January 10th, 2017 marks the start of the 110th General Assembly of the State of Tennessee. Chas Sisk of Nashville Public Radio gives a brief overview of the changes to expect in this year’s Session, which includes the retirement of Ron Ramsey and his replacement as Lt. Governor with Randy McNally. The Tennessee legislature has spent a great deal of focus in recent years on opposing the federal agenda of President Obama, and with his recent retirement from office and replacement with Donald Trump, the General Assembly is expected to focus less on a reactionary agenda. Many voters are wondering what our State and federal governments will look like with the Republican party holding almost total control over their legislative and administrative agendas.
The Tennessee General Assembly is already announcing their intent to support the incoming Trump administration with Senator Jim Tracy’s filing of SJR0003, a memorializing resolution urging enactment of legislation to implement President-Elect Trump’s first 100-day agenda. Trump released his 100 day plan before the election, which includes the following legislative items:
Unfortunately a great deal of the details of this 100 day plan have been left vague, and we still don’t entirely know what to expect. Are we about to return to leaving tens of millions of Americans uninsured? Will we really build a 2,000 mile-long wall across our southern border? How is Trump planning to achieve his infrastructure goals? Is a complete privatization of schools really in the best interests of our children? How will Trump cut taxes for businesses and the middle class while increasing defense spending? These are just some of the issues we will undoubtedly be concerned with during the next four years, as federal legislation affects the people of our State and our State legislators follow the lead of the federal government in writing our State laws.
Our role as citizens in our government does not end at the ballot box. Elections matter because they decide who gets to write our laws, and what form those laws will take. Your vote matters because it helps to decide elections, even moreso at the State and local level. However, even after the election is over, your representatives still answer to you. Government for the people, by the people, isn’t just a feel-good phrase, but a call to action. Our government is designed to work for us, but it only works when we participate in it to the best of our ability. The work of holding our representatives responsible can be an even more important act of citizenship than voting for (or against) them in the first place. Here are just a few of the actions you can take in response to State and federal legislation going forward:
Simply calling your representatives and voicing your concerns about specific legislation, confirming appointees, ethics investigations, etc., truly is effective and can make a difference in effecting outcomes. Even when they are on the other side of an issue, getting enough phone calls from constituents can sway them in the opposite direction. If you are unsure who you representatives are, you can do a quick search for them here, which also provides their contact information. You can also check on your voter registration status or register to vote here.