Rep. William Lamberth’s Newsroom

Majority Leader William Lamberth’s Capitol Hill Review

April 1, 2021

The General Assembly approves constitutional carry

House Republicans this week passed historic legislation restoring Tennesseans’ constitutional right to self-defense. House Bill 786 removes encroachments on law-abiding citizens who wish to exercise their Second Amendment right to carry a handgun while increasing penalties for criminals who steal guns or possess them illegally.

Tennesseans who are at least 21-years-old, or are honorably discharged or active in the U.S. Armed Forces, National Guard or Reserves, will be able to carry a handgun without a permit in places where they are lawfully allowed. This legislation does not change any law concerning the purchase of a handgun.

Those who carry without a permit must have no felony convictions, orders of protection in effect, pending charges or convictions for domestic violence or stalking, or have been adjudicated as a mental defective.  In addition, individuals convicted of two DUI offenses within the last ten years or one in the last five years would not be eligible, as well as federal prohibitions which include illegal aliens and fugitives from justice.

The legislation also increases penalties for firearm-related crime to promote public safety including:

  • Increasing the penalty for theft of a firearm to a Class E felony;
  • Providing a sentencing enhancement for theft of a firearm in a car;
  • Increasing the minimum sentence for theft of a firearm from 30 days to 180 days; and
  • Increasing the sentences for unlawful possession of a firearm by violent felons and felony drug offenders, possession of a handgun by a felon, and unlawfully providing a handgun to a juvenile or allowing a juvenile to possess a handgun.

House Bill 786 is similar to laws passed in 19 states, while 31 states recognize the right to carry openly.  The bill now goes to the governor’s desk for final approval. House Bill 786 is expected to become law on July 1.

 

Republicans protect rape victims

Republicans passed legislation protecting victims of aggravated statutory rape and statutory rape by an authority figure in the House on Thursday.

House Bill 326 adds aggravated statutory rape and statutory rape by an authority figure to the list of offenses for which an offender will be prohibited from having custody or inheritance rights with regard to a child born as a result of the offense and for which any visitation will be conditioned on the other parent’s request.

Present law removes parental rights from a rapist who is convicted of a crime. This legislation removes parental rights from a rapist who is convicted of or pleads guilty or no contest to a lesser offense.

House Bill 326 protects a child from a questionable outcome in a civil custody battle by giving power to the victim of a rape and child of a rape to decide if and when a child will be around the father. House Bill 326 heads to Gov. Bill Lee’s desk for his signature.

 

General Assembly makes sex trafficking a predatory offense

The House chamber this week unanimously passed legislation expanding the definition of predatory offenses to include commercial sex trafficking.

House Bill 1180 adds the offense of trafficking a person for a commercial sex act to the meaning of predatory offenses for the purposes of sentencing a person as a child sexual predator.

Current law requires a convicted child sexual predator, aggravated rapist, multiple rapists, or child rapist to serve the entire sentence imposed by the court. Neither the governor nor the board of parole may release such an offender in an effort to reduce prison overcrowding before completion of the full sentence

House Bill 1180 adds those convicted of sex trafficking to the category of sex predators who are ineligible for early parole or release before completion of their full sentence.

House Bill 1180 was previously passed in the Senate chamber and it now heads to the governor’s desk for approval.

 

STRONG Act expands opportunities for Tennessee Guardsmen

The House chamber this week unanimously approved legislation that will expand eligibility for tuition reimbursement for Tennessee National Guardsmen under Tennessee’s Support, Training, and Renewing Opportunity for National Guardsmen (STRONG) Act.  The STRONG Act provides eligible service members in the Tennessee National Guard with tuition reimbursement for coursework completed as a full-time student in pursuit of their bachelor’s degree.

Republican leaders are sponsoring House Bill 83 which expands eligibility to service members for a master’s degree and certificate-producing programs. It provides tuition reimbursement for up to 120 hours for a bachelor’s degree, 40 hours for a master’s degree and 24 hours for a vocational or technical program.  The legislation also provides reimbursement for up to 30 additional hours for any service member enrolled in ROTC or other officer-producing programs while pursuing a bachelor’s degree or master’s degree.  Students enrolled in officer-producing programs are required to take certain courses which can be outside the requirements of their chosen degree. This could lead to ROTC students hitting the credit hour cap before obtaining their degree and losing their eligibility for additional reimbursement.  Finally, the bill extends the program for four more years until June 30, 2025.

