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Norris News – June 30, 2017

Happy 4th of July

“I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival. It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more.”

“You will think me transported with Enthusiasm but I am not. — I am well aware of the Toil and Blood and Treasure, that it will cost Us to maintain this Declaration, and support and defend these States. — Yet through all the Gloom I can see the Rays of ravishing Light and Glory. I can see that the End is more than worth all the Means. And that Posterity will tryumph in that Days Transaction, even altho We should rue it, which I trust in God We shall not.”

– John Adams

Ronald Reagan reminded us that freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction.

The Fourth of July is a good opportunity to reflect on recent events helping to keep our freedom and liberty alive…

Liberty and Citizenship Celebrated. A great way to recognize our freedom between National Flag Week and the 4th of July was by honoring native Memphian and baseball great, Tim McCarver, with the AutoZone Liberty Bowl Distinguished Citizen Award. My friend, Harold Graeter, was the master of ceremonies.

Associate Executive Director and Master of Ceremonies, Harold Graeter

Associate Executive Director and Master of Ceremonies, Harold Graeter

Distinguished Citizen, Tim McCarver

Distinguished Citizen, Tim McCarver

Symbol of Liberty. I addressed the Annual National Society Magna Charta Dames and Barons on Saturday. Reflecting upon the relationship between the “Great Charter” sealed 802 years ago and the Declaration of Independence signed 241 years ago seems ever more appropriate, and I appreciate organizations like these which are dedicated to preserving our history and perpetuating the rule of law.

Lillian Gholson will soon celebrate her 102nd birthday.

Lillian Gholson will soon celebrate her 102nd birthday.

Duncan Ing of Dyersburg is a student of history attending the University of Tennessee.

Duncan Ing of Dyersburg is a student of history attending the University of Tennessee.

Liberty and Due Process for All. It was 50 years ago that juvenile justice and Magna Carta were equated. In In re Gault, the Supreme Court held that juveniles have many of the same Due Process rights as adults. That opinion was written by native Tennessean, Abe Fortas, also of Memphis. Joining in the majority opinion, Chief Justice Earl Warren wrote a note to Fortas: “I join your magnificent opinion … It will be known as the Magna Carta for juveniles.”

Speaking of juvenile justice, the new Blue Ribbon Task Force on Juvenile Justice convened in Nashville this week. I will serve as co-chair with Speaker Beth Harwell.

Photo Courtesy Of WKRN

Photo Courtesy Of WKRN

Religious Liberty Lives. The Bill of Rights, which embodies the spirit of Magna Carta in important ways, was ratified as the first ten amendments to our Constitution in 1791. It was applied by the United States Supreme Court this week in Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia, Inc. v. Comer, where the Court invoked the First Amendment’s protection of religious liberty and the Free Exercise Clause to sanction the use of public funds granted for resurfacing a church playground in Missouri.

Preserving Symbols of Liberty. This week, work began on the restoration of the cupola on our State Capitol.

This week, work began on the restoration of the cupola on our State Capitol.

On July 4, 1845, the cornerstone of the Capitol was laid in a Masonic ceremony, as explained in the 1939-1940 Tennessee Blue Book:

“The cornerstone was laid on Friday, July 4, 1845, with imposing ceremonies which included a parade from the public square to the building site. While rather definite statements have been made about the laying of the cornerstone of the capitol the fact remains that today its position is not known. The stone is said to be a perfect cube weighing several tons. In a square cavity hollowed in it, the following articles were deposited: a parchment scroll on which was written a brief synopsis of important events in the history of Tennessee; an engraved likeness of Andrew Jackson; the Declaration of Independence; the Constitution of the United States; a map of the City of Nashville; Morris’s Tennessee Gazetteer; the American Almanac for 1845; Statistics of Nashville, prepared by Anson Nelson; the coins of the United States, from the cent to the eagle; copies of Nashville Newspapers; a jar containing printed matter pertaining to the Odd Fellows; a silver plate on which was engraved a statistical account of the steamboats in the New Orleans and Nashville trade in 1845. A square slab, made to fit the space, served as a lid and was sealed in place with cement.”

