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Senate Transportation Committee approves vertical driver’s license for drivers under age 21 to curb underage drinking

NASHVILLE -- The Senate Transportation and Safety Committee approved legislation today requiring all new driver’s licenses issued to persons under the age of 21 in Tennessee be printed in vertical format to help businesses easily identify those who cannot drink alcohol.  Senate Bill 384 would give the driver the option to change their license to horizontal upon turning age 21 for the reduced cost of a duplicate license.

Presently, a tiny red bar along the side of the photo on the license indicates a person is under the age of 21.

“What this really addresses is underage drinking,” said Senator Massey.  “Excessive drinking is responsible for more than 4,300 deaths nationwide among underage youths each year.  Servers have found the small red bar presently on Tennessee licenses is hard to read, especially in high volume hours when a clerk or waiter is very busy.  This legislation will make it much quicker and easier to identify a person who is under the age of 21 to curb any unintentional mistakes that might otherwise occur.”

In 2016, there were 28 traffic fatalities in Tennessee with youth aged 15 to 20 years old measuring a blood alcohol level greater than .01 percent.  Reports also indicate that the percentage of young Tennesseans ages 12 to 20 who consumed alcohol in the past month was almost 17 percent.

It is unlawful to serve, sell or permit the furnishing of alcohol to anyone under the age of 21 in the state.  Tennessee made national headlines in 2007 when it became the first state to make store clerks card everyone who bought carry-out beer. The carding requirement for off-premise consumption was expanded in 2014 to include liquor and wine as part of the wine-in-grocery-stores law.

Massey said more than two-thirds of the states across the nation have vertical licenses for drivers under the age of 21.

The bill now goes to the Senate Finance, Ways and Means Committee for consideration before moving to the full Senate for a final vote.

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LEADER NORRIS BRINGS BROADBAND ADVOCACY TO COLUMBIA

NASHVILLE -- Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris (R-Collierville) will visit Columbia to discuss broadband with Congressman Marsha Blackburn and key local and national leaders on Friday, February 24, 2017.

Norris, re-elected last month to a 5th term as Chairman of the Tennessee Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Affairs (TACIR), will attend Blackburn’s Rural Broadband Summit at Columbia State Community College.  The event will take place at 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. in Room 123 of the Hickman Building.

Under Sen. Norris’ leadership, TACIR recently completed the comprehensive study of Broadband, Internet, Availability, and Adoption in Tennessee.  The study’s findings are the basis for Governor Bill Haslam’s Tennessee Broadband Accessibility Act which Sen. Norris is sponsoring this year to bring high-speed internet services to rural, unserved or underserved areas without additional costs to taxpayers.

"We need better access, not bigger government," says Sen. Norris. "Broadband is critical to commerce and the quality of life of every Tennessean and is essential for our current and future education and economic initiatives”.

The Tennessee Broadband Accessibility Act will provide $45 million over three years in grants and tax credits for service providers to assist in making broadband available to unserved homes and businesses. In addition, the plan will permit Tennessee’s private, nonprofit electric cooperatives to provide retail broadband service and make grant funding available to the state’s local libraries to help residents improve digital literacy skills to maximize the benefits of broadband.

Norris will meet with local officials from Maury County and elsewhere across the state to discuss the Accessibility Act.  In addition to Blackburn, other speakers at the event will include newly appointed Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai and LeVoy Knowles, Executive Director of the Tennessee Telecommunications Association.

 

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Resolution sponsored by Beavers urging President Trump and Congress to block grant federal transportation funds to states is approved by full Senate

(NASHVILLE), February 16, 2017 -- A resolution urging President Donald Trump and the United States Congress to enact legislation to establish a transportation block grant funding program for distribution to the states was approved 30 to 2 by the full Senate on Thursday.  Senate Joint Resolution 59, sponsored by Senator Mae Beavers (R-Mt. Juliet), also urges the enactment of legislation to repeal all federal mandates, either by statute, rule, or policy, that dictate the expenditure of federal transportation funding.

