Lawmakers attain key new posts
by DAVID DAVIS, Managing Editor
Jan 11, 2013 | 962 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
State Rep. Kevin Brooks repeats the oath of office Tuesday during the opening session of the 108th General Assembly in Nashville. Submitted photo
State Rep. Kevin Brooks repeats the oath of office Tuesday during the opening session of the 108th General Assembly in Nashville. Submitted photo
Four legislators representing Bradley County received committee assignments Thursday during organizational sessions of the 108th General Assembly.

Bradley County is represented by State Sen. Mike Bell, R-Riceville, 9th Senate District; Sen. Todd Gardenhire, R-Chattanooga, 10th Senate District; State Rep. Eric Watson, R-Cleveland, 22nd District; and State Rep. Kevin Brooks, R-Cleveland, 24th District.

Bell was appointed chairman of the Senate Government Operations Committee, which oversees legislation to create, reauthorize, reorganize or sunset departments, commissions, boards, agencies or councils of state government. The committee also hears bills regarding either licensing or certification of occupational and professional groups; and reviews regulations promulgated by all Tennessee departments, commissions, boards or agencies.

“The Government Operations Committee touches almost every part of state government and public policy. I look forward to continuing the challenge of making good public policy decisions that not only helps Tennessee’s government and its agencies work in a more cost-efficient manner, but that also focuses on serving the people of this state more effectively.”

Bell was also appointed to the Senate Energy, Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee, responsible for farming issues as well as all matters pertaining to energy, forestry, natural resources, conservation, game and fish, and the mining industry.

In addition, he will serve on the Judiciary Committee which is responsible for all bills dealing with civil laws, criminal laws, judicial proceedings, apportionment of elected officials and governing bodies, and all matters relating to the courts, as well as law enforcement.

Gardenhire will serve on three key committees including the Judiciary Committee, Education Committee and the Energy, Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee.

The freshman senator said, “I could not be more pleased with the committee assignments given me by Lt. Governor Ramsey. The citizens of the 10th Senatorial district know that I am very concerned about education, particularly as it concerns vocational education and helping students who reside in Chattanooga’s inner city. Everyone talks about jobs, jobs, jobs, but a critical element of economic growth is that our education system must focus on careers, careers, careers.

“We need a school dedicated to doing the job that the old Kirkman High School did for many Chattanoogans. That is to give students the opportunity to train for the jobs associated with a trade to give them a long lasting career in southeast Tennessee,” Gardenhire said.

The Senate Education Committee reviews all legislation regarding K-12 schools and higher education.

“We also need to re-focus our resources to the elementary school age group,” Gardenhire said. “I firmly believe if we don’t catch these kids before they get to the fifth grade, their future education prospects will be bleak.

“My appointment to the Energy & Agriculture Committee, along with Sen. Mike Bell, will mean Bradley County will have two state senators looking out for a major portion of the economy and livelihood of thousands of constituents that live in Bradley County.”

Gardenhire will also serve with Bell on the Senate Judiciary Committee.

“Again, Sen. Bell and I will be together on a committee that hears all the matters that affect our courts, state constitution and the way justice is administered in the State of Tennessee. What a great way to start my term as state senator for Bradley and Hamilton counties.”

Brooks was re-appointed to both the Full House Finance, Ways and Means Committee and to the House Subcommittee of Finance, Ways and Means. This will be the second term for Brooks on committees that vote on the budget and funding for the Tennessee House of Representatives.

Brooks was also reappointed to the full House Education Committee and the House Ethics Committee.

“We are looking to build upon the success of the previous session that saw wasteful government spending cut from the budget, taxes cut for all Tennesseans, measures passed to encourage job growth, and numerous government reforms,” he said. “Lawmakers have already signaled clear goals of balancing the budget, lowering the grocery tax, and ensuring every Tennessee student has access to a high quality education.”

Watson is chair of the Criminal Justice Committee. He was chairman of the House Judiciary Committee for the 107th General Assembly. That committee was split into the Criminal Justice Committee and Civil Justice Committee.

“This appointment is a real plus for the people of this district. Being a committee chairman gives much more clout to the district and being able to get things accomplished for my constituents,” Watson said.

In a joint session on Wednesday, Secretary of State Tre Hargett, Treasurer David H. Lillard Jr. and Comptroller Justin P. Wilson were re-elected to the three constitutional offices.

Hargett will serve his second four-year term, while Lillard and Wilson will each serve two-year terms. All three were originally elected to their posts in January 2009.

With the close of the organizational session on Thursday, the House will recess for two weeks and reconvene Jan. 28 when Gov. Bill Haslam will present his budget.