Legislative news from the House

by | April 13, 2017 7:27 am

By State Representative Paul Sherrell

Social studies review committee approves language to incorporate civics into school standards

Last week, the Tennessee Social Studies Review Committee (SRC) approved language that will incorporate the study of civic matters into the Tennessee social studies standards for the 2017-2018 academic years.

The approval is designed to make civics more prevalent in public education courses across Tennessee.

The language amended in the standards will include a more thorough focus on civics. Specifically, students will learn the process of becoming a naturalized citizen and also become well-versed in the operation of the U.S. government, civics, and overall American historical information.

Supporters of the move complimented the decision of the SRC to approve the civics language, agreeing on the need to promote the teaching of civics — including the history of government, facts concerning our institutions of American democracy, and the U.S. political process — in Tennessee classrooms.

Tennessee business expansions on rise across state

In 2016, Tennessee was named State of the Year for Economic Development by Southern Business & Development Magazine based on project totals and the variety of industries that invested in the state and created jobs.

So far in 2017, Tennessee is well on its way to living up to this recognition, with multiple major job announcements made since the beginning of the year.

In the past 60 days alone, some of Tennessee’s top economic development projects have included:

  • Science Applications International Corporation — Creation of 300 new jobs over the next five years in Cookeville
  • Rockline Industries — Investment of $40.3 million and creation of 250 new jobs in Morristown
  • Orchid Paper Products — Establishment of new headquarters in Brentwood and creation of 25 new jobs
  • LG Electronics Inc. — $250 million investment and creation of 600 new jobs in Montgomery County
  • MIG Steel Fabrication, LLC — Creation of 20 new jobs and $1.5 million investment in Henderson County
  • Sedgwick Claims Management Services, Inc. — Investment of $34 million and creation of 150 new jobs in Memphis

Tennessee has rapidly climbed the ladder over the last several years as one of the overall best-managed states in the nation. Not only is Tennessee one of only a handful of states with a higher bond rating than that of the federal government — a major indicator that showcases our state’s stable fiscal environment — the state continues to rack up economic development awards from publications and rating agencies from across the country.

April 5 marked anniversary of legislation making women eligible to hold public office in Tennessee

In 1893, the Tennessee Supreme Court declared:

“By the English or common law, no woman, under the dignity of a queen, can take part in the government of the State, and they can hold no offices except parish offices.

Although a woman may be a citizen, she is not entitled, by virtue of her citizenship, to take any part in the government, either as a voter or as an officer, independent of legislation conferring such rights upon her.

It follows that unless there is some constitutional or legislative provision enabling her to hold office, she is not eligible to the same.”

In short, although a woman was a citizen of the state, she had no right to vote or hold any elected office.

Twenty-six years later, on April 17, 1919, Governor A. H. Roberts signed into law Public Chapter 139, an act granting women the right to vote for electors of President and Vice President of the United States, and for municipal officers. Women in Tennessee could now vote in most elections, but the bar to holding public office remained.

In August 1920, Tennessee became the 36th State to ratify the 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution; women throughout the country were then able to vote in the November 1920 Presidential election.

In a special election held in January 1921 in Tennessee to fill the vacancy caused by the death in office of Senator J. Parks Worley, his widow, Anna Lee Keys Worley, was elected by the voters of Sullivan and Hawkins counties as the first female member of any southern state legislature.

On March 10, Senator Anna Lee Keys Worley introduced 1921 Senate Bill 737, “an act to make women eligible to hold public office in Tennessee.”

It passed both houses and was signed into law by Governor A. A. Taylor, making it 1921 Public Chapter 95, on April 5, 1921.

Tennessee Main Street Communities generated $124 million, over 1,000 new jobs In 2016

House Republicans joined with the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development last week to announce the 2016 economic impact and reinvestment statistics from 30 certified Tennessee Main Street communities across the state. These Main Street communities created more than 1,000 new jobs and generated over $124 million of public/private investment in 2016, while continuing to be a vital part of the state’s economic growth.

The Tennessee Main Street program provides technical assistance and training for communities in developing solutions to make downtowns safe, appealing, vibrant places where people want to shop, work, live, and invest.

Reinvestment statistics from the designated Tennessee Main Street communities reporting include:

  • Net new jobs: 1019
  • Net new businesses: 231
  • Building rehabilitation projects: 332
  • Public improvement projects: 99
  • Total private investment: $58.8 million
  • Total public investment: $$65.4 million
  • Net new housing units: 281
  • Volunteer hours contributed: 100,588
  • Total public/private investment: $124.2 million

Additionally, Tennessee Main Streets collectively reported more than 1.3 million people attending their downtown events.

There are currently 34 certified Main Street program communities across Tennessee: Athens, Bolivar, Bristol, Brownsville, Cleveland, Collierville, Columbia, Cookeville, Dayton, Dyersburg, Fayetteville, Franklin, Gallatin, Greeneville, Jackson, Jonesborough, Kingsport, Lawrenceburg, Lebanon, Maryville, McKenzie, McMinnville, Murfreesboro, Morristown, Paris, Pulaski, Ripley, Rogersville, Tiptonville, Savannah, Sevierville, Sweetwater, Union City and Winchester. Four of the programs were newly certified in 2016 and not included in the full year’s statistics.

Tennessee Main Street is a coordinating partner with the National Main Street Center. Designated communities are required to meet national accreditation standards annually, which include illustrating broad-based community support for the program, a comprehensive work plan, a sufficient operating budget, and adequate staff and volunteer support.

For more information about the Tennessee Main Street Program, visit tennesseemainstreet.org.

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