The Tennessee General Assembly
Susan M. Lynn
House of Representatives
CAPITOL HILL REVIEW
A weekly wrap-up of legislative news
Fox and Friends will host Rep. Susan Lynn for National Motto Bill
The Weekly Wrap newsletter is going out a day early in order to let you know that Rep. Lynn will be on Fox and Friends in the morning.
Please watch Fox and Friends Sunday morning, March 25 at 6:50 am central time to see State Representative Susan Lynn on Fox and Friends discussing the Tennessee National Motto in the Classroom Bill.
House Passes National Motto In The Classroom Act
Initiative displays “In God We Trust” in prominent locations within schools
I have to say, I have had the great blessing of passing a lot of bills dealing with matters of justice, business, consumer issues, and education. Knowing that each bill helps someone is very gratifying. However, some bills are particularly special to me such as bills dealing with family values such as the Religious Freedom Protection Act, an amendment to the budget to prohibit state tax dollars from paying for abortions, the recognition of God and religious freedom resolution, resolutions expressing Tennessee’s support for the State of Israel, a bill establishing Bible as curriculum acceptable to be used in public schools, the anti-coercion act that ensures that a sign is posted in each abortion clinic in the state notifying all of the law against coercing women to have an abortion, prohibiting the sale of aborted fetus body parts and of course, SJR 127.
However today, I do think my absolute favorite bill is my National Motto in the Classroom Act which just passed on the House floor last week. I received word that the Speaker of the Senate has already signed the Senate version of the bill and sent it on to the House Speaker’s desk. She should sign the bill this week. Then the bill will move to the Governor’s desk.
The bill calls for our national motto — “In God We Trust” — to be displayed in schools across Tennessee passed this week on the House floor in Nashville.
House Bill 2368 enacts the National Motto in the Classroom Act. It requires each local education agency across the state to display “In God We Trust” in a prominent location within Tennessee’s schools.
“In God We Trust” has served as the official motto of the United States since 1956. It first appeared on the two-cent penny in 1864 and on paper currency in 1957.
During his State of the Union Address earlier this year in front of Congress, President Donald Trump reminded the nation’s lawmakers and all citizens that the foundation of American life is faith and family, not government and bureaucracy. President Trump also emphasized to the congressional and national audience that our country’s motto has been and still remains “In God We Trust.”
Supporters of the legislation agree that The National Motto in the Classroom Act is an opportunity to help future generations of students better understand the importance of faith in the narrative of Tennessee and the nation.
2018 Legislative Survey and Preliminary Results
Please visit my blog to take the 2018 legislative survey on current issues before the General Assembly; susan-lynn.blogspot.com. Issues include the states amending the US Constitution, medical cannabis oil, the National Motto Bill and many others.
See preliminary survey results here.
Leadership Wilson Spends the Day at the Capitol
Once again this year we were thrilled to host Leadership Wilson at the state Capitol for their annual Day on the Hill. The group enjoyed a photo with the Governor and Deputy Governor, the House and Senate Sessions, a tour of the Capitol, many speakers and special guests, lunch at the Nashville Farmers Market and of course they arrived and departed on the Music City Star. A funny and charming characteristic of our Governor – he just loves taking selfies with visitors!! It was really great fun.
Would you like to plan a Day on the Hill for your group? Go to www.susanlynn.us and click on Requests.
The page will scroll to a number of requests. Look for Day on the Hill. Simply compete the form and you will get a call.
2018-2019 Budget Amendment Introduced
Legislation includes additional improvements for broadband, higher education, opioid addiction, and school safety
This week, Governor Bill Haslam introduced his amendment to the fiscal year 2018-2019 budget proposal that will be considered by the 110th General Assembly.
The amendment builds on previous legislative priorities by making strategic and thoughtful investments across state government. Because of the conservative fiscal choices lawmakers have made over the last several years, Tennessee currently ranks as the lowest taxed and lowest debt state in the nation.
In early March, Governor Haslam appointed a School Safety Working Group to review school safety in Tennessee and provide recommendations to enhance the security of school children. In the coming days, the working group will submit options for consideration that will serve as a basis for state action and approved school safety measures. As part of these efforts, the budget amendment includes $30 million to help improve school safety across the state.
These additional school safety funds, which include doubling the current amount of recurring funding available through school safety grants, will provide Tennessee schools with additional resources to meet their specific needs.
The budget amendment also contains $3 million in nonrecurring funds for grants to provide funding for school districts to address the extra costs associated with purchasing buses equipped with seat belts.
