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Legislative report

State's final budget still a work in progress

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"My reading of history convinces me that most bad government results from too much government."

- Thomas Jefferson

The Governor's supplemental budget came out Tuesday. I had been anxiously awaiting the document to see what else would be funded this year. As with most things around here, I was surprised to see some things listed and disappointed that others didn't make the final cut. We are still working on the House budget appropriations, so I have my fingers crossed that I can get money for a few needed projects in our District.

I only have 2 remaining bills to present. One is in its last committee and then the other will be on the Floor Thursday. I shouldn't have any problems with them. The one on the Floor deals with the state fair relocation from Nashville to Wilson County. Most all of the partners involved with this are happy and excited about the move. The Governor has put $5 million state dollars in the budget to help Wilson County get ready for the change. The other one seeks to let our county trustees hire collection agents to collect past due funds.

I was happy to learn this week that the Secretary of State has awarded over $9,000 to the Shelbyville/Bedford County Library to fund broadband hardware, software, and training. This money came from the TN Broadband Accessibility Act and will help our library a lot.

The Secretary of State also held a big ribbon cutting to officially open up the new State Library and Archives building this week. Many of our former governors were in attendance and it was a great event. The new building is 3 stories tall, 165,000 square feet, and had been in the works since 2005. It has a 40% increase in storage over the old location- which was the oldest archives building that had not been expanded or renovated in the nation. I was excited to have a front row seat and was highly impressed by the tour given by Secretary Hargett. They even have a robotic automated storage and retrieval system that holds 75% of the current collection and can get any requested item to you in less than 2 minutes.

It's been fairly quiet around here as far as visitors go. We are still under a lot of COVID protocol, so there haven't been any groups or Days on the Hill. However, we did have a visit from radio host, Candace Owens. She recently moved to Tennessee and we presented her with a House Joint Resolution. We also had a visit from former Governor and Senator Lamar Alexander where he addressed us during a joint Session with the Senate.

On Wednesday, Speaker Cameron Sexton handed the gavel to me and I presided over Session that morning. It's still new to me, but our staff is very knowledgeable and well prepared, so they kept me from embarrassing myself too badly. I'm honored to serve in my new role and I appreciate all the support of Speaker Sexton and his leadership.

I've been proud to support legislation that aims to make sure Covid-19 vaccines remain voluntary during committee this week. Not only will House Bill 575 ensure that status of a person's vaccination cannot be required by any state entities in Tennessee, but it also prohibits a state or local government from mandating a private business to require "vaccine passports" or proof of a Covid-19 vaccine as a condition for entering their premises or utilizing their services. It also removes authority from county boards of health to enforce and adopt rules and regulations regarding Covid-19. They will still serve as an advisory body to the elected county mayor, but the actual decisions will be left up to him or her. While I was proud to get my vaccination and would encourage others to do so, I also firmly believe that it should be a personal choice.

On Wednesday, we heard and passed House Bill 1513. The bill created the Textbook Transparency Act, which makes textbooks that are adopted by the state of Tennessee and used by public schools available online. Currently, there is only a 90-day timeframe to view this information. This bill requires publishers to make these materials available for as long as they are actively being used in the classroom.

The House of Representatives recently passed a resolution this week urging Tennesseans to register as organ and tissue donors. House Joint Resolution 103 encourages all residents of Tennessee to step forward and register to become an organ and tissue donor so that the lives of others can be saved. 110,000 Americans are currently on the organ donation waiting list, while only 41% of Tennesseans are registered to become donors. For more information on how to register to become an organ and tissue donor, visit Be The Gift - Donor Registration Campaign (bethegifttoday.com).

We are predicted to have less than a month left of Session and I'm looking forward to the finish line. It's an honor to serve in Nashville, but I also enjoy being back home in District 62. If I can ever be of service, please email me at rep.pat.marsh@capitol.tn.gov or give me a call at 615-741-6824. My assistant, Laura, is in the office year round and can help me find a solution to your concern.

Marsh, a trucking industry executive from Shelbyville, represents the 62nd House District, including all of Bedford and part of Lincoln counties. He is a Republican.

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