Rep. Floyd: Capitol Hill Review

Thursday, January 10, 2013 - by Rep. Richard Floyd
Legislature convenes, begins business
New rules will transform the way House does business

This week marked the beginning of the 108th General Assembly, with the House of Representatives gaveling into session on Tuesday at “high noon” in accordance with the Tennessee Constitution. With the Republicans reaching, for the first time in history, supermajority status in the House of Representatives, lawmakers began the organizational session. The week was a busy flurry of activity electing the Speaker, Speaker Pro Tempore, and the Constitutional Officers, setting new permanent rules for the House, and swearing in all the members.


Lawmakers take Oath of Office

Lawmakers took the official Oath of Office Tuesday, and House leadership posts were chosen and sworn in. Speaker of the House Beth Harwell (R-Nashville) was unanimously re-elected to a second term, and Curtis Johnson, a Republican from Clarksville, was elected to his first term as Speaker Pro Tempore. Individual members were also sworn in and took the Oath of Office, including Representative Richard Floyd (R-Chattanooga).

Legislators are looking to build upon the success of the previous session that saw wasteful government spending cut from the budget, taxes cut for all Tennesseans, measures passed to encourage job growth, and numerous government reforms. 

Lawmakers have already signaled clear goals of balancing the budget, lowering the grocery tax, and ensuring every Tennessee student has access to a high quality education.

With the close of the organizational session on Thursday, the House will recess for two weeks and reconvene on Monday, January 28, 2013, to resume a normal schedule.

House adopts new rules to streamline, save taxpayer dollars

For the first time since 1997, the Tennessee House of Representatives this week adopted permanent rules that will govern the body. Following the landmark vote, House Republican leaders emphasized the move will streamline House operations, limit government, and save taxpayer dollars.

House Republican leaders said it was important to follow through on promises made to the voters by working toward a more efficient and effective state government. Lawmakers also hope the move will make it easier to prioritize the issues important to voters, including a balanced budget, jobs, and lower taxes.

Among the rule changes are the first-ever limits on bills. Each member will be limited to fifteen bills per year, meaning thirty total for the 108th General Assembly. Previously, the Tennessee General Assembly averaged over 4,000 while surrounding states considered roughly 2,500. 

Another major change is a restructuring of the House committee system. Leaders say the move will aid in a more efficient operation by better balancing the workload of each committee. For example, research uncovered some committees considered less than 100 bills, while others were often bogged down in more than 800. Under the new system, lawmakers anticipate the disparity will not be as great.

The new rules also include the annual ethics resolution, meaning that the ethics standards now have the force of the House rules and will be adopted earlier. Other changes in wording will facilitate a move toward a paperless House, by requiring less documents to be printed if they can be found easily online.

House Republican leaders maintain the changes will, in the long run, increase efficiency, save money, streamline operations, make the process easier for the public to understand, and limit government—all solid conservative principles.

Joint Convention elects constitutional officers
Hargett, Lillard, and Wilson re-elected

In a joint session of the Tennessee Senate and the Tennessee House of Representatives this week members unanimously re-elected Secretary of State Tre Hargett, Treasurer David H. Lillard, Jr. and Comptroller Justin P. Wilson. Secretary Hargett will serve his second four-year term, while Treasurer Lillard and Comptroller Wilson will each serve two-year terms. All three were originally elected to their posts by the General Assembly in January, 2009. Treasurer Lillard and Comptroller Wilson were re-elected to their second two-year terms in January, 2011.

Republican leaders praised the three constitutional officers for having spent the last four years streamlining their operations and ensuring that the offices were more efficient, effective, and accessible by providing more services than ever before online.

The three constitutional officers count several functions of state government among their responsibilities; including, but not limited to, the state’s investments, a financially sound retirement system, that taxpayer money isn’t wasted, stolen or misused at the local or state levels of government, that local governments receive the assistance they need to be successful in various levels of their operations, that state elections run smoothly, and that public libraries have the support they need to provide excellent service to Tennesseans. 




Howley Isn't Ready For Prime Time On Signal Mountain Town Council

I am concerned about a lack of propriety I have seen in Chris Howley, a candidate for Signal Mountain Town Council. When Mr. Howley first heard about the conservation easement agreement he posted on his FaceBook page a scathing letter he had sent the current council accusing them of having a "hidden agenda" and asking questions indicating a complete lack of knowledge about the ... (click for more)

My Trust Is In Temple, Pierce And Causer

My daughter used to jokingly say, “Don't just do something!... Stand there!” Lately I feel I'm just standing there, reading relentless newsprint against two decent Red Bank commissioners up for re-election Nov. 4. We are tired of psycho-babble from campaign cheerleaders who orchestrated a “forum” (pep rally for their team – Roberts and Co.). Shame shame, Causer, Pierce and Temple ... (click for more)

Two North Shore Sold To Pennsylvania Real Estate Firm For Almost $24 Million

The Two North Shore commercial development on Manufacturers Road in North Chattanooga has been sold to a Pennsylvania real estate firm for  $23,983,363. Steve Arnsdorff, who developed the successful center from the ground up and has continued to manage it, said the deal closed last week. He said the sale for the property at 319 Manufacturers Road is to Stoltz Real Estate ... (click for more)

Lookout Valley Middle High School Closed Friday Due To Water Main Break

County school officials said late Thursday night that LookoutValley Middle High School will be closed Friday due to a water main break. Officials said, "This is an official message from the Hamilton County Department of Education to the parents, faculty, and staff of Lookout Valley Middle High School.  Please accept our apologies for the lateness of this message. "Due ... (click for more)

Owls Beat McMinn, 30-12, To Complete Unbeaten Regular Season

Undefeated. Sounds nice, huh. After a sluggish first half that produced only three points on a Laszlo Toser field goa., third-ranked Ooltewah came to life in the third quarter, riddled McMinn County’s defense with three Kelvin Leon touchdown passes in the third quarter and went on to beat the Cherokees, 30-12, at James N. Monroe Stadium to secure the school’s third unbeaten ... (click for more)

Notre Dame Clobbers Grundy Co. For 7-AA Title

Notre Dame coach Charles Fant is always hoping that his Fighting Irish football team can get off to a fast start. He never thought it would be as quick as what he saw Thursday night at Jim Eberle Field. With a District 7-AA championship on the line on an evening when they honored all of the fall senior athletes, a football game turned into a track meet and eventually a victory ... (click for more)