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Cohen Renews Push for Federal Effort to Reduce Veteran Unemployment

Press release from U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tenn. 09; January 14, 2015:

[MEMPHIS, TN] – Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09) today introduced the Putting Our Veterans Back to Work Act to help reduce veteran unemployment and train our nation’s heroes for the good-paying, high-demand jobs being created by innovative American small businesses. Congressman Cohen’s legislation would reauthorize the Veterans Retraining Assistance Program (VRAP), which helps train unemployed veterans for careers in high-demand occupations, through 2018.

“Our nation’s veterans put their lives on the line to secure our freedom and our safety,” said Congressman Cohen. “We must do all that we can to repay their sacrifices and help them get back on their feet when they return home. I am proud to introduce the Putting Our Veterans Back to Work Act to make sure that unemployed veterans have access to the support they need to find good-paying jobs in our 21st century economy.”

VRAP was created by the VOW to Hire Heroes Act of 2011to help unemployed veterans access educational training programs that could lead to high-demand occupations including management, business and financial operations, protective service, healthcare, transportation, and many others. While the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) approved more than 126,000 applications from veterans seeking to enter the program, only 76,000 were enrolled before the program’s authorization expired last year. VRAP offered up to 12 months of training assistance to unemployed Veterans who:

  • Were at least 35 but no more than 60 years old
  • Were unemployed on the date of application
  • Received an other than dishonorable discharge
  • Were not eligible for any other VA education benefit program (e.g.: the Post-9/11 GI Bill, Montgomery GI Bill, Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Assistance)
  • Were not in receipt of VA compensation due to unemployability
  • Were not enrolled in a federal or state job training program

Congressman Cohen’s Putting Our Veterans Back to Work Act is cosponsored by U.S. Representatives Karen Bass (CA-37), Madeleine Bordallo (Guam-AL), David Cicilline (RI-01), Hank Johnson (GA-04), Robin Kelly (IL-02), Alan Lowenthal (CA-47), Gregory Meeks (NY-05), George McGovern (MA-02), Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC-AL), Charles Rangel (NY-13), Bobby Rush (IL-01), Jose Serrano (NY-15), Niki Tsongas (MA-03), and Peter Welch (VT-AL).

TN Veterans Education Task Force Announced by Haslam

Press release from the Tennessee Department of Veterans Affairs; November 14, 2013:

NASHVILLE – Gov. Bill Haslam today announced the formation of a task force to evaluate how to best serve Tennessee’s veterans seeking a certificate or degree beyond high school.

The task force is charged with the following:

  • To identify common educational hurdles for transitioning veterans;
  • To research best practices to serve student veterans;
  • And to make recommendations on improving opportunities for veterans to earn a certificate or degree beyond high school.

“When the men and women who have served our country come home, we want them to be able to get a high quality, good paying job,” Haslam said. “Earning a certificate or degree beyond high school is an important part of that process.

“Over the last several years, enrollment of veterans in Tennessee colleges and universities has more than doubled,” Haslam continued. “While cost is often a barrier for many students to post-secondary education, that isn’t usually the case for veterans due to federal grants and other scholarship support. We need to be better understand what unique obstacles veterans face in completing their education, and work with them to overcome those obstacles and graduate.”

Department of Veterans Affairs Commissioner Many-Bears Grinder will chair the task force, and other members include:

  • Dr. Mary Lou Apple, president, Motlow State Community College
  • Randy Boyd, special advisor to the governor for Higher Education
  • Brian Gard, director of emergency management, University of Tennessee
  • Sen. Dolores Gresham, chairman, Senate Education Committee
  • Sean Martin, student representative, Middle Tennessee State University
  • Rep. Gerald McCormick, majority leader, Tennessee House of Representatives
  • Linda Mullins, VA education counselor, Belmont University
  • Dr. Rich Rhoda, THEC Executive Director
  • Dr. M. David Rudd, provost, University of Memphis

The task force is part of the governor’s “Drive to 55” initiative to raise the number of Tennesseans with a certificate or degree beyond high school from where it stands today at 32 percent to 55 percent by the year 2025.

The committee will engage a variety of stakeholders including higher education leaders, veterans, advocacy groups, and will present recommendations to the governor in June 2014.

Haslam Proclaims March 29 ‘Vietnam Veterans Day’

Press release from the Tennessee Department of Veterans Affairs; March 25, 2013:

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and Department of Veterans Affairs Commissioner Many-Bears Grinder formally recognized and remembered Vietnam Veterans leading into the 40th anniversary of the withdrawal of troops.