Other notable investments in the budget amendment include:
- $5 million in nonrecurring broadband accessibility grants, in addition to the $10 million initially included in the fiscal year 18-19 budget. The governor’s Broadband Accessibility Act became law in 2017 and committed $30 million in grants over three years;
- $9 million in nonrecurring funds to purchase equipment at the 27 Tennessee Colleges of Applied Technology to improve and modernize a broad variety of workforce development programs;
- An additional $1 million in recurring funds to provide mental health treatment and recovery services as part of TN Together — the comprehensive plan to end the opioid crisis in Tennessee;
- $2 million in nonrecurring funds for an addiction services research program at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center in support of TN Together;
- And $10 million in nonrecurring funds for the Aeronautics Development Fund to create jobs and investment opportunities in Tennessee’s aviation industry.
The budget amendment is customarily introduced in the final weeks of the legislative session each year for consideration and approval by the General Assembly. The final 2018-2019 budget is expected to be adopted sometime in mid-April.
State Representative Susan Lynn Fights For Additional Funding To Improve School Bus Safety
State Representative Susan Lynn (R-Mt. Juliet) continues to fight for additional funding that will improve school bus safety in districts across Tennessee.
In February Representative Lynn met with Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam to discuss gaining his support of the bill to protect students who rely on the bus to travel to and from school. As a result, the Governor announced that he has set aside $3 million in nonrecurring funds for grants in the amendment to his fiscal year 2018-2019 budget. These grants will help school districts address the extra costs associated with purchasing buses equipped with seat belts.
Additionally, Representative Lynn is sponsoring House Bill 395. It requires that any bus purchased on or after July 1, 2018 that is owned, operated, or leased by a public or private elementary or secondary school system to be used to transport students to and from schools or school-related events must be equipped with a restraint system. Additionally, these restraint systems must be approved by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) for both the driver and all passengers.
Last year, Representative Lynn traveled to Indiana to research the pros and cons of restraint systems on school buses. She observed a side-impact crash involving a semi traveling 35 miles an hour and a school bus transporting crash test dummies. In this scenario, crash test dummies were both belted and unbelted. For those unbelted, the crash proved to be fatal. Those that were belted in remained safely restrained.
Representative Lynn has prioritized the safety and well-being of students who depend on school buses as part of their daily transportation.
“Every day, we count on our buses and drivers to get our children to school and back safely, and I am grateful that Governor Haslam has allocated additional funding as part of his budget amendment that that will help us better protect our kids,” said Representative Lynn. “He will forever be remembered as the Governor who improved school bus safety, and I am honored to have worked with him in an effort to begin addressing this paramount issue.”
During the 2017 legislative session, Representative Lynn supported passage of House Bill 322. The measure requires all school districts, as well as charter schools to appoint a transportation supervisor to monitor and oversee student transportation. This supervisor must receive annual training developed from both the Tennessee Department of Education (TDOE) and the Tennessee Department of Safety (TDS) and must also implement a school transportation policy adopted by the local board of education.
Additionally, House Bill 322 requires all new bus drivers to complete a driver training program based on standards developed by the TDOE and the TDS prior to transporting any students. This bill also increases the minimum age for individuals seeking to obtain a school bus operator endorsement license from 21 to 25.
Lawmakers, Farmers Celebrate Annual ‘Ag Day On The Hill’ Event
House lawmakers joined with farmers and agriculture groups from across the state this week to celebrate Tennessee’s annual 'Ag Day on the Hill' event at the Cordell Hull building in Nashville. Governor Bill Haslam has also proclaimed the date 'Agriculture Day' as part of the annual national observance to recognize the important contributions of farmers and forestland owners provide to the state and nation.
This year, ‘Ag Day on the Hill' activities included farm animals and a variety of farming equipment on display. Representatives from agricultural organizations and agencies were also available to discuss programs and opportunities for those interested in farming and forestry in Tennessee.
In addition, a crosscut saw competition between House and Senate lawmakers took place, with the House taking the victory from the hands of the Senate. Following the contest, lawmakers, staff, Ag Day participants, and the general public joined together for a sweet potato bagging project to benefit the Society of St. Andrew, an organization dedicated to providing 2 million pounds or more of fresh, highly nutritious fruits and vegetables each year, at no charge, to agencies and organizations — soup kitchens, food banks & pantries, senior centers, and feeding programs — serving at-risk Tennesseans.
Tennessee has more than 67,000 farms representing 10.9 million acres in production. More than half of the state, 14 million acres, is in mostly privately owned hardwood forests. Tennessee’s top agricultural commodities include cattle, soybeans, corn, poultry, cotton, timber, greenhouse and nursery products, dairy products, wheat, tobacco, and hay. The industry has a $70 billion a year impact on the state’s economy and supports more than 340,000 jobs.
