05.14.2019

Greetings Fabulous Folks of the Fortieth!
After a wonderful weekend with my family celebrating Mother’s Day, the sun is shining bright on this Monday morning. I trust your weekend was spent with the ones you love as well. As promised, I will speak to three bills each week that were passed in the first half of the 111th General Assembly.

House Bill 77, known as the Heartbeat Bill, is legislation that protects the sanctity of life. Detection of a heartbeat would prohibit abortions unless the mother’s life is in jeopardy. Think about it. What is the vital sign all medical professionals look for when treating a patient? Is it not a heartbeat? Is life and death not determined by the rhythm of the human heart? Then why would it be any different INSIDE THE WOMB? HB77 passed in the House Chamber but unfortunately succumbed to a train wreck on the Senate side. As your representative, I will continue to fight for our unborn children.   House Bill 945 enures that our students are better prepared for successful careers in the agriculture industry. The goal of the 11- person task force is to encourage and promote agriculture education opportunities. With emerging fields in agriculture and the training knowledge needed for advancement in those fields, Tennessee will now have a pathway initiative for those students! The Great Seal of the State of Tennessee, the official insignia of the U.S. State of Tennessee, encompasses agriculture and commerce. It seems only fitting to have more of our students follow in the field of agriculture and commerce.

House Bill 937 Benefits our heroic police officers and firefighters by increasing the training supplement for those who protect and serve our communities and those who are called upon to respond during fires and other emergencies after they complete 40 hours of in-service training.

House Bill 839 creates a statewide payment plan for individuals who submit proof of their inability to pay fines, taxes, or court costs on citations and have their licenses suspended. This legislation will allow them to obtain restricted driver’s licenses so they can go to work, school or attend church. It is important to note, HB839 does not dismiss individual accountability but ensures people who make mistakes have a pathway to paying their fines.   Please remember Coffee Conversations continue through the end of May resuming in September.   Do not hesitate to call on me at my office 615-741-2192. See you at the next community event!

Did you know that the average American spends 97 hours a year stuck in traffic OR 12+ vacation days.

Go to http://infrastructureweek.org/
#BuildForTomorrow   Blessings, Terri Lynn Weaver
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05/07/2019

Greetings Fabulous Folks of the Fortieth!
Both the House and the Senate Chambers are now adjourned. Working from my study on Seabowisha this cloudy Monday morning has just relinquished its hold and is giving permission for a brilliant burst of sunshine of which I pray remains throughout the day. There is much needed attention to the yard of the Weaver residence! But first I want to say how grateful I am you have entrusted me to work and do the people’s business in the Tennessee House of Representatives. It was a swift first session and at times extremely stressful; nevertheless you know how much I care for the folks of the fortieth district, so I believe this first chapter of the 111th General Assembly accomplished some stellar achievements.

The $38.5 billion budget made thoughtful investments across the state government as it preserves Tennessee’s AAA bond rating, with $225 million in rainy day funding for Fiscal Year 2019-2020, bringing the state’s saving account to $1.1 billion.

Listed are some of the Budget’s Highlights.
House Bill 498, better known as The Katie Beckett Waiver Program, invests $27 million to provide life saving medical services through TennCare for Tennessee children with the most significant disabilities and the highest medical needs, regardless of their parental income levels.

In this year’s budget, Education continues to be a priority with a $11.3 billion total investment including:
     – $6.5 billion directly for K-12 in our public schools
     – $71 million of this goes to teacher’s salary (a 2.5 percent increase)
     – Approximately $46 million will fully fund the BEP 
     – $40 million invested in additional safety measures and school resource officers

The budget also targets healthcare, opioids, job growth and economic development while supporting our veterans and elderly citizens. House Bill 419, the “Tennessee Right to Shop Act”, will help us continue to work on our broken healthcare system focusing on a patient centered healthcare system that puts the patient in the driver’s seat and lowering COSTS.

One of my favorite tax cuts of this year is House Bill 1262. Reducing taxes for hardworking Tennesseans and their families, the professional privilege tax on accountants, architects, athletes’ agents, audiologists, chiropractors, dentists, engineers, landscape architects, optometrists, pharmacists, podiatrists, psychologists, real estate brokers, speech pathologists, and veterinarians was removed. A $22 million REDUCTION! That puts more money back in the people’s pocket.