“A block grant program, combined with elimination of federal mandates would enable us to self-determine our transportation priorities and address Tennessee’s longstanding highway infrastructure needs,” said Senator Beavers.  “Congress should minimize the federal government’s role in transportation spending, leaving states to decide how best to invest in the infrastructure that our citizens deem most necessary.”

Federal transportation dollars are primarily funded by motorists and truckers who pay a series of user taxes.  The resolution maintains that federal transportation policy has lost its focus as to the use of the federal highway trust fund by diverting money for non-road purposes.  This is done through federally-legislated mandates and earmarks that dictate how states can expend the funding.  Additionally, states are required to enact or adopt specific statutes and rules to even qualify for federal monies or maintain eligibility for federal funding of highway programs.

The resolution expresses Tennessee’s growing dissatisfaction with federal transportation policy and mismanagement of the federal highway trust fund that has encouraged many in Congress and state governments nationwide to seek ways to overhaul the system.  It also suggests that a remedy would be the development of a block grant distribution plan whereby each state would receive a block grant from the federal highway trust fund equal to the federal fuel tax revenues raised within its borders.  States would be entitled to spend such grants on transportation priorities of their own choosing

The resolution calls for a copy to be delivered to the President Trump, the Speaker and the Clerk of the United States House of Representatives, the President and the Secretary of the United States Senate, and to each member of Tennessee’s Congressional delegation.

 

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Senator Jackson reappointed Chairman of the Senate Corrections Subcommittee

(NASHVILLE, Tenn.), February 14, 2017 --- State Senator Ed Jackson (R-Jackson) has been reappointed Chairman of the Senate State and Local Government Committee’s Corrections Subcommittee for the 110th General Assembly.  The announcement was made today at a meeting of the Senate State and Local Government Committee by Chairman Ken Yager (R-Kingston).

“I appreciate the confidence that Chairman Yager has placed in me to continue to serve as chairman of this subcommittee.” said Sen. Jackson. “I look forward to working with members of this subcommittee on the issues we face with our correctional institutions in Tennessee.”

Tennessee has 15 state prisons located across the state. Eleven of those facilities are operated by the Department of Corrections and four are privately managed.  The committee also oversees legislation regarding local jails.

 

 

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Senators Kelsey and Harris file legislation to protect Memphis Sands Aquifer

(NASHVILLE), February 14, 2017 -- State Senators Brian Kelsey (R-Germantown) and Lee Harris (D-Memphis) have filed legislation in the Tennessee General Assembly setting up a Memphis Sands Aquifer Regional Development Board to protect water supplies in West Tennessee.  Senate Bill 776 also requires board approval to pump more than 10,000 gallons of water from the aquifer to ensure its long-term viability.

It is sponsored by Rep. Ron Lollar (R-Bartlett) and Rep. Curtis Halford (R-Dyer) in the House of Representatives.

“Clean drinking water is very important to our citizens and our future,” said Sen. Kelsey.  “This legislation aims to ensure the aquifer remains a clean and reliable source for future generations.”

The action follows approval given to the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) to pump approximately 3.5 million gallons of aquifer water each day to cool its new power-generating plant in Southwest Memphis, a move which is deemed controversial by some scientists and environmentalists.

Under the bill, the board would have all of the powers, rights, and privileges necessary to manage, conserve, preserve, and protect the aquifer, and to increase the recharge of, and prevent the waste or pollution in, the aquifer.  The nine-member board would be fairly comprised of the mayors of Shelby and two other West Tennessee counties overlying the aquifer.  The governor would appoint the remaining members with two from the agricultural community, two from commerce, and two from the environmental/research community.

“This board would also help ensure that the flow of rain and water into the aquifer prevents pollution and waste,” Kelsey added.  “I believe this legislation provides a well-balanced approach to ensure the aquifer is protected for many years to come.”

In addition, Senate Bill 886, sponsored by Harris and Kelsey, requires anyone planning to drill a well to give at least 14 days advance notice to the state commissioner of the Department of Environment and Conservation with the notice published on department’s website.  Rep. G.A. Hardaway (D-Memphis), Rep. Lollar and Rep. Halford are sponsoring the bill in the House of Representatives.