The STRONG Act has boosted recruitment of service members in the National Guard since its enactment in 2017.  This legislation aims to retain and renew more service members by offering additional education benefits.  The Senate version of the bill is expected to be considered for passage in the coming weeks.

 

Legislation addressing teacher shortage passes in the House

Legislation that addresses Tennessee’s teacher shortage passed the House on Monday. House Bill 533 simplifies the process for teachers who are moving to Tennessee to receive an appropriate teaching license, helping qualified teachers get into classrooms quicker.

The bill allows out-of-state educators who possess the equivalent of a Tennessee professional teacher’s license in their current state to receive a Tennessee professional-level license without being required to take an assessment or receive certain evaluation scores.  The Tennessee State Board of Education will have the authority to promulgate rules regarding the reciprocal licenses.

House Bill 533 now heads to Gov. Bill Lee’s desk for his signature.

 

Republicans give patients more control over their prescriptions

 Legislation to make certain reforms to how Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs) operate in Tennessee is advancing through House committees. House Bill 1398 ensures patients can use the pharmacies they choose and trust rather than being forced by their insurance companies to use specialty pharmacies that often don’t meet patients’ needs. This is particularly important for patients with chronic, complex or rare diseases.

PBMs are companies that manage prescription drug benefits on behalf of health insurers, Medicare Part D drug plans, large employers and others. They are owned by insurance companies and often own pharmacies as well. As a big industry in the U.S., the top three PBMs in America service 230 million patients. House Bill 1398 puts patients first by giving them greater access, choice and transparency. The bill would ensure price reductions negotiated by the PBMs pass through the pharmacy directly to the consumer and that pharmacies are not paid below their acquisition cost.

In addition, the bill seeks to prohibit PBMs from discriminating against 340B facilities, which are health care safety net providers that serve the state’s most vulnerable populations. Currently, PBMs can amend a 340B entity’s contract and reimburse at a lower rate than negotiated, essentially withholding money from indigent care facilities. This can be detrimental to these entities which are working hard to stay open and provide care to those who need it most.

Finally, the bill improves transparency for patients by stating that a PBM has a responsibility to report any entitlement benefit percentage to both the plan and covered person. It will also remove opaqueness within the PBM system by freeing up data to provide accurate information to patients at the point of care, empowering discussions and decisions about medicine a patient can afford and what it is going to cost.

The bill now moves to the Insurance Committee for consideration on April 6.

 

Houses passes legislation to curb cell phones usage in prisons

The House chamber unanimously passed legislation addressing ongoing security and public safety concerns in Tennessee prisons. Dangerous inmates are getting access to cell phones and using them to direct criminal activity despite the fact that they are confined within penitentiary facilities.  They have been used in the planning of escapes, drug dealing, money extortions, witness/victim intimidation, and violent crimes such as murder.

House Bill 1343 aims to curb the practice by making the possession of a telecommunications device in a penal institution a Class E felony, punishable by a fine of up to $3,000 on second offense.

Current law makes it a felony offense to introduce a telecommunications device into a prison, but possession by an inmate is not a crime.  This has hampered the ability of prison officials to place cell phones found in possession of an inmate in the stolen phone database or to get a subpoena to uncover evidence of criminal activity recorded on the device.  It also prevents them from prohibiting future access to the phone number because possession by the inmate is not a crime under current Tennessee law.  House Bill 1343 helps law enforcement get over that hurdle by making it a felony offense.

 

Business Fairness Act protects businesses in state of emergency

Legislation that seeks to protect small businesses during a state of emergency passed unanimously in the House Chamber on Monday.

The Covid-19 pandemic presented many challenges for small businesses across the state. Those that were not deemed essential suffered while their bigger competitors were allowed to remain open, ultimately giving government the authority to pick winners and losers in business.

