The second session of the 110th General Assembly convened on Tuesday, January 9, 2018. With several new members added to the State Senate and another arriving soon, the Lt. Governor had to reassign several members on committees to account for the absence of former Senators Doug Overbey, Jim Tracy and Mae Beavers. Overbey and Tracy resigned to assume positions in the Trump administration, Beavers did so to focus on her Gubernatorial campaign. Art Swann was appointed to the Senate by the Blount County Commission to fill out the remainder of Senator Overbey’s term. Former State Representative Mark Pody narrowly won a special election to fill the seat vacated by Senator Beavers. For Senator Tracy’s seat a special election is underway to determine who will replace him. Additionally, as part of the reorganizing, Senator Frank Niceley joins the Commerce Committee and Senator John Lundberg joins the Education Committee.
Speaker Harwell had a similar challenge, namely that two of her house members (Representatives Pody and Swann) joined the upper chamber. Representative Swann’s absence created a vacancy in a consequential chairmanship. To fill that vacancy, Speaker Harwell chose to elevate Representative John Hosclaw to Chairman of the critically important Business and Utilities subcommittee. As before, Blount County chose to appoint Jerome Moon to fill the remainder of the House term. Wilson County also took the opportunity to appoint Clark Boyd to fill the remainder of now Senator Pody’s previous House term. There is one other new face in the State House, Kevin Vaughn (R-Collierville) who was elected shortly after the last session concluded. Vaughn will be the most senior midterm freshman in the General Assembly.
The start of the new session also marks the first opportunity for elected officials, state employees and government affairs professionals to really get acquainted with the Legislative branch’s new office space. The business of the State Legislature will no longer be conducted in the Legislative Plaza; rather, the newly renovated Cordell Hull Building will be the new home for members of the General Assembly. If you come to Nashville, the new offices are located two blocks north of the entrance to the former Legislative Plaza.
In recent years, Tennessee lawmakers have been focused on issues such as economic growth and keeping taxes low, but this year they have something else on which to focus – Tennessee’s growing opioid crisis. It is highly anticipated that the legislature will consider the recommendations of the Opioid Abuse Task Force that were recently released.
Given that both the Speaker of the House and the House Minority Leader are fully engaged in their own gubernatorial campaigns, an early to mid-April adjournment is expected. Despite the early adjournment predictions, there is no shortage of filed legislation.
Following the bill filing deadlines, the Tennessee Apartment Association’s Government Relations team will work diligently to identify proposed legislation that either directly or indirectly affects the multifamily housing industry. Once those bills have been identified, TAA will work with the Board of Directors to determine positions on legislation and necessary action items to communicate those positions to legislators. Weekly reports that identify and summarize bills of interest being heard in the following week’s committee meetings will be distributed to TAA members as a way to keep you updated on legislative activity. If you would like to receive those updates, please contact the TAA staff.