We started the 2022 Legislative Session on January 11th, and now on February 7th, we are talking about when our last calendars will be. The Senate has a very aggressive schedule and their proposed closing date is April 13th. Everyone wants out as early as possible to start their local campaigns and to get home to get back to work.
This second half of the 112th General Assembly has 1247 bills filed in the House of Representatives. This is about 400 short of where we were last year. Fewer bills mean fewer laws- and That’s Good! I had my first of around 15 bills start out in the committee system this week. HB 1981 came before the Health Subcommittee on Tuesday at noon. This proposed legislation was brought to me by the Emergency Medical Technicians Association (EMT). They want to continue what started during the COVID pandemic emergency rules. Because of the large shortage of EMT workers, especially drivers, the Governor allowed them to use non-emergency trained workers as drivers. My bill will allow this to continue, but only if they are actively going through training and planning on being an EMT in 12 months. Hopefully, this will help a little on the worker shortage.
Speaking of EMTs, Tuesday was a special day for everyone. EMS workers and educators from across the state were visiting the Legislature. They have several pieces of legislation that they are behind and they were here to ask for support and provide members with more information about why these are good bills. They were also present in several of our committees to support bills (like my HB 1981) and potentially address concerns from the committee members. Director Ted Cox, Assistant Director Brett Young, and Training Officer Chris Cox (all from Bedford County) personally stopped by my office to educate me on their proposed bills.
MTSU and the Shelbyville Municipal Airport are working on a partnership that I know will have a positive impact on Shelbyville and Bedford County for many years to come! MTSU is planning on moving its Aviation Academy from the Murfreesboro airport to Shelbyville’s. There is $62 million in the Governor’s proposed budget this year that would be used to start construction on some of the classrooms and training centers. The aerospace department at MTSU is the single biggest program in the whole university. There is a high demand for trained employees in the aviation job market and MTSU has been proven to be a good choice for students wanting to get into this field. Students often receive job offers before they graduate and the cost of their education is very affordable- especially compared to other universities. Senator Reeves, Mayor Graham, Mayor Cartwright, and Shane Hooper, our industrial recruiter, were all very involved in working with MTSU President Dr. Sidney McPhee to get this successful program for our area and we are all excited to see what the future holds.
In our Transportation Committee meeting on Tuesday, we had a very good presentation from the Department of Safety. They told us about the vast improvements in their Drivers Service Centers. Did you know that you can go online through your phone or computer to their website at www.tn.gov/safety/driver-services/online and do a host of items online like renewing your license or updating your address instead of going to their office? In addition, the in-person wait times have dropped from around 1 hour down to an average of just 19 minutes around the state. To further reduce your time in their office, you can view estimated wait times before you go and join the line virtually by visiting this same website. The Department also let us know that we have until May 3, 2023, before the REAL ID requirements go into effect. Our new Shelbyville Drivers Center opened in November and they tell me it is operating very smoothly.
Thursday was another big day around here. Speaker Sexton turned the gavel over to me and I was able to preside over Session. A lot of the realtors from across the state were here and there were a lot of introductions. I look forward to seeing more of the ones from our area next week. We then went into Joint Session with the Senate and approved the Governor’s nomination of associate solicitor general Sarah Campbell to the Tennessee Supreme Court and Judge John W. Campbell as the newest member of the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals – Western Section. They came by to introduce themselves a few weeks ago and I believe they will serve us well.
Please let me know if I can ever be of service to you and your family. We have a great group of liaisons for each Department and they work well with my office to get an answer to concerns from our constituents. You can contact me or Laura Bond, my great assistant, at 615-741-6824 or send an email to [email protected]. If you are ever in Nashville while we are in Session, please feel free to stop by Suite 610 in the Cordell Hull Building.