House Bill 855, also known as the “Business Fairness Act,” provides businesses with the assurance that they cannot be forced to close while larger competitors stay open, and also gives businesses the choice to follow any set of guidelines, state or local, that allows them to operate at the capacity that works best for the business to protect their customers and employees. House Bill 855 now heads to the governor’s desk for his signature.

 

Legislation targets thefts of catalytic converters

Legislation that aims to decrease thefts of catalytic converters in Tennessee will be up for consideration in the House chamber on April 8.  In partnership with local and state law enforcement agencies, House Bill 1155 targets those who steal catalytic converters from cars. The bill requires any entity engaged in buying these unattached parts to notify law enforcement of these purchases. This will support the creation of a registry which will help suppress criminal activity in Tennessee.

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Majority Leader William Lamberth urges Congress to make court packing unconstitutional

February 2, 2021

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – House Majority Leader William Lamberth, R-Portland, today announced he filed HJR0065, a resolution urging Congress to amend the U.S. Constitution to ensure the U.S. Supreme Court remains composed of nine members.

Lamberth joins a growing coalition of bipartisan leaders and former state attorney generals from across the nation seeking to preserve the independence of the judicial branch and prevent a radical makeover of the United States government.

“The U.S. Supreme Court is the world’s greatest example of judicial independence and integrity and should remain free of political manipulation,” Lamberth said. “This resolution encourages members of Congress to protect the legitimacy of the U.S. Supreme Court by passing a constitutional amendment that safeguards against partisan court packing.”

Currently, the number of Supreme Court Justices is set by Congress.  The Coalition to Preserve the Independence of the Supreme Court is leading the “Keep Nine Amendment” movement which is encouraging Congress to include language in the U.S. Constitution saying, “The Supreme Court of the United States shall be composed of nine justices.”

“I applaud Leader Lamberth and his colleagues in introducing and sponsoring this resolution – it clearly promotes the independence of the judiciary,” said former Tennessee Attorney General Paul Summers, who serves as co-chair of the Coalition to Preserve the Independence of the Supreme Court.

“Keep Nine promotes the Rule of Law and maintains checks and balances on abuse of power by the other two political branches. We’ve had nine justices for 152 years, and our judiciary has proven it can and should be nonpolitical. This amendment constitutionally bans court packing,” Summers said.

The Judiciary Act of 1869 changed the number of Supreme Court justices from six to nine.  Congress last rejected an effort to expand the nation’s highest court in 1937 when President Franklin D. Roosevelt proposed adding eight new justices which would have expanded the court to 15 members.

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Leader Lamberth’s Statement On Chief Of Staff, Cade Cothren’s Resignation

May 7, 2019

“I am incredibly shocked and disappointed to learn of these allegations of inappropriate behavior involving the Speaker’s Chief of Staff, Cade Cothren, and I agree with his decision to resign immediately,” said House Majority Leader William Lamberth. “These allegations are grave and serious; I do not condone these actions, and they will not be tolerated.”

DIDD Commissioner Turner, Leader Lamberth Visit Habilitation and Training Services, Inc.

April 15, 2019

(GALLATIN, Tenn.) — House Majority Leader William Lamberth (R-Portland) recently joined with Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (DIDD) Commissioner Brad Turner to visit Habilitation and Training Services, Inc. (H.A.T.S.) in Gallatin, Tennessee.

The tour gave Leader Lamberth and Commissioner Turner the opportunity to meet many of the people impacted by H.A.T.S. and to learn more about the facility’s work supporting Tennesseans with disabilities so they can work and engage within their communities.

“I enjoyed visiting with Commissioner Turner, H.A.T.S. staff members, and the men and women who rely on our facility for high-quality services that help them flourish,” said Leader Lamberth. “These types of partnerships support so many citizens across Tennessee, and I appreciate facilities like H.A.T.S. for their tireless work, as well as our Commissioner and his team for all that they do for Tennesseans.”

“We value our lawmakers’ support and recognize the important role of our community providers in promoting inclusion, independence, and employment,” Commissioner Turner said. “I’m seeing first-hand how our partnerships are working to remove barriers so that Tennesseans with disabilities can live the lives they envision for themselves.”