Senator Harris said, “Everyone should know that our aquifer makes West Tennessee a very special place, as compared with other areas of the country. We need to work to preserve that asset. We know that there’s enough drinking water for today’s generation, but that’s not the worry. We want to make sure that the aquifer is preserved for future generations. That means we need to be careful with respect to the precedents we set today, since those precedents have a funny way to leading to negative consequences later. Because this aquifer is so special, we also want to do what we can to make sure that the public knows what’s happening with it and how it’s being utilized. When there are proposals to use that resource, we need to have a serious conversation with the public, and sometimes we need to be able to modify or even reject some of these uses.”

The water stored in the Memphis sand aquifer, which is also known as the Middle Claiborne, first fell as rain 332 BC.  It covers 7,500 miles in portions of seven states, including 20 West Tennessee counties.  Although aquifers are used for drinking water by more than 100 million Americans, Kelsey said the quality of the Memphis aquifer is unsurpassed.

 

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Resolution points out absurdity in California’s state-funded and state-sponsored travel ban to Tennessee

(NASHVILLE), February 13, 2017  – State Senator Mike Bell (R-Riceville), Representative Bill Dunn (R-Knoxville) and Representative Tilman Goins (R-Morristown) have introduced a resolution in the Tennessee General Assembly pointing out the absurdity of California’s ban of state-funded and state-sponsored travel based on policy differences with Tennessee, North Carolina, Mississippi and Kansas.  At a press conference today the lawmakers said the ban is a dangerous precedent that could lead to reciprocal action.

The lawmakers also called upon national legislative conferences to assist in curtailing similar travel bans between states.

“Travel bans based on policy differences can lead to economic warfare and are counterproductive to the common objectives that we all have as states,” said Senator Bell.  “Tennesseans don’t agree with California coddling illegal alien criminals in sanctuary cities or with their out-of-control budget deficits, but we have not banned state-funded travel to that state.  The U.S. Constitution grants sovereignty to states in addressing issues within their jurisdiction which is the most basic precept of our government.”

As a result of the passage of Assembly Bill 1887 last summer, the State of California’s Department of Justice issued travel ban based on Tennessee’s passage of Public Chapter 926.  That law protected the rights of counselors to refer a client to another therapist when the goals, outcomes or behaviors for which they are seeking counseling are a violation of his or her sincerely held beliefs.  The new law does not apply if the individual seeking or undergoing counseling is in imminent danger of harming themselves or others.

California’s ban applies to their state agencies, departments, boards, authorities, and commissions, including an agency, department, board, authority, or commission of the University of California, the Board of Regents of the University of California, and the California State University.

“It appears this travel ban would prohibit California’s state colleges and universities from participating in an athletic competition in Tennessee if they are fortunate enough to advance to that level,” added Representative Dunn. “The March Madness basketball tournament comes to Memphis this year via the South Regional.  It is ridiculous to keep students from competing based on politics.  The same would apply if it was our students going to California if we implemented such a ban.  Students should not be subject to political blackmail by one state to another to drive their own political agenda.

Representative Goins said, “It may be one issue today, but another tomorrow and another and so on.  It is a slippery slope in which California is embarking.  We urge other states to refrain from imposing their judgment on their sister states, as California has done with Tennessee, North Carolina, Kansas and Mississippi, to prevent this escalating foolishness.  We are the United States, not the divided states.  We need to continue to have productive dialogue with one another to work on solutions common to us all.”

 

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STATEMENT FROM SENATOR HENSLEY AND REP. WEAVER REGARDING SB 1153/HB 1406

(NASHVILLE) – State Representative Terri Lynn Weaver (R-Lancaster) and Senator Joey Hensley (R-Hohenwald) made the following statement in regards to inaccurate reports on Senate Bill 1153/House Bill 1406 which they are sponsoring in the Tennessee General Assembly.

Rep. Weaver said, “Over the weekend, various news reports were published which contained extremely inaccurate interpretations regarding the effect of Senate Bill 1153/House Bill 1406.  This legislation would repeal a law that covers the birth of children to a husband and wife by means of artificial insemination.”

