A trio of East Tennessee lawmakers sat down recently with their local newspaper, the Cleveland Daily Banner, and laid out a few issues they expect the Tennessee Legislature to take up next year.
Among the policy matters on the minds of Riceville Republican Sen. Mike Bell and Cleveland GOP Reps. Eric Watson and Kevin Brooks are:
- Requirements that written driver’s license exams be in English. The issue won 22-10 passage in the Senate but died in the House.
- Making the state attorney general an elected rather than a Tennessee Supreme Court-appointed post. The legislation, coming on the heels of Attorney General Robert Cooper’s refusal to join other states in challenging federal health care reform mandates, narrowly won approval in the GOP-dominated Senate last year. However, it never made it out of the House, where Democrats and Republicans more evenly shared power.
- Removal of public and meeting notices from newspapers and put them on government websites. This issue was briefly debated last session but never made it to the House or Senate floor.
The GOP lawmakers indicated they believe the new 64-34-1 Republican majority in the House will help assure that issues that died last year in the nearly-split chamber have a better chance of passing this time around.
Rep. Bell also noted that Republican Gov-elect Bill Haslam has begun considering ways to consolidate some of the 21 state government departments.
Members of the General Assembly will officially start work on Tuesday, Jan. 11. The session expected to stretch through at least mid-Spring.