Gov. Haslam signs main municipal school district bill
By Richard Locker, CommercialAppeal.com
April 24, 2013
NASHVILLE — Gov. Bill Haslam on Wednesday signed the main bill paving the way for creation of new municipal school districts in the six Shelby County suburban cities.
House Bill 1288 repeals a 15-year-old prohibition in state law on the establishment of new municipal school systems beyond the 28 that existed in 1998 when it was enacted. Tennessee has 137 school districts — most of which are county systems and 15 special school districts that have broader taxing authority than city and county systems.
The mayors of Arlington, Bartlett, Collierville, Germantown, Lakeland and Millington agreed Monday to ask the Shelby County Election Commission to schedule new referendums for July 16 in each of their cities on whether to establish the new school districts. If voters approve as expected — and as they did last year before the results were thrown out by a federal court ruling — elections for school board members would follow in early November, with a goal of opening schools for the 2014-15 school year.
The separate Senate Bill 1354, which the governor will also sign soon, repeals a statute that limits to six the number of school districts per county. It’s needed because the six new systems added to the unified Memphis-Shelby system would exceed the cap.
The governor said earlier that he expected to sign the two measures, both of which won legislative approval by large margins last week. HB 1288 by Rep. Curry Todd and Sen. Mark Norris, both R-Collierville, passed the House 70-24 and the Senate 24-5. SB 1354, by Norris and Rep. Ron Lollar, R-Bartlett, won 75-3 in the House and 22-5 in the Senate.
Norris said, “Governor Haslam’s timely signature on this important legislation demonstrates that he shares our commitment to neighborhood schools and parental choice. We appreciate his decisive action, and I appreciate the support of so many who have worked hard to help us remove these artificial barriers to education improvement.”
Voter approval in the referendums won’t be the final word on the new districts, which have to follow the law on the process and requirements for new school systems and be approved by the state commissioner of education.
The main bill also provides that each new city school system can begin after Aug. 1 of 2014 after the commissioner determines that:
The rights of school employees will not be “impaired, interrupted or diminished”;
There will be timely compliance with state law and state Board of Education rules;
And, the system has “general readiness” to start student instruction.
The bill further provides that the creating of “a city school system shall not impair, interrupt or diminish the rights and privileges of a then existing teacher; and such rights and privileges shall continue without impairment, interruption or diminution.”
April 22, 2013
“Last year, we were optimistic but on guard. This year, we remain on guard, but we’re optimistic and on the move.”
Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris
presenting the 2013-2014 Budget
State Senate approves budget and closes 2013 legislative session
The State Legislature passed a state budget and several key bills including unemployment compensation reform, education reform, school safety and prescription drug abuse before adjourning the 2013 legislative session to become a part of Tennessee history. The action came after three and a half months of legislative deliberations and is one of the earliest adjournments in 23 years.
The $32.8 billion budget for the 2013-2014 fiscal year, sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris (R-Collierville), is fully balanced and incorporates approximately $43 million in tax cuts for Tennesseans.
“In direct contrast to Washington, Tennessee’s budget is balanced,” said Leader Norris. “The state is ranked 48th lowest in the nation in per capita debt and 47th in per capita tax burden, all while balancing our state budget and lowering tax burdens for our citizens.”
Senate Bill 502 allocates $18.7 million to take the second step in a four-year process to phase out the state’s inheritance tax, also called the death tax. It also provides $1.5 million to allow more senior citizens to qualify for Hall income tax relief and $22.2 million to reduce the state sales tax on grocery food from 5.25% to 5.0%. Norris also won approval of Senate Bill 198 and Senate Bill 199 on Monday to make the necessary changes in state law to implement the tax reductions.
On K-12 education, the budget fully funds the Basic Education Program, invests $51 million to assist local governments in paying for technology transition upgrades in schools across the state and makes available $34 million to address ongoing capital needs that can be used for increased security measures to protect students. It appropriates more than $35 million for K-12 teacher salary increases and provides $47 million in funding to help improve Tennessee’s lowest performing public schools.
