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 

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3/12/2019

Greetings Fabulous Folks of the Fortieth!

After a week of frigid temperatures, then comes Sunday! Daylight Savings Time robbed our extra hour of sleep but hopefully you got outside to enjoy some sunshine. What a beautiful day! 
Governor Lee’s State of the State Address was a home run. His proposed budget includes:
Not taking on new debt, cutting $40M in costs and a record breaking deposit of $1.1B into the Rainy Day Fund. Living within your means, cutting costs and putting money in the cookie jar for savings! Sounds like the definition of conservative to me!

Priorities to continue improvements in education, overhauling our criminal justice system and improving access and the quality of healthcare while lowering overall costs to Tennesseans were key topics the Governor addressed to a packed House Chamber on Monday night. One of my favorite quotes from the Governor’s address was, “If we lead Tennessee well, Tennessee may well lead the nation.” Please follow the links below to view the Governor’s budget.  
https://www.tn.gov/content/dam/tn/finance/budget/documents/2020BudgetDocumentVol1.pdf 
https://www.tn.gov/content/dam/tn/finance/budget/documents/2020BudgetDocumentVol2.pdf 
https://www.tn.gov/content/dam/tn/finance/budget/documents/2020BudgetDocumentVol3.pdf

Last Monday morning the Senate and House Transportation Committee took a field trip to learn about the daily operations of The Nashville International Airport. This Airport Authority is indeed its own city. All revenues generated within its parameters fund the budget that sustains its business, keeping the vision for growth going forward. We have become quite the southeast hub with 565 Daily Flights, 43,825 passengers per day and 43 gates, Music City has 206,303 take offs and landings per year! Check out @Fly_Nashville for information you can follow such as the new parking garage construction, hotel, new terminal and additional gates for more airplanes!

While being visited by the Appalachian Arts Center in District 40 this past week, I am reminded how fortunate we are in Tennessee to have an additional source of funding from our specialty and personalized license plates. More than 70% of the money used to fund the 800 grants from the Tennessee Arts Commission last year was from the sales of these specialty license plates. When other states “ax the arts,” our great state funds and encourages more organizations to sell more plates so the arts can thrive in Tennessee.  

On Tuesday evening I was invited to take part in an education symposium with four of my colleagues. We were asked questions by a room full of professional female teachers from all across the state. In this year’s budget, one of the Governor’s education initiatives included a $71M investment for pay raises for Tennessee teachers.

House Bill 1275, a bill that would allow high risk students with severe mental disorders to attend an out of state residential facility for treatment with allocated LEA funds, was discussed at length in Full Committee. Apparently, we need such a facility here in our great state to treat the growing number of children affected with mental health disorders.

House Bill 947 establishes school safety grants to ensure that all Tennessee schools have the school resource officers and ballistic tools needed to have our children learn in safe environments.  

Tennessee Education Lottery first began giving funds to Tennessee students in 2004. Those lottery-funded programs have grown to include 15 different scholarships and grants which include the HOPE Scholarships, grants to technical schools, dual enrollment grants and the Drive to 55 initiatives. 
Total education funding since inception: More than $4.8Billion
Total lottery funded scholarships and grants awarded since inception: More than 1.3 Million

During Thursday’s House Session, house members strongly approved the Heartbeat Bill. I believe life begins at conception. Science continues to prove that inside the womb indeed that is a baby, not a mass of tissue, but a little person with its own DNA that has a constitutional right to life, liberty and the opportunity to pursue happiness. Tennessee continues to march forward as a state known to protect the unborn. I am so honored to be in this fight for life, for the voiceless, the unborn child.

Israel has long been and remains America’s most reliable partner in the Middle East. Tennessee has led the nation in support for Israel and we were the first state to pass legislation that strongly disagrees with the anti-Semitism many nations have expressed by boycotting Israel and its economic contributions worldwide. SJR58 was celebrated on Thursday with the Consul General of Israel Judith Shorer, Governor Bill Lee, Ricky Skaggs, Senator Mark Pody and I as the bill sponsors of this steadfast support of the Nation of Israel. Indeed the city of Jerusalem and the city of Nashville are becoming the sister cities they are destinedto be.  

