The 112th Tennessee General Assembly convened at noon yesterday, welcoming 12 new freshmen legislators who were sworn into office – two in the Senate and 10 in the House. Lt. Governor Randy McNally (R-Oak Ridge) and Speaker Cameron Sexton (R-Crossville), both UT alums, were also re-appointed as Speakers.
Many of UT’s legislative priorities this legislative session focus on supporting its land grant mission of serving the state. As a land grant, UT offers Extension services in all 95 counties that support Tennesseans statewide. A top priority for UT is advancing funding to provide 32 new county Extension agents in Tennessee’s rural and distressed counties. Also, UT is working to advance legislation to expand access to 4-H Extension programs. Although a similar bill passed unanimously on the House floor last year, it was never heard in the Senate due to the decision to hear only COVID-19 and budget-related bills. The legislation will allow K-12 students to be counted as present for attendance purposes when participating in 4-H activities.
Next, UT is proposing an initiative that will expand affordable postsecondary opportunities in the southern Middle Tennessee region, allowing Martin Methodist College in Giles County, Tennessee to become part of the UT System. Land grant universities are charged with helping all Tennesseans, and there is a critical need in this part of the state as a higher education desert. The partnership between UT and Martin Methodist College would provide students in the area greater access to a four-year postsecondary degree and improve the region’s economy by encouraging students to stay in Tennessee post-graduation. In addition, UT is working to advance funding for the Oak Ridge Institute (ORI) to answer the nation’s call to train scientists in defense-related fields.
How You Can Be More Involved As An Advocate
We are incredibly appreciative of your support for UT and thank you for your time and dedication as an Advocate. If you have interest in more involvement with the UT Advocacy Network, please see below:
- Welcome the newly elected officials by introducing yourself and sharing your UT story. You can find a list of the new legislators and their contact information, here.
- Reach out to your elected officials and thank them for investing in higher education last year by fully funding the state’s higher education outcomes funding formula. UT will continue to seek full funding again this year since funding the formula is critical to the state’s success and UT’s ability to keep higher education affordable for students.
- Share with a friend on how to sign-up for the UT Advocacy Network.
- Follow and tag us on social media @UTAdvocator.