Senator Mark Norris
9A Legislative Plaza,
Nashville, Tennessee 37243-0232
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©2017 Mark Norris
Happy Labor Day!
“He who works with his hands is a laborer.
He who works with his hands and his head is a craftsman.
He who works with his hands and his head and his heart is an artist.”
-Francis of Assisi
Labor Day is a good time to reflect on our progress in workforce development in Tennessee. Unemployment is down, and prospects for new employment opportunities are up.
In fact, more Tennesseans are employed today than at any time in history. More than 324,000 new private sector jobs have begun since 2011. Tennessee is number 1 in the Southeast and number 2 in the U.S. for job growth.
Tennessee also ranks number 1 among U.S. states for advanced industry job growth since 2013 according to a recent report from the Brookings Institute.
Putting Tennesseans to work means more than just finding a job these days. It means making sure we have the skills necessary to do the jobs that are available including those in advanced industries and manufacturing. That was the reason for the creation of the LEAP program.
LEAP’s primary goal is to close skills gaps by ensuring that students enrolled in courses provided by Tennessee Colleges of Applied Technology (TCATs) and community colleges gain the necessary skills to meet the requirements of high-skill and high-technology jobs demanded by industry leaders in the state.
LEAP accomplishes this goal through grant funding to communities for the development of a framework for regional partnerships – comprised of postsecondary institutions, industry partners, workforce development professionals, and K-12 educators, particularly those associated with Career and Technical Education (CTE). Collectively, the stakeholders create tailored workforce pipelines designed to provide the requisite technical skills that meet local employers’ needs.
On May 4th, the Tennessee Higher Education Commission announced the release of the Request for Proposals for the second round of funding for LEAP. A total of 35 Letters of Intent to Submit have been received by THEC. The interest stems from communities across the state seeking to facilitate the development and implementation of employer-driven career pathways. In this second iteration of the program, known as LEAP 2.0, proposals may seek to:
A total of $10 million dollars has been allocated to support these proposed programs. Each proposal may apply for up to $1 million in funding for periods up to 30 months. The grants will be awarded later this fall.
Thanks to everyone for working together for the promise of a more prosperous tomorrow in Tennessee this Labor Day and every day as we proceed.
NFIB Voting Record
Earlier this week I was pleased to be among the legislators receiving a 100% voting record on small business issues for 2015-2016.
“Most members of the Tennessee General Assembly continue to be very supportive of small business,” said Jim Brown, Tennessee NFIB Executive Director.
“NFIB members appreciate the strong backing from our state senators and representatives, many of whom own and operate their own businesses back in their districts. It’s clear that regardless of political affiliation, legislators who own are have owned a small business tend to support the small business agenda.”
NFIB Tennessee’s Voting Record in 2015-16 included 14 key votes on a variety of issues important to small business, including workers’ comp, unemployment, tort, labor, healthcare, environmental, and tax reform. Click here to download the 2015-16 Voting Record, which includes the results for all legislators and an explanation of the issues.
NFIB is Tennessee’s largest small-business association with 7,200 dues-paying members representing a cross-section of the state’s economy.
Juvenile Justice Realignment Task Force
The Juvenile Justice Realignment Task Force convened earlier this month pursuant to Public Chapter 1057 passed by the General Assembly this session. We are charged with looking at new approaches to the administration of juvenile justice. I was honored to be elected chair of this group and look forward to our next meeting September 12. You may read more about our efforts here.
This week the Tennessee Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations, which I chair, heard testimony about Broadband Internet. Testimony from the former director of Connect Tennessee brought to light that access is only one part of the conversation. Adoption and usage must be addressed in addition. This avoids a piecemeal approach and allows all options to be considered. I’m committed to expanding broadband for Tennesseans without expanding government.
Also, the Attorney General’s office gave an update on the lawsuit between Tennessee and Obama’s FCC. The federal court sided with Tennessee saying that the FCC has no right to overrule Tennessee law. I told the press that the ruling puts it back squarely on the General Assembly. But that the decision strikes a blow for liberty!
Look for TACIR’s first draft of recommendations at our next meeting in December.