Republicans Advance Welfare Reform Initiatives
This year, House Republicans are leading efforts to reform Tennessee’s welfare system, including reinstituting work requirements for those receiving benefits from the state’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and TennCare.
By reinstituting work requirements for SNAP, approximately 58,000 able-bodied adults who are not currently meeting the work requirement but still receive assistance will now be able to capitalize on an overabundance of jobs in order to secure meaningful employment. This will help move them along a pathway from dependency to independence and self-sufficiency.
The restoration of these stipulations will not impact residents who currently depend on these key benefits in 16 Tennessee counties still designated as distressed by the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development. They will also not apply to Tennessee’s senior citizens or disabled residents.
Similarly, House Bill 1551 directs the commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Finance and Administration to file a waiver instituting reasonable work requirements for TennCare enrollees. The measure comes as the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services issued new guidelines for states, allowing Tennessee to implement work requirements on citizens who receive TennCare benefits.
As leaders of the state, House Republicans want Tennessee residents to have meaningful employment so they can take care of their families and make contributions that enable communities to continue their economic development and prosperity. These new initiatives accomplish these goals while also ensuring state resources are managed in the most efficient and effective way possible.
New Measure Saving Tennessee Taxpayers $6 Million Annually Passes In House
This week on the House floor, lawmakers supported passage of a measure designed to save Tennessee taxpayers an estimated $6 million dollars annually on the cost of state testing.
House Bill 2247 — which passed unanimously by a 94-0 bipartisan vote — is designed to simplify testing methods for students while also outlining expectations for Tennessee’s educators.
The measure reduces a requirement for the creation of new test questions on state assessments from 70 percent annually to just 30 percent. This will free up additional resources in order to streamline reporting of results to students, teachers, and families.
As passed, House Bill 2247 ensures that Tennessee children are being properly prepared and that teachers better understand where they need to focus their time and energy in the classroom. House Republicans are committed to working to make the state’s testing process as seamless as possible for all involved and will continue work to identify other areas where testing efficiency can be improved and additional money for taxpayers can be saved.”
Under the leadership of House Republicans, Tennessee students are the fastest improving in the entire country across math, reading, and science. Last fall, high school graduation rates for the 2016-2017 school years reached 89.1 percent — the highest in recorded state history.
For more information about House Bill 2247, please click here.
Bill Supporting State’s Military Families Receives Approval
Monday night, House lawmakers unanimously supported passage of a measure designed to support Tennessee’s military families.
House Bill 1573 allows spouses of deceased members of our military reserve to be issued a National Guard license plate until a time when they remarry.
The measure is the latest in a series of initiatives designed to ensure that those who defend our state and our country are not forgotten.
During the 2017 legislative session, House Republicans spearheaded the Support, Training and Renewing Opportunity for National Guardsman (STRONG) Act. It provides last dollar-scholarships to our state’s service members who meet eligibility requirements, allowing them to pursue their educational goals and dreams without fear of financial struggle.
Additionally, lawmakers supported passage of House Bill 433 — an initiative to assist veterans by determining how their military training can count as college credit at Tennessee’s colleges and universities. It also grants in-state tuition to anyone currently living in Tennessee who is using Veterans Affairs educational benefits, regardless of their official home of record.
Tennessee military members and their families make incredible sacrifices in serving and defending Tennessee and the United States. These initiatives are a small way that lawmakers can thank and show gratitude to these brave individuals who risk their lives every single day in the name of freedom.
March Named Amyloidosis Awareness Month In Tennessee
March has officially been named Amyloidosis Awareness Month in Tennessee following a resolution approved by the House and Senate and signed into law by Governor Haslam. Tennessee is the first state in the nation to dedicate a month towards raising awareness of this rare disease.
The idea to do so was brought to the attention of legislators by Tennessean Charlotte Haffner, who was diagnosed with the disease at Vanderbilt Medical Center in July of 2008, with little hope of surviving.
Today, after undergoing both a heart transplant and stem cell transplant, she is a pioneer advocating for patients and raising awareness for this rare disease.
Amyloidosis is a family of progressive diseases in which abnormal folded proteins clump together to form aggregates, known as amyloid, that can accumulate and cause damage in organs and tissue. The heart and kidneys are often sites of amyloid deposition in the disease.
Approximately 4,000 people each year develop amyloidosis and lawmakers hope their work to raise awareness will help to grow the current small number of researchers in the United States working toward a better diagnosis and treatment of this devastating disease.
Thank you again for letting me serve you. Please do not hesitate to call my office if I can help you.
Rep. Susan Lynn