The budget prioritizes higher education by providing $307.3 million to fund capital outlay projects in higher education, $35 million to fund the state’s new outcome-based formula adopted under the state’s Complete College Act, $5 million to provide assistance to 2,675 needy students and $16.5 million for equipment for Tennessee’s Technical Centers and Community Colleges.
Other highlights of the budget include:
- $104 million cost increase for a 1.5% pay raise salary market adjustment for state employees;
- $46.3 million cost increase for state employee group health insurance;
- continues the state 401 (K) match at $50 per month;
- reduces state employee positions by 299 or .08%;
- $350 million cost increase for TennCare inflation and related expenses;
- $8.6 million cost increase for Cover Tennessee programs;
- $7.5 million cost increase for Children’s Services;
- $100 million to the Rainy Day Fund, bringing it to $456 million by June 30, 2014;
- $79.6 million cost increase for local jail payments, a new prison in Bledsoe County, medical contracts and other inflationary growth;
- $3.9 million cost increase for mental health;
- $4.3 million in capital outlay for the Montgomery County veterans’ home;
- $134 million in capital outlay for state building improvements through the Facilities Revolving Fund;
- $8 million in one-time funds for tourism marketing;
- $1 million in one-time funds for the College 529 Savings Plan;
- $37.9 million for health and wellness initiatives;
- $110 million for economic development; and
- provides tax relief for low income seniors, veterans and the disabled by fully funding the growth of the property tax freeze program enacted in 2007
The budget assumes a general fund revenue growth of 3.89% during the 2013-14 fiscal year.
Senate votes to lift the ban on municipal school districts
As part of a continuing effort to reform education in Tennessee, the State Senate passed Senate Bill 1353 on Monday, lifting the ban on municipal school districts implemented in 1998. Carried by Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris (R-Collierville), Senate Bill 1353 gives citizens in municipalities with at least 1500 students permission to vote on whether to create a municipal district and whether they are willing to raise taxes to pay for it.
“The ban on municipal school districts has created an artificial impediment to innovation,” said Senator Norris. “In recent years, the General Assembly has authorized the creation of other new types of schools that did not exist when the municipal ban was imposed, including charter schools, achievement schools and virtual schools. Giving a municipality that wants to assume responsibility for its students an opportunity to do so is the next step in the education reform process.”
Municipal school districts in place prior to the 1998 ban statistically contain higher performing schools, with 88% of those districts currently maintaining above average TCAP or ACT scores. Under new law, 29 more municipalities might qualify to apply for a special school district.
The Senate, likewise, approved Senate Bill 1354, also sponsored by Senator Norris, which effectively authorizes an unlimited number of municipal districts in any county provided the requirements of state law and the rules of the State Board of Education are met.
Legislation to help keep students safe at school wins approval
Legislation that aims to help keep students safe at school won final approval this week which empowers a local director of schools, in conjunction with the school principal, to hire retired law enforcement officers to provide security. The legislation, sponsored by Senator Frank Niceley (R-Strawberry Plains), also allows a teacher to possess a gun at school if they are a retired law enforcement officer that is Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) certified. However, all decisions regarding the carrying of firearms would be made at the local district and school level.
The bill comes in the wake of the shooting in Newtown, Connecticut in December, which pointed to the need to increase school safety. POST certification requires extensive law enforcement training, including the handling of firearms.
Governor Haslam has proposed $34 million in state funding to address ongoing capital needs in K-12 schools that can be used for school safety measures, including the hiring of security. The School Security Act of 2013 would give school superintendents the option to hire retired police officers, highway patrol officers, federal agents, game wardens and other personnel with extensive weapons or law enforcement training and who have a handgun carry permit to serve as security at schools upon receiving 40 additional hours of specialized training. The 40-hour training would include education in crisis management and hostile situations in the school setting. Teachers who are authorized to carry guns as result of their law enforcement background would also have to go through the specialized training. The bill also requires the chief of the local law enforcement agency to be notified that the employee has been authorized to carry a gun.
“Many schools are looking to bring security into their buildings in an affordable and safe manner,” said Senator Niceley, (R-Strawberry Plains) who sponsored the bill. This legislation gives them that ability.”
The Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting was also the impetus behind legislation requesting the state’s BEP Review Committee to make a recommendation in its annual report this year as to whether the state’s school funding formula should be modified to include a component regarding school safety and security. Senate Resolution 30, which was passed on April 8, is sponsored by Senate Education Committee Chairman Dolores Gresham (R-Somerville).
Governor Bill Haslam, state law enforcement officials and homeland security experts met with education leaders from more than 120 school systems earlier this year to discuss school safety. Mental health specialists and emergency management officials also joined the group to think through additional measures that school districts can put into place to avoid a tragedy like the one which occurred in Newtown. The group reviewed best practices and new ideas on school safety, noting that the right plan would likely vary district by district. Both of these proposals fit into that plan.
Senate passes “Step up Scholarships” to give students with developmental disabilities the opportunity to receive a Tennessee Lottery Scholarship
Legislation, sponsored by Senator Doug Overbey (R-Maryville), giving students with developmental disabilities the opportunity to receive a Tennessee Lottery Scholarship was approved by the State Senate on Thursday. Senate Bill 36 would create the Tennessee STEP UP Scholarship to provide accessible funding for high school students with intellectual or developmental disabilities who have college aspirations.
“Tennessee’s lottery scholarships were created to help Tennessee’s high school graduates reach their dreams,” Senator Overbey said. “This legislation removes the barriers so scholarship opportunities are open to everyone who shows a desire through their coursework to obtain a college degree, regardless of disability.”
Like the larger HOPE Scholarship program, the bill allocates $4,000 per year for a maximum of two years to each student who qualifies, starting for the 2013-2014 academic year. To be eligible, a student must display Tennessee residency, graduate high school in his or her own Individual Education Program, and be admitted to and enroll in an eligible postsecondary institution no later than 16 months after graduation.
Major legislation to curb abuse of prescription drugs passes State Senate
Major legislation sponsored by State Senator Ken Yager (R-Harriman) and Senator Becky Duncan Massey (R-Knoxville) designed to curb the abuse of prescription drugs in Tennessee is on its way to Governor Bill Haslam for his signature after final action was taken on the bill on Thursday. Yager said the bill is a result of “comprehensive and collaborative effort by citizens, legislators, law enforcement and medical professionals to enhance and tighten the regulations on prescribers and pain management clinics.”
Provisions of the Senate Bill 676 would:
- Directs the Commissioner of Health to develop a standard of care on prescribing the most commonly abused prescription medications and provide this information to the various licensing boards who oversee prescribers;
- Requires two hours of training for medical professionals every two years on these guidelines and other pertinent requirements such as medicine addiction and risk management;
- Limits the dispensing of opioids and benzodiazepine to 30 days. (The prescription may still be issued for 90 days, but this will limit it to a 30-day supply at a time);
- Requires reporting to the Controlled Substance Monitoring Database by all prescribers who dispense at their offices;
- Clarifies the definition of manufacturer and wholesaler of drugs and require the reporting of the drug distribution to the State of Tennessee as they do to the DEA;
- Strengthens the definition of pain management clinics by closing a loophole in the law that has allowed some operators to avoid registration;
- Requires a patient of pain management clinics to have a current and valid government-issued identification or health insurance card for monitoring purposes;
- Limits the medical director at pain management clinics to four clinics total;
- No longer authorizes money order payments as method to reimburse pain management clinics for services essentially putting an end to cash business; and
- Enhances the fine for violations on unregistered clinics to between $1,000 – $5,000 per day to substantially impact those who choose to operate illegally.
“The prescription drug problem has touched almost every Tennessee family,” added Massey. “Tragically, it is the number one reason for children being taken out of their homes and into state custody. We must turn back the tide of this epidemic and this legislation makes a major step in the right direction in accomplishing that goal.”
Crime / Gangs — Legislation passed the full Senate on Tuesday rewriting and simplifying the state’s Criminal Gang Enhancement statute, which prosecutors report is too difficult to interpret and navigate. Currently, prosecutors must prove the group is a “criminal gang;” show the defendant is a “criminal gang member;” demonstrate the gang and/or an individual has committed a criminal gang offense, and establish the group has a pattern of “criminal gang activity.” The revised statute lists the specific offenses considered to be criminal gang offenses rather than asking prosecutors and courts to interpret today’s more vague definition. According to 2012 data from the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, gang members now outnumber law enforcement officers 2 to 1 in the state. The bill is sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris (R-Collierville).