Folks, Tennessee is now viewed as a destination state. We are the 2nd lowest taxed state in the country with NO income tax and we are a Right to Work State, having created more than 400,000 jobs since 2011. Is it any wonder people want to raise their families, work, and enjoy the beautiful landscape in our amazing state? We surely are experiencing growth. It matters who governs!

Next week I will specify further legislation and tax cuts.

Please attend any of the Coffee Conversations for the month of May. We will pause for June, July, and August resuming our schedule in September. It appears to be a busy summer; however, I do look forward to seeing you in the district!
 
First Friday Angie’s Diner in Smithville
Second Friday at Early Bird Café in Hartsville
Third Friday at Smith County Chamber Building in 
Fourth Friday at Sumner Regional Hospital in Gallatin @7:30a.m.

It is a pleasure to serve and work for you.

Blessings,
Terri Lynn Weaver

4/15/2019

Greetings Fabulous Folks of the Fortieth!
It’s a rainy Friday morning as I make my way to The Early Bird Café for Coffee and Conversations. What is normally an hour drive from Seabowisha Lane to Hartsville took me an extra 15 minutes today. Only when you’re running short on time with no opportunity to pass does the drive time become longer because you are one of many stuck behind, not one, but two, slow moving trucks, on Highway 25.  Remembering an old song I shared with my son years ago and now share with my grandchildren comes to mind:  “have patience, have patience. Don’t be in such a hurry.” Deciding to think on “whatsoever things are good” I began to appreciate the deep, lush red and pink in the redbud trees, the vibrant shades of green all across the open fields and on the hillsides. Spring has created a canvas of fresh new colors, as the browns and greys relinquish their winter palate. Something I would have never noticed had I not slowed down enough to observe it on my drive to Trousdale County. With breakfast having not been served to the school superintendent, county mayor, or local paper reporter when I arrived, I guess you could say I got my one egg and sausage patty ordered just in time plus great conversations at the table.

As you know, House Bill 164 is scheduled for a House floor vote on April 17th. This bill prohibits handheld devices while driving. Tennessee has the highest rate of distracted driving fatalities in the nation at nearly five times the national average. 91% of Tennesseans approve of distraction-free driving legislation. According to the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security research from 2008 through 2018, there are 53 crashes per day, 373 crashes per week, 1,624 crashes per month, and 19,487 crashes per year!  Indeed, distracted drivers are everyone’s problem. Distracted Free Tennessee! 

House Bill 949 now awaits the Governor’s signature. Known as the GIVE Act, this legislation expands access to vocational and technical training for Tennessee students. It passed on the House Floor 92-0. With work-based learning and apprenticeship opportunities, our communities will now have funding and flexibility to build programs that best reflect local needs and work directly with private industry. This is a tremendous opportunity for students who do not necessarily want four years of college, but instead want to graduate with a trade to prepare them for jobs right out of high school.

House Bill 1280 calls the Governor, along with the Commissioner of Finance and Administration, to submit a waiver to the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid services to immediately provide assistance to the state’s TennCare population by way of block grants. Designed to transform healthcare through Consumerism, increasing Access, improving Rural health systems, and Empowering patients to ensure that individuals and families can make all medical decisions instead of insurance companies or the government. The General Assembly will also partner with the Governor during the negotiation process and will have oversight on the implementation of federal funding allocated to TennCare. The people of Tennessee have become leaders in various camps of innovation, whether job creation or improving education, and now this legislation will enable us to once again lead on a critical local and national issue without federal mandates on how we do healthcare in Tennessee.

As we approach the end of this month, with a May 2nd closing of the first half of the 111th General Assembly, be sure to keep up with the bill debates and discussions found on the Tennessee General Assembly website via live streaming. Also, due to April 19th being Good Friday, there will not be a Coffee Conversations in Smith County. 
 