On March 30, 1973, President Richard Nixon began withdrawing combat troops from Vietnam. Between 1961 and 1975, more than 49,000 Tennesseans served in Southeast Asia. Approximately 6,000 Tennessee troops were wounded in the Vietnam War and 1,289 Tennessee service members were killed.

Haslam publicly signed a Vietnam Veterans Day Proclamation which proclaims March 29 as a day of remembrance and recognition for veterans who served in the military during the Vietnam War. Haslam presented the proclamation to Vietnam Veterans of America Tennessee State Council President Barry Rice on behalf of all Vietnam Veterans. In 2008, Tennessee became the first state to proclaim a Vietnam Veterans Day.

“The State of Tennessee pauses to remember lives lost and publicly recognize those who came home to a lifetime of challenges after the Vietnam War,” Haslam said. “As the 40th anniversary approaches it is important to thank Tennessee’s Vietnam Veterans for their service and sacrifice.”

“The wounds of the Vietnam War are still fresh for many of our veterans,” Grinder said. “We hope remembrance and recognition from ceremonies such as this one will lead to continued healing for veterans scarred by combat and rejection.”

“We are honored to receive the public support of Governor Haslam and to feel the support of the State of Tennessee,” Rice said. “Support and encouragement is the greatest gift of gratitude Vietnam Veterans can receive to continue the healing process.”

Vietnam Veterans Sen. Rusty Crowe (R-Johnson City) and Rep. John Ragan (R-Oak Ridge) co-sponsored Senate Joint Resolution 0183 to commemorate Vietnam Veterans Day and the 40th anniversary of the withdrawal of troops from Vietnam.

Bill Proposing In-State Tuition Rates for Veterans Passes Senate Education Cmte

Press release from the Tennessee Senate Republican Caucus; March 8, 2013:

NASVHILLE, Tenn. – Legislation that would ensure all honorably discharged veterans that relocate to Tennessee receive in-state tuition rates at state colleges and universities has been approved by the Senate Education Committee. The bill, sponsored by Senate Education Committee Chairman Dolores Gresham (R-Somerville), applies to veterans who register for college within 24 months from the time of their honorable discharge.

“Passage of this legislation makes a clear statement that Tennessee is committed to the success of veterans in their transition to civilian life,” said Senator Gresham. “We welcome them to come to Tennessee to complete their education after separating from military service and believe they will fill a need in our workforce as a result of the skills they learned in the armed forces.”

Gresham said many veterans discharged from service are eligible for the Post 9/11 GI Bill, which provides financial support for education and housing to individuals with at least 90 days of aggregate service after September 10, 2001. This includes graduate and undergraduate degrees, vocational/technical training, and approved training programs. The GI Bill also applies to individuals discharged with a service-connected disability after 30 days.

“The GI Bill is a tremendous tool in helping our veterans complete a college education or training course,” added Senator Gresham. “Currently, veterans that move into Tennessee from another state to complete their education following military service are classified as out-of-state students. This can create a ‘benefit gap’ between what the GI Bill pays and the actual costs the student incurs.”

Senate Bill 208 closes the benefit gap by providing a way for veterans to establish residency after their classes begin. This must be done within one year of the student-veteran’s start of classes by registering to vote, getting a Tennessee driver’s license, registering a motor vehicle, providing proof of employment or showing other documents proving residency has been established. In addition, the bill grants members of the Tennessee State Guard one free course per term at any state-supported post-secondary institution, capped at 25 tuition waivers annually.

The Tennessee State Guard is the all-volunteer arm of the Tennessee Military Department which provides a professional complement of personnel to support the Tennessee National Guard.

“Many of our state’s employers express frustration at the difficulty they encounter finding employees with technical skills and aptitude necessary for the modern industrial workplace,” Gresham added. “Veterans separating from the service often have the skill set these employers seek. This legislation serves as an incentive for student veterans to come to Tennessee, fill these jobs while receiving their education, and for them to call Tennessee home afterwards.”

Gresham Files Bill to Offer In-State Tuition to Veterans

Press release from the Tennessee Senate Republican Caucus; February 4, 2013: 

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — State Senator Dolores Gresham, R-Somerville, has filed legislation that would keep honorably discharged veterans who have not established residency from having to pay out-of-state tuition at Tennessee’s colleges and universities. Senate Bill 208, the “Military Education Assistance Act,” allows honorably discharged veterans to receive in-state tuition, so long as he or she applies for admission within 24 months of discharge and provides some proof of residency.

