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Legislative Update--2/23/12

Posted Monday, March 12, 2012, at 2:30 PM

By Rep. Craig Fitzhugh.

Legislative session is underway and things are beginning to move at a quick pace. With that in mind, I want to share with you some of what I'm working on here in Nashville.

First, after mounting pressure from teachers, school directors, parents and legislators from both parties, Governor Haslam has withdrawn his proposal increase classroom size. That is the good news. The bad news is that while the Governor did withdraw the legislation, he also stated that he planned to bring the issue back again next year. Increasing class size, laying off 5,300 teachers and putting huge financial burdens on local government was the wrong approach this year and it will be wrong when the Governor brings it back in 2013. This issue is not dead and I will continue to stand up for our teachers and students.

Second, a few weeks ago I wrote about my 2012 Jobs Package, which you can find online at www.craigfitzhugh.com/blog/jobs. As I begin trying to pass these bills, I am hopeful that each will each have bipartisan support. I've said many times, party affiliation doesn't matter to people standing in the unemployment line. Unfortunately, we've gotten off to a rough start. This week I attempted to pass my "Tennessee Contractors First" bill, which would have given preference to Tennessee companies on state-funded projects. I believe state government has a responsibility to give Tennessee businesses the first crack at state contracts, so our tax dollars create jobs here, not China or Mexico. Apparently, the majority party disagrees. They voted to kill the bill in our State and Local Government Subcommittee this week. Despite this temporary setback, I am still working on my other bills to help Tennesseans get back to work.

Over the past week, I've also enjoyed having quite a few people from back home visit me in Nashville. On Tuesday, the Tennessee School Board Association had their annual "Day on the Hill." This gave me the opportunity to spend some time with our school board members from Crockett and Lauderdale Counties. They shared with me their legislative agenda and I updated them on some issues before the Education Committee. I've known most of these folks for a while, but I shared with them again how grateful I am for their service. Being elected to the school board is no small task and they do a lot of work, for not nearly enough credit. This week I also, along with Senators Finney and Norris, got to visit with Leadership Dyer County, the Halls FFA, Ripley Power and Light board members, Susan Todd from the Chamber of Commerce and Frankie McCord from Ripley Downtown Development, as each group spent the day touring the capitol and talking to legislators. Spending the week in Nashville is not always fun, so seeing familiar faces is a treat.

As always, if you are ever in need of assistance or would like to hear more about another issue, please contact my legislative office and we'll get your questions answered as soon as possible. Have a great week!

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