It is a great weight, one that includes serving as spokesman, ambassador and advocate.
Watson will lend his voice on behalf of thousands of voices across our proud state.
Last week, Tennessee Speaker of the House Beth Harwell named Watson — a captain in the Bradley County Sheriff’s Office while in Cleveland and chairman of the House Judiciary Committee while in Nashville — to represent our state at the National Conference of State Legislatures in our nation’s capital.
In this capacity, he will serve on the Standing Committee on Law and Criminal Justice at the Spring Forum scheduled for April 14-15.
Why is this important?
One, because in his full-time job as a Sheriff’s Office captain Watson is a servant of the people whose responsibility is to keep those people safe and to help them feel safe. He routinely trumpets their causes and opinions while in Nashville serving in his ever-important legislative role.
Two, because the standing committee on which he will serve in the national conference is one whose accountability is that of striking a balance between state and federal systems on needs, expectations and inter-dependencies.
Our front-page article recently written by Managing Editor David Davis best explains the committee’s all-important function. According to our account, “The Standing Committee on Law and Criminal Justice addresses underlying principles for a balanced state-federal system and takes policy positions to preserve state sovereignty and set a high standard for preemption of state laws.”
This is a committee with defined purpose.
Its views can influence the overall philosophy of the State Legislatures conference, which is especially important because of current budget reduction proposals that, though needed, nevertheless stand to greatly impact states and their needs, especially within the arena of law enforcement.
Watson has never made it a secret.
He fully supports legislative measures — at the state and federal levels — that help law enforcement agencies to do their jobs effectively and efficiently while keeping the best interest of the public in mind and at heart.
Tennessee lies in the heart of the angry battleground against meth, a life-threatening drug that not only kills its users and its manufacturers, but whose clandestine labs that are left behind leave dangerous contaminants that must be removed and the impacted area thoroughly cleaned before it can be reused. The cost of taking down a meth lab is approximately $3,000.
This funding support to local law enforcement agencies has been suspended by members of the U.S. Congress who are working to regain control of America’s spending practices. Their decisions are well-intentioned, but Watson believes their action to suspend funding for meth lab cleanup is unwise.
In the Bradley County state legislator’s words, “Tennessee is a central front in the meth battle and I will do everything I can to ensure we devote the proper resources to this issue. The national conference provides a platform to discuss lessons learned in other states that can be put into practice here for the protection of our children and loved ones from the harmful effects of this deadly drug.”
Watson’s point is well made, but will it hold up to the scrutiny of a new Congress that is making tough decisions?
It will be a difficult task.
Which is why we say the Bradley County legislator carries a heavy burden to Washington.
But he carries with him the voices of thousands of constituents who believe the same — that the cleanup of meth is just as critical as the stopping of its production.
We wish him well in his assignment.
It will not be an easy one.