Norris “LEAP” Law To Help Educate And Employ Tennesseans

Monday, February 18, 2013

Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris (R-Collierville) has filed legislation creating an "innovative statewide initiative merging traditional college coursework with technical training to address the skilled labor shortage faced by Tennessee employers."

Senate Bill 1330 creates the Labor Education Alignment Program allowing students at Tennessee's technology centers and community colleges the opportunity to combine occupational training in a high-skill or high-technology industry with academic credit and to apply that experience toward a degree. 

"I've met with a number of industries in high-tech manufacturing ready to expand in Tennessee but for a lack of qualified employees, and I know of many Tennesseans who can't afford to attend school while sacrificing a paying job,” Senator Norris said.  “This promotes the best of both worlds for employers, employees and the economy of Tennessee."

The legislation is drafted so that wages or other compensation received by students will not impact eligibility for state need-based financial assistance or grants. 

Senator Norris and his staff consulted with employers in Tennessee and other southern states, as well as overseas, to study what are referred to as "cooperative education” programs. Students are paid to learn while applying what they learn at work for credit toward a degree. 

“This is not unlike the old apprentice programs of generations past, where students get a practical utilization of what they’re learning from the books,” Senator Norris said.  “But we’re adding a modern higher education component to address what Tennessee employers keep asking for:  job candidates with the requisite skills needed in today’s technologically-advanced workplace.”

Jason Bates, administration manager of Toyota’s Bodine facility in Jackson, stated that industry continually faces the need for qualified workers.

“Despite today’s challenging economic environment, manufacturing facilities all across our state struggle to fill positions with individuals educated in advanced manufacturing,” Mr. Bates said.  “Support for education in manufacturing technology is critical for Tennessee’s growth.”

The legislation specifically directs several state entities to work together in both establishing and carrying out the initiative. 

"Oftentimes, there is a communications gap between educators and economic developers. LEAP will help coordinate job training between the Department of Labor and Workforce Development and the Department of Economic and Community Development with higher education,” Senator Norris said.  “This will allow us to educate and employ the skilled workers that prospective employers actually need right now."

Dr. Richard Rhoda, executive director of the Tennessee Higher Education Commission, agreed.

“This program recognizes that an important outcome of a student's education is job opportunity,” Dr. Rhoda said.  “Having employers work closely with state agencies creates increased collaboration and focus across the board, giving students the opportunity to attain credentials.”  

The bill is sponsored by House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick (R-Chattanooga) in the House of Representatives. 

Senator Norris represents the 32nd Senate District in Shelby and Tipton Counties.


Student Design Wins ‘Moc My Ride’ Contest

Be on the lookout on campus or in downtown Chattanooga for bikes wrapped with a design of UTC colors with the Chattanooga skyline. UTC student Mikey Clavin’s design was chosen in the first ‘Moc My Ride’ contest, a partnership between Bike Chattanooga and UTC Athletics. The ‘Moc My Ride’ contest was an open competition inviting UTC students to create a unique bike design to be ... (click for more)

UTC Computer Science, Electrical Engineering Students Participated In Maker Faire

Dr. Craig Tanis and a group of UTC computer science and electrical engineering students took the blue and gold to Maker Faire in Chattanooga, described as “the Greatest Show (and Tell) on earth.”  Families were invited to First Tennessee Pavilion where people showed what they have made and shared what they learned. Dr. Tanis, who teaches Video Game Development in the College ... (click for more)

Jo Ann Cronan Charged With Bribing Voters In Polk County; Similar Probe Underway In Monroe County

A Polk County woman has been charged with bribing voters. The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation began an investigation on July 24 into allegations of illegal activities related to the August general election in Polk County. The investigation was commenced at the request of District Attorney General Stephen Crump. The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, along with Calvin Rockholt, ... (click for more)

Westfield Charged In Burning, Torture Of Kitten At Cleveland

An arrest has been made in the case of a kitten who was burned and tortured in Cleveland, Tn. At 12:50 p.m. on Tuesday, Gary A. Westfield, 31, of Cleveland, was placed in custody on a warrant obtained by Lt. Robert Harbison and Detective Matt Jenkins of the Criminal Investigations Division. Westfield was charged with aggravated cruelty to animals, which is a Class E felony. ... (click for more)

Chattanooga Has Lost Its Most Popular Citizen - Luther Masingill

Chattanooga has lost its most popular citizen – Luther Masingill. Although we are saddened we cherish the memories.  All of us have a Luther story.  Mine is the first time I met Luther.  This was before TV and all of Chattanooga listened to Luther on the radio.  I was 12-years-old.  Some of my buddies and I had gone to the State Theater in downtown ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: An Election Day Fable

Every day I am peppered with emails that friends send to me from across the country so I am unsure of where the fable you are about to read originated. But with early voting for the November general election now in full swing, I think everyone who will -- or will not -- take part in freedom’s greatest privilege should read this story because I believe there is a great lesson contained ... (click for more)