DUI / Interlock Devices – State Senators have approved key legislation to curb drunk driving, requiring the use of ignition interlocks for all convicted drunk drivers. In 2011, 257 people were killed in Tennessee in alcohol-related crashes, which is approximately 27% of all traffic fatalities in the state. Senate Bill 670, sponsored by Senator Mae Beavers (R-Mt. Juliet), decreases from 0.15 percent to 0.08 percent, the breath or blood alcohol concentration (BAC) that is considered an enhanced offense for purposes of issuing a restricted driver license. The bill also requires the interlock device be capable of taking a photo, to ensure that another person does not provide the sample for a convicted offender. The average first offender has been on the road 80 times drunk before their first arrest according to Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD). Currently, 17 states require interlocks for all convicted drunk drivers.
Student Health / EpiPens — Legislation to help ensure that every public school in the state has epinephrine injector pens on hand, or EpiPens, was approved by the full Senate. Senate Bill 1146, sponsored by Senator Mark Green (R-Clarksville), would help make the EpiPens available in public schools in Tennessee in case of a life-threatening allergic reaction when the student does not have one available. The legislation authorizes the school nurse or other trained school to administer the epinephrine auto-injectors to respond to an anaphylactic reaction using protocols from a physician.
LEAP / Jobs and Higher Education — Senate Bill 1330, sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris (R-Collierville), passed during the last week of legislative action to create the Labor Education Alignment Program (LEAP). The measure allows students at Tennessee’s technology centers and community colleges to combine occupational training in a high-skill or high-technology industry with academic credit and to apply that experience toward a degree. The legislation is drafted so that wages or other compensation received by students will not impact eligibility for state need-based financial assistance or grants. The legislation is modeled after “cooperative education” programs where students are paid to learn while applying what they learn at work for credit toward a degree. This program recognizes that an important outcome of a student’s education is job opportunity. Having employers work closely with state agencies creates increased collaboration and focus across the board, giving students the opportunity to attain credentials.
Senate Finance Committee is Briefed on Effects of Sequestration on Tennessee’s Budget
March 2, 2013
“Sequester is an evil,” said Norris. “But it has become a necessary evil given the dysfunction in D.C. It is for those of us who carry and balance our budgets in state government each year to mitigate the failure of our federal government.”
Senate Finance Committee is Briefed on Effects of Sequestration on Tennessee’s Budget
The Senate Finance Committee heard testimony from State Budget Director David Thurman regarding the effects of an estimated $100 million in cuts to Tennessee’s budget from the federal sequestration plan. Unless a last minute agreement is reached in Washington, the sequestration cuts made under the federal Budget Control Act of 2011 are effective on March 1. The result is $1.2 trillion in across the board spending cuts nationwide over the next ten years, equally split between defense and domestic spending.
For Fiscal year 2013 alone, it is estimated that federal spending will reach $3.803 trillion.
“The largest impact we would incur totals about $100 million on the revised delayed sequestration,” said Thurman. The cuts were delayed after a last minute deal was struck between Congress and President Obama on January 1. “In Education, Title I and Special Education are going to be the programs that see the largest cuts within the first year, but there are a lot of unknowns as to how that would play out as far as the timing and setting the parameters of these cuts. There’s a lot of flexibility that OMB (federal Office of Budget Management) has. They also have some flexibility with the federal agents as well, so we’re in a wait and see mode.”
Thurman said he expects the OMB to roll out parameters and information about how to implement the reductions immediately after the deadline. After Tennessee receives instruction to the agencies and program directors affected, state administration officials will develop a plan based on the positions, programs and dollars sequestered.
“There are a lot of questions about timing. The federal fiscal year goes until October, so those cuts could occur in next fiscal year, not this one,” Thurman added.