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

11/21/2018

Greetings Fabulous Fortieth District,

Now that the 2018 General Elections are behind us, it is with a most grateful heart I humbly thank you for your tremendous vote of confidence that has enabled me to represent you another term.  

“Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God.” Philippians 1:3

With four counties to serve, from urban to rural, my mission remains steadfast to serve you to the best of my ability. Focused on the fundamentals of low taxes, low debt, job creation, a strong education system, and safe communities, the 111th General Assembly will press towards the mark to make an even greater Tennessee.  Your Representative is eager to roll up her sleeves and get to work!
Our States economy continues to thrive. Unemployment rates are at a historic record low and companies continue to choose Tennessee as a destination to do business. You have heard me say numerous times it is a blessing to have a good paying job in order to provide for one’s family. Those high paying jobs continue to come to our state. Tennessee, we have much to be thankful for.

Honored to be in the company of these great Veterans

Sumner County Veterans Day Ceremony
Since the closing of the 110th General Assembly last spring, we lost two members of the Tennessee House, Representative Ron Lollar, District 99, and Representative Charles Sargent, District 61. Both of these men were true servants whom I greatly admired and had the privilege to know. Though I was not able to attend Representative Lollar’s service in West Tennessee back in the summer, yesterday, on a sunny Sunday afternoon, The First Presbyterian Church of Franklin Tennessee was filled to capacity of family, friends, and colleagues who knew Chairman Sargent.  In fact, it appeared as if all of the Legislative Plaza was in attendance to pay tribute and to say goodbye to a good friend. Charles had a way of taking the complex topic of the state’s budget and bring it to simple laymen terms. I especially appreciated him for that. RIP Charles, perhaps your finance expertise can now be used on those Heavenly Investments for all eternity. Till we meet again Chairman.
Tomorrow, we will kick off the Holiday season. Celebrated on the fourth Thursday of every November, families, and friends will gather around their tables together in observance of our National Holiday, Thanksgiving Day. 

President Abraham Lincoln in 1863 proclaimed a national day of  “Thanksgiving and Praise to our Beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. ”Although I am thankful I have not heard any Christmas Carols yet while grocery shopping, my favorite holiday seems to get less and less significant as the years go by. But I remain vigilant in protecting the whole experience of the Thanksgiving Holiday. Preparing the family favorites, setting a welcoming table, enjoying my family and friends, lots and lots of pumpkin pie, watching movies in jammies, and all without ever mentioning the “C” word. It does my heart good. Having three to four days of feasting and fun coming straight from the “Father of everything good and beautiful.” The Blessings of God are abundant indeed and Thanksgiving Holiday does me good to pause and “Give Thanks.” Let’s have a Thanksgiving before we have a Christmas Season.
From my home to yours may you and yours think on the “innumerable blessings” of God and count them one by one!
More Photos:

Girl Scout and Brownie pile up before the Veterans Paade in Carthage

Our friend Retired Lt. Col. Bill Burgess from Smith County

Blessings Abundant,
Terri Lynn Weaver

10/23/2018

Greetings Fabulous Fortieth District,
As I headed out the door earlier this week for Coffee Conversations in Hartsville, it was apparent that Autumn has finally arrived! Hopefully the hot temperatures, along with its humidity, will now relinquish its grip and usher in more applicable weather, that of heavier sweaters, colorful mums, and various shapes and sizes of pumpkins. G&L Garden Center in Hartsville met all my needs to bring a touch of fall to Seabowisha Lane. I am so ecstatic because Autumn is my favorite season of all.

Fall break has had most of the schools in District 40 closed, some for two weeks! Hurricane Michael may have changed the travel plans of some, but many are going east to the mountains. Having already returned from our vacation in Florida a few weeks ago, Mike and I are still trying to catch up and, on the farm, get the outside of our home painted.

Early voting begins October 17th and it is absolutely vital that we do our duty as citizens and VOTE! There is so much at stake in this 2018 election. Here in Tennessee, under Conservative leadership, we maintain the tradition of low taxes, keep our debt low, continue to improve education, and increase income for better paying jobs. The unemployment rate is near historical lows with 93 out of 95 counties recording unemployment rates of less than five per cent! Tennessee’s economy continues to thrive with companies continuing to choose to do business in our great state because of the friendly business climate we offer.

