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State Rep. Pat Marsh’s Letter to the District

“But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.” – 1 Peter 3:15 

This past week has been a very somber time at the General Assembly and for all Tennesseans. We had several huge events that were terrible in our state. The six deaths at the Covenant School attack, the 2 helicopters that crashed at Fort Campbell, and the tragic tornados that hit West and  Middle Tennessee. In addition, many passionate protesters came to the Capitol Thursday and Monday during Session, hurting,  and looking for someone to blame for these tragedies. But our State is resilient and we will get through this and get some new plans that should make our state better and stronger. 

The General Assembly was already working on legislation to make our schools safer, but the Governor has even more proposals for school safety.  Some of our school safety proposals are:

  • $30 million to put a Homeland Security agent in every county. 
  • $140 million to put a School Resource Officer (SRO) in every public and private school.
  • $27 million for school security grants
  • $8 million for additional school-based behavioral health liaisons  across the state

Also, the legislation requires every public and private school to develop an annual safety plan, which must include safety drills for school leaders and law enforcement to prepare for different emergencies. The proposed legislation also includes several other procedures to make all of our schools safer. 

In other news, the General Assembly approved $3.3 billion for transportation infrastructure. This legislation will give TDOT the resources needed to solve the state’s current and future mobility challenges. This includes seeking the use of public-private partnerships to preserve state funds for rural infrastructure priorities, and exploring Choice Lanes to decrease congestion and increase economic impact statewide. Also, expanding the alternative delivery model to save taxpayer dollars and deliver road projects more efficiently.. 

House Bill 630, concerning the Department of Children Services, would limit case manager workload to no more than 20 simultaneous cases by January 1st, 2025, and no more than 15 simultaneous cases by January 1st, 2027, except in certain circumstances. It would also provide DCS with more flexibility to allow for certain additional personnel to help manage cases as well. 

House Bill 771 would add the words “In God We Trust” to the Tennessee state seal. The bill asks the governor, who is the keeper of the seal, to direct the secretary of state to redesign the state seal. The Senate and House would then have to pass a resolution approving the new design, which would include both Tennessee’s state motto of “Commerce and Agriculture” as well as the nation’s motto of “In God We Trust.” 

The General Assembly has approved legislation that will increase the punishment for drivers who illegally pass a school bus that is picking up or dropping off children. The fine would increase from $200 to $250 for the first offense. The legislation would also make it a Class E felony if a driver illegally passed a school bus and struck another person. It would be a Class C felony if the victim died. There were 84 citations issued to drivers for illegally passing a school bus in 2022. 

On Tuesday, Hannah Little, the Webb School librarian stopped by for a quick visit. She was in Nashville for Librarian’s Day in Tennessee and they had a breakfast reception in our building. Hannah has been nominated for a national librarian award and is one of the top two finalists. We all wish her the best of luck. 

Wednesday was Ag Day on the Hill and several groups from the District came up for the day to showcase Ag products.  We even had Mr. True Blue, the Walking Horse National Celebration’s  2022 Four-Year-Old World Grand Champion. There were many cows, sheep, pigs, and other animals on the Plaza around our building for us to visit.

We had a good meeting with the Tn Department of Environment and Conservation on Wednesday afternoon with Shelbyville Power and Water’s leadership team.  Chairman, Dobee Mallard; Manager, Jason Reese, and Chief Engineer, John Freeman came up to talk to TDEC about their help and advice on some sewer projects in Shelbyville.  I think we had a very productive meeting and that many positive results will happen soon.

I’m honored to serve as your state representative and please call or email if I can ever help. 615-741-6824, [email protected]. You are also welcome to come up to the Capitol and stop by my office at 610 in the Cordell Hull building. 

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