“These reports upset the many husbands and wives who struggle with fertility by reporting that repealing the law would ‘label the child as illegitimate despite the couple being married and both consenting. This is false.”

“Under this legislation, Tennessee law would continue to provide that a child born to a married woman will be considered the child of her husband. By repealing the law, and relying on other Tennessee statutes that remain, the state will no longer intrude into how a woman conceives her child.”

Senator Joey Hensley, the sponsor of the bill in the Senate and a physician, added, “Reports by some that the bill would make children conceived by artificial insemination illegitimate are absolutely and unequivocally wrong.  Repealing this section will have no effect on that at all.”

 

 

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Statement from Senate Education Committee Chairman Dolores Gresham regarding the confirmation of U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos

(NASHVILLE) -- Betsy Devos is an undisputed champion of families and students. For nearly 30 years, she has devoted time and resources to improving education options for our nation’s children, yet millions still languish in failing schools in an education system more than a century old.

It’s time for a new vision.

Betsy DeVos provides that vision. She embraces innovation, endorses accountability and -- most especially -- trusts parents to choose what is in their unique child’s best interests. She also believes in providing every parent with the resources and choices to pursue those decisions.  I am very pleased she has been confirmed.
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Senator Ken Yager Elected Chairman of the Joint Fiscal Review Committee

NASHVILLE – State Senator Ken Yager (R-Kingston) has been elected by his colleagues to lead the General Assembly’s Fiscal Review Committee which serves as the watchdog for all state government spending.  The action was taken on Thursday as the committee met to organize their business for the 110th General Assembly.

Yager has served on the Joint Fiscal Review Committee since 2009.  He also serves as Chairman of the Senate State and Local Government Committee, and is a member of the Senate Energy, Agriculture and Tourism Committee.

The bi-partisan Fiscal Review Committee, which was established in 1967, conducts a continuing review of the financial operations of state government.  This includes the preparation of estimates for state tax revenue and lottery proceeds for budgeting purposes.  It also reviews non-competitive state contracts and is responsible for preparing and distributing the fiscal notes that show how proposed legislation would impact state and local governments financially.

“Fiscal Review is the vehicle for the General Assembly to have oversight in the fiscal affairs of the Tennessee,” said Senator Yager.  “I am honored to have the confidence of my peers who elected me and look forward to running the committee in a fair and impartial manner.”

Also elected was State Representative Mark White (R-Memphis) who will serve as Vice-Chairman of the Committee.

 

 

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Senator Ken Yager announces $261,768 in recycling grants for Senate District 12

NASHVILLE – State Senator Ken Yager (R-Kingston) announced today that $261,768 in recycling grants have been awarded in Senate District 12.  The projects were among $2.1 million in fiscal year 2017 recycling grants announced by the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation to reduce landfill waste in Tennessee.

The Senate District 12 counties receiving major grants include Campbell, Pickett, Fentress, and Roane.

“Grants like these are extremely beneficial to meet our local recycling goals,” said Senator Yager.  “I congratulate our county officials for their diligent work in securing these grants to help in recycling and conservation efforts.”

The grants include:

  • $94,600 awarded to Campbell county for seven collection tanks, seven canopies, seven pads, two crushers, two pumps, two absorbents, one storage tank, one DOT trailer, and one heater;
  • $49,500 awarded to Fentress county for one 24-foot box truck;
  • $50,00 awarded to Roane county for truck scales; and
  • A combined total of $67,668 awarded in used oil and recycling grants to Pickett County for environmental efforts.

“This grant program encourages and supports local communities to meet their solid waste and recycling goals,” said TDEC Commissioner Bob Martineau “Local governments can divert more waste from landfills through infrastructure upgrades and providing convenient opportunities for residents to get engaged in the process.”

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SENATE SPEAKER PRO TEMPORE JIM TRACY FILES LEGISLATION CALLING FOR PHOTOS ON EBT CARDS USED FOR SNAP AND TANF BENEFITS

(NASHVILLE, Tenn.)Senate Speaker Pro Tempore Jim Tracy (R-Shelbyville) has filed legislation requiring photos to be added to the state’s Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cards, the method used for delivering Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to eligible Tennesseans.  The bill aims to deter theft and the selling or trafficking of the cards, while ensuring eligible Tennesseans continue to receive the assistance they need.