This past week Mike and I had the honor to attend a reception for our next Governor, Bill Lee, and his lovely wife Maria. After watching his debates and following his message on various issues, especially vocational school BACK in our high schools and health care for Tennesseans caught my attention, as these two issues are some of the ones I know are the most vital and ones that are in my top priorities. 

We all agree that we must improve both the access and quality of health care that Tennesseans are receiving, while at the same time lowering costs. However, we have permitted the Democrats to redefine health care as having health insurance, which now covers less and less. As Democrats call for more access to health care, understand their solution is to have taxpayers pay more for insurance that covers fewer services. Republicans are working to put Tennesseans in charge of all decisions related to the services they seek through reforms and innovative policies. We want a consumer-driven system that empowers patients and their doctors to make decisions, without interference from the government or insurance companies because we know the patient is the customer. Until we deal with the COST, which is through the roof, resulting in premiums increasing exponentially, no one can afford healthcare. I believe it can be done. By not addressing these rising costs, we cannot put the burden on the taxpayers to continue to pay the piper. Thank you, Bill Lee for your wisdom to move the discussion down the right path towards affordable healthcare for our great state.

On the issue of vocational classes returning to our high schools, this is a no-brainer and a win-win for our schools, especially the rural schools which I represent, and our high school students who do not plan on going to a post-secondary education. Instead, these are kids who are gifted in a trade, such as welding, nursing, or industrial maintenance. When these kids step across the stage to receive their high school diploma, a full-time job is awaiting them. If they desire to further their trade, the option to continue in one of our amazing two-year technical colleges can serve them as well. But not all kids are college bound. I am thrilled that Tennessee is finally bringing our vocational options back to our High School Students. Smith County is in position to move forward and hopefully by January of 2019, vocational classes will be “rockin’ and rollin’.”

Coffee Conversations have resumed. Please notice the place and time for Dekalb, Smith, Trousdale, and Sumner Counties. Having breakfast with you, the fabulous folks of the fortieth, helps me tremendously to know what concerns you!

Dekalb County Angie’s Diner – First Friday@ 8 am 

Trousdale County Early Bird Cafe – Second Friday @8 am 

Smith County Chamber building – Third Friday @ 8 am 

Sumner County Mable’s Diner – Fourth Friday @ 7:30 am 

I close with this quote from Antonin Scalia:
“God assumed from the beginning that the wise of the world would view Christians as fools… and He has not been disappointed…if I have brought any message today, it is this: Have the courage to have your wisdom regarded as stupidity. Be fools for Christ. And have the courage to suffer contempt of the sophisticated world”

Please do not hesitate to call on my office:  615-741-2192 and ask for Grace.

Again, thank you for your trust and confidence to serve you as your State Representative. 

Because He Lives,
Terri Lynn Weaver

8/17/2018

With the Primary Elections now behind us, Mike and I would like to thank those of you in the Fortieth House District who voted for me. I am humbled by your confidence to keep me as your voice and inspired to work even harder for you.

The race for the Fortieth House District was an exciting yet exhausting one for Team Weaver.

Hopefully all the candidates who put their name in to run in local, state, and federal races and their hardworking teams are taking some time to rest. One thing for sure is that roadways are cleaner and the scenery more at peace with all of the gazillion candidate signs gone. Which by the way, if you see one of our Weaver signs, please feel free to collect it and contact me and we will be happy to take it off of your hands. Soon, signs of candidates with opponents for the General Election will be popping up as we approach the November 6th Election Day. Your representative is unopposed in the General Election, but I may put a few signs up throughout the district just as a reminder to please vote on November 6th.

Last week the Education Committee met in Nashville concerning legislation that was scheduled for “Summer Study.” HB 2149 concerning programs for deaf children, HB1685 concerning RTI Implementation, BEP discussion from the Comptroller’s office and discussions on the Mandatory Fees at Public Institutions of Higher Ed. This joint education committee heard various stakeholders presenting their case. Then members of the Education Administration & Planning Committee and the Education Instruction & Programs Committee were given a time to ask questions. In the next legislative session, the above bills will have more understanding in the event a member carries that legislation when the 111th General Assembly convenes in January 2019.