Work continued on the Capitol until its completion in 1859. The exact position of this cornerstone in the Capitol is still not known.

The Capitol was designed by architect William Strickland. Coincidentally, in 1828, he restored the spire on Independence Hall where the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were debated and adopted.

Happy Independence Day!

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Norris News – June 23, 2017

Yesterday, I testified at the first meeting of the Congressional Intergovernmental Affairs Task Force convened by Speaker Paul Ryan in Washington, D.C. I represented state governments as Past Chairman of the Council of State Governments.

Congressional Intergovernmental Affairs Task Force

I said, “This hearing comes at an important time. Last week was National Flag Week during which we celebrated the 240th Anniversary of the adoption of this proud symbol of our Nation’s commitment to freedom and federalism in its truest form. We celebrate these days through Independence Day as a time to honor what makes us the United States by focusing upon that which unites us rather than what divides us.”

The Jimmy Daniel Leadership Award

The Jimmy Daniel Leadership Award

On Tuesday, I was honored to receive the Jimmy Daniel Leadership Award presented by U.T. Martin’s WestStar Leadership Program from which I graduated in 1999. The Award recognizes the alum who has made a difference. Thank you WestStar!

After the 2017 WestStar graduation ceremony in Jackson with Senator John Stevens, Weakley County Mayor Jake Bynum, UT Martin’s Chancellor Keith Carver, Senator Dolores Gresham, my wife Chris, and Representative Jimmy Eldridge.

After the 2017 WestStar graduation ceremony in Jackson with Senator John Stevens, Weakley County Mayor Jake Bynum, UT Martin’s Chancellor Keith Carver, Senator Dolores Gresham, my wife Chris, and Representative Jimmy Eldridge.

Wednesday Was Bill Signing Day

Senate Bill 1230 – Fighting financial exploitation of elderly and vulnerable adults.

Senate Bill 1230 – Fighting financial exploitation of elderly and vulnerable adults.

 Senate Bill 1267 – Allowing banks to protect elderly and vulnerable adult customers from financial exploitation.

Senate Bill 1267 – Allowing banks to protect elderly and vulnerable adult customers from financial exploitation.

Senate Bill 1279 – Setting up a task force to consider investigating civil rights crimes and cold cases.

Senate Bill 1279 – Setting up a task force to consider investigating civil rights crimes and cold cases.

Next week, I will cover more about new laws enacted this year which will become effective on July 1, 2017. Until then, please remember to celebrate and safeguard our freedom every day as we approach Independence Day next month.

Father's Day was special. Taking extra time to make memories helps keep it real. My boy and I sored a few lips at home!

Father’s Day was special. Taking extra time to make memories helps keep it real. My boy and I sored a few lips at home!

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Norris News – June 14, 2017

Happy Flag Day

 

Mark Norris

America’s freedom deserves continued celebration
We must rededicate ourselves to the cause of freedom and the knowledge required to appreciate and sustain it.

Flag Day, June 14, marks the celebration of the 240th year of our national symbol. Under various congressional resolutions, the people of the United States have been called upon this June “to observe with pride and all due ceremony those days from Flag Day … (June 14) through Independence Day … as a time to honor America, to celebrate our heritage in public gatherings and activities, and to publicly recite the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag of the United States of America.”

While there may be too much ignorance of our rich history to fully appreciate it in some quarters, many of us in state government are working hard to assure that future generations will not forget the freedoms and ideals for which our forebears have fought and often sacrificed their lives.

During the 109th General Assembly, I proudly sponsored the new law requiring threshold proficiency in basic citizenship as a prerequisite to graduation. This, in turn, supplements the 2012 requirements I championed to assure that civics is taught and assessed in our elementary and middle schools.

Every day is Flag Day in Tennessee thanks to Public Chapter 841, which I proudly co-sponsored in 2002 with Senators Rusty Crowe, Randy McNally and Mae Beavers (who served in the House at that time), requiring, among other things, that the pledge be a part of the daily school schedule and that students learn it and demonstrate their knowledge of it. Local organizations are encouraged to provide flags for classrooms.