Blessings,
Terri Lynn Weaver
 

04/08/2019

Greetings Fabulous Folks of the Fortieth!
Angie’s Diner in Smithville has been home to my first Friday Coffee Conversations for quite some time now. Generally it is a consistent group of engaged citizens who already have the tables pulled together, breakfast ordered, and a place for me to sit amongst them.  Our waitress, Meagan, gets me a cup of coffee while I chat briefly to others having their breakfast before stopping by the round “TRUTH” table, which is always a treat for me. This is where you get the true tenor of the town news and you get the true, NOT politically correct opinions of farmers, retired veterans, pastors, and engaged citizens from all walks of life. Being where YOU are, in the communities across House District 40, like Angie’s Diner, enables me to remain strong and stay the course for the principles that you have entrusted me to represent. If you have not attended Coffee Conversations please check out my schedule at the end of this Loop for the locations and times.

This week, House Bill 947 passed, protecting our schools and providing additional safety resources by investing $30M for school safety grants. Our schools must be equipped with the measures to keep our children and teachers safe, and I believe we are moving in the right direction to provide the necessary tools.

House Bill 946 increases transparency by requiring local education agencies (LEAs) to report to the Department of Education how funds from the state are used each year regarding salaries and wages. Some of our teachers are not being given their salary increases that we voted in previous years for them to receive. This bill will allow us to monitor where this money is actually being spent and encourage LEAs to invest in our teachers who work hard for our community and children.

House Bill 923 makes significant progress on improving our infrastructure in a fiscally responsible way.
Designed to improve efficiency and provide substantial cost savings within certain infrastructure projects, this bill will remove those inconveniences experienced by Tennessee motorists as construction projects are completed, improving safety while also saving taxpayer dollars!

House Bill 1245 is a bill that I absolutely love! First, it urges the Attorney General to call on the Federal Communications Commission to create new rules that will allow carriers to block more of these illegal and annoying robocalls. This legislation also raises the penalty of misleading a phone subscriber from $10,000 to $30,000 per violation against a person or entity that makes an unwanted robocall. Lastly, it encourages carriers offering telephone services in the state to implement SHAKEN/STIRRED technology to help detect robocalls. We must take strong measures to get a handle on this breach of privacy. It is a federal issue; however, Tennessee will remain the squeaky wheel that gets the grease to curb this growing problem!

Please remember to join me at any four of my Coffee Conversations in the Fabulous Fortieth on Friday Mornings at 8 A.M.

First Friday Angie’s Diner in Smithville
Second Friday at Early Bird Café in Hartsville
Third Friday at Smith County Chamber Building in 
Fourth Friday at Sumner Regional Hospital in Gallatin @7:30a.m.

It is a pleasure to serve and work for you.

Blessings,
Terri Lynn Weaver

04/01/2019

Greetings Fabulous Folks of the Fortieth!

Closing in on the third month of 2019, time is most certainly zooming by. This past Wednesday, Transportation Safety and Funding Subcommittee closed per call of the chair. With our calendar complete, Blue Bell Ice Cream was served to thank committee and staff members for a job well done. House Bill 531 will guarantee our rural counties will have resources needed to keep up with infrastructure demands. House Bill 164 expands the offense of holding a cellphone while driving from only in a school zone to statewide implementation. We must change Tennessee’s ranking as first in the nation in distracted driving deaths. Transportation Full Committee will have its last meeting on April 2, while many other sub and full committees will also be hearing their final calendars this week.

For Fiscal Year 2019-2020, a total investment of $11.3 billion will be allotted for education. Additionally, $6.5 billion will directly benefit K-12 in our public schools. Our K-12 investment allocates $71 million in teacher’s salaries, $46 million to fully fund the BEP and another $40 million to help secure our schools to provide resource officers and other safety measures.

Focused on education, Tennessee continues to be committed to Tennessee’s future leaders, our children. On Wednesday House Bill 939, also known as Education Savings Account, was discussed for nearly three hours as members of the Full Education Committee asked questions, shared different points of view and made comments of concern in order to address how to better serve those students who reside in areas with three or more low performing schools. House Bill 939, as amended, serves a small, limited group of students who need help. We are not talking about a mass exodus of children leaving the system. Though this legislation doesn’t have all the answers, choice works for some, thus I believe it deserves a start towards a solution to serve those kids. The bill specifically addresses how many students can participate, starting with 5000 students the first year and capping out at 15,000 students for the fifth school year of operation. Tennessee has more than one million public school students statewide. In order for ESAs to expand outside the narrow restrictions of this legislation, another bill would have to change it, amend it, or end it. 