“This bill will attract veterans to our state and, in the process, improve our workforce and economy. Tennessee employers need workers that have strong technical skills and aptitude; veterans are such a group,” said Senator Gresham.

The federal Post-9/11 GI Bill provides veterans with enough funds to cover the costs of in-state tuition. This limitation can lead to a “benefit gap” between what the GI Bill covers and the actual cost of attendance if an out-of-state veteran chooses a school within the state of Tennessee. Under Gresham’s bill, the various methods of establishing residency include registering to vote, getting a Tennessee driver’s license, registering a motor vehicle or providing proof of employment within the state.

“There are no state barriers when a veteran serves their country,” added Gresham. “They serve all of us and should be treated likewise. Passage of this legislation makes the clear statement that Tennessee is committed to the success of veterans in their transition to civilian life, recognizes the value of skills attained in military service, and makes our state a destination for veterans separating from military service.”

Gresham said that if the bill passes, Tennessee will be one of only three states that offer college tuition at the in-state rate to Post -9/11 GI bill qualified veterans.

The bill also provides members of the Tennessee State Guard with one tuition-free course per term at any state-supported college or university, while their spouses would receive a 50% discount. The Tennessee State Guard provides a professional complement of personnel who volunteer to support the mission of the Tennessee Army National Guard. At the direction of the Adjutant General, the all volunteer State Guard assists civil authorities with disaster relief, humanitarian causes, ceremonial service, and religious and medical support. Prior military service is preferred for the Guard, but not required and drills are held each month, with a three-day annual training exercise.

“The State Guard has a long history in Tennessee and provides a ready force in times of emergencies,” added Gresham. “This is the least we can do for this all volunteer force for their time spent and dedicated service to our state.”

TN State Parks Offers Free Night of Camping, Complimentary 18 Holes of Golf for TN Veterans

Press release from the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation; November 5, 2012: 

NASHVILLE – Tennessee State Parks announced today its annual free state parks day for all Tennessee veterans on Monday, Nov. 12, offering one free night of camping and complimentary greens fees for 18 holes of golf with appropriate identification.

Passed by the General Assembly in 2010, the policy calls for a yearly, special state parks day to honor Tennessee’s resident veterans.

“This is our way of honoring the many brave men and women who have served our country,” said Environment and Conservation Commissioner Bob Martineau. “The state parks family extends a warm invitation to all of Tennessee’s veterans to visit us on Nov. 12 and enjoy a day in one of our beautiful parks.”

The free day on Nov. 12 is in addition to Tennessee State Parks’ current veterans’ policy, which includes a camping discount within the state parks system and is available annually beginning November 1 through March 31, offering a 15 to 25 percent reduction off the standard nightly base rates (depending on the type of site chosen). This camping discount is available to Tennessee residents showing proof of prior military duty.

A special state park discount also is in place for active duty military personnel and members of the Tennessee National Guard. This year-round discount is given to all U.S. military – regardless of their branch of service or where they are stationed. Disabled veterans also are eligible for the Tennessee State Parks year-round ADA discount that provides a 25 to 50 percent discount for campsites. For more information about Tennessee State Parks’ veterans and military discounts, please visit www.tnstateparks.com/FAQs.shtml#military.

To receive the free state parks day benefits and extended discounts, veterans need to provide proof of residency with a Tennessee driver’s license; and proof of veteran’s status, with a Certificate of Discharge (DD214) or Veterans Administration benefit card.

Tennessee’s 54 state parks and 82 natural areas span the state from the Appalachian Mountains to the Mississippi River and offer an array of diverse natural, recreational and cultural experiences, including hiking, camping, boating and golfing. Celebrating its 75th Anniversary this year, the Tennessee State Parks system was established through legislation in 1937. Today, there is a state park within an hour’s drive of just about anywhere in the state, with features such as pristine natural areas and a variety of lodging and dining choices. For more information, visit Tennessee State Parks’ website at www.tnstateparks.com

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New TN Vet Appreciation Effort Allows Voting ‘in Honor’ of Military Service

In time for Election Day, the Tennessee Secretary of State has unveiled a program that allows voters to honor current and former members of the military as they cast their ballot.