The Tennessee Supreme Court received a national recognition for its SCALES Project (Supreme Court Advancing Legal Education for Students), which has educated more than 25,000 high school students about the judicial branch of government through interactive experience involving actual cases before the court.

The secretary of state’s office also has a program to foster the teaching of civics, and the Tennessee Historical Society organizes History Day, in which hundreds of students compete as part of National History Day each year.

The General Assembly also helps fund the publication of history books that are available to teachers for use in supplementing the teaching of Tennessee history.

Let us mark the beginning of the next two centuries of freedom by honoring the beginning of Old Glory’s 240th anniversary all year long.

Let’s do that by assuring that our classrooms are sufficiently adorned with American flags and equipped with materials and the means appropriate to patriotic education.

Let’s work to better coordinate the civics, history and good government programs already underway to assure that we leverage them in meaningful ways, and adequately fund them to support our schools and teachers with the right resources to get the job done.

I’m committed to working with my colleagues in the Senate and the House to make sure we do these things. We’ve contacted each school in my district to determine that they have what they need, starting with an American flag in every classroom. So far this year we’ve provided over 50 flags to classrooms in Shelby and Tipton counties.

These are troubled times in which we live. Now, more than ever, we must rededicate ourselves to the cause of freedom and the knowledge required to appreciate and sustain it. With your encouragement and support, we will.

Here’s to Old Glory’s 240th!

Flags for Freedom event at Collierville High School

Flags for Freedom event at Collierville High School

Norris appointed to lead Tennessee Blue Ribbon Task Force on Juvenile Justice

Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris (R-Collierville) has been appointed to co-chair Tennessee’s new Juvenile Justice Realignment Task Force that will undertake a comprehensive review of the state’s juvenile justice system. The announcement regarding the formation of the task force, which is comprised of top leaders from all three branches of Tennessee government, was made by Lt. Governor Randy McNally and Speaker Beth Harwell today. Harwell will co-chair the panel with Norris.

The 19-member group is charged with developing evidence-based policy recommendations that will lead to potential legislative action this year to protect public safety, hold offenders accountable and contain costs, while improving outcomes. It includes Governor Bill Haslam or his representative, several juvenile court judges, public defenders, attorney generals, lawmakers, commissioners of the Department of Children’s Services, Education and the Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services and other key stakeholders.

“We are committed to doing everything we can to get juvenile offenders back on track for success, while holding them accountable for their actions and protecting the public,” said Norris, who served last year on the state’s Juvenile Justice Realignment Task Force. “This task force is a significant opportunity for us to examine fact- and evidence-based data to reform our system to achieve all of these goals.”

Norris sponsored and co-sponsored legislation recommended by the Juvenile Justice Realignment Task Force during the recently-adjourned session. This includes legislation providing juveniles with new educational opportunities to place them on a path to success, rather than a life of crime, and new laws to scale back court practices which are overly punitive, while balancing the need for public safety.

The new Blue Ribbon Task Force on Juvenile Justice is expected to hold monthly meetings with recommendations following by the end of the year, in time for the 2018 regular session of the Tennessee General Assembly.

Norris applauds upward movement of Tennessee’s status on child well-being

Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris (R-Collierville) called the announcement that Tennessee has climbed three places in the national ranking for child well-being “a significant step in the right direction.” Norris made the statement after the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s 2017 KIDS COUNT® released their report showing the state has moved from 38th to 35th.

“This is the first improvement that has been recognized since we publicly declared in 2015 an all-out war on this unacceptable ranking,” said Sen. Norris. “A lot of work has been done to move the needle forward. Although 35th is still unacceptable, the improvement recognized this year is a significant step in the right direction in making a major difference in the lives of Tennessee children.”

Norris has led several initiatives aimed at education, workforce development, nutrition and juvenile justice. As sponsor of the appropriations bill, he pushed for state funding for food banks, community health centers and residential adolescent drug treatment programs across the state. This includes a $2.5 million grant to the Memphis Research Consortium this year focusing on children’s health and well-being and funds to create the Center for Health in Justice Involved Youth at the University of Tennessee Center for Health Sciences.

