legislation, patients must have been seen in person by a physician or health service provider’s practice group within 16 months of a telemedicine visit. The bill also enables Tennesseans to utilize telemedicine as an alternative to in-person visits with their physicians or providers during the pandemic.

As part of the Republican CARE Plan that was first introduced in 2019, this innovative solution puts Tennessee patients first, by increasing access, promoting affordability, and improving overall health outcomes.

The measure now awaits the governor’s signature.

 

House Republicans support business sustainability in Tennessee

House Republicans this week also set new standards to address the potential for frivolous lawsuits against a person or entity resulting from the ongoing pandemic in Tennessee through House Bill 8001.

The Tennessee Covid-19 Recovery Act was approved in the House chamber by an 80-10 vote Wednesday. This legislation increases liability protections for businesses, schools, institutions of higher learning, churches, as well as civic organizations that operate in good faith from frivolous claims by raising standards for action from the current standard of simple negligence to a new standard of gross negligence or willful misconduct.

Under this proposal, any individual alleging injury must file a verified complaint, citing specific facts, as well as clear and convincing evidence that the injury was caused by an act or omission constituting gross negligence or that an entity demonstrated willful misconduct, resulting in a loss, damage, injury, or death from Covid-19.

All lawsuits already filed or in process on or before the date of the governor’s call for a special session on Aug. 3 would not be affected by the Tennessee Covid-19 Recovery Act and may still proceed.

These are extraordinary times, and our businesses have suffered considerable hardships because of unexpected closures in recent months. Additionally, schools have worked tirelessly to implement protocols and procedures so they can safely reopen and educate our children.

The Tennessee Covid-19 Recovery Act protects these and other entities by establishing predictable standards moving forward for future pandemic-related lawsuits so individuals or groups seeking a payday do not abuse our legal system to file a baseless claim against an individual or organization in our state.

 

Republican lawmakers push for law and order, support Tennessee’s first responders

House Republicans on Wednesday evening approved legislation that holds those who promote lawlessness or who attack law enforcement and first responders in Tennessee accountable.

Known as the Law & Order bill, House Bill 8005 protects the rights of citizens enshrined in our Constitution to peaceful assemble. However, those few individuals who escalate peaceful demonstrations into acts of aggression, intimidation, rioting, vandalism or who seek violence towards law enforcement, firefighters and first responders will be held totally accountable for their actions.

The legislation has statewide application, and it is necessary because of recent incidents across Tennessee and our nation where a few bad actors have escalated peaceful demonstrations and have turned them into acts of total lawlessness.

House Bill 8005 creates mandatory minimum prison sentences for assault and aggravated assault of law enforcement, firefighters, and first responders, as well as rioting and aggravated rioting.

These mandatory minimums include:

  • A 30 day mandatory minimum sentence for assault of a first responder.
  • A 90 day mandatory minimum sentence for aggravated assault of a first responder.
  • A 30 day mandatory minimum sentence for participation in a riot and an order of restitution for property damage or loss associated with the offense.
  • A 45 day mandatory minimum sentence for aggravated rioting and an order of restitution for property damage.

The legislation also clarifies and strengthens our existing laws related to illegal camping on state property, and it addresses those who deface our state and public buildings, while keeping peaceful protestors, law enforcement, first responders, and our citizens safe.

When the Covid-19 pandemic first began, Tennessee’s first responders were our heroes, and this is an opportunity to once again join together to support all who protect and serve us and who risk their lives each and every day for the citizens of Tennessee.

We want our citizens to exercise their constitutional rights and participate in peaceful demonstrations, but at the same time, House Republicans will not stand for anarchy or lawlessness here in our state.

 

Government accountability measure passes House chamber

Legislation that holds local governments accountable for prohibiting emergency response during public demonstrations was also approved this week. House Bill 8006 removes immunity for mayors, chief executives, governing boards or government entities if they choose to prohibit law enforcement or fire and rescue services from accessing specific areas within their jurisdiction which they have left unprotected during a public demonstration.

