Written by Curtis Johnson
Tennessee State Representative
Nashville, TN – On Wednesday, March 15th, U.S. President Donald Trump arrived in Nashville to honor President Andrew Jackson at his tomb, on his 250th birthday. The President addressed members of the Tennessee General Assembly at the Hermitage before making his way back to Nashville to speak before thousands of supporters.
The Municipal Auditorium was quickly filled to capacity; 30,000 supporters were unable to enter the venue after hours of waiting. The line at the auditorium developed early in the morning, and by the late afternoon, the line stretched the length of James Robertson Parkway, around the Capitol building, and back down Charlotte Street.
Opioid Abuse Task Force Update
The Opioid Abuse Task Force this week held its final hearing. Legislators heard from the Executive Director of the Metro Drug Coalition, the Senior Director of Knox County’s Regional Forensic Center, the Medical Director of Pain Consultants of East Tennessee, as well as scientists from the Oak Ridge National Laboratory on how big data and supercomputing can be used to fight the opioid epidemic.
The Comptroller of the Treasury, Justin Wilson, also discussed financial aspects of the epidemic with the Task Force.
Lawmakers, Farmers Celebrate annual “AG Day on the Hill”
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 Legislative Plaza 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 — horses, cows, goats, sheep, piglets, and chicks — and a variety of farming equipment on display at the entrance to the Legislative Plaza in Nashville. 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 potato bagging and calf bottle feeding contest between House and Senate lawmakers took place, with the Senate claiming the calf feeding victory and House members winning the potato bagging challenge. Following the contest, the Farm & Forest Families of Tennessee organization presented a check to Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee in honor of contest participants.
The day’s events also included a sweet potato bagging project to benefit the Society of St. Andrew and a silent auction benefiting Second Harvest and the Ag in the Classroom program.
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.
House Republicans Demonstrate continued Support for Military Veterans, Families
House Republicans demonstrated continued support for veterans and their families this week, moving forward with two major bills to expand access to education in Tennessee. The House Government Operations Committee gave a positive nod for the Support, Training, and Renewing Opportunity for National Guardsmen (STRONG) Act to create a pilot program to provide eligible members of the Tennessee National Guard funding toward a first-time bachelor’s degree through a tuition reimbursement program.
That change brings Tennessee into compliance with new provisions in the GI bill, ensuring that about 13,000 Tennessee service members, veterans, and their dependents continue to receive education benefits under the federal program.
The proposal also updates Tennessee’s Veterans Education Transition Support (VETS) Act which encourages enrollment of veterans and removes barriers known to impede their success in attaining higher education credentials.
The legislation enhances the VETS Act and makes Tennessee the second state in the nation to develop a web-based dashboard to help prospective student veterans determine how their military training counts. Under the new program, a veteran or service member will be able to click on the specific military occupational specialty he or she possesses and instantly see what academic credit they qualify for at each of Tennessee’s public institutions, before they enroll.
The easy-to-use system will help the state recruit and keep military service members in Tennessee. As the 2017 legislative session continues, House Republicans remain committed to helping veterans, their families, and all those involved with protecting Tennessee and the United States on a daily basis.
Rep. Curtis Johnson
15 Legislative Plaza
Nashville, TN 37243
For more information about the Tennessee General Assembly, check our website at www.capitol.tn.gov