Rep. Watson: Moving Tennessee Forward

Thursday, October 17, 2013 - by Rep. Eric Watson

I was honored to join my colleagues in Nashville, along with officials from the Department of Safety & Homeland Security, and the Department of Veterans Affairs during September to announce the addition of a new veterans designation for Tennessee drivers licenses. 

Many of the citizens of my district are veterans and to publicly recognize those that gave so much for our state and country is humbling.  The new driver’s license designation is offered to any honorably discharged service member who presents a certified copy of their discharge papers, or DD-214, to any of the driver service center facilities located across Tennessee.  The primary purpose of the license designation is to allow the state to publicly recognize veterans for their time in service. The new license also serves as proof of veteran status for those who do not carry copies of their DD-214 papers with them on a regular basis.

For more information about this new program which is now being offered statewide, visit http://www.tn.gov/safety/ or call the Department of Safety and Homeland Security at 615.251-5166.

I joined Governor Bill Haslam and House Speaker Beth Harwell to help launch Tennessee’s new “Drive to 55” education initiative.  This program aims to increase the percentage of Tennesseans with a college degree or certificate to 55 percent by the year 2025.  We focus so much on the future of Tennessee with our attention on the children.  Now, we can bring an added emphasis to the adults as we encourage those to return to school for their secondary education. Currently, only 32 percent of the state has a degree or certificate.

The initiative will work hand-in-hand with the recent launch of Western Governors University Tennessee, an online school which seeks to expand access to higher education for all Tennesseans. Differing from most brick-and-mortar institutions, WGU Tennessee uses an innovative learning model called competency-based education. Instead of earning a degree based on credit hours or time spent in class, students must demonstrate their knowledge of required subject matter through rigorous testing procedures. 

This new program will help both traditional college students achieve success while also aiding those who now wish to go back to school to finish their degrees. As the state continues to move into the 21st Century, Republicans believe having these new opportunities available will help ensure Tennessee students are being prepared for the high-skilled and high-wage jobs of the future.

Other than law enforcement, one of the key areas that has been a priority for me is to bring more business to our state.  I was thrilled when Forbes magazine released their 2013 “Best States For Business” and Tennessee is now number 15, as compared to number 24 just last year.  Our pro-business and AAA rating from Moody’s Bond Agency, which is a major sign that proves our state’s fiscal environment and why our state is a leader were both major factors in the substantial change.

I would like to congratulate Gary Farlow, president and CEO of the Cleveland/Bradley County Chamber of Commerce on his recent election win as president of the Tennessee Economic Development Council Board.

Process

My favorite TreeHugger once commented I'm a process sort of guy. One might suppose that's true, even though there are situations in which we must lower our center of mass to keep a firm base, lean forward, put our head down, grab a cheek in each hand and, like Teddy Roosevelt, scream "Charge! (but not with credit cards)" as we move forward con mucho gusto. However, unless one is ... (click for more)

City Pension Double Standard

Re: Chattanooga City Council OKs pension plan amendment 8-26-14 The Chattanooga City Council voted Tuesday to keep future retirees who are re-employed by the city from dipping into their current retirement while contributing to a new city pension. But first council members gave an exemption to two of their colleagues and one other city employee. Councilman Moses Freeman ... (click for more)

City, County Pull The Plug On Downtown Shooting Range

City and county officials have decided to keep the police firing range at Moccasin Bend rather than building an expensive new indoor facility at the former Farmers Market property. County Mayor Jim Coppinger said Sheriff Jim Hammond and new Police Chief Fred Fletcher met recently and decided to "pull the plug" on the project. He said officers felt that the Moccasin Bend range ... (click for more)

Reception Honors County's 2nd-Longest Serving Employee

General Sessions Court Judge Clarence Shattuck, at a County Courthouse reception, asked anyone who was working at the courthouse in 1966 to raise their hand. Only Circuit Court Clerk Paula Thompson was able to do so. Judge Shattuck said he believes only Edna Camp of the Criminal Court clerk's office, has been at the courthouse longer. Ms. Thompson did not seek re-election, ... (click for more)

Chattanooga Christian Sweeps Notre Dame In 7-AA Volleyball

 It didn't matter that the Chattanooga Christian volleyball team was on the road Tuesday night.  Who cared that they were playing one of their biggest rivals in District 7-AA in a loud and spirited Jack Steiner Sr. Gymnasium at Notre Dame High School. None of those factors came into play as the Lady Chargers were ready to play and the Lady Irish were not. The results ... (click for more)

Fulghum, Walker Power Soddy-Daisy Past Cleveland

Soddy-Daisy’s Lady Trojans shook off an up-and-down performance in last weekend’s Early Bird tournament at Oak Ridge and throttled Cleveland, 3-0, in a District 5-AAA volleyball match Tuesday at Soddy-Daisy High School. The Lady Trojans (8-4, 2-1) swept the match with set scores of 25-18, 25-22 and 25-15. Abby Walker and Karigan Fulghum combined for 30 digs and 18 kills to ... (click for more)