EBT is an on-line system in which SNAP, formerly known as food stamps, and cash assistance benefits are stored in a central computer database and electronically accessed by recipients at a point-of-sale machine via reusable plastic cards.  Families First, the state’s Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program, uses EBT cards in transferring benefits to eligible recipients.

“Adding photos on Tennessee’s EBT cards will strengthen the integrity of our public assistance programs,” said Sen. Tracy.  “It protects benefits for those who are legally and legitimately receiving them.  At the same time, it helps detect criminal activity in EBT trafficking cases where cards are sold for cash or drugs, or when multiple cards are in the possession of an individual illegally.”

There are over one million SNAP recipients in Tennessee which costs about $2 billion in federal funds annually.   Currently, Maine and Massachusetts require that EBT cards contain photo identification.

Under the legislation, those who already receive benefits would be informed of the new requirement when their benefits are recertified.  A photo from the recipient’s driver’s license would be placed on the ETB card.  If the recipient does not have a driver’s license, a photo would be made upon certification or recertification of benefits.

The bill would also allow card holders to give a family member permission to purchase food on his or her behalf. As is the case currently, the PIN would be required in order for the purchase to be approved.

“This provision allows family members or others who are authorized by the card holder to use it to buy food or redeem eligible benefits,” added Sen. Tracy.  “So, a person who is ill or cannot leave their home will continue to receive their benefits.  However, having the photo on the card will give state authorities or law enforcement the tools they need to identify and prosecute fraud and abuse.”

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SENATE APPROVES RESOLUTION CALLING FOR CONVENTION OF STATES

NASHVILLE -- The Senate approved a resolution today calling for a convention of states in Nashville for the purpose of planning a future Article V Convention. The convention would be the first formal meeting of the states since 1861.

Senate Joint Resolution 9, sponsored by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Brian Kelsey (R-Germantown) provides that the convention of states would be for the limited purposes of 1) planning for, and recommending rules and procedures for an Article V Convention to amend the U.S. Constitution and 2) recommending to Congress the initial date and location in which they would meet.  The legislation is co-sponsored by Senate Government Operations Committee Chairman Mike Bell (R-Riceville), Senate Republican Caucus Chairman Bill Ketron (R-Murfreesboro), and Senator John Stevens (R-Huntingdon).

“It is time for states to step up and solve the problem with almost $20 trillion of national debt that has been amassed in Washington,” said Sen. Kelsey.  “The Tennessee Balanced Budget Amendment Planning Convention will create a structure for the Balanced Budget Amendment Convention and will address many of the unanswered questions as to how an amendment convention will function.”

Article V provides that upon the application of two-thirds of the state legislatures, Congress shall call a convention of the states to propose amendments to the U.S. Constitution.  The resolution adopted by the Judiciary Committee sets the date for a convention of states for July 11, 2017, with the Article V Convention following as early as November.

Presently, 28 of the necessary 34 states have passed the application resolution limited to proposing a balanced budget amendment.  The organizational structure for the Tennessee Balanced Budget Amendment Planning Convention will be virtually the same as the convention for proposing the amendment as each are a convention of the states. State legislatures will choose a delegation to represent the state at the convention, each state will have one vote, and the convention will deliberate and make recommendations.

“Founding Fathers  James Madison and George Mason insisted that states have a method for amending the Constitution because sometime in the future the federal government would grow to the point it would become deaf to states’ needs,” added Sen. Bell (R-Riceville).

Kelsey said that last president who actually paid off the entire U.S. debt was Andrew Jackson.  “We want Tennessee to be leaders of this effort once again,” he added.

A concurring resolution must now be passed by the Tennessee House of Representatives.

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Senator Green receives coveted national award for championing Hall Income Tax repeal

NASHVILLE, Tenn., (February 6, 2017) -- State Senator Mark Green (R-Clarksville) has received a coveted national award from the Tax Foundation for championing the passage of legislation last year to phase out of Tennessee’s Hall Income Tax.  Green shared the honors with only 11 other recipients nationwide who have demonstrated outstanding achievements in State Tax Reform.

