“No man’s life, liberty, or property are safe while the legislature is in session.” – Mark Twain
Mark Twain’s quote could be correct for the U.S. legislature, but not here in Tennessee. The state with the lowest taxes per capita-lowest debt per capita-and the fastest growing economy in the nation!
We started our 113th legislative session on January 10th at noon with 19 new House members and 4 new Senators. Whenever the people of Tennessee elect a new General Assembly, we have to go through “organizational days” in which the Speaker of the House, Cameron Sexton, moves members into new offices and assigns members to committees.
On January 21st, Bill Lee was inaugurated as governor for his second term, and immediately following this grand event, the General Assembly met for our first official legislative day. Legislative Session and committee days will start next week on January 30th and will probably go until around May 1st after we pass a balanced budget.
It is an honor to be re-elected by our Republican Caucus and by the entire body of the House as Speaker Pro Tempore. For the 113th General Assembly, I have been assigned to the Agriculture, Transportation, and Commerce committees. I am lucky enough to have received my top committee choices. These are the subjects I am most knowledgeable in and hope to lend my expertise. I have also been appointed to the Transportation subcommittee and the Business & Utilities subcommittee (which I chaired at one time). I was able to keep my same office, my same parking spot, and my current seat on the House Floor. This will be my 13th year as a member of the Tennessee House of Representatives and I am now in the top 10 in seniority. It is hard to believe that I have been here for this long.
In the House, each member can only file 15 bills and I have 15. Over the past few weeks, I have been getting them drafted by our legal department and ready to be presented to the proper committees. The bill filing deadline is January 31st so I will have all my bills filed by next week and ready to go.
On Tuesday, January 10th, we kicked off the day with a legislative prayer breakfast in the Capitol. Many members and guest speakers attended, including Governor Bill Lee, and it was very inspiring. I left encouraged to represent the District to the best of my ability. The next day, we had our weekly devotional, which always helps start the day on the right foot. We also have a minister of the day to lead us in prayer before each floor session.
One of the Governor’s biggest priorities this session is to formulate a plan to alleviate the traffic congestion in our cities. As a member of the Transportation committee, I am excited to listen to possible solutions and find the best path forward for our state.
Speaker Sexton has made one change to how the House conducts its business. He has made the House Legislative Dashboard open to the public. Dashboard brings more clarity to proposed bills and amendments by highlighting the proposed changes in red. All citizens can access the Dashboard through our website: capitol.tn.gov, and look up each bill and watch all committees live.
On January 19th, Fayetteville mayor, Donna Hartman and city manager Kevin Owens came up for a very productive meeting with the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT).
On January 20th, I had some special guests from Shelbyville stop by for a quick visit. John Running and his daughter, Michelle Cox, and her two daughters, Zuri and Amaya Cox, met with me in my office and watched our Friday Session in the Capitol. They got hands-on experience with the legislature and saw how elected officials conduct business on the floor.
I plan on sending out a weekly newsletter to keep everyone informed on the happenings on the Hill. I also have a new assistant this year, Shaxper McCarver. Shaxper is dedicated to helping all of our citizens of the 62nd district. Please feel free to call me or Shaxper at (615) 741-6824 or email me at [email protected].
I am truly honored to serve as your state representative and always welcome your thoughts and ideas to make our state a better place to live, work and raise a family.