Watson will serve on the standing committee on Law and Criminal Justice at the Spring Forum on April 14-15. This is not the first time he has been to the national meeting. The 22nd District representative spoke on immigration at the 2007 conference in Boston.
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 opportunity allows me to assist the NCSL in development of the overall philosophy of the conference and have a direct impact on the policy views that represent all state legislatures,” Watson said. “As a member of the Law and Criminal Justice committee, I look forward to working on solutions to continue the fight against meth and other drugs.”
Watson is a captain in the Bradley County Sheriff’s Office and a strong supporter of law enforcement. He said, “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.”
One of the issues is the loss of federal funds for cleaning up contaminated methamphetamine sites. Watson agrees the federal government needs to cut spending, but there are other areas that can be cut. The only way to clean up a contaminated house is to remove the affected materials. The only way to clean up contaminated dirt where children might play is to remove the dirt.
“County governments cannot afford to pay $3,000 every time a meth lab is taken down,” he said. “What if a child gets sick because the bedroom where that child sleeps is contaminated? What if a toddler eats contaminated dirt in the backyard? Cutting these funds will cost more money in litigation than it will save.”
The committee’s broad jurisdiction includes federalism and pre-emption issues, constitution and constitutional law, civil rights and liability issues. The many state criminal justice issues under the Committee’s jurisdiction include capital punishment, corrections, crime victims, drug crime, juvenile justice, law enforcement, probation and parole and criminal sentencing.
House Speaker Beth Harwell appointed Watson in January to chair the Judiciary Committee.
“Chairman Watson is a proven leader who has been a strong, consistent voice on criminal justice issues. As a captain deputy sheriff, he has shown this leadership time and time again sitting at the helm of the House Judiciary Committee,” she said. “Tennessee will have a strong voice on the NCSL committee who understands the critical issues facing the states, and (he will) develop common sense solutions. I look forward to his contributions, and I know that chairman Watson will make our state proud.”