The measure — which is the first of its kind — does not apply to any decisions made by local law enforcement, fire or rescue services personnel based on safety risks to those responding or to the general public. Under this legislation, anyone who violates this law will be held financially liable if damages, injury or death occurs to our citizens and their property.

House Bill 8006 now heads to the governor’s desk for his signature.

Rep. John Crawford announces Career and Technical Education grant for Bristol City Schools

July 2, 2020

NASHVILLE, TN— State Rep. John Crawford, R-Bristol/Kingsport, today announced Bristol City Schools will receive a $50,000 Perkins Reserve Grant to expand career and technical education. The district will also receive a Regional Career Pathways Award of $118,727 to implement regionally focused secondary and post-secondary partnerships.

The Tennessee Department of Education on Wednesday announced the U.S. Department of Education has approved the state’s plan, Strengthening Career and Technical Education in Tennessee, which will provide $110 million over four years in federal funds to implement CTE at the K-12 and postsecondary levels in Tennessee. The department also announced more than $3 million in Perkins Reserve Grants to 44 school districts for the 2020-21 school year.

“While we will be able to see the initial effects of these rewards through our students participating in these programs, Bristol City will reap the benefits of CTE for many years to come,” Crawford said. “I appreciate the Tennessee Department of Education’s efforts to expand the future workforce of our community.”

The Perkins Reserve Grant (PRG) is a competitive grant opportunity. It was redesigned under the Strengthening Career and Technical Education in Tennessee State plan to help foster local innovation and support implementation of CTE programs.

The Strengthening Career and Technical Education in Tennessee Plan expands equitable access to comprehensive CTE across the education to workforce pipeline, including in the early and middle grades, increases participation in high-quality and aligned career pathways and work-based learning experiences, and supports the attainment of relevant certificates, credentials, and/or degrees needed to meet the workforce demands of Tennessee.

“Every student deserves the opportunity to graduate with the skills and knowledge they need to be successful, whatever pathway they choose. Tennessee’s Perkins V Plan will help our districts and education leaders expand access to high quality learning experiences for more students, like work-based learning, STEM programming, and opportunities to earn certifications and credentials even before graduating,” said Commissioner Penny Schwinn. “By strengthening CTE in Tennessee, we are not only investing in our students—we are preparing the future workforce of our state.”

 

 

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State Rep. John Crawford’s Weekly Wrap (May 29, 2020)

May 29, 2020
Edited WeeklyWrap05.28.20

Criminal Justice Subcommittee Approves Rep. Timothy Hill’s, John Crawford’s & Bud Hulsey’s Evelyn’s Law Legislatio

May 28, 2020

(NASHVILLE, Tenn.) — Members of the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee this week advanced a measure sponsored by Rep. Timothy Hill (R-Blountville), State Rep. John Crawford (R-Kingsport), and State Rep. Bud Hulsey (R-Kingsport) that increases penalties against parents or guardians who fail to expediently report a missing child to law enforcement or the appropriate agency.

Known as Evelyn’s Law in honor of Sullivan County toddler Evelyn Boswell, House Bill 1309 requires a report of a missing child to law enforcement or the appropriate authority within 48 hours of their disappearance. Under the proposal, failure to report while demonstrating reckless disregard for the safety of that child will now be considered a Class A misdemeanor. This is punishable by up to 11 months and 29 days in jail, a fine of up to $2,500 or both.

“Our community hurts as we continue to mourn Evelyn Boswell, and this legislation adds a tool for law enforcement across Tennessee as they investigate cases involving missing children,” said Chairman Hill. “I appreciate my colleagues for supporting this legislation, and I know it will close the gap in our current law so we can bring those with disregard for the children of Tennessee to swift justice.”

House Bill 1309 supports members of our law enforcement and judicial committees as they look to strengthen protections for Tennessee children,” said Chairman Crawford. “I am honored to join Chairman Hill and Chairman Hulsey in supporting this initiative, and I look forward to its passage in the House.”

Evelyn’s Law now heads to the full House Judiciary Committee for additional discussion and debate on June 2, 2020.

