An editorial by Senator Ken Yager
The 111th General Assembly has begun with many changes and new faces among the leadership in Tennessee’s state government. The Senate has completed its organizational session to elect officers and organize the business of the 2019-2020 legislative sessions. The highlight of the organizational session was the inauguration of Governor Bill Lee, which is a duty prescribed to the General Assembly by the State Constitution. I was honored to play a role in the ceremony as a member of the committee to escort Governor Lee to the inauguration.
I was especially encouraged that on his first day in office, Governor Lee issued an order to help Tennessee’s most distressed rural counties, three of which are in our senatorial district. We need to ensure that every Tennessean, whether they live in the state’s rural or urban communities, have opportunities to succeed. Governor Lee and I agree that we succeed when we are unified. By doing so, Tennessee’s best days are ahead.
Other highlights of the organizational session were the re-election of Lt. Governor Randy McNally as Speaker of the Senate and the election of Glen Casada as Speaker of the House of Representatives. I look forward to working with Lt. Governor McNally and Speaker Casada in my new role as Senate Republican Caucus Chairman, as part of the General Assembly’s leadership team.
Committee appointments were also announced during the organizational session. I was placed on the Senate Finance, Ways and Means Committee which reviews all legislation pertaining to the state budget. This appointment will be helpful to the district and is a big responsibility which I do not take lightly. The governor’s budget will be delivered to us on March 4. Communities in my district have many needs which must be addressed and serving on this committee provides me an opportunity to advocate for them directly.
With organizational tasks out of the way, we are now in the first week of the regular session when the real work begins. It starts with the introduction of legislation. Thus far, 340 bills have been filed in the Senate, but that is expected to escalate quickly as we get closer to the Feb. 7th deadline set for filing legislation.
Each bill filed goes through the committee process to be vetted before votes are taken on the Senate floor. The Senate has nine separate committees to hear legislation based on the bill’s subject matter. In an effort to be as transparent as possible, the General Assembly’s website allows you to follow every bill as it goes through the legislative process. The website includes bill amendments, fiscal notes estimating their costs, and video recordings of action taken in committees and on the floor of each chamber. I encourage you to visit www.capitol.tn.gov to follow legislation of interest. I also would appreciate your input on the issues we face. I look forward to hearing from you.
Finally, in my new role as Caucus Chair I have two new staff members this year available to assist people in my district. Jacob Baggett has joined my office as the senior policy advisor and will be available to assist constituents with legislative matters. Jacob is a licensed attorney and previously worked as a program manager and compliance officer for the Tennessee Treasury Department. Rachel Offut, our executive assistant, will be the first point of contact for constituents. She will set up my meetings with constituents and will be available to anyone who needs help accessing government services. These two staff members will be a great asset to my office. I am very pleased with the team we have assembled.
If my office can be of help to you in anyway, please reach out to me at 615-741-1449 or email me firstname.lastname@example.org. I look forward to serving you.