House Republicans Introduce Legislation To Create Balance Within Community Oversight Boards

This week in Nashville, House Republicans introduced legislation aimed at creating balance within community oversight boards across Tennessee.

Backed by Republican leadership, this legislation balances both the interests of our citizens to voice their opinion while also protecting the fundamental rights of officers and their families from malicious or politically focused persecution.

Community oversight boards have existed since the 1950s, and there are presently no guidelines outlined in Tennessee state law that defines how they are created, who can serve on them, and what their specific function is. This measure provides much-needed structure to all current and future community oversight boards in Tennessee, which is critical to their overall success, as well as overall safety.

House Bill 658 places guardrails on community oversight boards statewide in three significant ways: it removes subpoena power, requires reporting to the General Assembly, and limits the board to registered voters from the jurisdiction for which it serves.

Additionally, the legislation promotes diversity among board members by ensuring membership is not restricted or limited based upon demographics, economic status, or employment history.

Republican leaders support the brave men and women in uniform who risk their lives and make tremendous sacrifices as they serve their communities. At the same time, we understand the need for transparency and appreciate the desire of our citizens to hold our officers to a higher standard of conduct.

Lee Administration Unveils Investment In Vocational Education Initiative

Governor Lee’s first legislative initiative builds public-private partnerships and doubles dual enrollment offerings

This week, Governor Bill Lee rolled out his first legislative initiative, the Governor’s Investment in Vocational Education (GIVE) to expand access to vocational and technical training for Tennessee students. 

According to the Governor’s press release, the GIVE initiative is a two-pronged approach that utilizes regional partnerships to develop work-based learning and apprenticeship opportunities. Communities will now have the funding and flexibility to build programs that best reflect local needs and work directly with private industry to structure programming. 

GIVE also provides funding for high school juniors and seniors to utilize four, fully-funded dual enrollment credits for trade and technical programs. Previously, high school students only had access to two fully-funded dual enrollment credits. With access to four credits, students will now be better prepared for entry into the workforce within two years of graduation.

Two grant programs will fund the initiative: GIVE Community Grants and GIVE Student Grants. Using the framework of the state’s Labor Education Alignment Program (LEAP), the governor will recommend new funding in support of work-based learning through GIVE Community Grants. These competitive grants will go to regional partnerships between TCATs, industry, and K-12 to build new programs in work-based learning and apprenticeships, market-driven dual-credit opportunities, and the expansion of industry-informed CTE offerings at local high schools.

GIVE Student Grants will be funded via the Tennessee Lottery and support expanded access to dual enrollment.

Committee Conversations: House Transportation Committee Discusses REAL ID Act Of 2005

This week, members of the House Transportation Committee met with the Department of Safety to discuss changes to Tennessee driver’s licenses under the REAL ID Act of 2005.

The federal measure was created in 2005 and was designed to increase security following the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on our nation. Its goal is to ensure people are not using false forms of identification when it comes to air travel, entering federal buildings, or accessing nuclear power plants.

Funding is allocated to states through federal grants to be used for additional security components like information technology, cameras, and key codes, special features on driver’s licenses, as well the implementation of an age verification system.

Currently, 43 states including Tennessee are in compliance. An additional five states are expected to reach this classification later this year. All are required to comply by October 1, 2022.

Tennessee State Fire Marshal’s Office Reminds Tennesseans That Candles Must Be Held With Care

Ahead of Valentine’s Day, the Tennessee State Fire Marshal’s Office (SFMO) wanted to remind consumers that candles must be handled with care to avoid the potential loss of life, injury, and property damage from an accidental fire.

According to the Department of Commerce and Insurance, Tennessee fire departments responded to 71 residential structure fires that were started by candles in 2018 alone. These fires caused two civilian fatalities, four civilian injuries, two firefighter injuries, and more than $1.8 million in property damage.

The SFMO offers the following tips to help keep Tennesseans safe from candle fires:

  • When using candles, place them in sturdy, safe candleholders that will not burn or tip over.
  • Never leave a burning candle unattended. Extinguish candles when you leave a room or the home or go to bed.
  • Keep children and pets away from burning candles. Never leave a child unattended in a room with a candle. 
  • Never use a candle where medical oxygen is being used. The two can combine to create a large, unexpected fire. Medical oxygen can cause materials to ignite more easily and burn at a faster rate than normal. It can make an existing fire burn faster and hotter.
  • Lit candles should not be placed in windows, where blinds and curtains can close over them, causing a fire.    

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