Written by Curtis Johnson
Tennessee State Representative
Nashville, TN – Wednesday morning, House members unanimously passed a measure to strengthen identity protections for our military veterans.
House Bill 2130, also known as the Tennessee Stolen Valor Act, is designed to safeguard the identities of Tennessee veterans who serve the state and nation by cracking down on instances of theft and fraud involving those who attempt to imitate them.
The measure creates a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to 11 months and 29 days in jail, as well as a fine of up to $2,500, for anyone who impersonates a veteran or individuals who fraudulently represent their service with the intent of obtaining money, property, services, or any other tangible benefits.
The legislation comes after a recent case in Northeast Tennessee involving a con artist who lied about his military service to steal from veterans.
The initiative is the latest in a series of Republican-led measures designed to honor Tennessee veterans and their service.
House Recognizes Maggie Kulback
The Tennessee House of Representatives yesterday recognized Maggie Kulback on receiving the Wendell H. Gilbert Award from Austin Peay State University. Mrs. Kulback was the first female President of the Student Government Association at APSU. She has been a staunch supporter of APSU as a member of the Tower Club and Govs Club.
Maggie and her husband, Barry, have contributed financially to Austin Peay for 36 years and were honored by naming the atrium in the Maynard Mathematics and Computer Science Building the “Kulback Atrium” in their honor.
House Republicans Pass “Tennessee Together”
Plan to help Combat Opioid Epidemic
While the federal government has only just commenced conversation about the opioid epidemic, Tennessee leads the way in fighting the situation here at home. This week, House Republicans passed legislation to combat the state’s opioid problem head on: Tennessee Together.
Tennessee Together is a multi-faceted plan comprised of legislation, $30 million in funds through the proposed 2018-2019 budget, and other executive actions to battle opioids through the three major components of prevention, treatment, and law enforcement. The plan incorporates recommendations made by the Ad Hoc Task Force on Opioid Abuse, chaired by Rep. Curtis Johnson.
In 2016, there were over 1,600 opioid related overdose deaths, one of the highest in the nation, and statistics show the numbers are only increasing. Each day in Tennessee, at least three people die from opioid-related overdoses — more than the daily number of traffic fatalities.
Legislative solutions in Tennessee Together would include limiting the supply and dosage of opioid prescriptions, with reasonable exceptions and an emphasis on new patients, as well as education for elementary and secondary schools through revisions to the state’s health education academic standards.
Tennessee Together increases state funding to attack the illicit sale and trafficking of opioids through additional law enforcement agencies and training, and includes updates to the controlled substance schedules in order to better track, monitor, and penalize the use and unlawful distribution of dangerous and addictive drugs — including fentanyl. Finally, the plan provides every Tennessee state trooper with naloxone for the emergency treatment of opioid overdose prior to paramedic arrival.
House Republicans are dedicated to working closely with the Governor to address Tennessee’s opioid problem. While the Tennessee Together plan is a huge step in the right direction, expect additional time and resources to be spent on the opioid front in the coming days.
Initiative Promoting High Paying Jobs in Tennessee Passes
House Republicans passed a measure that promotes high paying jobs in Tennessee this week on the House floor.
House Bill 1917 continues the Go Build Tennessee Program through 2024 in order to raise awareness about an abundance of high paying jobs available in communities across the state. The measure strengthens existing partnerships so that students who are interested in the trade industry can utilize Tennessee College of Applied Technology (TCAT) campuses to learn the skills they need in order to pursue these high paying careers.
The Go Build Tennessee program was created with the passage of the Go Build Tennessee Act in 2015. It established a nonprofit corporation and board to run the program funded by $3 million collected by the state in surplus licensing fees.
Since Go Build Tennessee began, 74 percent of students in our state said they were more likely to pursue a career in the trades after hearing the program’s message.
Construction and trade jobs are some of the highest paying in Tennessee with an average salary well above median household incomes in most communities. The overall goal of this initiative is to address a shortage of qualified applicants for current vacancies.
House Bill 1917 now awaits Governor Haslam’s action. For more information about this initiative, please click here.
Tennessee Reconnect Scholarships Update
Since the application process for Tennessee Reconnect opened on February 15th, over 10,000 adults have applied. Tennessee Reconnect is a groundbreaking program that covers tuition and mandatory fees at a Tennessee community or technical college for eligible adults that do not yet have a college degree.
The Tennessee Reconnect program is part of the broader Drive to 55 initiative — the push to increase the number of Tennesseans with a postsecondary degree or certificate to 55 percent by 2025. Studies show that by 2025, at least half the jobs in Tennessee will require a college degree or certificate.
Tennessee is the first state in the nation to offer all citizens, both high school graduates and adults, the chance to earn a postsecondary degree or certificate tuition-free. For more information, click here: www.tnreconnect.gov
Rep. Curtis Johnson
606 Cordell Hull Building
Nashville, TN 37243
For more information about the Tennessee General Assembly, check our website at: www.capitol.tn.gov