The Tax Foundation is the nation’s leading independent tax policy research organization.

“I appreciate this recognition,” said Senator Green.  “Our citizens should never be penalized to work or to save.  The end of the Hall Tax keeps your money in your budget, not the governments.”

In order to be considered for the award, the recipient must accomplish efforts to reform taxes to make them simpler, more neutral, more transparent, more stable, and more pro-growth.  Action by Green helped Tennessee join seven other states which are completely income tax-free.

“Working for better tax policy is not easy,” said Tax Foundation Vice President for State Projects Joseph Henchman. “A piece of glass hardly compares to the efforts the recipients put in, but we do this because some recognition is important for what they achieved for the taxpayers of their states.”

In the 110th General Assembly, Senator Green has already sponsored additional legislation to eliminate or reduce taxes and regulation, and will fight against the proposed gas tax increase while Tennessee currently reports a $1.8 billion surplus.  Other legislation sponsored by Green this year includes Senate Bill 8 which levels the playing field for businesses located inside the state by changing the franchise and excise taxes from a three-factor formula to a single-sales-factor formula, and Senate Bill 15 which phases out the professional privilege tax levied on professionals working in Tennessee

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SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE APPROVES RESOLUTION CALLING FOR CONVENTION OF STATES TO REIN IN FEDERAL DEBT

NASHVILLE -- The Senate Judiciary Committee approved a resolution today calling for a convention of states in Nashville for the purpose of adopting a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution.  The convention would be the first formal meeting of the states since 1861.

Senate Joint Resolution 9, sponsored by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Brian Kelsey (R-Germantown) provides that the convention of states would be for the limited purposes of 1) planning for, and recommending rules and procedures for an Article V Convention to amend the U.S. Constitution and 2) recommending to Congress the initial date and location in which they would meet.  The legislation is co-sponsored by Senate Government Operations Committee Chairman Mike Bell (R-Riceville), Senate Republican Caucus Chairman Bill Ketron (R-Murfreesboro), and Senator John Stevens (R-Huntingdon).

“It is time for states to step up and solve the problem with almost $20 trillion of national debt that has been amassed in Washington,” said Sen. Kelsey.  “The Tennessee Balanced Budget Amendment Planning Convention will create a structure for the Balanced Budget Amendment Convention and will address many of the unanswered questions as to how an amendment convention will function.”

Article V provides that upon the application of two-thirds of the state legislatures, Congress shall call a convention of the states to propose amendments to the U.S. Constitution.  The resolution adopted by the Judiciary Committee sets the date for a convention of states for July 11, 2017, with the Article V Convention following as early as November.

Presently, 28 of the necessary 34 states have passed the application resolution limited to proposing a balanced budget amendment.  The organizational structure for the Tennessee Balanced Budget Amendment Planning Convention will be virtually the same as the convention for proposing the amendment as each are a convention of the states. State legislatures will choose a delegation to represent the state at the convention, each state will have one vote, and the convention will deliberate and make recommendations.

“Founding Fathers  James Madison and George Mason insisted that states have a method for amending the Constitution because sometime in the future the federal government would grow to the point it would become deaf to states’ needs,” added Sen. Bell (R-Riceville).

Kelsey said that last president who actually paid off the entire U.S. debt was Andrew Jackson.  “We want Tennessee to be leaders of this effort once again,” he added.

The resolution now goes to the floor of the Senate for final consideration.

 

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Sen. Dickerson reappointed Chairman of the Senate Finance Investigations and Oversight Subcommittee

(NASHVILLE, TN), January 31, 2017 ---  State Senator Steven Dickerson (R-Nashville) has been reappointed Chairman of the Senate Finance, Ways and Means Committee’s Investigations and Oversight Subcommittee for the 110th General Assembly.  The appointment was made by Senate Finance, Ways and Means Committee Chairman Bo Watson (R-Chattanooga) during the first meeting of the group on Tuesday.