It’s called the Tennessee Honor Vote program. Those who pledge to vote in the upcoming election can name a member of the military on the Secretary of State’s website alongside their own name and declare that they will be voting in honor of that service member.

“We developed it, set up a website where people can go and log and name the soldier,” Secretary of State Tre Hargett said. “They can put their years of service, what branch they served in, even put a message in, in honor or in memory of that soldier.”

Many have left messages. These can be viewed on the site, allowing Tennesseans to get a glimpse of the sacrifices that veterans have made — and see the pain and patience of those left at home.

For example, the website shows that Pamela Ann Bently, a voter from Greeneville, is honoring Capt. Jackson Dale Blankenship.

She writes:

Jackson was deployed to Afghanistan during the deadliest year of the war 2010,where he was a combat platoon leader. He received an impact Army Achievement medal for his efforts during Operation Hell’s needle in the Surkagen Valley in September 2010. Jackson has received 2 Commendation medals for service, one for Afghanistan and one for Germany. He is currently training, preparing to take Company command. He has also held rank as a battalion staff primary. Jackson risked his life to save 3 wounded soldiers. He dragged them from a tank after an IED bomb went off under them.

Army serviceman Ryan Christopher Smith is being honored by Angela Beverly, of Pleasant View. She tells how difficult being deployed can be on a family.

Has served three tours in the Middle East. Sacrificed family time. 1st tour occurred two weeks after the birth of his 1st child, Emma. He moved to Tennessee from Ohio. His second tour occurred when his daughter had just turned three. His wife, a doctor doing her residency at Vanderbilt, cared for Emma on her own. The closest family was 7 hours away. He was able to return right before Christmas. The last tour is scheduled within the next three weeks. He now has a 7 month old son as well.

And it’s not just veterans from the conflicts in the Middle East. The site shows many honoring veterans from every branch of the service and many who served in peacetime, the Cold War, as well as World War II and the wars in Korea and Vietnam.

Barbara Johnston Skelton, of Church Hill, wrote that she was casting her ballot in honor of Navy Captain Charles E. Johnston, M.D.:

Served 3 tours in Vietnam as medical officer for a marine unit. He told us that everyone in the unit had 2 Purple Heart citations. They all refused the third because they would be sent home if they took a third. He said they went over as a unit and they were coming home as a unit.

Hargett said he was surprised that the site has become so popular so quickly.

As of Wednesday morning, 2,400 Tennesseans had pledged to cast a vote in honor of a veteran or current member of the armed forces, according to the Tennessee Honor Vote website.

VA Asks for Budget Increase to Aid Veterans Challenged by ‘Red Tape’

Knowing full well that the governor is looking to trim back hundreds of millions of dollars in next year’s state budget, the Department of Veterans Affairs is asking for a spending increase.

Commissioner Many-Bears Grinder said the department’s $4.8 million annual state budget would struggle to withstand the 5 percent budget cut Gov. Bill Haslam is requesting of all departments at a time when the agency is already working with a small staff and struggling to ensure veterans don’t miss out on benefits.

“Many of our veterans have physical scars. Some battle demons within. And we have veterans’ widows who are living in poverty here in Tennessee. Many of them are just not aware of what they may be entitled to,” she told the governor during a budget hearing in Knoxville last week.

“Some of this is because the laws are complicated and they change. Some of it is because it’s just confusing. Some of our customers, some of the red tape involved would mean that their claim would never get approved so they don’t even try,” she said.

The department’s spending now amounts to about $2.50 on each of the the half-million veterans, 1.5 million dependants and survivors of veterans and 16,000 reserve units it serves. Last year, the agency helped Tennessee veterans collect $820 million in federal entitlements to put back into the economy, according to Grinder.

The department would cut $238,500 if forced to cut 5 percent from its state-funded budget by reducing staff and travel, she told the governor, adding “we feel the impact of every single dollar.”

Instead, Grinder is asking the governor for a $158,000 increase for staffing employees, including retaining one now-vacant benefits representative position, hiring two traveling veterans benefits reps, and reverting one position to a permanently-funded job.

Haslam wouldn’t tip his hand about whether expanding the agency’s budget is in the cards this year, saying only, “We understand all you’re doing with not a whole lot of dollars, and we’re very, very grateful for it.”

The governor is expected to offer a roughly $30 billion budget plan early next year after he devises a plan that cuts the state budget by as much as $400 million to make up for rising costs in education and TennCare that are estimated to exceed the growth in state revenues.

