Committee assignments present challenges, opportunities
- Category: Commentaries
- Published on Tuesday, 29 November -0001 18:00
- Written by Reginald Tate
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| Reginald Tate|
Special to the Tri-State Defender
Last week, state lawmakers received their committee assignments, which is somewhat like students getting their class schedules for the school year. I have the privilege of being named to three Senate committees, in addition to being voted to the Joint Fiscal Review Committee. The busy schedule ensures that I will have a full plate this session, but I want to give a better idea of the kind of legislation I will be asked to address.
First, I will serve as Vice Chairman of the Education Committee, which recently has proven to be one of the most crucial committees in the Senate. During my tenure, the Education Committee has reviewed legislation regarding Race to the Top reforms, as well as bills that would change the amount of charter schools allowed in Tennessee. This year, we will likely address college lottery scholarship requirements and could discuss the proposed referendum to allow Memphis City Schools to relinquish its charter to Shelby County. The Education Committee may occupy the bulk of my legislative work, and I will look to dedicated leaders on all sides to gather information on the numerous issues facing our schools.
I will also serve on the Commerce, Labor and Agriculture Committee, which is responsible for key legislation regarding banks, labor and consumer protection. As we well know, Memphis and Shelby County residents have suffered greatly in recent years due to foreclosures that have put families out of homes and have blighted our communities. The Commerce Committee addresses legislation that can protect our citizens from unfair lending practices and help that our residents receive the information they need.
In the Government Operations Committee, I will review legislation concerning the creation and reauthorization of departments, commissions, and boards. This committee deals with the inner workings of state government, and gives me the opportunity to dig deeper into the numerous agencies that often help, but sometimes hinder, efforts to improve the quality of life for all Tennesseans. I will work to ensure that we reduce needless bureaucracy and help citizens obtain the services they need.
Finally, the Joint Fiscal Review Committee includes members of both the State House and Senate who review contracts, audits and all legislation to determine if it will cost or save the state money. An accurate fiscal note on legislation can help its passage or convince the sponsor to work to reduce it, and I will use my seat at the table to encourage responsible use of state funds.
No matter the legislation or topic, I invite you to contact my office. We have our work cut out for us this session, and I want your voice to be heard. Our schedules are set and class is about to begin. Now let’s work to help Tennessee ace the test.