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Mark Norris

understands what matters most to those who call Tennessee’s West Coast home.

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Senator Mark Norris

Norris in the Senate

He is working for you…

Senator Mark Norris was first elected Majority Leader of the Tennessee Senate on January 10, 2007. He served as Chairman of the Senate Republican Caucus in 2006 and was the first chairman to serve from West Tennessee since 1982. He was re-elected Senate Majority Leader of the 106th General Assembly beginning in 2009 and is the first Republican Majority Leader to serve from West Tennessee in more than a generation.

Norris came to the State Senate in 2000 as a Republican County Commissioner from rural Shelby County. He represents District 32 which is “the West Coast of Tennessee” including Dyer, Lauderdale, Tipton and Shelby County. He was re-elected by a wide margin in 2004 and is the first Republican in state history elected to represent Dyer County in the Tennessee General Assembly. Norris was elected to a third term in November 2008. He currently serves as Chairman of the Senate Rules Committee and is a member of the Finance, Ways and Means Committee, Ethics Committee, and State and Local Government Committee.

Norris served as Chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee from January 2005 to January 2007. During that time, he presided over the adoption of the state’s first long-range transportation plan and the creation of rural transportation planning organizations for grass-roots initiatives to meet the needs of local citizens. He led the fight to stop the annual diversion of taxpayers’ money from the state’s transportation trust fund to the general fund. He successfully increased funding for public transportation from existing revenues and was recognized by the Tennessee Public Transportation Association as 2006 Tennessee Legislator of the Year.  Norris was also responsible for conducting legislative hearings into alleged improprieties at the Tennessee Highway Patrol which ultimately led to the resignations of high ranking Administration officials including the former Commissioner of Safety and the top officer in the Highway Patrol.

He also served as a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee for eight years during which he was responsible for initiating the referendum to amend the Tennessee Constitution to provide property tax relief for senior citizens. Once on the ballot, the referendum passed in 2006 with nearly 1.4 million votes constituting over 80% of the vote. Norris subsequently sponsored and passed the Property Tax Freeze Act of 2007.

Norris continues to serve on the Joint Oversight Committees of Veterans Affairs, Pensions and Insurance and Workers’ Compensation. He is a member of the Tennessee Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations (TACIR) and was elected its Chairman in 2009. He served as Chairman of the Southern Legislative Conference’s Economic Development, Transportation and Cultural Affairs Committee from 2006 to 2008, and he was elected Vice-Chairman of the Conference in 2008.

Norris has practiced law in Tennessee since graduating from the University of Denver College of Law in 1980. He received his undergraduate degree in Political Science from Colorado College. He serves as Special Counsel to the law firm of Adams and Reese LLP. He is a member of the Litigation Practice Group where he represents small businesses, health care providers and property owners, and he provides general counseling to individuals, charities, corporations and nonprofit organizations.

The Senator and his wife, Chris, have been married since 1978, and they have two sons. The Norris family lives on a 170-year-old farm where, in addition to pumpkins, they raise horses, mules, cattle and hay.

Senator Norris received the National Federation of Independent Business “Guardian of Small Business” Award in 2009. He was recognized by the Tennessee District Attorneys General Conference as Legislator of the Year in 2008. In 2007, Norris received the Tennessee Association of Chiefs of Police Legislative Award for enacting tougher criminal sentencing laws, and he was included in Memphis Magazine’s “Top 100.” In 2006, he received the Bob James Award for Outstanding Public Service. In 2005, he was recognized as the Tennessee School Board Association’s Legislator of the Year. He is a past recipient of the Henry Toll Fellowship recognizing Norris as one of the top 40 state legislative leaders in the nation. Business Tennessee Magazine named Norris among the five best legislators in the General Assembly in 2004. He was awarded the Sons of the American Revolution’s Silver Good Citizenship Medal in 2002.

Mark with Field and Cotter

Working together for Tennessee 

 When Mark first took office, Tennessee was in disarray and decline. Calls for the imposition of an unconstitutional income tax divided the General Assembly. Important work was put on the back burner while tax battles overshadowed other needs. Mark introduced his “3R’s”—a program to reduce, reallocate and reform government spending. He achieved over $100 million in spending cuts in his first two years. He continued to work for across the board reductions in all departments, and they were finally adopted. He worked to balance the budget without raising taxes. He worked to increase funding for teachers, tackled TennCare, toughened penalties against illicit drugs and sex offenders, and increased funding for law enforcement. He succeeded in helping the legislature work together again.

Health, wealth and homesteads… 

Mark focuses his efforts on issues of fundamental importance to real people. He helped to explain that TennCare could not be sustained as originally implemented, and he passed the laws necessary to replace it with responsible alternatives. He led the fight for tort and medical liability reform in order to guard against frivolous law suits and protect access to affordable health care.

He championed the cause for workers’ comp reform resulting in reduced premiums and dramatic cost savings for Tennessee business. He passed the Right to Farm Act. And he scored 100% on small business votes according to the National Federation of Independent Business.

He helped lead the fight against the income tax in Tennessee. Norris was the prime sponsor of property tax relief for senior citizens passing the Resolution for a Constitutional amendment to allow a homestead tax exemption in 2006.

Faith, family and freedom… 

Mark helped sponsor the Resolution giving Tennesseans the right to vote for the right to life. He cosponsored the Resolution supporting a constitutional amendment in defense of marriage between one man and one woman, and he authored and passed into law anti-obscenity measures which gained national attention. He opposed the State’s attempt to restrict religious instruction in community based programs. He sponsored and passed legislation strengthening our Second Amendment rights. The son of a World War II veteran of the Army Air Corps, Mark sponsored the creation of The Purple Heart Highway from Millington to Dyersburg. He cosponsored the Resolution acknowledging the importance of God in our government, and he made certain that the Pledge of Allegiance is recited by our children in school every day by helping to sponsor and pass the law which requires it.

 

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