As Chairman of the Juvenile Justice Realignment Task Force, he has worked to reform the state’s juvenile justice system, especially as it affects outcomes for non-violent offenders who deserve a second chance. Last week, Norris was appointed to chair a newly formed Blue Ribbon Task Force which will work with the Pew Foundation to analyze and recommend additional reforms.

He also spearheaded funding for the state’s Adverse Childhood Experience (ACE’s) study which has already been used to implement public policy changes to help children who have chronic childhood trauma live a happy and productive life. He sponsored the initiative to provide $2 million in grants for Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) work in communities across the state through the Department of Children’s Services.

“The factors young children are exposed to, like abuse and neglect, have a significant neurological impact on their long-term development,” said Norris. “This study has shed light on the problems we face as adverse childhood experiences increase the odds for later difficulties, including the chances that they will enter the juvenile justice system. This study has given us more information about what we need to do to help these children get a better start in life and divert those most affected from a lifetime of crime.”

This year Norris co-sponsored legislation, based on the ACE’s study, which establishes a Zero to Three Initiative Court. The primary goal of the Zero to Three Initiative is to reduce the time of permanency of children in at-risk environments by surrounding families of children age 36 months or younger with support services, whether it is returning them to parents, living with relatives or getting them ready for adoption.

He also co-sponsored legislation implementing an innovative truancy intervention program for students in K-12 schools. Truancy is the most frequent reason given for schools referring juveniles to court.

“If we can get at the root causes of some of these issues and maybe intervene before it’s too late with the next generation, we can make sure we have a next generation,” he said

In workforce training, Norris helped win legislative approval of the governor’s proposal for increased funding for the state’s colleges of applied technology, which teach technical skills for the workplace matching them to local job needs. He also sponsored the Tennessee Promise program and the Reconnect Program, last-dollar scholarship programs which give all Tennesseans an opportunity to receive a degree or post-secondary credential tuition-free.

“The Annie E. Casey report reminds me of the canary in the coal mine. Our children’s well-being and our ability to nurture it is a harbinger. We can rise to this challenge just as we’ve done in other ways in the past. We are doing better in Tennessee, but we must do better still,” Norris concluded.

Senator Norris on “Live at 9” discussing Juvenile Justice

Senator Norris on “Live at 9” discussing Juvenile Justice

Elderly Abuse / Financial Exploitation / Classification Higher – Public Chapter 466 was signed by the Governor on May 25. The “Elderly and Vulnerable Adult Protection Act” creates a new offense for financial exploitation, which is graded as theft but punished one classification higher. Approximately one in five seniors has been a victim of financial exploitation at a cost of approximately $2.9 billion annually.

Elderly Abuse / Financial Exploitation / Securities – Public Chapter 424 was signed by the Governor on May 18. The Senior Financial Protection and Securities Modernization Act provides a pathway for voluntary reporting by giving civil and administrative immunity to broker-dealers, investment advisers, agents, representatives and other qualified individuals for reporting the suspected abuse or exploitation. It allows those individuals to delay disbursements for a certain number of days if financial abuse or exploitation is suspected and authorizes notification to third parties previously designated by the elderly or vulnerable adult regarding any suspected fraudulent transactions. It also gives the Commissioner authority, under the state’s Uniform Administrative Procedures Act, to double current civil penalties against offender who victimize a vulnerable or senior adult.

Elderly Abuse / Financial Exploitation / Financial Institutions – Public Chapter 264 was signed by the Governor on May 12. Adds tools and greater flexibility as to how financial institutions can best protect their customers when they have reason to suspect financial exploitation of elderly or vulnerable adults is occurring or being attempted. It provides new authority for financial institutions to delay or refuse to conduct transactions which permit the disbursement of funds from the account of an elderly customer or vulnerable adult when exploitation is suspected.

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Senator Mark Norris - Proudly Endorsed by the National Rifle Association

 

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