By Kim Swindell Wood | April 12, 2019 8:47 am
Republican-Led Initiative To Secure Our Tennessee Schools Passes House
State Representative Paul Sherrell (R-Sparta) and Republican lawmakers recently passed House Bill 947, which will help secure our Tennessee schools and provide additional safety resources to protect our future leaders.
The initiative proposes a $30 million investment for the school safety grant fund and additional changes to existing law to prioritize the distribution of these grants to help secure school resource officers and other safety measures.
Total proposed funding for school resources officers and additional safety measures for FY 2019-2020 is $50 million. Approximately $10 million of this funding total was allocated last year, $30 million is new money as part of the Governor’s proposed budget, and House Bill 947 also paves the way for an additional $10 million through a local match.
The safety and security of our children and teachers is a top priority for House Republicans, and this funding will ensure they have the resources needed to better protect our schools.
Republican lawmakers remain committed to improving schools safety, and this measure is a major step in the right direction.
Republicans Work To Increase Transparency Within The Education System
Sherrell and House Republicans also supported legislation, House Bill 946, which will help increase transparency within the education system.
House Bill 946 requires a Local Education Agency (LEA) to report to the Department of Education how additional funds were used for each year an LEA receives an increase in funding for salaries and wages.
House Republicans are committed to increasing transparency within our education system and this legislation will ensure Tennesseans’ hard-earned tax dollars are being used properly to support our students, teachers, and schools.
Focus On Education
Several of the Administration’s education initiatives also gained more momentum in the House. They include:
- House Bill 949: Known as the Governor’s Investment in Vocational Education (GIVE) Act, House Bill 949 expands vocational and technical training opportunities for our students. The measure heads to the House floor next week.
- House Bill 952: Increases Career Technical Education (CTE) opportunities for Tennessee students so they are better prepared to meet the demands of 21st Century Workforce. Members of the House Finance, Ways, & Means Committee are expected to take up this initiative next week.
- House Bill 939: Also known as the Education Savings Account Bill, this legislation creates new opportunities for students who reside in areas with three or more low performing schools. House Bill 939 will now be heard by the House Finance, Ways, & Means Subcommittee next week.
- House Bill 940: Establishes an independent charter school commission to support the continued success of our current public charter schools while also creating additional opportunities for students to attend newly established public charter facilities. The measure heads to Finance, Ways, & Means next week.
Republican Leaders Bolster Support For Law Enforcement & Firefighters
Republican leaders also bolstered their support for our local law enforcement and firefighters by supporting House Bill 937.
This legislation increases the salary supplement available to law enforcement officers and firefighters from $600 to $800 when individuals complete annual in-service training.
House Republicans understand the importance of training for our first responders. This legislation ensures they have the necessary funding so they can become even more efficient at protecting and serving their communities.
House Republicans Continue To Advance Criminal Justice Legislation
House Republican lawmakers also continued to advance several criminal justice initiatives through the committee process.
This week, House Bill 941 advanced out of the House Finance, Ways and Means Committee. This important legislation would remove the $180 fee for an individual seeking an expunction while also removing the $350 fee for a defendant applying for an expunction following the completion of a diversion program.
To combat the growing fentanyl epidemic, Republicans advanced House Bill 942 through the Finance, Ways and Means Committee. The measure builds upon Tennessee’s efforts to address the opioid crisis by cracking down on synthetic drug trafficking in our state. The legislation increases penalties against fentanyl dealers and those who traffic any derivative or analogue of this deadly synthetic drug.
On Wednesday, House Bill 950 passed the Finance, Ways and Means Subcommittee. This legislation provides $1.5 million in funding for the electronic monitoring indigency fund, while also making monitoring vendors whole. Additionally, it transitions the program into a matching grant program at the local level.
Republicans remain committed to advancing legislation that improves our system of justice so it meets present day standards, not those of 30 years ago.
Lawmakers Expand Program To Address Infrastructure Needs
Republicans also continued to make significant progress on improving our infrastructure in a fiscally responsible manner by advancing House Bill 923.
It is designed to improve efficiency and provide substantial cost savings within certain infrastructure projects. When enacted, the measure will also alleviate inconveniences experienced by Tennessee motorists as construction projects are completed.
House Republicans will continue to fight for additional solutions that improve safety and address infrastructure, while also saving taxpayer dollars.
House Bill 923 has passed through the House of Representatives and the Senate and is now headed to the Governor’s desk.
Republicans Working To Curb Robocalls
Republican lawmakers approved an initiative to crack down on robocalls in Tennessee earlier this week
House Bill 1245 raises the penalty of misleading a phone subscriber from $10,000 to $30,000 per violation against a person or entity that makes an unwanted robocall. The bill also encourages carriers offering telephone services in the state to implement SHAKEN/STIR technology to help detect robocalls. Finally, it urges the Attorney General to call on the Federal Communications Commission to create new rules that will allow carriers to block more of these illegal, annoying robocalls.
Tennessee is taking strong steps to address this issue, and House Bill 1245 moves us in the right direction to deter robocalls. Although this is an issue that is primarily under the jurisdiction of the FCC at the federal level, Republican lawmakers will continue to support this initiative and others that curb this growing problem.
House Bill 1245 now makes its way through the Senate.