Lawmakers return for 2020 legislative session

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The Tennessee State Capitol Building at sunset.

Tennessee lawmakers return to Capitol Hill on Tuesday, January 14 at noon CST for the second year of the 111th Tennessee General Assembly. The 2020 legislative session is anticipated to move quickly toward an early adjournment as lawmakers begin campaigning for the 2020 elections. 2020 will be the last time that members run prior to redistricting; and primaries are set to occur on August 6. All members of the House will be up for re-election, as well as the members representing the even-numbered Senate districts.

Criminal justice reform, education, health care, and rural development are anticipated key priorities for Governor Bill Lee this session. This will be Lee’s second legislative session as Governor.

The details of Governor Lee’s priorities will become clearer after the State of the State and subsequent release of his budget proposal, which typically occurs at the end of January or beginning of February. While state revenues are healthy and lawmakers will return with a budget surplus of $750 million, many believe it will be a conservative budget year amidst forecasts of Tennessee’s strong economic growth beginning to slow down.

This session, UT will continue to seek full funding of the state’s higher education outcomes funding formula at $38 million. Full funding is critical to the state’s success and UT’s ability to keep higher education affordable for students.

A top priority for the University will also be securing new recurring funding for the UT Institute of Agriculture (UTIA). UT is requesting $6.6 million to increase the number of county extension agents in rural and distressed counties and allow for at least one full-time county agent in the 4-H, family and consumer sciences, and agriculture and natural resources program areas. The funding would provide 32 new agents in the counties that need UT the most. Funding would also allow UTIA to address comparative salary inequities that have compounded over time, particularly in the College of Veterinary Medicine.

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