Preview of 2023 General Assembly
This information comes from the office of 28th District State Sen. Joey Hensley M.D., who represents,Giles and Lewis Maury and Marshall counties.
Upon completion of organizational tasks, the General Assembly will get to work on issues facing Tennessee.
Passing a balanced budget is the most important Constitutional duty of the Tennessee General Assembly and its only required task.
The state is in great financial condition despite challenges including inflation, which is impacting not only Tennessee, but the entire country and world.
For fiscal year 2022-2023, the state’s Funding Board is projecting a growth rate of 7.2%-7.7% while estimates drop to between 1.25% and 2.25% for fiscal year 2023-2024. Gov. Bill Lee and lawmakers will build this year’s budget utilizing these estimates.
Tennessee has a proud tradition of being a fiscally conservative state that is well managed with the lowest possible tax burden to residents.
The AAA-ranked Volunteer State is the least indebted state in the nation per capita and is the number one state for fiscal stability.
Tennessee also is one of only five states without road debt and ranks in the top 3 of states for best-funded pension plans. Expect the 2023/2024 budget to reflect these conservative values.
Tennessee’s transportation system will be a major issue addressed in the 113th General Assembly. As Tennessee continues to grow, its transportation infrastructure needs are also growing.
Gov. Lee has announced plans to work with the General Assembly to develop a long-term plan to invest in Tennessee’s transportation network in rural and urban areas to provide more opportunities and a higher quality of life for Tennesseans.
The Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) has highlighted a clear need for the state to take major action to meet the demands of a growing list of transportation projects. TDOT has identified a $34 billion need for infrastructure projects across the state. Currently, Tennessee’s investment in transportation falls well short of this need and spends $1.2 billion annually to maintain current infrastructure, with about $500 million allocated for new construction projects.
TDOT has highlighted three main challenges facing Tennessee’s transportation system: congestion, delivery, and workforce. Proposals to help solve these issues include:
Building “Choice Lanes” through public private partnerships that offer more options to drivers to avoid traffic congestion
Increasing the utilization of alternative delivery models to improve the delivery of projects 30-50% faster than the traditional model
Improving pay for TDOT workers
Raising the state registration fee on electric vehicles from $100 to $300 per year to help offset future revenue losses as electric vehicle adoption increases
The Senate Finance Ways and Means Committee and the Transportation and Safety Committee will look at the needs of TDOT and weigh options of how a long-term, strategic plan can ensure Tennessee can meet growing infrastructure needs while also maintaining conservative fiscal management of taxpayer dollars.
Department of Children’s Services
Another top issue of the 2023 legislative agenda will be improving services, facilities, and record-keeping technology at the Department of Children’s Services (DCS), which is facing considerable challenges, including staffing shortages and housing facility needs.
An audit by the Tennessee Comptroller found that “the safety, permanency, and well-being of Tennessee’s most vulnerable children is in jeopardy” by the department’s failure to address ongoing needs. The three main findings of the audit were issues with staffing, child placement, and repeat historical audit findings.
DCS has requested a $156 million budget increase for the 2023/2024 fiscal year to increase salaries for DCS case managers; update the Tennessee Family and Child Tracking System (TFACTS); and improve foster care, residential services, prevention services, and adoption services.
Two bills have been filed by Senate Majority Leader Jack Johnson (R-Franklin) aimed at protecting children’s developing bodies and minds. The Protecting Children from Gender Mutilation Act prohibits medical interference that alters a child’s hormonal balance as well as procedures that remove their organs so that the minor can identify as a gender different from their biological sex. The legislation would create a private right of action allowing a minor injured due to a violation of the law to sue for damages. It also would allow courts to impose an additional $25,000 penalty for each violation.
The other bill, Senate Bill 3, seeks to ban adult cabaret performances, which include drag shows of a sexual nature, from being performed on public property or on private property if children could be around to see it. Under the bill, a private establishment such as a bar or restaurant hosting a sexually suggestive drag show must require patrons to show ID before entering to ensure they are 18 years of age or older.
Sen.. Hensley may be contacted at 425 Rep. John Lewis Way N., Suite 742, Nashville, TN 37243, at 615-741-3100, toll free at 1-800-449-8366 ext. 13100, or by fax at 615-253-0231.
His district address is 855 Summertown Highway, Hohenwald, TN 38462. He may be contacted by phone at 931-796-2018, cell phone at 931-212-8823, or email: firstname.lastname@example.org