William Lamberth is the House Majority Leader for the 111th Tennessee General Assembly. He is also a member of the House Finance, House Government Operations, and House Calendar & Rules Committees, as well as the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee. Lamberth lives in Portland and represents Tennessee House District 44, which includes part of Sumner County.  

About the Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities

The Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities is the state agency responsible for administration and oversight of community-based services for approximately 8,000 people with intellectual disabilities as well as 4,000 people through the Family Support Program.   Every day, the department strives to support people to live rewarding and fulfilling lives.  It does so by ensuring people are free to exercise rights, engage with their broader communities and experience optimal health.  DIDD is the first state service delivery system in the nation to receive Person-Centered Excellence Accreditation from the Council on Quality and Leadership.  It has also been recognized as a national leader in its efforts to increase competitive, community-based employment outcomes for people with disabilities.

About H.A.T.S.

Habilitation and Training Services, Inc (H.A.T.S.) is a community-based provider that supports people with intellectual and developmental disabilities in Sumner, Robertson, and Trousdale Counties. The agency’s mission isAssisting people with intellectual and developmental disabilities by clearing the way to maximize community integration in its various forms and by providing support to ensure a healthy and meaningful life. Our goal is to promote opportunities of inclusion, safety, self-direction and choice.”

 

 

House Majority Leader William Lamberth Applauds Education Committee On Passage Of Education Savings Account Bill

March 27, 2019

(NASHVILLE, Tenn.) – House Majority Leader William Lamberth (R-Portland) applauded the House Education Committee for passing House Bill 939, also known as the Education Savings Account Bill, which creates new opportunities for students who reside in areas with a substantial number of low performing schools.

This legislation establishes Tennessee’s education savings account program and will provide new opportunities for academic success for students in areas where there are three or more schools performing in the bottom 10 percent.

Tennessee has led the nation with important K-12 education reforms over the last decade, which has improved our student outcomes. Because of strategic Republican-led investments in education, our 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.

ESAs are one small piece of a much broader plan that is currently moving through our General Assembly.

During Fiscal Year 2019-2020, a total investment of $6.5 billion will benefit K-12 education in our public schools. This includes $71 million in pay raises. Approximately $46 million will be allocated to fully fund the state’s Basic Education Program (BEP), and another $40 million will help secure our schools by adding school resource officers and other safety measures.

The overall goal of these components and others is to improve our schools and help get Tennessee out of the bottom half nationally.

“I applaud the Education Committee for passing an important piece of our comprehensive education plan that will help reform our K-12 education system,” said Leader Lamberth. “I want to thank Governor Lee and Speaker Casada for their vigorous work in garnering support for this legislation. This is an important first step in the process of continuing our recent gains in education, and I look forward to working on the implementation of the entire plan so we can solidify our state’s future.”

House Bill 939 will now be heard by members of the House Government Operations Committee.

William Lamberth represents House District 44 and is the Majority Leader for the 111th General Assembly. Lamberth is a member of the Judiciary Committee, Select Committee on Rules, Select Committee on Ethics, Finance, Ways and Means Committee, Government Operations Committee, Joint Pensions and Insurance Committee and the Calendar & Rules Committee. He also sits on the Criminal Justice Subcommittee and the Joint Government Operations Commerce, Labor, Transportation and Agriculture Subcommittee.

 

Leader Lamberth & House Leadership Partner With Governor Lee To Implement Comprehensive Education Plan

March 26, 2019

Over the last several years, Republican lawmakers have invested $1.3 billion in new education dollars. As a result, our 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.

This year, House Leadership is partnering with Governor Lee to implement a comprehensive education plan that builds upon recent successes and continues to improve educational outcomes for Tennessee’s future leaders. During Fiscal Year 2019-2020, a total investment of $6.5 billion will benefit K-12 education in our public schools. This includes $71 million in pay raises. Approximately $46 million will be allocated to fully fund the state’s Basic Education Program (BEP), and another $40 million will help secure our schools by adding school resource officers and other safety measures.