As I commented in the committee, this legislation deserves more discussion and debate worthy of all 99 House members before passage. Yes, I still have concerns and currently am seeking to get those answers should this bill move to Sub and Full Finance, Ways, and Means Committee after Government Operations Committee next week before coming to the House Floor. The General Assembly is also working on more legislation to better our education, such as House Bill 949 that expands vocational and technical training opportunities for students and House Bill 952 that increases CTE courses offering fabulous job training for 21st century careers right after graduating High School! These are all part of a vision to help Tennessee out of the bottom half of education nationally; however, Tennessee was the fastest improving in math, reading and science last year, with the best high school graduation rates EVER —– 89.1%. Tennessee’s future looks bright indeed!

In House District 40 there are no failing schools. In fact, Dekalb, Smith, Trousdale, and Sumner Counties all have schools that have been recipients of the prestigious label of a Reward School due to significant growth in student outcomes. Teachers in District 40 are passionate, driven, and way overdue for the designated teacher pay increase in this year’s budget. Thank you, Governor Lee! I have faith in my public schools and House Bill 939 will bring no harm to the hub of our communities. Instead of federal control, we will strengthen our public schools with less regulations and restrictions by giving our teachers the freedom to do what they do best, TEACH.

.A very interesting fact worth noting is since 1956, according to the Legislative Library Tennessee Budget Book, $208 billion dollars has been invested in our education!  

Tennessee’s unemployment rate hits another record low from 3.6% to 3.2%. We are truly a blessed state, and I will continue to commit to legislation that will ensure that Tennessee is the best state to live, work, and raise a family.

Blessings,
Terri Lynn Weaver

03/26/2019

Greetings Fabulous Folks of the Fortieth!

This Friday, the Sumner County Delegation gathered for “Good Morning Gallatin.”
Mayors, school board members, city and county commissioners, plus many fabulous folks from all spectrums of occupations met for briefings on specific issues of local and state government.  Mayor Paige Brown spoke of all the continuous growth in the Gallatin area. Senator Ferrell Haile spoke on some TDOT updates such as HWY 109 north of the Gallatin bridge, the estimated date of completion of 109 to HWY 70 in Wilson County and the widening of Veterans Parkway 386. Our roads are vital veins to keep traffic moving and the economic machine growing. We are Sumner County Strong! 

In the House Education Committee, I mentioned that Tennessee is investing $6.5B in public schools with an increase of almost $200M over the last year including teacher’s raises, school safety, and vocational education. 

The GIVE Act is a two-pronged approach utilizing regional partnerships to develop work-based learning and apprenticeship opportunities. This act enables a student to be ready to enter a job of their field of training right out of high school. This path ROCKS AND ROLLS! Not all kids are college bound, and that is OK! Now with two extra dual-enrollment credits available, communities have the funding and flexibility to build programs that best reflect the local needs. The GIVE Act is GREAT!!

Broadband is the 21st century highway infrastructure. Nearly one in four rural Tennesseans lack access to reliable broadband services. Governor Lee announced a $14.8M accessibility grant program that will bring internet services to more than 8,300 households and businesses in 17 counties across the state. I am so appreciative to our Governors commitment to getting rural Tennessee “up to speed” by expanding broadband in the areas needed most. Recipients receiving the grant funds in our district are:
North Central Communications: $304,783 serving parts of rural Sumner County
Twin Lakes Telephone Cooperative: $1,233,987.30 serving parts of Jackson, Smith and Putnam Counties.

These grants, plus additional funding, will continue to close the gaps as broadband greatly impacts our goals for health care, education, economic development, and beyond. We will stay the course ensuring rural Tennessee gets connected.

Its looking like this Wednesday, March 27th, will be the final Safety and Funding Committee. Legislation is moving rather rapidly through the process. Remember to visit the Tennessee General Assembly website in order to follow the issues that matter to you the most.

Please follow the link below to read more about State’s rights!     http://www.tneagleforum.org/blog_direct_link.cfm?blog_id=65642&Renowned-Appellate-Lawyer-To-Argue-Tennessee-Refugee-Resettlement-Case-For-The-Thomas-More-Law-Center

It is such a pleasure to serve you. Never hesitate to call (615) 741-2192 for further assistance and please join me at any Friday Coffee Conversations near you.

