NASHVILLE, April 10, 207– This year’s session is about to start winding down, and things are getting incredibly busy at the Capitol. Session has typically ended in mid-April over the last several years, but this year is likely to extend well into May. Here is an update on where a few things stand.
Committees Closing, Legislation Heading to Full Floor Votes, Budgeting Process Begins
We are getting to one of the busiest and most critical points in the legislative session. Committees and subcommittees are beginning to close and hear their final calendars. This is also one of the most important times to remain vigilant of legislation making its way through some of these committees. This remains especially true as the pace quickens and regular rules are often “suspended” to allow more efficient legislative actions.
At this point in every legislative session, we begin to get a clear picture of legislation that will be advancing and could become law, as well as the bills that will fail or be studied further over the summer. The next phase of this legislative session is the budgeting process. As you know, our state legislature is constitutionally required to pass a balanced budget annually. In fact, that is the only action we are required to take during the legislative session. I am proud that our state responsibly spends the revenues we are responsible for by balancing our state’s budget. This is a practice to which I believe our federal government should also adhere. There is a movement advancing for a Convention of the States to propose an Amendment to the Constitution which would require the federal government to balance their budget. I am in favor of that movement.
That being said, I want to remind you of something that most of us do not like being reminded of. Over 40% of Tennessee’s budget that we balance comes from the federal government. When they tighten up, every state is going to have to do the same thing. Tennessee needs to be ready. If we are not willing to make the hard calls, then the economy of our Nation will be jeopardized and our children and grandchildren will be paying for the trepidation of elected officials who are not willing to cut government spending. Most of the programs that we do have will be cut drastically anyway because there just won’t be enough money. I hope we, as a State and a Nation, have the courage to lead, and will not leave the next generation with massive debt and a failing economy.
Jessica Harrison Awarded with Youth Award
I was extremely proud to receive the news that Jessica Harrison, representing the Boys and Girls Club of Maury County, received first runner up in the Tennessee State Youth of the Year awards. Jessica was presented an $8,000 award in Nashville last week. She competed with other youth from across the state to win the competitive recognition. The Boys and Girls Club is a terrific organization with a great history of developing our young people and propelling them to successful lives. Congratulations Jessica!
Budgeting Process in Early Stages
The budget amendment filing process has now been completed in both the House and Senate. Last week, Finance, Ways, and Means committees in both chambers announced the number of filings they had received. In the Senate, 326 amendments were filed to the FY 17–18 budget. The House received significantly fewer with 208. The deadline for members of both chambers to file amendments was Thursday, March 23.
Budget amendments are filed annually at the beginning of the budgeting process in the General Assembly. Typically, amendments from House and Senate members are submitted around the same time frame as those filed by the governor’s office. This year, as result of some outstanding pieces of legislation still to be acted on, the governor’s office has yet to submit its amendments.
Amendments coming from the legislative branch could attempt to fund very recent needs brought to light by one of the various departments, allocate dollars to a new initiative, or any number of specific needs the administration would like to financially address. The purpose of amendments brought forward by a member of the General Assembly is to allow the final opportunity to propose certain projects, capital initiatives, cuts, or other requests. These requests can range from building proposals to tax restructuring.
It is expected that both finance committees will release the nature of each amendment in the coming weeks. Each and every proposal will be considered by the respective Finance, Ways, and Means committee.
Spring Hill Top Ten Students Visit the Capitol
I am thankful to Dr. Potts, Wally Beasley and Mr. Jones for bringing the Top Ten Seniors from Spring Hill High School to visit the Capitol on Thursday. I was glad to get to recognize them in the House Chamber.
If you would like to bring a group to Nashville, or if Jan and I can assist you in any way, Please feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 615-741-3005. We work with many constituents every week helping them with various issues in our State Government. It is an honor to serve District 64.