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.


Lawsuit May Bring More Security To Hamilton Place Mall

Good for the military veteran that is suing for getting shot on CBL's and ERMC's watch. With this past holiday season's traumatic events unfolding at the mall and clear evidence that ERMC security does not have the ability to insure the safety of the patrons, it is time for a lawsuit to get someone's attention.  This military veteran, who clearly saw combat due to the mentioned ... (click for more)

Thankful Corker Stood Up To Pentagon Spending

I’m writing to thank Senator Bob Corker for his principled stand on the issue of Pentagon spending.  Earlier this week, Senator Corker voted against a Pentagon policy bill that would authorize nearly $700 billion in spending. This is a brave stance for a Republican, as Pentagon spending has become the new “third rail” in federal budgeting. Vote against a single dollar for ... (click for more)

Jury Hears About Incident Behind Food Lion That Authorities Say Led To Triple Murders In Lookout Valley

A Criminal Court jury on Thursday was told about an incident behind the Food Lion on Brown's Ferry Road that authorities say was the motive for an April 9, 2014, massacre at a Lookout Valley trailer park. Brandon Jackson said the incident five days earlier involved Derek Morse, who is standing trial on three counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted first-degree ... (click for more)

Firefighters Battle 2-Alarm Apartment Building Fire

More than a dozen people were forced from their homes early Thursday morning when fire broke out in their apartment building.   The Chattanooga Fire Department received the alarm at  2:58 a.m.  and responded to Rainbow Creek Apartments at  7604 Standifer Gap Road  with six fire companies. Seeing a significant amount of fire upon arrival, a ... (click for more)

Impressive Signal Mountain Whips Red Bank, 3-0

The Signal Mountain Lady Eagles have one of the better volleyball teams in town this fall and it’s no surprise that they are unbeaten in district play. They proved just how good they are Tuesday evening in Red Bank’s Susan Ingram Thurman Gymnasium as they needed about 50 minutes to beat the Lionettes for the second time this season. Set scores were 25-6, 25-7 and 25-15. ... (click for more)

Vols. UMass Matchup Pits 1998 National Champions

Tennessee takes on UMass on Saturday at Neyland Stadium. The game will feature a noon ET kickoff on SEC Network.     Tennessee (2-1) is coming off a 26-20 road loss to Florida on Sept. 16. Junior running back John Kelly set career highs with 141 rushing yards and 96 receiving yards and played a major role in the Vols' second half rally before the Gators ... (click for more)