Blessings,
Terri Lynn Weaver

03/18/2019

Greetings Folks of the Fortieth!

Do you ever use your phone as a replay of your week gone by? Those pictures are truly priceless in order to recap the week for my Legislative Loop and to remember all that took place. 

You know by now two full committees, Transportation and Education, and their sub-committees, Safety and Funding, to which I chair, and the K-12 subcommittee, are keeping this representative of yours moving in high gear.

We began the week on Monday by visiting TDOT’s Traffic Management Center. This center measures traffic volume, giving us those helpful reports on the radio during our commute to Nashville. If you ever have a vehicle breakdown, and all of the sudden this yellow tank with flashing lights pulls up behind you without you even making a call, that would be The Highway Incident Response Unit:  the rescue “A” team for anyone whose vehicle all the sudden becomes “kaput” on the interstate. They truly live up to their name. Remember the “pull over” rule when you see HELP on the highways and any of our emergency or law enforcement folks on the side of the road.

House Bill 163 passed in the Safety and Funding Subcommittee, which expands the current violation of driving in a school zone with a handheld device to any road, highway, or street. Texting while driving has become the new DUI with Tennessee leading the nation for deaths related to handheld devices while driving. My vehicle is an older model without the newfangled technologies like Bluetooth. But I must admit, my phone time while driving has decreased considerably. This legislation exempts anyone witnessing emergencies that may need to phone emergency services while driving. Many states, such as Georgia, have already made holding a device while driving illegal, and Tennessee could very well be next to join the ranks.

House Bill 268 permits local education agencies to install cameras on school buses to record vehicles that unlawfully pass a stopped school bus. It allows evidence to be reviewed by law enforcement officers only after evidence is submitted to an LEA by the bus driver. We watched horrific video footage of children being struck down by vehicles passing a school bus while stopped. Pay attention, slow down, stay off your phone, and stop when school bus lights are flashing and the stop sign arm is on the side of the school bus.
Passed out of my committee and on to Full Transportation is House Bill 839, which prevents the suspension of a driver’s license for failure to pay fines or costs imposed for a driving offense. A temporary driver’s license is issued until the total fines can be paid via a payment plan for those who can’t pay the fees right away.  Choices have consequences; therefore, all must be responsible to pay those fines. We do not, however, want to prevent one from going to work in order to pay the cost of the violation. This legislation will enable you to work and still be responsible to pay the costs of traffic violations. 

House Bill 1016 is a bill I am introducing that requires students to PASS a civics test in order to receive a diploma upon graduation from High School. It will consist of all 100 questions from the United States civics test, and each student must answer 70 to 75 percent of the questions correctly. We currently have civics exams, but they are not required to PASS THOSE TESTS! Fewer and fewer individuals are obtaining basic institutional knowledge of how to be a citizen and to appreciate our founding principles. According to the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation, a majority of Americans would fail a test based on questions included in the U.S. citizenship test. WE must do better!

House Bill 947, which passed out of Education Full Committee, is proposing $40M for school safety grants to help secure school resource officers and additional safety measures. This legislation provides the structure needed to bring overall success and overall safety in our state.

House Bill 658, legislation that balances the interests of our citizens to voice their opinion while protecting the fundamental rights of police officers and their families from malicious or politically focused persecution, was passed Thursday on the House Floor. Community Oversight Boards have been around since the 1950s, but currently there are no guidelines in Tennessee on who can serve on them and what their specific function is. 

A big shout out to Commissioner Bright and the TDOT Gang who joined me at one of my Coffee Conversations last Friday!!! Thank you to all the local officials who attended as we discussed plans going forward for Exit 258 in Smith County.

UPDATE: During our 2016 legislative session, I sponsored a resolution to sue the federal government over refugee resettlement. Although legal matters can move very slowly, I am happy to announce that our case is scheduled this week in the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Please follow the links below for more information.

https://www.wnd.com/2019/03/appeals-court-to-hear-tennessees-demand-to-drop-refugee-program/

https://www.breitbart.com/politics/2019/03/14/legal-heavyweight-will-represent-tennessee-in-appeal-of-refugee-resettlement-lawsuit/

Well, as I previously mentioned, last week whirled by, and I am sure this week will as well. My week ahead will be documented again for next week’s, “Loop.”

Blessings,
Terri Lynn