Sen. Mark Norris Talks Schools and Film

On May 9, 2012, in News 2012, by Mark Norris
9 May, 2012

Memphis, Tn – Bill Haslam is the Governor of Tennessee. But, as the Senate majority whip of the recently concluded General Assembly session, Collierville Republican Mark Norris proved again he is straw “that stirs the drink” as its unmatched legislative powerbroker.
When asked about Haslam’s hesitation to sign into law two passed measures to lift the ban on municipal school districts in Shelby County and allow those municipalities to hold their own referendums on whether they want to create their own school systems, Norris dodged any appearance of conflict with the Governor.
“He is pleased I think that the Transition Planning Commission is to complete its report several months before any votes will be taken. So, he takes some reassurance in that. I just think he’s giving it thoughtful favorable consideration,” said Norris.
In fostering the school bills, Norris deftly warded off criticism of perceived Nashville interference in the transition process his own 2011 Norris-Todd legislation put into place as a mechanism to aide the school merger. I asked him on Tuesday if he’s been pleased with the TPC’s work so far.
“I’ve tried not to interfere. It’s not my place to do that. I think there’s enough issues here. I think they’re grappling with the magnitude of the measure. We tried to talk about that a year ago. This is no small task and I think everybody appreciates that now…in ways they may not have when this all originally began.”
The Governor’s apparent indifference was also no impediment to Norris-sponsored legislation that created a new incentives package to lure film productions to the state. Haslam has never expressed anymore than lip service to a stagnated incentives package which has paled in comparison to states such as Georgia, Louisiana and North Carolina. A more visionary Norris says the new law will be aimed specifically at encouraging smaller productions to put Tennessee in the camera’s eye.
“It’s a real wellspring of artistic and also economic activity here in the state and it’s very important…Increasing grants that’ll be available from 17 percent to about 25 percent of expenditures. And to create a recurring source of revenue for the film incentive fund…about two-million dollars a year. So, that’ll be a big boost.”

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