“This subcommittee helps ensure that agencies of state government are both transparent and accountable in reporting the appropriate financial information to the committee to help us make the most effective budget decisions,” said Chairman Watson.  “Senator Dickerson has done a tremendous job in weeding through the hundreds of reports that we receive each year.  I look forward to working with him as we get started on the financial tasks before us in the 2017 legislative session.”

In addition to serving on the Senate Finance Committee, Senator Dickerson serves as 2nd Vice-Chair of the Senate Ethics Committee, and is a member of the Senate Education Committee and the Senate Energy, Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee.

 

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Senator Stevens to Chair key Senate Finance Subcommittee

NASHVILLE, Tenn. –  State Senator John Stevens (R-Huntingdon) will chair a key subcommittee of the Senate Finance, Ways and Means Committee.  Chairman Bo Watson (R-Hixson) named Stevens Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee during the first meeting of the Senate Finance, Ways and Means Committee in Nashville on Tuesday as lawmakers began to review Governor Bill Haslam’s 2017-2018 budget proposal.

The Appropriations Subcommittee reviews and approves or rejects all Senate amendments to the proposed budget.  Other members of the subcommittee include Vice-Chair Reginald Tate (D-Memphis), Senator Majority Leader Mark Norris (R-Collierville) and Chairman Watson.

“I have full confidence in Senator Stevens’ abilities to lead this committee,” said Chairman Watson.  “I look forward to working with him as we get started on the financial tasks before us in the 2017 legislative session.”

Stevens has been a member of the powerful Finance, Ways and Means Committee, which holds the purse strings of state government, for the past four years.  He currently serves as 1st Vice-Chair of the full committee.

Stevens also serves as 1st Vice-Chair of the Senate Rules Committee and is a member of the Transportation and Safety Committee.

 

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Senator Stevens earns NFIB Guardian of Small Business Award

NASHVILLE, (January 31, 2017) — The Tennessee office of the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), the state’s leading small-business association, has presented its coveted Guardian of Small Business Award to State Senator John Stevens (R-Huntingdon).  The NFIB Tennessee Leadership Council, an advisory board comprised of NFIB members, voted to present Stevens with the award for his perfect Voting Record on small-business issues in the 109th Tennessee General Assembly (2015-2016) and for sponsoring key reform legislation, Public Chapter 635, which prevents double-dipping on asbestos claims and ensures submitted claims are not fraudulent.

The Guardian of Small Business award is the most prestigious honor that NFIB bestows on legislators in recognition of their efforts to support small business issues.

“I am humbled to receive this award,” said Senator Stevens.  “Small businessmen and women are the backbone of our economy, creating most of the jobs in our state.  I will continue to partner with them to remove barriers that keep them from investing and adding more jobs.”

 

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SENATOR GARDENHIRE APPOINTED TO COUNCIL ON PENSIONS AND RETIREMENT

NASHVILLE, Tenn. –  State Senator Todd Gardenhire (R-Chattanooga) has been appointed to the Tennessee Council on Pensions and Retirement.  The announcement was made by Senate Finance, Ways and Means Committee Chairman Bo Watson (R-Hixson), who also serves on the Council, as the General Assembly started its first full week of the 2017 legislative session.

Gardenhire will be one of eight state senators serving on the Council.  The House of Representatives will also select eight members to serve.

“Sen. Gardenhire was a natural pick for this council with vast experience in financial management,” said Chairman Watson.  “I am sure he will do a tremendous job in safeguarding our pension system.”

Tennessee’s pension system is ranked as one of the top four funded pensions in the nation by the Pew Charitable Trusts.

Created as a legislative oversight committee, the Council on Pensions and Insurance develops, recommends, and establishes pension and retirement standards and maintains a progressive state policy on retirement. Additionally, the 16-member Council reviews legislation affecting state provided insurance programs for both active and retired members of the Tennessee Consolidated Retirement System.  The Council has five non-voting members including the Commissioner of Finance and Administration, the State Treasurer, the Comptroller of the Treasury and Commissioner of Human Resources.