New State Veterans’ Homes in Works

Tennessee is in the planning stages for additional state veterans homes in Montgomery and Bradley counties, the state commissioner of Veterans Affairs told the state VFW’s 82nd convention Friday in Nashville.

State Veterans Affairs Commissioner Many-Bears Grinder also lauded conditions at the state’s current veterans homes, and said the state is prepared to open its fourth veterans cemetery in Knoxville in July.

The state has veterans homes in Knoxville, Murfreesboro and Humboldt, and all have received deficiency-free inspections, the commissioner said, adding that it puts them in the 99th percentile of all nursing homes in the state.

“When you walk through those doors, it doesn’t smell like a nursing home,” Grinder said. “That’s a big thing to me.”

The Murfreesboro home recently received a five-star rating from the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the highest rating any nursing home can receive.

Ed Harries, executive director of the state’s veterans homes, noted in a recent statement that less than 15 percent of more than 300 nursing facilities in the state are given five-star ratings. The rating includes health inspections, staffing and quality. The Murfreesboro home opened in 1991, the Knoxville home in 2006 and the home in Humboldt 1996. Each has 140 beds.

“Not long ago, the quality in our veterans homes was substandard — shameful, shameful,” Grinder said Friday. “They deserve nothing but the best.”

The state’s homes provide plenty of activity for residents, she said, listing residents’ visits to locations like Graceland, the Jack Daniel’s distillery and an air show.

“It’s not a place just to lay their heads at night. We really try hard to make it a home environment,” she said.

The planned homes in Montgomery and Bradley counties already have funding lined up from federal, state, county, city and donated dollars. The Montgomery County site will be the next to be ready, with Bradley County to follow, and funds are being sought for a home in Memphis.

Not everything about the department is good news, however, according to Grinder. She said she recently met with the head of gold-star mothers in Memphis.

“It was heartbreaking for me to know she had difficulty getting to the grave of her son because of the mud,” Grinder said. “It was heartbreaking for me to see sunken graves because of drainage and erosion. It’s a swamp over there. I’ve asked the U.S. VA what it can do to help us.”

She said the national VA is sending someone to look at the sites in Knoxville, Nashville, Jackson and Memphis and the potential for building more veterans cemeteries in the state. One projected new site for a cemetery is in Madison County.

“Tennessee is a long state. If you are a family member, if you want to go visit your loved one, whether it is in a veterans home or a cemetery, I think we need to be able to have something that makes it a lot easier for families to do so,” Grinder said.

The state Department of Veterans Affairs is one of the smallest departments in state government with less than 100 staffers. Grinder has re-organized the department and has named geographical commissioners for each of the state’s three grand divisions. Don Smith serves as assistant commissioner in East Tennessee, Wendell Cheek in Middle Tennessee and Mark Breece in West Tennessee.

Grinder said so far this fiscal year, the department has secured more than $800 million in federal funds for Tennessee’s veterans, their families and survivors. But she pointed to the economic stress on many families.

“There are a lot of economic difficulties right now. A lot of our veterans are really suffering physically and emotionally because of their service to their country, and we cannot afford to fail them.

“What keeps me up at night is I know we still have veterans that don’t know what they may be entitled to. I know we have veterans that are still suffering because they have not received medical care. I know we have widows that are living in poverty that may not know they may be eligible for pensions. And it is our duty to make sure we get this word out.”

Gov. Bill Haslam addressed the convention as well. He said he takes his responsibility as commander in chief of the Tennessee National Guard very seriously.

“We worked hard to protect the things in the Veterans Affairs budget,” Haslam said after the meeting. “We have some significant adds in terms of the new cemetery in Knoxville, and we have some money in there for a new veterans home in Clarksville, which has been long delayed.

“Once we get that done, that kind of frees up the funds where we can do another veterans home in Bradley County. Both of those have been hung up in the process a long time.”

Haslam told the convention audience that the first burial in Knoxville will be a re-burial of a member of the family who provided the property for the Knoxville site, which overlooks the river.

Grinder’s first name began as a nickname, but she legally changed it to make it official. She is a former director of logistics for the Tennessee Army National Guard in Nashville.