As part of this comprehensive education plan, $4.8 billion dollars will benefit higher education in Tennessee. Through these investments, we will expand dual enrollment for career and technical programs through $4 million in the Governor’s Investment in Vocational Education (G.I.V.E.) Dual Enrollment Grants. Another $25 million will grow capacity for work-based learning through G.I.V.E. Community Grants, and a $4 million investment in the Future Workforce Initiative will create a workforce that is prepared to meet the demands of the 21st Century.

The plan increases Civics instruction opportunities to support the growth of high-quality civics programs, and, provides new opportunities for students who reside in areas with substantial numbers of low performing schools through a $25 million investment in Education Savings Accounts (ESAs). Finally, the education plan 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.

Our community is experiencing success unlike anything we have ever seen before. However, it is up to us to continue these remarkable trends. This can only happen if we focus all of our efforts and energy on our students, teachers, and schools. When these important groups have access to the critical tools and resources they need to succeed, we all benefit. This comprehensive education plan is an important step that will guarantee Tennessee’s future success.

William Lamberth is the House Majority Leader for the 111th Tennessee General Assembly. He is also a member of the House Finance, House Government Operations, and House Calendar & Rules Committees, as well as the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee. Lamberth lives in Portland and represents Tennessee House District 44, which includes part of Sumner County.  

 

 

House Majority Leader William Lamberth Supports Governor Lee’s Comprehensive Education Plan

March 21, 2019

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Today, members of House and Senate leadership including House Majority Leader William Lamberth (R-Portland) applauded Governor Bill Lee’s School Choice Agenda and comprehensive education plan as key initiatives advanced through House and Senate committees.

These initiatives are designed to create new education opportunities through Education Savings Accounts and successful Charter Schools. They are part of a comprehensive plan to support the academic goals and dreams of our current and future leaders. As part of this plan, House Republicans will also increase school resources to support our educators, expand access to vocational and technical training, and make investments to secure our schools. Additionally, the proposed 2019-2020 Fiscal Year budget calls for over $175 million in new funding to directly benefit Tennessee education.

“With the legislature’s hard work, school choice has momentum and we are working together to put students first and strengthen our public education system,” said Lee. “Low-income students deserve the same opportunities and we have a bold plan that levels the playing field while also focusing improvement on the lowest-performing school districts.”

Parents, legislators, educators and advocates from across the state praised Gov. Lee’s efforts to focus on students and expand educational opportunity.

I fully support the governor’s initiatives on expanding educational opportunities for children and look forward to our continued collaboration,” said Leader Lamberth.

“I am grateful for Gov. Lee’s efforts to provide alternatives for students who might otherwise be denied an opportunity for a great education,” said Leader Johnson.  “As Senate Majority Leader, I am the proud and enthusiastic sponsor of this important legislation.”

Having been on the education committee for seven years, I appreciate that Gov. Lee is focused on ensuring Tennessee’s education system is serving every student in our state,” said State Representative Mark White (R-Memphis). “His bold agenda supporting students, teachers, families, and education leaders will help Tennessee lead the nation with a strong educated workforce and a stronger economy.”

“I’m excited that the opportunity for families to have a choice in securing the best education for their child is moving forward,” said State Representative Bill Dunn (R-Knoxville). 

 

House Majority Leader William Lamberth Supports $304,000 Broadband Grant For Sumner County

March 19, 2019

(NASHVILLE) — Tennessee House Majority Leader William Lamberth (R-Portland) today announced he has helped secure a $304,763 Broadband Accessibility Grant for North Central Communications to expand broadband access in Sumner County.

The grant will support broadband deployment to 173 homes in the north portion of the county and will cover a portion of the $609,526 project cost. The overall goal of this grant funding is to facilitate broadband access to all Tennesseans, while promoting practices that increase deployment and promote broadband adoption. Funding targets underserved or unserved areas that are unlikely to receive reliable broadband services without these grant dollars.

“I appreciate Governor Lee and our Department of Economic & Community Development’s investment in support of North Central Communications and the citizens of Sumner County,” said Leader Lamberth. “This funding is critical to our future economic growth, and it will also solidify the academic foundations of our future leaders. Congratulations to our local officials for their efforts in securing this important funding through an extremely competitive process; I was honored to help support their work.”

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.