From 2006 – 2010, Gardenhire was a Presidential appointee to the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) Advisory Committee where he was appointed Chair by an Executive Order signed by President George W. Bush.  The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) protects the retirement benefits of more than 40 million workers and retirees.  He also served on the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) Advisory Council, was U.S. Department of Labor Investment Management Representative from 2000-2005 and was U.S. Department of Labor Investment Counseling Representative from 1985-1987.  In 2004, he was named Washington Impact Player of the Year by Institutional Investor News.

In addition to serving on the Senate Finance Committee, Gardenhire serves as 2nd Vice-Chair of the Senate Education Committee and is a member of the Senate State and Local Government Committee.

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Senator Overbey chosen to lead Senate Revenue Subcommittee

NASHVILLE, Tenn. –  State Senator Doug Overbey (R-Maryville) will chair a key subcommittee of the Senate Finance, Ways and Means Committee.  Chairman Bo Watson (R-Hixson) reappointed Overbey Chairman of the Senate Revenue Subcommittee during the first meeting of the Senate Finance, Ways and Means Committee in Nashville on Tuesday as lawmakers began to review Governor Bill Haslam’s 2017-2018 budget proposal.

The Revenue Subcommittee considers all tax-related bills.  Other members of the subcommittee include Vice-Chair Thelma Harper (D-Nashville), Sen. Joey Hensley (R-Hohenwald), Sen. Bill Ketron (R-Murfreesboro), Sen. Ferrell Haile (R-Gallatin) and Sen. Todd Gardenhire (R-Chattanooga).

“Senator Overbey has led this subcommittee with great ability and I am pleased to reappoint him to this Finance Committee leadership post,” said Chairman Watson.  “I look forward to working with him as we get started on the financial tasks before us in the 2017 legislative session.”

Overbey also serves as Chairman of the Senate Ethics Committee, 2nd Vice-Chair of the Senate Finance, Ways and Means Committee, and is a member of the Senate Health and Welfare Committee, Senate Rules Committee, Joint Fiscal Review Committee and the Council on Pensions and Insurance.

 

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CHAIRMAN BO WATSON APPOINTS STEVENS, OVERBEY AND DICKERSON AS CHAIRS OF KEY SENATE FINANCE, WAYS AND MEANS SUBCOMMITTEES

NASHVILLE, Tenn. –  Finance, Ways and Means Committee Chairman Bo Watson (R-Hixson) has named Senators John Stevens (R-Huntingdon), Doug Overbey (R-Maryville) and Steven Dickerson (R-Nashville) chairmen of three key subcommittees in the Tennessee Senate.  Senator Stevens was named Chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee, Senator Overbey was reappointed Chairman of the Revenue Subcommittee and Senator Dickerson was reappointed Chairman of the Investigations and Oversight Subcommittee.

The announcement was made during the first meeting of the Senate Finance Committee in Nashville on Tuesday.

“All three of these subcommittees play a key role in the financial health of our state, and these chairmen are extremely qualified to lead them,” said Chairman Watson.  “I am very pleased they have accepted these positions and look forward to getting our committee started on the financial tasks before us in the 2017 legislative session.”

The Revenue Subcommittee considers all tax-related bills, while the Appropriations Subcommittee reviews and approves or rejects all Senate amendments to the proposed budget.  The Investigations and Oversight Subcommittee ensures that agencies of state government are accountable in reporting the appropriate financial information to the full committee in order to make the most effective budget decisions.

In addition, Senator Todd Gardenhire (R-Chattanooga) was appointed and Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris (R-Collierville) was reappointed as members of the Council on Pensions and Retirement.  The council establishes pension and retirement standards and reviews legislation which affects state provided insurance programs.

The full subcommittee list includes:

Appropriations Subcommittee:

- Stevens, Chair

- Tate, Vice-Chair

- Norris

- Watson

Revenue Subcommittee:

- Overbey, Chair

- Harper, Vice-Chair

- Hensley

- Ketron

- Haile

- Gardenhire

Investigations and Oversight Subcommittee:

- Dickerson, Chair

- Haile, Vice-Chair

- Harper

- Stevens

- Hensley

 

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