First Legislative Update for 2017

Tennessee General Assembly information, click HERE. For information on State Senators, including phone numbers and email addresses, click HERE; for House members, click HERE. For information on legislation, click HERE.
Don't forget that you can now watch the Senate committee meetings and floor sessions online by going HERE; House committee meetings and floor sessions online HERE.
Phone calls can go to the legislative Switchboard at 615-741-3011 or to the Toll Free number 1-800-449-8366+1 last four digits of office phone number (available online).

"Your love of liberty — your respect for the laws — your habits of industry — and your practice of the moral and religious obligations, are the strongest claims to national and individual happiness." —George Washington (1789)

The MOST IMPORTANT thing you, as a grassroots activist, can do is to follow the Scriptural charge in Timothy. This will be a challenging session and these men and women will be making decisions that will impact the lives of Tennesseans now and for many years to come, so please be faithful: I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; 1 Timothy 2:1-3

Well, as usual, the ORGANIZATIONAL week of the 110th Tennessee General Assembly was hectic and exciting. I kept reminding myself that this was my 30th year - which, believe me, is really hard to believe!! The truth is, that despite the frustration and some difficult disappointments, I STILL love it and I feel so blessed and privileged to do what I do and am so grateful for the opportunity to represent the families of TN at the State Capitol.

It really was wonderful to see old friends and make new friends and get big smiles and LOTS of HUGS!!! There are eight new Republicans and two new Democrats in the State House; one new member of the State Senate, Jon Lundberg, who moved over from the House to Ron Ramsey's seat (big boots to fill!)
On Wednesday, as required by the Constitution, they held a joint Convention to re-elect the state's three constitutional officers, Secretary of State Tre Hargett (elected every four years), Treasurer David Lillard and Comptroller Justin Wilson (Treasurer and Comptroller are elected every two years).


The session has been recessed until January 30th to give the staff time to move offices around to accommodate the new members and new committee chairmen. On Monday, the 30th, they will hold a Joint Convention to hear the Governor's Budget Address in the House Chamber, then on Tuesday they will move into the regular schedule.   Your next Legislative Update will be on February 4th.  In the meantime I hope you will share this issue with your family and friends and encourage them to go to our website, and REGISTER for this vital information.

A chart (pdf) listing Senate committee assignments is available by clicking on this link: senatecommittees110tga
A list of the new House committee assignments (pdf) is available by clicking on this link: housecommittees110thga


The biggest change, of course, was the 'Passing of the Torch' in the Senate.  Retiring Lt. Governor and Speaker Ron Ramsey was before the body to preside over the vote for a new Lt. Governor.  Sen. Mark Norris nominated Sen. Randy McNally and Sen. Bill Ketron seconded the nomination. Those favoring McNally for Speaker were directed to respond "McNally" when their name was called, then the Clerk started calling the roll.  Democrat Senators Harris, Kyle and Yarbro ABSTAINED when their names were called, but when McNally's name was called, he voted for "Ramsey". It was SO TOUCHING as his colleagues got to their feet for a standing ovation and Ramsey wiped away tears.  What a thoughtful thing for him to do. Then McNally became the 87th Lt. Governor and Speaker.  By the way, Randy is the only lawmaker there who has been there longer than I have and I look forward to working with him.

Speaking of touching - I cannot think of a better way to start a new legislative session with a new Lt. Governor - Speaker than for his colleagues to gather around him and lift him up in prayer with this caption:
This is the Tennessee Senate, praying over our new LT Gov. Randy McNally. They may not all always agree on policy, but they love our state and lead with conviction. I am honored to serve them. 1 Kings 3:9 [ "So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and distinguish between right and wrong."] and  John 12:31-32 Bo Watson

Sarah Jordan is our Tuesday Intern:
My name is Sarah Jordan and I’m in 11th grade. I’ve been in Teen Eagles for a year now, but it has been one of the most exciting, and enlightening experiences I’ve had. It has been amazing seeing my classmate’s opinions and thoughts throughout this election cycle. In my spare time I enjoy reading books with a lot of adventure, and writing fantasy stories. When I graduate from high school I plan on majoring in pre-law, and then going to law school to become an attorney. I’m looking forward to seeing firsthand how our state government works, so as to deepen my knowledge of our state government, instead just seeing the federal side of things.

Malia Curtsinger is our Wednesday Intern:
Malia is 16 years old from Goodlettsville, TN. She is in 11th grade and has been homeschooled her whole life which has given her the chance to be surrounded with politics and the U.S Government from an early age. Since the age of 12 she has been an active member of the Tennessee Teen Eagles eager to attend the monthly meetings in hope to learn more about what it means to be an American, the U.S. Constitution, the Government, and the elections. The Tennessee Teen Eagles has given her many opportunities outside of the classroom including shadowing several Legislators, being able to attend two Tennessee Eagle Forum conferences and going to the Eagle Forum Council in St. Louis in 2014. She is very active in her church through the choir and she is also studying saxophone at Belmont University. She is undecided of colleges outside of high school but is excited for the learning experience that she will have interning with Ms. Bobbie.

The first thing we did Tuesday was go to the swearing in of the representatives. It was a wonderful ceremony, I loved how formal everything was. It was surprising to see the families of the representatives there. I met a lot of great people, and I learned a lot of things, but the one thing that stood out to me the most was what someone said to me about the capitol. He said, “I tell everyone this, you can walk around the capitol like you own the place, you know why? Because you do!”

Arriving at the legislature on Wednesday, I had lots of excitement to start my internship with Ms. Bobbie. It was hard to prepare myself for my first day and my expectations were still far from the wonderful, hectic, and busy reality that I encountered. It is so interesting to see how everything gets up and running at the beginning of a new session. It was a very fast paced day going from the house floor to a meeting to a brief lunch than back to meeting some people. I was honored to meet with many wonderful men and women that make this amazing state the way it is.


While introducing Sarah (and her family) to some folks at the Plaza, we ran into Secretary of State, Tre Hargett.  We mentioned that Sarah's mom is going to use this time while Sarah is with me, to teach the other children about Tennessee history.  I told Tre that I had made sure they each had Blue Books and he told us that they now have a CURRICULUM for students to use.  So, parents, get your Blue Book from your Senator or Representative and get them started!!

Blue Book Lesson Plans
The following lesson plans were created by Tennessee teachers from across the state utilizing the Tennessee Blue Book, a great resource for information about state government. These lesson plans link with the current Tennessee social studies curriculum standards using the information provided in the Blue Book to utilize in civics and government classes.
There are a limited number of hard copies of Blue Books available. To see about ordering a set for your classroom, please contact the Secretary of State’s office at (615) 741-2819 or one of your local legislators. The online version of the Blue Book is also available here. The pages of the Blue Book that are needed for each activity are included in each lesson plan as PDFs.

Senator Norris meets with Lawyers regarding refugee lawsuit
This week while the General Assembly convened in legislative session, meetings were ongoing with the legal team hired by the state to pursue a lawsuit in accordance with Senate Joint Resolution 467. The legal team that was hired at no expense to the state traveled in from Michigan and North Carolina to discuss case details and strategy.
The group of legislators leading the legal team hope to have a complaint ready to file by the end of the month.
More information can be found by in this Tennessean article. Click here to read more.

Harwell names Doss, Farmer, Travis as new House committee chairs

McNally names Watson chair of Senate Finance Committee; Tracy as speaker pro tem; Bailey as Transportation chair

Joe McCord steps down as House chief clerk

McNally names Rick Nicholson as Senate chief of staff, succeeding Lance Frizzell