The cuts amount to approximately $85 million in the state’s general fund, with the largest being Title I funds and Special Education. Other cuts include an estimated $15 to $16 million in federal highway funds, $1 million to vocational education, $2 million to improving teacher quality, $1.6 million in substance abuse treatment, $4 million in rehabilitation services, $3 million in low income home energy assistance, $3 million in children’s services, $2 million for HIV/AIDS treatment, $2 million for social services and $500,000 for mental health programs.
Tennessee has worked diligently to manage its finances in a fiscally responsible manner. The state is ranked 48th lowest in the nation in per capita in debt and 47th in per capital tax burden, all while balancing the state budget. The full Senate approved Senate Joint Resolution 38 on Monday night urging Congress and President Obama to immediately adopt a balanced budget. Forty eight other states also maintain balanced budgets through a constitutional requirement or by state statute.
Bill to Allow Referendums on Wine Sales in Retail Food Stores Meets First Hurdle
with Approval in Senate State & Local Government Committee
After a spirited debate, legislation that would let Tennesseans vote on whether to allow the sale of wine in retail food stores via a local referendum overcame its first hurdle this week by a vote of 5 to 4 in the Senate State and Local Government Committee. Senate Bill 837 would give municipalities in those communities that currently allow retail package stores, liquor-by-the-drink establishments or both to hold a referendum on the sale of wine in retail food stores during the next general election. The authorization law would take effect on Jan. 1, 2014 and would allow a referendum to be held after that date.
In order to place the referendum on the ballot, a petition must be presented to the county election commission. The petition must include signatures from 10 percent of the county’s population that voted in the last gubernatorial election. The legislation as written provides the exact ballot question that will be asked of voters.
The legislation will require any retail food store that sells wine to participate in the Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission’s Responsible Vendor Program, which requires retailers’ employees to complete training on the responsible sale of alcoholic beverages.
Thirty-six states, including six of Tennessee’s border states, allow the sale of wine in retail food stores.
A Note from Mark –
As has been widely reported, just before SB 837 passed out of committee on a 5-4 vote, I stated that I support the right to vote, but not in this form. While I support the referendum approach, I think that WHAT you vote on is equally important.
I support a free market approach to the sale of wine and liquor in Tennessee. That is why I have advocated a comprehensive revision of Tennessee’s alcohol statutes, including restrictions on sale of wine, for many years. This bill, as written, neither revises the statute in a comprehensive way nor supports the free market.
The need for substantive revision has been ignored so far. The prohibition against more than one license for liquor and wine stores remains as does the prohibition against such stores selling anything but liquor and wine.
In other words, the committee vote, without more, allows every Wal-Mart, Costco and Kroger to sell wine at as many locations as may exist in Shelby County, but the family with a liquor store remains shackled to one store only.
My constituents are about evenly split on the issue, but very few of them express a desire to disadvantage one retailer over another when this is explained.
This initiative has a long way to go before it can become law. Perhaps it can be remedied on its way to the Senate floor. That’s the way the legislative process works.
Health Care Compact – Legislation was approved in the Senate Government Operations Committee this week calling for Tennessee to join an interstate Health Care Compact with the express purpose of returning the responsibility and authority for regulating health care to the states. Senate Bill 406 provides a legal framework in which states can create their own healthcare systems. If approved by Congress, the bill essentially provides a permanent waiver to each member state to create whatever healthcare regulations the legislature deems best for the citizens of that state. The structure protects healthcare funding by allowing member states to access federal tax revenues directly and without strings attached.
Misuse of Welfare Benefits — In Senate floor action, final approval was given to legislation to curb abuse of purchases made through Electronic Benefit Transaction (EBT) cards used by recipients of the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) program. Senate Bill 244 prohibits use of a welfare recipient’s EBT card in liquor stores, adult cabarets, casinos and other gambling facilities. The bill also bans the use of EBT benefits at an ATM located inside a liquor store, adult cabaret, casino or gambling establishment. Under the bill, welfare recipients who use EBT benefits at liquor stores, adult cabarets or gambling establishments would be subject to disqualification from the program as permitted by federal law. The measure also calls for those misused benefits to be recouped by the Tennessee Department of Human Services.