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Freshman Rep. Elam Touts Accomplishments of TN’s ‘Historic Conservative Majority’

Press Release from the House GOP Caucus, June 8, 2011:

Mount Juliet Legislator Calls First Session the Most Successful in Tennessee History

(NASHVILLE, June 8, 2011) – After years of near one Party control in Tennessee politics, Republicans won control of the Governor’s mansion, Senate, and House for the first time in the history of the State. Representative Linda Elam (R—Mount Juliet) played a key role in the opening session of the 107th General Assembly and Tennesseans immediately benefitted from the conservative leadership.

“It is an honor to be a part of such a historic conservative Majority,” remarked Rep. Elam. “Tennesseans understand we pushed through a conservative, pro-growth agenda that reflects their values. They can take heart that, finally, their Representatives in Nashville are listening to them.”

The first Session was marked by conservative milestones many Tennesseans have worked hard to see come to fruition. Among those items:

  • Tort Reform: This was a key centerpiece for the Governor’s jobs agenda and the General Assembly fashioned a new law that provides certainty in the business environment. With this confidence, more companies are better able to quantify the cost of doing business and can allocate more resources to provide jobs for Tennesseans.
  • Charter Schools: The Republican Majority lifted the cap on charter schools in Tennessee, ensuring that all children across the State will have access to a high quality education. Republican legislators, like Representative Elam, understand the key to long-term job growth in Tennessee is in the training of a strong workforce.
  • Collaborative Conferencing: In a major reform unlike any seen across the country, conservative legislators pushed through a new model for education that allows all teachers to have a voice when it comes to setting education policy and removed the barriers set up by the union so our hard-working teachers can be rewarded at a higher rate.
  • Ban on Income Tax: The process was started for a constitutional amendment in Tennessee that would forever prohibit an income tax from being levied on Tennesseans. The process for an amendment is long, but this Republican Majority is united in ensuring this common sense, pro-jobs measure becomes law.
  • Government Reform: In a move to increase transparency and efficiency for taxpayers, the House eliminated a number of duplicative committees that caused confusion for many citizens trying to follow legislation through the General Assembly. With this reform, bills will travel on a streamlined path that provides Tennesseans a format to voice their concerns on legislation. Additionally, the move saved Tennesseans nearly $1 million.
  • The State Budget: Republicans passed a fiscally conservative budget that reflects the principles of Tennesseans and meets the needs of our State. Overall, the Republican Majority reduced spending by $1.2 billion and rolled back a number of areas of duplicative government programs.

While much focus was given to these high-profile pieces of legislation, there are a number of other new laws that were ushered through to make government more responsive to Tennesseans and limit the influence of government regulation. Rep. Elam helped guide a number of these bills to final passage, a noteworthy achievement for a first-year legislator. Among the legislation she co-sponsored:

  • Voter Photo ID: This bill ensures integrity at the ballot box, something Tennesseans have long asked for. Essentially, voters are asked to present a valid photo ID to obtain a ballot. Parallel legislation passed to ensure citizens who may not have an ID can obtain one for free. These laws will protect Tennessee from having to deal with ballot box abuse and voter fraud.
  • Welfare Reform: This new law will prevent abuse of the Families First benefits program. It places common sense requirements on those utilizing taxpayer-funded benefits such as a prohibition against drug use or enrollment in a drug treatment program.
  • Voting Reform: This new law authorizes the coordinator of elections to compare the statewide voter registration database with the department of safety database, relevant federal and state agencies, and county records to ensure non-United States citizens are not registered to vote in this State.
  • Veterans’ Families: This legislation extends property tax relief to the surviving spouse of a soldier whose death results from being deployed, away from any home base of training and in support of combat operations. This was one way to honor the sacrifice our soldiers make in the line of duty.
  • Wilson County: Representative Elam guided a bill designating the bridge at State Route 109 and U.S. Highway 70 in Wilson County as the “Spc. Michael Lane Stansbery, Jr.” bridge to honor one of Wilson County’s fallen soldiers.

In reflecting on the reforms passed by the House of Representatives in her first term, Rep. Elam stated, “I tailored my personal record—the votes I took, the legislation I carried—to the wishes of my constituents. I heard them loud and clear last fall when they told me they wanted a government that is limited and respects our constitutional rights.” She continued, “Over the summer, I look forward to traveling around the 57th District and listening to the people once again. I am eager to get their feedback, bring it back to the Capitol next year, and work hard to make the Volunteer State an even better place to live, work, and raise a family.”

For a complete listing of Representative Elam’s legislative record, click here.