“We remain in disbelief that the well-being of this child was jeopardized by those entrusted with her care,” said Chairman Hulsey. “This proposal will better assist our law enforcement communities across this state so similar situations are hopefully avoidable in the future.”

For more information on House Bill 1309, please click here.

 

 

 

State Representative John Crawford’s Weekly Wrap

April 15, 2019

Republican-Led Initiative To Expand Access To Vocational & Technical Training Passes House

On Wednesday, the House of Representatives passed House Bill 949, also known as the GIVE Act, to expand access to vocational and technical training for Tennessee students by a 92-0 vote.

One of Governor Lee’s first initiatives, this legislation is a two-pronged approach that utilizes regional partnerships to develop work-based learning and apprenticeship opportunities. Communities will now have the funding and flexibility to build programs that best reflect local needs and work directly with private industry to structure programming.

The GIVE Act also provides funding for high school juniors and seniors to utilize four, fully-funded dual enrollment credits for trade and technical programs. Previously, high school students only had access to two fully-funded dual enrollment credits. With access to four credits, students will now be better prepared for entry into the workforce within two years of graduation.

This initiative will help close gaps in our workforce by helping students become better prepared for jobs after high school. The measure now awaits Governor Lee’s signature.

Lawmakers Pass Bill To Empower Tennessee To Lead On Healthcare

House Republicans approved House Bill 1280 on Thursday, which will empower Tennessee to lead on healthcare and create a patient-centered system that addresses the unique needs of our citizens, while also lowering costs.

House Bill 1280 calls on the Governor, acting through the Commissioner of Finance & Administration to submit a waiver to the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid services to immediately provide assistance to the state’s TennCare population through the implementation of block grants.

It is part of the comprehensive Republican-led CARE plan, designed to transform healthcare through Consumerism, increasing Access, improving Rural health systems, and Empowering patients to ensure individuals and families can make all medical decisions instead of insurance companies or the government.

Block grants authorized through House Bill 1280 must convert the federal share of all medical assistance funding for Tennessee into an allotment that is tailored to meet our state’s specific needs. All grant funding must be indexed to take into account both inflation and population growth. Additionally, our General Assembly will partner with the Governor during the negotiation process and will have oversight on the implementation of federal funding allocated to TennCare.

In recent years, Tennessee has become a national leader in innovation — whether it is job creation, or improving our education system. This legislation enables us to once again lead on a critical local and national issue, without federal mandates.

House Republicans are continuing their work to create patient-centered solutions that redefine our current healthcare system, and this is a major step in ensuring Tennesseans remain in control of all health decisions.

Republicans Pass Legislation To Curb Fentanyl In Tennessee

House Republicans also passed multiple pieces of legislation this week to fight back against the opioid and drug epidemic in Tennessee.

House Bill 942, which unanimously passed this week, changes the penalties to a Class B felony for 15 grams or more or a Class A felony for 150 grams or more of fentanyl.

House Bill 705, which was also approved by a vote of 93-0, adds the sale or distribution of a substance containing fentanyl, carfentanil, or any opiate with the intent and premeditation to commit murder as an aggravating factor to be considered when the sentencing court is considering the death penalty.

While there is much more work to be done, Republican leaders are committed to curbing the opioid epidemic that is plaguing our state. These measures are a step in the right direction, and the General Assembly will continue to find new solutions that end the cycle of addiction.

House Advances Criminal Justice Reform Legislation

In a strong show of support, House members unanimously passed House Bill 941 to begin the process of overhauling our criminal justice system so it meets present day demands, not those of 30 years ago.

House Bill 941 removes the $180 fee for an individual seeking an expunction while also removing the $350 fee for a defendant applying for an expunction following the completion of a diversion program.

With an expungement, individuals who desire to become productive members of society will be able to have their previous non-violent mistakes erased and be ready to re-enter the workforce more rapidly.

Republican leaders also passed House Bill 926 this week. It clarifies eligibility requirements for a targeted program that measures outcomes of previously incarcerated individuals as they work to successfully re-enter their local communities.

