The 111th General Assembly has begun as state lawmakers gathered on Capitol Hill on Tuesday to take the oath of office, elect officers and organize the business of the 2019-2020 legislative sessions. Families and friends crowded the Senate chamber and watched proudly as 18 state senators took the oath of office, which was the first order of business during the organizational session.
The next order of business was adoption of the Senate rules, followed by the election of Lt. Governor Randy McNally. McNally, who also serves as Speaker of Senate, is serving his second term as Lt. Governor of Tennessee.
Among other organizational tasks was the appointments of committees. I am honored and very pleased to have been reappointed Chairman of the Senate Revenue Sub Committee and Second Vice Chair of the Senate Finance, Ways and Means Committee. I have also been reappointed to serve on the Education Committee and the Health and Welfare Committee.
The Finance Ways and Means Committee is responsible for all measures relating to taxes and the raising of revenue. The Education committee is responsible for legislation concerning schools and secondary education with the goal of providing quality education for Tennesseans. The Health Committee is responsible for private hospitals; health offices, and their administration, institutions and services. I am pleased to continue proposing legislation that benefits my constituents in these committees. I look forward to serving Tennessee and representing the people of the 28th District.
The General Assembly will return to the State Capitol on Friday, January 19th to wind up organizational details. The organizational session will conclude on January 19 with the inauguration of Governor-elect Bill Lee on Legislative Plaza.
Jobs, education, rural development, and drug abuse are top issues in 2019 Legislative Session
Upon completion of organizational tasks, the General Assembly will get to work on the issues facing Tennessee. Issues expected to headline the 2019 session include state education, rural development, and continuing progress in Tennessee’s war on drug abuse.
Jobs — On the economic development front, efforts will continue during the 2019 legislative session to keep Tennessee moving forward as the fastest growing state in the Southeast in job creation. Over the last several years, the General Assembly has made great strides in preparing students for the 21st century marketplace and in creating a business-friendly climate. These efforts have resulted in Tennessee receiving numerous accolades for job creation, including being ranked first in the nation for job growth among small businesses. Unemployment in Tennessee is currently at historic lows due to this robust economic growth with a positive outlook for continued success.
Expanding Opportunities in the State’s Rural Communities – There will be emphasis on the needs of rural Tennesseans in the upcoming legislative session. Governor-elect Lee has announced plans to focus on economic development and agricultural advancements that will support jobs and propel progress in the state’s rural communities. Agriculture is 13 percent of the state’s economy, but many believe the industry is still emerging, including development of the technology industry which can advance it. Enhancement of agricultural education in the state’s K-12 public schools could be on the agenda this year. Another issue that will be on the table this year is the expansion of broadband services into rural and underserved communities. Such expansion would build on the Broadband Accessibility Act passed by the General Assembly in 2017. That law improved access through a three-year investment of $45 million to spur deployment in rural unserved areas of Tennessee, opening them up to economic investment and job growth.
Vocational Education – Expect K-12 education to be the centerpiece of Governor-elect Lee’s 2019 legislative agenda, including proposals to elevate career and technical education for students. There is currently a deficit of workers in “skilled trade” jobs in the Volunteer State. His agenda will likely include initiatives that prepare students choosing a career path for good-paying jobs in Tennessee’s employment market to fill that skills gap. Accordingly, legislation could be on the table to engage private sector employers in more meaningful work-based learning programs or apprenticeships in the state’s public schools, creating pathways for students who are not going to college.
Curbing Drug Addiction – The General Assembly will continue efforts to curb opiate abuse in Tennessee during the 2019 legislative session. A major legislative strike at the problem was made during the 2018 session with a three-pronged approach for more effective law enforcement, treatment and prevention. The legislature will carefully examine how these laws are working and consider additional measures, especially expansion of treatment, which can be taken to curb the problem which has been at epidemic levels. The legislature will also look at how to reduce the flow of illegal drugs coming into Tennessee, including fentanyl and heroin. The heroin influx in Tennessee poses a major problem, with deadly repercussions, because the drug is sometimes laced with the even more powerful and dangerous narcotic, fentanyl. These dangerous drugs have been on the rise over the past several years, especially as steps have been taken to curb prescription Tennessee’s prescription opiate epidemic.
Contact Senator Hensley at
425 5th Avenue North, Suite 746
Nashville TN 37243
Toll Free 1-800-449-8366
855 Summertown Highway
Hohenwald TN 38462
Cell Phone 931-212-8823