Also, on my agenda sheet for discussion was the apparent mishap with the kindergarten portfolio and the TNReady Testing debacle that took place just two days before the 110th Legislature concluded back in May. I am still at odds with the Department about some mysterious hack that created all that TNReady chaos in April. As many of you know it was the members of the House who refused any further business until our teachers were cleared of any blame with the TDOE and the “bugs” were worked out. In other words, “we ain’t shuttin down” until our students and teachers are taken care of. The TDOE must hold Quastar accountable for their lack of preparedness and their mistakes. And this is not the first time Quastar has goofed at the expense of taxpayers. We ended up with a bill that reads if the scores help teachers, they may use those scores. If not, schools can discard the scores. None of the scores or evaluations are seen, nor can compensation or employment be a deciding factor due to those evaluations.

The 2018 – 2019 school year has kicked off and our Kindergarten teachers are required to submit portfolios for each child, (up to 40 hours of extra administrative work, which robs teaching time) for yet another incident from the vendor. Because you contacted your representative, the members on the committee has put much pressure on the department on your behalf. Representing over 28 schools in District 40, I heard you and voiced your frustrations in the committee meeting last week. Though some of you expressed the portfolios were of value to you, still the grievances should not be at the teachers’ expense (time) but reviewed by the TDOE and corrected accordingly. Local Superintendents throughout the state will be meeting with the Department of Education to review. Pressure works, and your voice was heard.

Where your money goes is a good indication of what your priorities are. The largest portion of our state’s budget is spent in three areas: 1) Health and Social Services 2) Education and 3) Transportation. Tennessee ’s education budget is 10.7 Billion! We were informed in the committee hearings our kids are the most improved in the nation BUT when I am told that only 1/3 of 3rd graders are proficient in reading, I am flabbergasted. That is unacceptable! That budget takes care of fully funding the BEP plus $200 M in new funding for K-12, $55M for teacher pay raises (which is most deserved I might add. After spending more in education than ever before, it is unacceptable that our children cannot read! The old saying is true, “If you cannot read, you cannot achieve!” There are numerous dynamics at play that prevent a child from learning but clearly the content and the emphasis that is put on testing needs to be reevaluated. But no matter how much is spent on education, we will never see more than dismal results if parents don’t do their part at home preparing and helping their children to succeed. We all must do our part or the proverbial “bucket with a hole in it” will never be filled.

Believe it or not, serving on the education committee was not a choice of mine. I sometimes joke that somebody had it out for me when I was originally assigned onto the education committee years ago. But I can tell you this, it has become one of my greatest passions. As one who tours each and every school in the district every two years since I was elected to serve in 2009, I can tell you that I sincerely care about the students, the teachers, principals and yes, the taxpayers who pay for the tab and have learned so much more about how it feels to be in their shoes than I could’ve ever imagined. Someone has to be the “rub” and for that I am honored to serve.

There is no doubt that government has messed up education. Period. The Federal Department of Education could go “bye, bye” in my humble opinion and let the States handle education on their own accord without the control from the Bureaucrats in D.C. We don’t need curriculum and testing contracts. What we actually need is to include educators in the conversation about what needs to be taught and how students learn best. Because let’s be honest, they are the experts. We need to encourage respectful relationships between parents, students and teachers. We are so controlled by federal dollars, you cannot even suspend a “bad” student for fear of a law suit! Under Bredesen as Governor in 2009, $500M was put toward “Race to the Top.” Well, it is obviously not the stuff that is going to teach our kids what they need to succeed.

There is a whole lot of fixin’ to do in education. For starters just let the teachers do what they do best; teach reading, writing, and arithmetic. Then perhaps all of Tennessee’s third graders would be proficient readers. It is something to think about. 

Remember Coffee Conversations are postponed till further notice. I am working on some new venues to meet.

Please do not hesitate to call on my office:        615-741-2192 and ask for Grace.

Again, thank you for your trust and confidence to serve you as your State Representative. 

Because He Lives,
Terri Lynn Weaver