46th District State House Representative Mark Pody, who represents Cannon County, has listed the top ten accomplishments of the Tennessee General Assembly for its recently completed sessions.
"I have now completed my first session. I learned a lot about how things are done in our government," Pody said.
"Some of them are wonderful. I am thrilled at how much my office can do to help everyday people as they try to get things done by the government.
"Some of the things I learned were distressing. There is still so much waste in our government. We did cut the budget this year, we did put money back in the rainy day fund, but we did not do nearly enough. There are still many many areas of the budget that should be looked at more closely and I hope to dig into those issues by the time the next budget cycle arrives.
The Top Ten Things Accomplished
1. SJR127 was passed by both the House and the Senate. It will be placed on the ballot for the next Governors election. I felt this was an important step forward. Tennesseans need to decide how we stand on this issue before we can move forward.
SJR127 proposes new provision to Article I to provide that nothing in Constitution of Tennessee secures or protects right to abortion or requires the funding of an abortion; states that the people retain the right through their elected state representatives and state senators to enact, amend, or repeal statutes regarding abortion, including, but not limited to, circumstances of pregnancy resulting from rape or incest or when necessary to save the life of the mother.
2. Education was the topic of the session. We gave school systems more options for innovation through Charter schools. This allows schools to escape some of the burdensome regulation placed on them by government for a time in order to find better ways of teaching.
3. Tenure was addressed. We changed how tenure was granted and maintained. Teachers will now have to go thru a longer period before gaining Tenure status and, even afterwards, work hard to keep that status. I feel this will help great teachers continue to rise to the top.
4. Collective bargaining was replaced with collaborative bargaining. This will allow more voices to be heard as contracts are negotiated between the teachers and the school boards. It will also allow great teachers to be rewarded as opposed to a baseline that everyone received regardless of their individual results.
5. Teacher’s pay and benefits were protected. With all of the changes that happened in education this year, teachers needed to know they could not lose pay nor benefits in the new negotiation practices.
6. The income tax amendment cleared a crucial vote. It will need to be voted on once more in January but then it will be placed on the ballot for the next Governors election. Tennesseans are adamant that they do not want an income tax – EVER. This measure will allow that view to be protected by the constitution and put the issue to rest permanently. We also helped raise the limits on the Hall tax. This will also help people who have outside sources of income.
7. Anti terrorism measures were passed. While this is not an issue now, it will give law enforcement a basis to combat this problem in the future.
8. Voter Ids will be required to vote. In today’s society it is not unreasonable to require a photo id to vote. We left several ways to accomplish this with out denying the rights of the elderly or the indigent. However it will prevent illegal aliens from having a voice in our elections.
9. E-verify was put into place for employers. This was not as strong a measure as I would have liked, but it was a step in the right direction. Employers will now have to verify and retain proof of a photo id and can also use the Federal system to verify that the name and social security number matches what the employee provided. There are loopholes that need to be closed and tightened, but those will hopefully be addressed in the next session.
10. Torte reform has taken place. We are a litigious society. We need to prevent runaway juries from coming to Tennessee. This will make sure all medical bills and other bills are paid, but keep damage amounts to realistic limits.