Capitol Hill Update from State Representative David Byrd February 12, 2020

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   Governor Delivers State of the State Address

   Last week in Nashville, Governor Bill Lee delivered his second State of the State Address. The governor’s comments focused on recent Republican accomplishments and shared legislative and budget priorities for the 2020 legislative session. Key focus areas this year include public education, economic and workforce development, public safety, and an emphasis on our rural Tennessee communities.

   Education highlights include:

•$600 million new dollars for public education.

•$117 million for teacher salaries — a four percent raise.

•Recommendations to move minimum teacher salaries from $36,000 to $40,000 over the next two years.

•Creating a K-12 Mental Health Trust Fund through a one-time $250 million investment to support mental health services for students through an evidence-based, holistic approach.

•Enhancing the school-based behavioral health liaison program from 36 counties to include every Tennessee County. 

•New standards for public elementary literacy training and instruction, as well as improved literacy supports and interventions for K-2 students.

•The creation of the Governor’s Teaching Fellowship to support the academic journeys of 1,000 future teachers each year.

•A $4 million investment in professional development and career advancement for educators and academic leaders.

•Initiating the Tennessee Teacher & Leader Institute to gather ideas in efforts to build the best educator preparation program in the entire nation.

   Additional highlights include: 

•Reinvesting more than $100 million in cities and counties.

•Focusing on job creation in distressed and at-risk counties through incentive packages in efforts to attract new businesses to these communities.

•$25 million to further increase broadband accessibility.

•Launching ApprenticeshipTN, a new effort that will realign our approach to getting individuals back into the workforce.

•A $20 million investment in the Rural Opportunity Fund to support community development and address critical infrastructure needs. 

•Increasing the criminal penalties associated with theft of a firearm and those associated with reckless endangerment of law enforcement and first responders.

•Revising the occupational licensing process to encourage employment for those who desire to re-enter society and become productive citizens.

•Expanding recovery courts and community supervision programs.

•Investing $6.5 million additional recurring funds in the Health Care Safety Network.

•Creating a Children’s Behavioral Health Safety Network through a $7.5 million investment.

•Financing year three of the Rural Hospital Transformation Program.

   General Assembly Partner with Governor to Address DMV Issues Related to Real ID Process

   Members of the General Assembly continue efforts to address ongoing issues at Tennessee’s Driver Service Centers across Tennessee caused by the increased traffic related to Real ID. Many of the state’s 44 service centers are experiencing issues providing timely and efficient services to citizens because of staffing shortages and high demand for the new identification. As part of the solution, the governor proposed adding 80 additional positions and funding across the state to help decrease wait times for customers attempting to obtain a REAL ID.

   All Tennesseans will be required to have a REAL ID by Oct. 1, 2020 for access to all federal buildings, entrance to nuclear facilities, and travel onboard domestic U.S. flights.

   According to the Tennessee Department of Safety & Homeland Security, this form of documentation was created through the REAL ID Act of 2005, which establishes minimum security standards for license issuance and production while prohibiting federal agencies from accepting driver licenses and identification cards from states not meeting the Act’s minimum standards. The federal measure was designed to increase security following the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on our nation.

   Citizens aren’t required to obtain a REAL ID compliant license, but those who want the credential need the following:

•Proof to establish citizenship or legal presence.

•Proof of Social Security.

•Two proofs of Tennessee residency.

   As always, I am truly humbled and honored to be your voice on Capitol Hill. If there is ever any issue I can assist with, please reach out to my office by calling 615-741-2190 or emailing me at rep.david.byrd@capitol.tn.gov. I look forward to hearing your thoughts, ideas, concerns, and suggestions during the second half of the 111th General Assembly.