Veterans / Charitable Funds — A resolution seeking to amend Tennessee’s Constitution to allow 501 (c) (19) charitable veterans groups to raise funds, in the same manner as other 501 (c) (3) charitable organizations, was approved this week by the Senate Judiciary Committee. Veterans groups were left out of the Constitutional Amendment approved by voters in 2002 that allowed charitable groups registered with the Internal Revenue Service as 501 (c) (3) organizations to conduct an annual fundraising event like duck races, cake walks, raffles and other games of chance. Senate Joint Resolution 60 requires that any funds raised by the games go to purposes that benefit the community, veterans or retired veterans. It was approved by the 107th General Assembly and must receive a two-thirds plurality in the current 108th General Assembly. If it passes both the House and Senate, it then goes to voters in a statewide referendum in November 2014, where it must receive a simple plurality of votes cast in the race for governor.
Student Athletes / Concussions — Legislation designed to protect student athletes who suffer concussions from risking further medical complications or death passed the full Senate by a vote of 30 to 0. Senate Bill 882 ensures guidelines are in place to help coaches, youth athletic instructors and parents recognize a concussion and its symptoms in order to keep an injured player from risking their health by returning to competition too soon. In addition, schools and organizations must have a policy of removing youth who show signs of concussion from activity for medical evaluation by a team doctor or designated person and must be cleared to play. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) reports that from 2001-2009, concussions among youth increased 60%, leading the agency to label concussion frequency as reaching “epidemic” proportions.
Food Gardens – The full Senate and House of Representatives have passed Senate Bill 102 authorizing the sale of produce grown in community gardens. The proceeds from the sale are not designated to a specific use; however, they most likely would be reinvested in the garden or given to the workers.
Education / Graduation Rates — Civic Enterprises released a report this week showing Tennessee is making the largest gains in the nation in graduating high school students. The report, entitled “Building a Grad Nation – Progress and Challenge in Ending the High School Dropout Epidemic,” analyzes the latest graduation rates and “dropout factory” trends at the state and national levels. The report says that Tennessee’s graduation rate rose 20.8 percentage points to 80.4 percent and is among 18 states that are poised to achieve the national goal of a 90 percent rate by 2020.
DID YOU KNOW?
Mark Norris on Tax Relief
MARK NORRIS sponsored and passed legislation this year to “kill” the “Death Tax.” Retirees have told lawmakers that the death tax is a key reason for leaving Tennessee and moving to Florida which does not have an inheritance tax. The inheritance tax places a heavy financial burden on family farms and family businesses. Financial experts predict that the Norris bill will increase local revenue since roughly fifty percent of the resulting savings will be spent on goods and services in Tennessee.
MARK NORRIS sponsored and passed legislation to reduce the state portion of the sales tax on grocery food from 5.5 percent to 5.25 percent, with the goal of lowering it to 5.0 percent in three years.
MARK NORRIS helped pass legislation this year repealing the state’s gift tax. Only two other states have a stand alone gift tax.
MARK NORRIS wrote the Resolution to amend the Tennessee Constitution to provide property tax relief for qualified senior citizens. After overwhelming support amending the Constitution in 2004, Norris sponsored and passed the enabling legislation. Over 50,000 Tennessee seniors can now afford to stay in their homes. www.tennesseniors.com
MARK NORRIS helped pass legislation to provide property tax relief for disabled veterans.
MARK NORRIS helped pass legislation that created the annual “Sales Tax Holiday” August 3-5 this year. This annual event provides sales tax relief for families buying school supplies and clothing in preparation of the new school year. www.tn.gov/revenue/salestaxholiday
MARK NORRIS supported the Resolution for a Constitutional Amendment prohibiting an income tax in Tennessee. The referendum will be on the 2014 ballot.
Mark Norris on PUBLIC SAFETY
MARK NORRIS passed the toughest and most comprehensive crime legislation in more than 25 years. “Crooks with Guns” increased the mandatory time served by the most violent, repeat offenders. Prior to this bill, these criminals were eligible for parole after serving only 35% of their sentence. They must now serve a minimum of 85% of their sentence. Reports from District Attorneys across the state confirm that this legislation has made a difference in their communities by keeping violent felons off the streets, and keeping Tennessee families safe.
