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State Representative Pat Marsh’s Letter To The District

“If you want to succeed you should strike out on new paths, rather than travel the worn paths of accepted success.” -John D. Rockefeller

I’m happy to report that all but one of the bills I plan to carry this year have already passed out of the House. My final bill is scheduled to be heard next week. Our daily legislative schedule is starting to change.  We are spending less and less time in committee meetings and more time in Session.  We added back in a Wednesday morning Session to start hearing all of the bills that have passed out of the rapidly closing committees. The calendars are getting longer and debates are getting more heated.  I’m glad I got most of my bills out of the way earlier this year! We anticipate hearing the Governor’s budget soon and getting out of Nashville and back home in the next few weeks.

The House approved a major healthcare bill on Thursday.  It calls on Governor Lee to submit a waiver to the federal government to immediately provide assistance to the state’s TennCare population through the implementation of block grants.  It is part of the comprehensive CARE plan, designed to transform healthcare through Consumerism, increasing Access, improving Rural health systems, and Empowering patients to ensure individuals and families can make all medical decisions instead of insurance companies or the government.  The use of block grants will allow our state to address our specific needs and keep the state financially stable while addressing the healthcare needs of our valuable citizens.

We also passed multiple pieces of legislation this week to fight back against the opioid and drug epidemic in Tennessee:

  • House Bill 942, which unanimously passed this week, changes the penalties to a Class B felony for 15 grams or more or a Class A felony for 150 grams or more of fentanyl.
  • House Bill 705, which was also approved by a vote of 93-0, adds the sale or distribution of a substance containing fentanyl, carfentanil, or any opiate with the intent and premeditation to commit murder as an aggravating factor to be considered when the sentencing court is considering the death penalty.

While there is much more work to be done, everyone up here is committed to curbing the opioid epidemic that is plaguing our state. These measures are a step in the right direction, and the General Assembly will continue to find new solutions that end the cycle of addiction.

The legislature is also in the process of overhauling our criminal justice system so it meets present day demands, not those of 30 years ago. Both the House and Senate have passed a bill to remove the $180 fee for an individual seeking an expunction while also removing the $350 fee for a defendant applying for an expunction following the completion of a diversion program. With an expungement, individuals who desire to become productive members of society will be able to have their previous non-violent mistakes erased and be ready to re-enter the workforce more rapidly.  We are also working on additional bills to improve employment and education opportunities to help individuals successfully re-enter their local communities.

Since approximately 95% of all incarcerated individuals will leave prison and return to their communities, we need to make sure we provide them with the tools they need to be successful. This will not only save taxpayer dollars on incarceration costs, but it will accomplish the overall goal of creating safe communities across Tennessee.

I’m happy to report that the bill I discussed the other week to help benefit our heroic police officers and firefighters is heading to the Governor.  HB 937 increases the training supplement from $600 to $800 for those who protect and serve our communities, and those who are called upon to respond during fires and other emergencies after they complete 40 hours of in-service training.  It is a small way we can thank first responders for their daily service and sacrifices.

A major issue that I get a lot of emails and concerns about from the district is the intrusive robocalls we all are receiving.  We have been working on this and both chambers have approved an initiative to crack down on robocalls in Tennessee.  This legislation raises the penalty of misleading a phone subscriber from $10,000 to $30,000 per violation against a person or entity that makes an unwanted robocall. The bill also encourages carriers offering telephone services in the state to implement SHAKEN/STIR technology to help detect robocalls. Finally, it urges the Attorney General to call on the Federal Communications Commission to create new rules that will allow carriers to block more of these illegal, annoying robocalls. Tennessee is taking strong steps to address this issue this bill moves us in the right direction to deter robocalls. Although this is an issue that is primarily under the jurisdiction of the FCC at the federal level, we will do what we can to continue to support this initiative and others that curb this growing problem.

I’m honored to serve the 62nd District and do my best to make sure I represent the people of Bedford and Lincoln County.  If you need to reach me, you can call my office at (615) 741-6824 or email me at [email protected].  You can also stop by my office in Suite 676 of the Cordell Hull Building if you are ever in Nashville.

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