State Legislature organizes business, elects leadership as 111th General Assembly convenes

(NASHVILLE, Tenn.) –  The 111th General Assembly began as state lawmakers gathered on Capitol Hill on Tuesday, January 8th to take the oath of office, elect officers and organize the business of the 2019-2020 legislative sessions.  Families and friends crowded the Senate chamber and watched proudly as 18 state senators took the oath of office, which was the first order of business during the organizational session.   

The next order of business was adoption of the Senate rules, followed by the election of Lt. Governor Randy McNally.  McNally, who also serves as Speaker of Senate, is serving his second term as Lt. Governor of Tennessee. 

“In the past eight years, promises made during Republican campaigns became promises kept while in office,” McNally said.  “More Tennesseans have a job than ever before. We achieved AAA credit ratings from all three rating agencies. We became the most improved state in the nation in education.  And we cut taxes $800 million dollars.  This success is not a matter of luck. It is the result of dedicated public servants making tough decisions with an eye toward the future.”

Senator Jack Johnson (R-Franklin) was elected in December as Senate Majority Leader by his colleagues in the Senate Republican Caucus.  The election took place as the Caucus met in an organizational meeting in Nashville in advance of the 111th General Assembly.

The majority leader plays a key role in shepherding the governor’s legislation through the State Senate. 

“I believe very much that the framers wanted the states to be the laboratories of democracy,” Sen. Johnson told his colleagues. “Tennessee for the last eight to ten years has been a very successful laboratory.  We have made much progress, but there is more work to be done.  I am confident that we are prepared to meet these challenges head on as long as we stand firm in our conservative principles.  If we continue to work as a team, our state’s brightest days are ahead of us.”

In another key position elected by the Caucus, Senator Ken Yager (R-­­­Kingston) was elected Republican Caucus Chairman.

Republicans hold a 27-5 supermajority in the Senate, with one vacancy set for election in March. 

Among other organizational tasks, was the appointments of committees, Leader Johnson was appointed as a member of the important Finance, Ways and Means Committee and the Commerce and Labor Committee, the Committee of which he previously served as Chairman. 

The Finance Committee holds the purse strings for state government with responsibility for hearing all measures dealing with the appropriation of state funds. It also has oversight over legislation pertaining to bonds, pensions, investments, or indebtedness. The Commerce and Labor Committee hears legislation dealing with economic development, business, insurance, and business regulations, as well as employment matters.

The General Assembly returns from a two-week recess this week to start taking up bills in Committees.

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