William Lamberth is the House Majority Leader for the 111th Tennessee General Assembly. He is also a member of the House Finance, House Government Operations, and House Calendar & Rules Committees, as well as the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee. Lamberth lives in Portland and represents Tennessee House District 44, which includes part of Sumner County. He can be reached by email at: Rep.William.Lamberth@capitol.tn.gov or by calling (615) 741-1980.

Majority Leader Lamberth Calls For More Government Transparency And Open Records Accessibility

February 15, 2019

(NASHVILLE, Tenn.) — House Majority Leader William Lamberth (R-Portland) today is calling for greater government transparency that will further serve to protect all records custodians, while expanding public availability of open records through increased online access.

“I am calling on both state departments and local governments to evaluate all records that may be placed online and to explore ways to increase availability,” said Leader Lamberth.

“Republicans in the legislature stand for more transparency for our citizens,” said Tennessee House Speaker Glen Casada (R-Franklin). “I am fully supportive of Leader Lamberth’s efforts, and I appreciate his desire to lead on this issue.”

Lamberth is currently working with all interested parties and constituents on an amendment to House Bill 626 in efforts to streamline the process of open records requests, protect record custodians, increase online accessibility, and to enhance government transparency.

“In this day and age with all of our technology, we should be able to fulfill open records requests online,” added Lamberth.

William Lamberth is the House Majority Leader for the 111th Tennessee General Assembly. He is also a member of the House Finance, House Government Operations, and House Calendar & Rules Committees, as well as the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee. Lamberth lives in Portland and represents Tennessee House District 44, which includes part of Sumner County.  

 

 

 

House Majority Leader William Lamberth Reflects On Governor Lee’s Inauguration, Tennessee’s Future

January 22, 2019

History was made on a rainy Saturday here in Middle Tennessee over the weekend. While the clouds hung over our Capitol and rain fell from the sky, the mood inside War Memorial Auditorium was as bright as Tennessee’s present and hopefully, its future.

As my colleagues and I sat on a crowded stage to witness the inauguration of our 50th governor, I found myself marveling at the incredible legacy our outgoing governor was leaving behind. Under Bill Haslam, Tennessee became the envy of the entire nation. We achieved unprecedented job creation, historic low levels of unemployment, significant improvements in our education system, as well as the implementation of several groundbreaking initiatives — including the Tennessee Together Plan to begin addressing our opioid crisis.

While the Volunteer State is thriving, thanks to the foundation that has already been prepared, I believe it is our job to build it to even greater heights, and I know Governor Bill Lee and our General Assembly will accomplish this goal together. As Governor Lee spoke, he began laying the ground work for us to address the challenges ahead in partnership.

The governor reminded all in attendance that we still have 15 rural counties in poverty, an ongoing opioid epidemic, as well as a need for affordable health care. He also spoke about an issue that strongly resonates within me —violent crime that continues to plague our urban areas and numbers that indicate troubling trends for the future of our major metropolitan communities.

I agree with Governor Lee when he says, “We can be tough on crime and smart on it at the same time,” and we must. As he stated, 95 percent of the individuals who are currently incarcerated are coming out and returning to their communities. Additionally, the governor remarked that half of them will likely commit another crime and return to prison within the first three years of their release. To echo Governor Lee, we must do our part to ensure we “help non-violent criminals re-enter society and, not re-enter prison.”

As House Majority Leader, I am eager to partner with the Lee Administration and our General Assembly members so we can create solutions that lead to meaningful reform within our current justice system. Together, we will create a system of justice that meets present day standards, not those of 30 years ago. This will reduce recidivism rates, promote successful re-entry for those who strongly desire this outcome, hold violent offenders accountable for their actions, and accomplish our shared vision of creating safe neighborhoods in cities and towns across Tennessee.

I am excited about our state’s future under Governor Lee, and I ask that you continue to pray for him and all of us in the days and weeks ahead. May God bless Governor Lee, all of you, and our great state!

William Lamberth is the House Majority Leader for the 111th Tennessee General Assembly. He is also a member of the House Finance, House Government Operations, and House Calendar & Rules Committees, as well as the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee. Lamberth lives in Cottontown and represents Tennessee House District 44, which includes part of Sumner County.