Finally, House Bill 1303 was also approved on Wednesday. This initiative incorporates incarcerated individuals as a focus population for Tennessee’s Drive to 55 Program. The bill requires the Department of Correction (TDOC), in partnership with the Tennessee Higher Education Commission (THEC) and the Tennessee Board of Regents (TBR), to develop and submit a plan to equip at least 10 percent of eligible incarcerated individuals with a post-secondary degree, certificate, or diploma by 2025.
Approximately 95 percent of all incarcerated individuals will leave prison and return to their communities at some point. These and other initiatives throughout the 111th General Assembly will prepare them for successful re-entry, save taxpayer dollars on incarceration costs, and accomplish the overall goal of creating safe communities across Tennessee.

House Republicans Fight To Protect Tennessee Consumers

House Republicans also passed legislation to help protect Tennessee consumers this week.

House Bill 948 — which is part of the Governor’s legislative package this year — strengthens protections for our consumers by streamlining the process for filing complaints.

Previously, all consumer complaints were filed with the Department of Commerce & Insurance before being referred to the Attorney General’s office. Under this initiative, consumers will now be able to directly contact the Attorney General’s Office to file a complaint.

House Bill 948 ensures Tennessee businesses are operating in a fair and equitable manner, so they are not undermining our consumers. Most importantly, this bill supports Tennessee’s business-friendly climate and guarantees the interests of our consumers are protected.

Legislation Benefiting First Responders Passes The House

 Republican lawmakers also advanced House Bill 937 to help benefit our heroic police officers and firefighters.

This important measure increases the training supplement 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.

It is a small way we can thank first responders for their daily service and sacrifices, and House Republicans will continue to fight for them.

House Bill 937 now awaits the Governor’s signature.

Components Of Governor’s Agenda Continue To Gain Momentum In House

Several Administration bills also continue to advance through the committee process. They include:

  • House Bill 950: Funds the state’s electronic monitoring indigency fund, which was exhausted last year. The measure adds $1.5 million in new funding and creates a state and county matching grant program to distribute funds. The bill heads to the House chamber for a vote on Monday, April 15, 2019.
  • House Bill 952: Increases Career Technical Education (CTE) opportunities for Tennessee students so they are better prepared to meet the demands of a 21st Century Workforce. The measure will be up for a vote on Monday, April 15, 2019.
  • House Bill 939: Also known as the Education Savings Account Bill, this legislation creates new opportunities for students who reside in areas with three or more low performing schools. House Bill 939 will now be heard by the House Finance, Ways, & Means Committee next week.
  • House Bill 940: Establishes an independent charter school commission to support the continued success of our current public charter schools while also creating additional opportunities for students to attend newly established public charter facilities. The measure heads to the House floor for a vote next week.

 

 

State Representative John Crawford’s Weekly Wrap

April 5, 2019

Republican-Led Initiative To Secure Our Tennessee Schools Passes House

This week, Republican lawmakers passed House Bill 947, which will help secure our Tennessee schools and provide additional safety resources to protect our future leaders.

The initiative proposes a $30 million investment for the school safety grant fund and additional changes to existing law to prioritize the distribution of these grants to help secure school resource officers and other safety measures.

Total proposed funding for school resources officers and additional safety measures for FY 2019-2020 is $50 million. Approximately $10 million of this funding total was allocated last year, $30 million is new money as part of the Governor’s proposed budget, and House Bill 947 also paves the way for an additional $10 million through a local match.

The safety and security of our children and teachers is a top priority for House Republicans, and this funding will ensure they have the resources needed to better protect our schools.

Republican lawmakers remain committed to improving schools safety, and this measure is a major step in the right direction.

Republicans Work To Increase Transparency Within The Education System

On Thursday, House Republicans supported legislation, House Bill 946, which will help increase transparency within the education system.

House Bill 946 requires a Local Education Agency (LEA) to report to the Department of Education how additional funds were used for each year an LEA receives an increase in funding for salaries and wages.

