Tennessee Legislature Kicks Off Second Half Of 111th General Assembly
The Second Regular Session of the 111th General Assembly officially convened this week in Nashville as Republican leaders continued to focus on building upon their recent achievements.
Speaker Cameron Sexton gaveled members into session and also welcomed everyone back before sharing brief remarks with the body about the upcoming session:
“The 2020 legislative session is here, and I believe we are all poised for a very successful year in the Tennessee House of Representatives.
Over the last four months, I have enjoyed visiting with you in your communities, and I am reminded every single day of how diverse and unique all three Grand Divisions are in our state and how fortunate we are to call Tennessee our home.
I admire your dedication and your willingness to answer the call to serve others. Additionally, I appreciate our shared desire to build upon the solid foundations left behind by those who have previously served.
We have had many great leaders over our years, and now is the time to accept the task that lies before us — the task to propel our state and our communities to new heights together.
Our job is to represent, serving as the voices for all Tennesseans from middle to west to east to urban to rural. Each and every voice is distinctive, and while we may not always agree on every issue, let’s remain respectful to one another and remember that each one of us represents 65,000 Tennesseans. We have a tremendous opportunity to ensure Tennessee continues to grow and that our state prospers.
Thank you for your continued service; I appreciate your partnership; I am honored to serve as your speaker. I am very eager to begin and continue working alongside each of you for the betterment of all Tennesseans.”
-Tennessee House Speaker Cameron Sexton
The bill filing deadline for this year is set for Wednesday, February 5. This means all proposals, except bills of local application, must be filed by that deadline in order to be heard for consideration during the 2020 legislative session.
Tennessee General Assembly Officials Welcome New State Rep. Rusty Grills
As part of the opening chapter of the new legislative session, the General Assembly welcomed State Rep. Rusty Grills (R-Newbern) to Nashville.
The former Dyer County Commissioner overwhelmingly won December’s special election to fill the vacant District 77 seat in the Tennessee House of Representatives.
Rep. Grills was joined in Nashville by his family as he officially took the oath of office below:
“I (Name) do solemnly swear (or affirm) that as a member of this General Assembly, I will, in all appointments, vote without favor, affection, partiality, or prejudice; and that I will not propose or assent to any bill, vote or resolution, which shall appear to me injurious to the people, or consent to any act or thing, whatever, that shall have a tendency to lessen or abridge their rights and privileges, as declared by the Constitution of this State.”
House Republicans Set 2020 Legislative Agenda
As the new legislative year officially begins, House Republicans have an array of issues they will prioritize over the course of the next several months. Their work in 2020 will build upon last year’s momentum and accomplishments.
Last year saw passage of a fiscally conservative balanced budget that included more than $35.2 million in tax cuts for all Tennesseans. The budget provides a $239 million investment in the state’s Rainy Day Fund bringing the state savings account to $1.1 billion. The budget included a record-breaking $11.3 billion investment in education and multiple initiatives that support businesses by providing opportunities to expand and create new jobs.
Education will remain front and center over these next several months. A key goal will be to improve early childhood literacy rates across this state. This can be accomplished through targeted investments, attracting and incentivizing educators who specialize in these areas, and through community programs and partnerships. Every student should have the same resources and opportunities, so current and future workforces are prepared for successful futures and Tennessee continues to thrive.
Health care remains a priority in 2020. Republicans will further examine ways to create a health care system that improves access and quality of care available, while lowering overall costs. We will look to continue to increase access through telemedicine, and we will focus on promoting competition through Certificate of Need (CON) reform. Improving transparency so patients can determine the type of care that is most affordable to them will also remain a priority. Our current health care system must continue to shift toward a more patient-centered approach. This will allow patients and their loved ones to make all medical decisions, rather than insurance companies or the government.
Additionally, we will advance discussions about overhauling our current criminal justice system so it meets present day standards, not those of 30 years ago. As we work to create a system of justice tempered with mercy, Republicans will focus on remaining smart on crime, but not at the expense of safer communities. Conversations will also likely focus on strengthening responses to individuals with behavioral health needs, sending a strong message to criminals through truth in sentencing laws, and continuing to remove barriers to successful re-entry for those who desire to become productive citizens.
Finally, members of the bi-partisan TANF Working Group will continue to examine the current surplus within the state’s Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program in order to determine ways we can best support those looking to become self-reliant. The group’s overall focus will be to find innovative solutions that support our working families as they strive to overcome obstacles keeping them from achieving their independence.
Under GOP leadership, Tennessee remains near record low unemployment levels. As of November 2019, statewide unemployment was 3.3 percent. Additionally, our income levels are increasing at the second fastest rate in the entire Southeast. Tennessee has the lowest debt and is the most fiscally stable state in the entire country. The Volunteer State remains the best place in the entire nation to live, work, raise a family and retire, thanks to the efforts of the Tennessee House Republicans.
Republican Leaders Introduce Right to Work Constitutional Amendment
Republican leaders have introduced a resolution that would add Tennessee’s Right to Work law to the state constitution. The resolution is sponsored by more than a dozen high ranking Republican House members. It guarantees future generations of Tennessee workers their right to work regardless of whether they choose to join a union.
Tennessee’s Right to Work statute has been state law since 1947. It protects workers from being hired or fired based on their membership in, affiliation with, resignation from, or refusal to join or affiliate with any labor union or employee organization. When introduced in 1947, supporters of the bill argued that it would “be of great advantage to the average member of organized labor.” It also protects the rights of those who choose not to join a union.
Twenty-seven other states have Right to Work laws, and nine of those have passed constitutional amendments including neighboring states Arkansas, Mississippi, and Alabama. The Alabama amendment passed most recently in 2016. Another neighbor, Virginia, is presently considering repealing its Right to Work statute. A constitutional amendment would offer greater protection for workers against such repeal efforts.
Tennessee is a highly sought location for companies seeking hard workers and a friendly business environment. Having this constitutional amendment that forever protects our workers and job growth in this state further solidifies Tennessee’s status as a national economic leader.
House Republicans Partner With Department Of Transportation For Aeronautics Grant Announcements
Recently, members of the House Republican Caucus partnered with the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) on a series of seven grant announcements across the state — totaling $6 million — to support our local airports.
The grants are part of the department’s Aeronautics Economic Development Fund, which is designed to impact job creation and investment opportunities within the state’s aviation industry.
A full list of the award recipients can be found by clicking here.
Republican lawmakers remain committed to fighting for additional resources to promote continued economic growth across all three Grand Divisions of Tennessee.
John Holsclaw serves as Chairman of the House Employee Affairs Subcommittee. He is also a member of the House Consumer and Human Resource Committee, Commerce Committee, Business Subcommittee, and Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee. Holsclaw lives in Elizabethton and represents House District 4, which includes Unicoi and part of Carter Counties. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or by calling (615) 741-7450.