Lawmakers Return to Nashville for 110th General Assembly

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Columns at the Tennessee State Capitol.

Lawmakers convened on Capitol Hill this week for the start of the 110th General Assembly, where the first orders of business were electing the House and Senate Speakers. House Speaker Beth Harwell (R-Nashville) unanimously won reelection and long serving Senator Randy McNally (R-Oak Ridge) was sworn in as the state’s next Lieutenant Governor and Speaker of the Senate.  McNally formerly served as Chair of the powerful Senate Finance, Ways, and Means Committee and also previously led the Senate Education Committee.  He has a great degree of respect and support for higher education and has enjoyed strong working relationships with many UT Presidents.  He is a retired pharmacist and alumnus of the UT Health Science Center.

The first week of session is organizational in nature—lawmakers complete mandatory ethics training, adopt rules, elect the Constitutional Officers, and receive committee appointments before adjourning for a two-week recess.  Critical committees for the University of Tennessee include the Education and Finance, Ways, and Means Committees, as most issues impacting UT inevitably pass through one or both of these. Overall, there was little change to the leadership and composition of these key committees, with the notable exceptions of Rep. Eddie Smith (R-Knoxville) becoming Vice Chair of the House Education Administration and Planning Committee, Sen. Bo Watson (R-Chattanooga) taking the helm of the Senate Finance Committee, and Reps. Kevin Brooks (R-Cleveland) and Gerald McCormick (R-Chattanooga) taking leadership positions on House Finance and Finance Subcommittee, respectively.

Appointments for these key committees are listed below.

Senate Education Committee
Chair, Sen. Dolores Gresham (R-Somerville)
1st Vice Chair, Sen. Reginald Tate (D-Memphis)
2nd Vice Chair, Sen. Todd Gardenhire (R-Chattanooga)
Sen. Steve Dickerson (R-Nashville)
Sen. Rusty Crowe (R-Johnson City)
Sen. Joey Hensley (R-Hohenwald)
Sen. Ferrell Haile (R-Gallatin)
Sen. Jim Tracy (R-Shelbyville)
Sen. Reginald Tate (D-Memphis)
Sen. Brian Kelsey (R-Germantown)

Senate Finance, Ways, and Means Committee
Chair, Sen. Bo Watson (R-Chattanooga)
1st Vice Chair, Sen. John Stevens (R-Huntingdon)
2nd Vice Chair, Sen. Doug Overbey (R-Maryville)
Sen. Steve Dickerson (R-Nashville)
Sen. Todd Gardenhire (R-Chattanooga)
Sen. Ferrell Haile (R-Gallatin)
Sen. Thelma Harper (D-Nashville)
Sen. Joey Hensley (R-Hohenwald)
Sen. Bill Ketron (R-Murfreesboro)
Sen. Mark Norris (R-Collierville)
Sen. Reginald Tate (D-Memphis)

House Education Administration and Planning Committee
Chair, Rep. Harry Brooks (R-Knoxville)
Vice Chair, Rep. Eddie Smith (R-Knoxville)
Subcommittee Chair, Rep. Mark White (R-Memphis)
Rep. Raumesh Akbari (D-Memphis)
Rep. John DeBerry (D-Memphis)
Rep. Craig Fitzhugh (D-Ripley)
Rep. Roger Kane (R-Knoxville)
Rep. Ron Lollar (R-Bartlett)
Rep. Jimmy Matlock (R-Lenior City)
Rep. Debra Moody (R-Covington)
Rep. Johnnie Turner (D-Memphis)
Rep. Terri Lynn Weaver (R-Lancaster)
Rep. Dawn White (R-Murfreesboro)

House Finance, Ways, and Means Committee
Chair, Rep. Charles Sargent (R-Franklin)
Vice Chair, Rep.  Kevin Brooks (R-Cleveland)
Subcommittee Chair, Rep. Gerald McCormick (R-Chattanooga)
Rep. David Byrd (R-Waynesboro)
Rep. Karen Camper (D-Memphis)
Rep. Mike Carter (R-Chattanooga)
Rep. Jim Coley (R-Bartlett)
Rep. John Crawford (R-Kingsport)
Rep. John DeBerry (D-Memphis)
Rep. Craig Fitzhugh (D-Ripley)
Rep. Brenda Gilmore (D-Nashville)
Rep. David Hawk (R-Greeneville)
Rep. Patsy Hazlewood (R-Signal Mountain)
Rep. Gary Hicks (R-Rogersville)
Rep. Matthew Hill (R-Jonesborough)
Rep. Curtis Johnson (R-Clarksville)
Rep. Harold Love (D-Nashville)
Rep. Susan Lynn (R-Mount Juliet)
Rep. Steve McDaniel (R-Parkers Crossroads)
Rep. Larry Miller (D-Memphis)
Rep. Art Swann (R-Maryville)
Rep. Tim Wirgau (R-Buchanan)
Rep. Ryan Williams (R-Cookeville)

A date for Governor Bill Haslam’s State of the State Address was also approved by the legislature during the organizational session.  The State of the State (and subsequent release of the Governor’s Budget Proposal) will occur on January 30.  Click here to view the top budget requests that UT President Joe DiPietro presented at the Governor’s Budget Hearing in November 2016.

Lawmakers have until Thursday, February 9, to continue filing legislation. We will keep you informed on anticipated issues impacting the University of Tennessee.