State Representative Curtis Halford gave an update on the state legislature that is now in session during a noon day meeting held at the Carroll County Chamber of Commerce on Friday.
Halford chairs the Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee and is a member of that subcommittee and a member of the Government Operation Committee.
Halford of Dyer represents the 79th House District which is comprised of all of Gibson County and portions of Carroll County.
He was introduced by Brad Hurley, president of the Carroll County Chamber of Commerce.
The 111th legislative session has just completed its third week.
Halford said there are a lot of new faces in the legislature this year – 30 new House members and four new senators. In addition, there is a new Speaker of the House and new governor.
The first executive order coming from Gov. Bill Lee was to go through the budgets and consider what is going on in the rural districts.
Halford said there is good representation in the legislature from West Tennessee.
David Salyers of Medina is commissioner of the state Environment and Conservation Department. Dr. Lisa Piercey of Gibson County is Commissioner of Health. Andy Holt of Dresden serves as representative from the 76th District and John Stevens of Huntingdon serves the 24th Senatorial District. Holt chairs the Finance, Ways and Means Sub Committee. Stevens is First Vice Chair of the Senate Finance Ways and Means Committee.
“Tennessee is in good fiscal shape and is operated fiscally sound,” he said. “It’s the best managed state in the United States. There are more jobs than ever.”
He added that the state still has a triple A bond rating and there is no road debt and that more revenue is being taken in than is being spent. Currently there is a $350 million rainy day fund with plans to increase it to a billion dollars.
He also discussed the 1,500 jobs that are coming to Humboldt through Tyson Foods.
“The lowest salary will be $14 per hour,” he said. “The company will process 1.6 million chickens a week.”
He also mentioned that an Australian company will be locating in Humboldt.
“I am looking forward to the future,” he said.
There have been 1,499 bills filed in the legislature this year. However, not all of them will make it to the floor.
One that he discussed is the Heartbeat Bill. No abortion can be performed after a heartbeat is detected, according to the bill.
Halford said he had filed a Homestead Bill that would make it impossible for TennCare to put a lien on property with a cap of $200,000.
He talked about school vouchers that would allow students to use public school money to attend a private school.
“I don’t believe it will ever make it out of committee,” he said, noting that he was opposed to it.
He entertained a question and answering period before the session concluded.