Lawmakers Return for the 111th General Assembly, Committees Appointed

Photo of the Tennessee State Capitol on a bright, sunny day.

Lawmakers convened on Capitol Hill this week for the start 111th General Assembly. With a total of 29 new members and the upcoming transition from Governor Bill Haslam to Governor-Elect Bill Lee, this week commenced a new and historic era in Tennessee politics.  The Oath of Office was duly administered to legislators, leadership was elected, and key legislative committees appointed. President Boyd traveled to Nashville to meet with members and share key priorities for UT moving forward.

Representative Glen Casada (R-Franklin) was elected Speaker of the House, replacing Speaker Beth Harwell (R-Nashville) who retired her seat in a bid for governor. Speaker Casada most recently served as House Majority Leader and also previously chaired the House Republican Caucus. In his introductory remarks, Speaker Casada stated that the House will be more involved in the budget process, engage in a more balanced committee process – including removal of “double-referrals,” and staff more powerful subcommittees. He promised that all members will have a seat at the table in governing for all Tennesseans.

As anticipated, Lieutenant Governor Randy McNally (R-Oak Ridge) was reelected to his post as Speaker of the Senate. McNally has been a longtime supporter of 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.

While the first week of legislative business is largely organizational, key announcements are made regarding legislative committee appointments. With turnover near record levels after the election, it is no surprise that committee membership looks significantly different than in years past.  Of particular importance to UT are the Education and Finance Committees.  Rep. Mark White (R-Memphis) will take on Chairmanship of the full House Education Committee, with Rep. Jim Coley (R-Bartlett) as Chair of the Higher Education Subcommittee.

Rep. Susan Lynn (R-Mt. Juliet) will take on leadership of the House Finance Committee, with Rep. Andy Holt (R-Dresden) chairing the Finance Subcommittee.

In the Senate, Education Committee leadership will remain with Sen. Dolores Gresham (R-Somerville), and Sen. Bo Watson (R-Chattanooga) will remain at the helm of the Finance Committee.

Here’s a snapshot of membership of the House and Senate Education and Finance Committees:

House Education Committee

Chair- Rep. Mark White (R-Memphis)

Vice Chair- Rep. Kirk Haston (R-Lobelville)

Rep. Charlie Baum (R-Murfreesboro)

Rep. David Byrd (R-Waynesboro)

Rep. Scott Cepicky (R-Culleoka)

Rep. Mark Cochran (R-Englewood)

Rep. Jim Coley (R-Bartlett)

Rep. John DeBerry (D-Memphis)

Rep. Vincent Dixie (D-Nashville)

Rep. Bill Dunn (R-Knoxville)

Rep. Jason Hodges (D-Clarksville)

Rep. Chris Hurt (R-Halls)

Rep. Tom Leatherwood (R-Arlington)

Rep. Harold Love (D-Nashville)

Rep. Debra Moody (R-Covington)

Rep. Antonio Parkinson (D-Memphis)

Rep. John Ragan (R-Oak Ridge)

Rep. Iris Rudder (R-Winchester)

Rep. Jerry Sexton (R-Bean Station)

Rep. Kevin Vaughan (R-Collierville)

Rep. Terri Lynn Weaver (R-Lancaster)

Rep. Ryan Williams (R-Cookeville)

Rep. John Mark Windle (D-Livingston)


House Higher Education Subcommittee

Chair- Rep. Jim Coley (R-Bartlett)

Rep. Mark Cochran (R-Englewood)

Rep. Chris Hurt (R-Halls)

Rep. Antonio Parkinson (D-Memphis)

Rep. Kevin Vaughan (R-Collierville)

Rep. Mark White (R-Memphis)


House Finance Committee

Chair- Rep. Susan Lynn (R-Mt Juliet)

Vice Chair- Rep. Patsy Hazlewood (R-Signal Mountain)

Rep. Charlie Baum (R-Murfreesboro)

Rep. Karen Camper (D-Memphis)

Rep. John Crawford (R-Kingsport)

Rep. John DeBerry (D-Memphis)

Rep. Ron Gant (R-Rossville)

Rep. Gary Hicks (R-Rogersville)

Rep. Matthew Hill (R-Jonesborough)

Rep. Andy Holt (R-Dresden)

Rep. Sabi Kumar (R-Springfield)

Rep. William Lamberth (R-Cottontown)

Rep. Brandon Ogles (R-Franklin)

Rep. Jay Reedy (R-Erin)

Rep. Cameron Sexton (R-Crossville)

Rep. Johnny Shaw (D-Bolivar)

Rep. Rick Staples (D-Knoxville)

Rep. John Mark Windle (D-Livingston)

Rep. Jason Zachary (R-Knoxville)


House Finance Subcommittee

Chair- Rep. Andy Holt (R-Dresden)

Rep. John DeBerry (D-Memphis)

Rep. Patsy Hazlewood (R-Signal Mountain)

Rep. Gary Hicks (R-Rogersville)

Rep. Matthew Hill (R-Jonesborough)

Rep. Susan Lynn (R-Mt Juliet)

Rep. Brandon Ogles (R-Franklin)

Rep. Cameron Sexton (R-Crossville)

Rep. Johnny Shaw (D-Bolivar)


Senate Education Committee

Chair- Sen. Dolores Gresham (R-Somerville)

1st Vice Chair- Sen. Brian Kelsey (R-Germantown)

2nd Vice Chair- Sen. Raumesh Akbari (D-Memphis)

Sen. Mike Bell (R-Riceville)

Sen. Rusty Crowe (R-Johnson City)

Sen. Steve Dickerson (R-Nashville)

Sen. Ferrell Haile (R-Gallatin)

Sen. Joey Hensely (R-Hohenwald)

Sen. Jon Lundberg (R-Bristol)


Senate Finance Committee

Chair- Sen. Bo Watson (R-Chattanooga)

1st Vice Chair- Sen. John Stevens (R-Huntingdon)

2nd Vice Chair- Sen. Joey Hensely (R-Hohenwald)

Sen. Richard Briggs (R-Knoxville)

Sen. Todd Gardenhire (R-Chattanooga)

Sen. Brenda Gilmore (D-Nashville)

Sen. Ferrell Haile (R-Gallatin)

Sen. Jack Johnson (R-Franklin)

Sen. Brian Kelsey (R-Germantown)

Sen. Ken Yager (R-Kingston)

Sen. Jeff Yarbro (D-Nashville)


A full breakdown of the new committee structure and membership is available here.

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