MARK NORRIS sponsored the law that strengthens penalties against those convicted of domestic violence. The “Repeat Domestic Violence Offender” creates a new offense for repeat domestic violence offenders and prescribes mandatory jail time and enhanced fines for those who have committed serious bodily injury. Tennessee is ranked second in the nation in domestic violence and is fifth in the number of women murdered by men as a result of domestic violence. This legislation will help curb this despicable crime.
MARK NORRIS sponsored landmark legislation to curb prescription drug abuse. The Tennessee Prescription Safety Act of 2012 provides a tool for law enforcement to stop drug dealers and those who doctor shop. A Tennessee Drug Diversion Task Force report showed 56 percent of patients who receive opioid prescriptions have filled another opioid prescription within the previous 30 days. Tennessee ranks second in the nation in regard to the overutilization of prescription pain medications, with an average of 20 Tennesseans losing their lives each week from drug overdose. Last year, there were more deaths in Tennessee due to drug overdoses than motor vehicle accidents, homicide or suicide. This bill is a huge step in the right direction in curbing this major state health epidemic.
MARK NORRIS was named the “Legislator of the Year” by the Tennessee Association of Chiefs of Police in 2007.
MARK NORRIS was named the “Legislator of the Year” by the Tennessee District Attorneys General Conference in 2008.
Mark Norris on EDUCATION Strengthening Neighborhood Schools
MARK NORRIS led the fight for your right to vote whether to organize municipal school districts. When the Memphis City School Board voted to dissolve its charter in December 2010, there were no guidelines or procedures in place for an orderly transfer of administration. Norris authored Public Chapter 1 (Norris-Todd) to provide stability, and more importantly time, for community leaders to formulate a plan for this unprecedented action.
In August 2011, upholding PC 1 against an onslaught of constitutional challenges in federal court, Judge Mays ruled, “Public Chapter 1 advances the public interest.”
In March 2012, the Tennessee Attorney General ruled that the suburbs could not allow citizens to vote until 2013. Norris once again authored legislation upholding the right to vote now – not a year from now. As a result, the school issue will be on the ballot on August 2nd.
“All we ask is that citizens of the suburban towns have the same rights as those in Memphis — the right of self-determination. Memphians had a referendum to disband their schools. Suburban citizens should have the right to do otherwise.” – Mark Norris
MARK NORRIS sponsored the Tennessee law requiring our children to not only learn, but recite, the Pledge of Allegiance in school each day. It is an important part of our civic heritage and patriotic duty. For many, it speaks to our religious heritage as well.
MARK NORRIS was named the “Legislator of the Year” by the Tennessee School Board Association in 2003 and by the Tennessee PTA in 2005.
MARK NORRIS sponsored a bill this year requiring a new emphasis on civics education. The most recent study of the National Assessment of Educational Progress reported that students perform worse in civics and U.S. history than in any other subjects. It drew praise from retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’ Connor who wrote Leader Norris saying, “This important legislation will help make sure that every Tennessee student receives the civil learning that is so vital to their becoming an informed and engaged citizen.” Norris completed the bill after meeting with O’Connor whose efforts to promote civics education are taking root at middle schools and high schools across the nation.
|Republicans Norris, Lollar, McManus easily defeat GOP challengers in Shelby County|
Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris, 57, won easily over small airport owner Woody Degan, 48, in Senate District 32, which includes much of East Shelby County and all of Tipton County. more…
Small business endorses Mark Norris in Senate District 32
NASHVILLE, Tenn., July 9, 2012 – The National Federation of Independent Business, Tennessee’s leading small business association, has endorsed incumbent Mark Norris in the 32nd Senate District. more…
Norris Legislation to Curb Violent Crime Signed by Governor
June 6, 2012 Three bills which aim to reduce violent crime in Tennessee were signed by Governor Bill Haslam today at the Bartlett Criminal Justice Center. The ceremony marked the July 1 enactment of the new laws sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris (R-Collierville). more…