Recently, my colleagues and I returned to Nashville to resume committee meetings and begin the process of completing our calendars for the year. Thanks to the hard work of the staff inside the Cordell Hull Building and House chamber, we have implemented logical precautions in accordance with the Tennessee Pledge to preserve the health and safety of all who have entered our facility and the Capitol — including members of the general public.
Precautions like temperature checks, social distancing reminders and thorough cleaning practices, as well as Lexan barriers between members’ seats in committee rooms and on the House floor allowed for 18 different committees to meet over the final week in May to discuss and debate nearly 400 bills. A total of 58 measures were also passed on the House floor during the first week in June, thanks in part because we added some of these protections to limit possible exposure to Covid-19 and other illnesses.
While the budget remains an important focus, there are several other issues that we have prioritized prior to Covid-19 arriving in Tennessee. Currently, bills that protect the rights of our hunters and fishermen from unreasonable searches and seizures of their property, as well as a bill that clarifies the requirements and operational practices of bail bondsmen and bounty hunters are gaining momentum in the House. Another bill that authorizes courts to wave certain fees related to diversion is now moving on to the Finance, Ways, and Means Committee.
Initiatives that expand tuition reimbursement opportunities for our National Guard members working towards their master’s degree, vocational and technical certificates, as well as bills that enhance criminal penalties against those who harm our first responders and those who operate a boat while under the influence of alcohol have also advanced, and they continue to move closer to a possible vote in the House.
We all represent a district of roughly 65,000 citizens, and each district and each citizen has unique needs. These are just some of the ways we continue to fight on your behalf and for our great state. Brighter days are ahead of us, and I know we will all look back on this extraordinary period, and we will be thankful that we stood together to ensure a brighter future for our children and for future generations. It is truly an honor to serve you, and I am humbled with the trust you have placed in me. May God continue to bless all of you and the great state of Tennessee!
William Lamberth is the House Majority Leader for the 111th Tennessee General Assembly. He is also a member of the House Finance, House Government Operations, and House Calendar & Rules Committees, as well as the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee. Lamberth lives in Portland and represents Tennessee House District 44, which includes part of Sumner County.