House Republicans are committed to increasing transparency within our education system and this legislation will ensure Tennesseans’ hard-earned tax dollars are being used properly to support our students, teachers, and schools.

Focus On Education

Several of the Administration’s education initiatives also gained more momentum in the House this week. They include:

  • 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 heads to the House floor next week.
  • 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 Committee are expected to take up this initiative next week.
  • House Bill 939: Also known as the Education Savings Account Bill, this legislation creates new opportunities for students who reside in areas with three or more low performing schools. House Bill 939 will now be heard by the House Finance, Ways, & Means Subcommittee next week.
  • House Bill 940: Establishes an independent charter school commission to support the continued success of our current public charter schools while also creating additional opportunities for students to attend newly established public charter facilities. The measure heads to Finance, Ways, & Means next week.

Republican Leaders Bolster Support For Law Enforcement & Firefighters

On Thursday, Republican leaders bolstered their support for our local law enforcement and firefighters by supporting House Bill 937.

This legislation increases the salary supplement available to law enforcement officers and firefighters from $600 to $800 when individuals complete annual in-service training.

House Republicans understand the importance of training for our first responders. This legislation ensures they have the necessary funding so they can become even more efficient at protecting and serving their communities.

House Republicans Continue To Advance Criminal Justice Legislation

House Republican lawmakers also continued to advance several criminal justice initiatives through the committee process.

This week, House Bill 941 advanced out of the House Finance, Ways and Meas Committee. This important legislation would remove the $180 fee for an individual seeking an expunction while also removing the $350 fee for a defendant applying for an expunction following the completion of a diversion program.

To combat the growing fentanyl epidemic, Republicans advanced House Bill 942 through the Finance, Ways and Means Committee. The measure builds upon Tennessee’s efforts to address the opioid crisis by cracking down on synthetic drug trafficking in our state. The legislation increases penalties against fentanyl dealers and those who traffic any derivative or analogue of this deadly synthetic drug.

On Wednesday, House Bill 950 passed the Finance, Ways and Means Subcommittee. This legislation provides $1.5 million in funding for the electronic monitoring indigency fund, while also making monitoring vendors whole. Additionally, it transitions the program into a matching grant program at the local level.

Republicans remain committed to advancing legislation that improves our system of justice so it meets present day standards, not those of 30 years ago.

Lawmakers Expand Program To Address Infrastructure Needs

Republicans also continued to make significant progress on improving our infrastructure in a fiscally responsible manner by advancing House Bill 923.

It is designed to improve efficiency and provide substantial cost savings within certain infrastructure projects. When enacted, the measure will also alleviate inconveniences experienced by Tennessee motorists as construction projects are completed.

House Republicans will continue to fight for additional solutions that improve safety and address infrastructure, while also saving taxpayer dollars.

House Bill 923 has passed through the House of Representatives and the Senate and is now headed to the Governor’s desk.

Republicans Working To Curb Robocalls

Republican lawmakers approved an initiative to crack down on robocalls in Tennessee earlier this week

House Bill 1245 raises the penalty of misleading a phone subscriber from $10,000 to $30,000 per violation against a person or entity that makes an unwanted robocall. The bill also encourages carriers offering telephone services in the state to implement SHAKEN/STIR technology to help detect robocalls. Finally, it urges the Attorney General to call on the Federal Communications Commission to create new rules that will allow carriers to block more of these illegal, annoying robocalls.

Tennessee is taking strong steps to address this issue, and House Bill 1245 moves us in the right direction to deter robocalls. Although this is an issue that is primarily under the jurisdiction of the FCC at the federal level, Republican lawmakers will continue to support this initiative and others that curb this growing problem.

House Bill 1245 now makes its way through the Senate.

The Tennessee General Assembly Honors Manny’s House of Pizza

Members of the Tennessee General Assembly on Thursday honored Manny’s House of Pizza by presenting the business with a House Resolution.

House Resolution 53 celebrates the Nashville eatery and family business for its positive presence in the community for the better part of three decades. Additionally, it recognizes owner Manny Maccas for recently obtaining his United States citizenship.

