The Tennessee General Assembly
Susan M. Lynn
House of Representatives
CAPITOL HILL REVIEW
A weekly wrap-up of legislative news
Welcome New Readers!
Several readers are receiving the weekly wrap for the first time tonight. I hope you enjoy learning what your state government is doing and please share the Wrap with friends.
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.
I have also mailed a statistically significant number of surveys for the size of the district. See preliminary survey results here.
Key Budget Initiatives
This week in Nashville, House Republicans continued work on several key budget initiatives, including moving forward with bills on the education, juvenile justice, and opioid fronts.
Recently, Tennessee became the first state in the nation to give all Tennesseans access to college free of tuition and fees through the Tennessee Promise and Tennessee Reconnect programs. To assist in ensuring those incoming students complete college and enter the workforce with degrees or certificates in a timely manner, House Republicans are moving forward this year with the Complete to Compete initiative. Once passed by the legislature, this new plan will restructure financial aid requirements for Promise and HOPE scholarships to keep students on track for on-time completion, and requires community colleges to implement structured, ready-made schedules for all incoming full-time students based on their academic program.
Additionally, House members completed initial steps this week in passing the Juvenile Justice Reform Act of 2018 — an initiative created based upon recommendations made by members of House Speaker Beth Harwell’s Joint Ad-Hoc Blue Ribbon Task Force on Juvenile Justice. Research suggests that taking youths out of their homes and schools for minor offenses increases the risk of recidivism, diverts resources from youth who pose a risk to the community, and uses taxpayer dollars unnecessarily because community-based services are often more effective and cost efficient. The Juvenile Justice Reform Act will tackle these problems and help strengthen families and communities while promoting public safety and ensuring a responsible and conservative use of state resources.
In addition to the Complete to Compete initiative and Juvenile Justice Reform Act, House members continue discussions on the Tennessee Together program, a multi-faceted plan comprised of legislation, $30 million in funds through Governor Haslam’s proposed budget, and other executive actions to battle opioids through the three major components of prevention, treatment, and law enforcement. Similar to the Juvenile Justice Act, the Tennessee Together plan incorporates recommendations made by Speaker Beth Harwell’s Ad Hoc Task Force on Opioid Abuse.
Other notable budget highlights investments for the year include:
- More than $200 million in new state funding for K-12 education, including additional funds for teacher compensation;
- Nearly $100 million for higher education initiatives;
- $128 million for job growth investments, including programs that target rural communities;
- And investments to bring the state’s Rainy Day Fund to $850 million — the highest ever amount in state history.
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.
Legislation Ending Mandatory Emissions Testing
in Wilson County
House lawmakers this week introduced legislation that would end mandatory emissions testing for vehicles in Tennessee.
Once passed, House Bill 1782 will apply to residents of Hamilton, Davidson, Rutherford, Sumner, Williamson, and Wilson Counties where vehicle emission testing is still required prior to vehicle registration or renewal.
The 1990 Federal Clean Air Act required the state to develop more restrictive regulations to control air pollution from mobile sources in counties which were not meeting the Federal Standards for air quality.
Currently, testing is done on vehicles with a model year of 1975 and newer if they are powered by a gasoline or diesel engine and weigh up to 10,500 lbs. Over 1.5 million vehicles went through emissions testing in Tennessee last year in the six counties where it is required.
The idea for House Bill 1782 resulted from conversations with Tennesseans who have voiced concerns about the burdensome costs of testing on families across the state. Once the Tennessee Department of Environment & Conservation released a report last August revealing that all 95 Tennessee counties now meet federal air quality health standards, it became clear that mandatory testing was no longer needed.
Supporters agree that vehicle emissions testing is a perfect example of a well-intentioned government program with harmful, unintended consequences for Tennessee's middle class, noting that the passage of this legislation will help relieve this burdensome regulation for Tennessee citizens.
House Bill 1782 will first be heard by the House Agriculture & Natural Resources Subcommittee.
For more information about this initiative, click here.
Initiative displays “In God We Trust” in prominent locations within schools
(NASHVILLE) — An initiative sponsored by State Representative Susan Lynn (R-Mt. Juliet) that calls for our national motto — “In God We Trust”— to be displayed in schools across Tennessee is advancing through the Tennessee General Assembly’s committee process.