This incredible milestone for him and his wife Adele is worthy of a celebration, and House Resolution 53 is a small way of thanking them as they continue to serve the Nashville area with smiles and slices of their famous New York style pizza.

 

 

Representative John Crawford’s Weekly Wrap

March 29, 2019

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.
  • House Bill 939: Also known as the Education Savings Account Bill, this legislation creates new opportunities for students who reside in areas with three or more low performing schools. House Bill 939 will now be heard by the House Government Operations Committee next week.
  • House Bill 940: Establishes an independent charter school commission to support the continued success of our current public charter schools while also creating additional opportunities for students to attend newly established public charter facilities.

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.

Representative John Crawford’s Weekly Wrap

March 22, 2019

Sergeant Baker Bill Passes In The House

This week, House Republicans approved House Bill 258, known as the Sergeant Baker Act.

This initiative removes the intermediate appeal to the court of criminal appeals in death penalty cases and provides for automatic direct review by the Tennessee Supreme Court for convictions for which a death sentence is imposed.

Additionally, House Bill 258 removes the direct appeal from the trial court to the court of criminal appeals and provides that when the judgment has become final in trial court, the conviction and death sentence will be automatically reviewed by the Supreme Court.

As referenced by media reports, House Bill 258 is named after Sgt. Daniel Baker, a Dickson County Sheriff’s Sergeant who was shot and killed in May of last year. Steven Wiggins and Erika Castro-Miles have been charged with first-degree murder, and the district attorney’s office is seeking the death penalty for both.

House Bill 258 now awaits action in the Senate. For more information on the bill, please click here.

House Republicans Support Broadband Accessibility Grants

Recently, Republican leaders joined with the Governor to announce $14.8 million in broadband accessibility grants that will expand broadband service to more than 8,300 households and businesses in 17 counties across Tennessee.

According to the FCC’s 2018 Broadband Deployment Report, nearly one in four rural Tennesseans lack access to reliable broadband services. These grants and additional funding will continue to close the access gap, ensuring rural Tennesseans have the tools needed for growth and prosperity.

Grantees will provide $20 million in matching funds for a combined investment of nearly $35 million across the state for the second year of funding. Infrastructure should be built out within two years of receiving the grant funds.

For more information about the Broadband Accessibility Grant Program, please click here.

Republicans Fight For Increased Access, Lower Healthcare Costs For Small Businesses

 Recently, House Republicans approved legislation that expands access to high quality healthcare services for Tennessee’s small businesses, while also reducing overall costs.

House Bill 1126, which passed by a 95-0 vote, paves the way for small businesses and independent contractors to access large group insurance coverage, which will ultimately improve the quality of care available to these important groups, while lowering overall costs.

The measure promotes competition and is part of the Republican-led CARE Plan, which will reshape healthcare in Tennessee through Consumerism, increasing Access, improving Rural health systems, and Empowering patients to ensure individuals and families to make all medical decisions, instead of insurance companies or the government.

The overall goal of the innovative 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 pre-existing conditions.

House Bill 1126 now awaits the Governor’s signature. For more information about this initiative, please click here.

Republican-Led Block Grant Legislation Continues To Move In The House

Legislation empowering Tennessee to lead on healthcare by creating a patient-centered system that addresses the unique needs of our citizens, while lowering costs continues to gain momentum in the Tennessee House of Representatives.

House Bill 1280 cleared the House Finance, Ways, & Means Subcommittee this week. This legislation directs the Governor, through the commissioner of finance and administration, to submit a waiver amendment to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to provide TennCare II funding by means of block grants.

Block grants authorized through House Bill 1280 must convert the federal share of all medical assistance funding for Tennessee into an allotment that is tailored to meet our state’s specific needs. All grant funding must be indexed to take into account both inflation and population growth.

In recent years, Tennessee has become a national leader in innovation — whether it is job creation, or improving our education system. This legislation enables us to once again lead on a critical local and national issue, without federal mandates.