On Tuesday, members of the House Education Administration & Planning Subcommittee voted to send House Bill 2368 to the full Education Administration & Planning Committee by a 5-1 vote tally.
The measure requires each local education agency to display “In God We Trust” in a prominent location within Tennessee’s schools. Currently, 19 states — including Arkansas, Colorado, Mississippi, and Virginia — have taken similar action to promote our national motto.
“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 in front of Congress last month, 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. That night, President Trump also emphasized to the congressional and national audience that our country’s motto has been and still remains “In God We Trust.”
“I am honored to sponsor passage of The National Motto in the Classroom Act because it will serve as a reminder to our students about the significant role that faith plays in our daily lives,” said Representative Lynn. “I appreciate the support this measure has received from members of the Education Administration & Planning Subcommittee, as well as my Republican colleagues, and I look forward to ensuring the bill’s passage in the weeks ahead.”
As part of the discussion on the bill Tuesday, Representative Lynn shared with subcommittee members that the measure does not bear any cost because a school’s art students could use donated supplies to create a display featuring our national motto. The motto could then be displayed next to other prominent historical documents on school property including the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution.
For additional information about House Bill 2368, please click here.
Legislators, Department of Education Announce Critical Growth Funds
State Representative Susan Lynn (R-Mount Juliet), State Representative Clark Boyd (R-Lebanon), and the Tennessee Department of Education today announced that Wilson County Schools and Lebanon Special School District have both received district growth funding to support education initiatives in Wilson County.
Specifically, Wilson County Schools received $746,000 and Lebanon Special School District received $176,500.
This funding is a direct result of a Republican-led effort to not only fully fund education in Tennessee but also provide an additional $18 million towards school district growth.
These significant investments in many Tennessee school districts will allow growing schools to maintain the necessary resources so that they can continue offering quality education for our state’s young leaders.
“We have made education a priority of the House Finance Committee; we’ve increased funding for K-12 education by over $1.2 billion over the last 7 years while cutting taxes for hardworking Tennesseans. Wilson County has great schools, and these much needed additional funds help our fast growing districts,” said Representative Lynn.
“Providing a quality education for this next generation of Tennesseans is a top priority for me. I am honored and proud to work with my Republican colleagues as we continue that fight today and every day,” said Representative Boyd.
This funding has been so well received by parents, education officials, and teachers that Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam added another $18 million in growth funds to his proposed Fiscal Year 2019 budget.
My latest article on a legislative issue;
The failure of a gift card bill made the news this week. Let's face it - bills fail every day at the General Assembly and most of us just professionally take it in stride.
Some just do not understand that when we regulate business, it is always with a mind to deter, prevent or punish genuine fraud, or to deter, prevent or punish harm done to one's body or to one's life as a result of the product or offering.
The sponsor wanted to do away with the dormancy fee charged by the cards in favor of a fee charged to every consumer who uses the card. He was angry because he hadn't used a gift card in years, and when he went to use it, the dormancy fee had been charged.
Good idea or not; the business model of these cards is to use the lost/unused cards to cover the operating overhead for transactions made with the active cards. READ MORE HERE
PHOTOS FROM THE WEEK
From top, left to right.
The Vietnam Veteran traveling wall, Governor Haslam and Rep. Clark Boyd, our Nashville HGTV stars, Page Turner and DeRon Jenkins, the Nashville Predators and Nash, inducted as vice president of the MJ Republican women with Pam Kelly, Gwynne Queener, Barbara Burlau and Yvonne Hunter, with Alecia Talbott of the Down Syndrome Assoc.
A presentation on the brail American flag, Michael and me at the EMTAR Awards Dinner, Jim McVey presenting an award and Lisa Tucker - Realtor of the Year!
JD Foster of the Lebanon Fire Department, Future Farmers of American day on the hill carnation, City of Mt. Juliet city planner and Landscape Architect Alisha Elly.
Thank you again for letting me serve you. Please do not hesitate to call my office if I can help you.
Rep. Susan Lynn