Republican leaders are committed to creating a patient-centered system, driven by free-market solutions. This will increase transparency and competition while lowering overall costs with limited government interference.

Katie Beckett Legislation Continues To Advance In The House

This week, members of the House TennCare Subcommittee passed House Bill 498, known as the Katie Beckett Waiver Program.

This life-saving legislation would allow Tennessee to adopt federal provisions like the Katie Beckett waiver to help families receive care for their children.

Tennessee joins other states that have opted to provide a Medicaid coverage pathway for at least some children with significant disabilities living at home, regardless of parental income.

The measure now heads to the House Insurance Committee. For more information, please click here.

Investment in Vocational Education Initiative Passes Finance, Ways and Means Subcommittee

On Wednesday, the House Finance, Ways & Means Subcommittee advanced the Governor’s Investment in Vocational Education (GIVE) Act, which expands access to vocational and technical training for Tennessee students.

The GIVE is a two-pronged approach that utilizes regional partnerships to develop work-based learning and apprenticeship opportunities. Communities will now have the funding and flexibility to build programs that best reflect local needs and work directly with private industry to structure programming.

GIVE also provides funding for high school juniors and seniors to utilize four, fully-funded dual enrollment credits for trade and technical programs. Previously, high school students only had access to two fully-funded dual enrollment credits. With access to four credits, students will now be better prepared for entry into the workforce within two years of graduation.

Two grant programs will fund the initiative: GIVE Community Grants and GIVE Student Grants. Using the framework of the state’s Labor Education Alignment Program (LEAP), the governor will recommend new funding in support of work-based learning through GIVE Community Grants. These competitive grants will go to regional partnerships between TCATs, industry, and K-12 to build new programs in work-based learning and apprenticeships, market-driven dual-credit opportunities, and the expansion of industry-informed CTE offerings at local high schools.

GIVE Student Grants will be funded via the Tennessee Lottery and support expanded access to dual enrollment.

House Bill 949 now heads to the House Finance, Ways, & Means Committee.

Republican Lawmakers Toss Amusement Tax On Small Gyms

Thursday, Republican lawmakers voted unanimously to toss the tax on small gyms and other fitness facilities across Tennessee with passage of House Bill 1138.

As part of the Governor’s budget proposal, this important tax reduction levels the playing field for small gyms, fitness studios, and other exercise facilities so they can compete with their larger counterparts.

Prior to this repeal, members of smaller facilities would pay dues or fees that were subjected to a 10 percent tax, while customers at larger facilities were exempt from it.

Tennessee currently ranks in the bottom five states for obesity and fitness, and eliminating the burdensome gym tax will help promote a healthier workforce, reduce absenteeism, and instances of diabetes, obesity, and hypertension.

House Bill 1138 now awaits passage in the Senate.

Key Administration Bills Continue To Move Through House Committee Process

Several key pieces of the Governor’s agenda continued to move through the committee process in the House this week. They include:

  • House Bill 939: Creates new education opportunities through investment in Education Savings Accounts that will provide opportunities for thousands of students who reside within the worst performing school districts (Knoxville, Chattanooga, Memphis, Nashville, Jackson) a new educational pathway to success.
  • House Bill 940: Establishes an independent charter commission to ensure that underperforming charter schools are replaced with successful charter models so they can better serve Tennessee’s student population that relies on these academic institutions.
  • House Bill 942: Builds upon Tennessee’s efforts to address the opioid crisis by cracking down on synthetic drug trafficking in our state. The legislation increases penalties against fentanyl dealers and those who traffic any derivative or analogue of this deadly synthetic drug.
  • House Bill 947: Proposes a $30 million investment for the school safety grant fund and additional changes to existing law to prioritize the distribution of these grants to help secure school resource officers and additional safety measures. Total funding for school resources officers and additional safety measures as part of the Governor’s proposed FY 2019-2020 budget is $40 million ($10 million was allocated last year.)

 

State Representative John Crawford’s Weekly Wrap

March 8, 2019

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.