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House remembers tornado victims

House remembers tornado victims

House members observed a moment of silence Thursday for the families affected by Tuesday’s tornado outbreak.
“So many lives have been devastated by these horrific, unpredictable storms,” said state Rep. Phillip Pinion. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to the victims and their families who must begin to pick up the pieces of their lives.”
A number of members were absent from Thursday’s session while visiting their districts to assess the damage and help begin the process of cleaning up. The hardest hit counties included Davidson, Henderson, Hickman, Madison, Maury, Macon, Shelby, Sumner, Trousdale and Williamson.
According to the Associated Press, President Bush has declared five Tennessee counties major disaster areas and ordered federal aid. He planned to visit the state today.
Finance budget hearings continue
The Finance, Ways and Means Committee continued House budget hearings this week, hearing Tuesday from the Tennessee Commission of Children and Youth and the Department of Children Services.
“We are in a lean year, and therefore we must be very thoughtful about how we spend our dollars,” said Pinion. “Each one of these budget hearings is vital to us being as efficient as possible with our resources.”
The committee also heard from Finance Commissioner Dave Goetz, General Services Com-missioner Gwendolyn Davis, Human Resources Commissioner Deborah Story and Revenue Commissioner Reagan Farr and Commissioner Jim Fyke of the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation.
“Piece by piece we evaluate every part of the budget,” said Pinion, “and I’m confident that we’ll be able to deliver a balanced budget within the projected revenue limitations.”
AT&T and cable television talks continue
On Monday some House Democrats and Republicans held a press conference to discuss the current status of talks between AT&T and the Cable Companies in trying to compromise on a bill to expand broadband service competition in Tennessee.
“We are working hard to bring the two business sides of this legislation together to work out an agreement that is first and foremost best for the people of Tennessee,” said Pinion. “By working together, as Republicans and Democrats, Tennesseans can be certain a compromise that benefits all the citizens on this state will get done.”
Once talks between the two groups have finished, the bipartisan team of leaders hopes to then begin the process of addressing the concerns of local municipalities, making sure local governments are protected in any final agreement.
“There are a lot of moving parts with this project, but the ultimate goal of this bill will be to expand broadband communications technologies like high-speed Internet and digital television into all four corners of Tennessee,” said Pinion. “Broadband is becoming what electricity was in the 1930s; no longer a luxury but a necessity.”
The bipartisan group hopes to have a resolution in the coming weeks, while most expect final legislation passage later this year.
Tennessee National Guard continues to be
shining example
General Gus Hargett of the Tennessee National Guard spoke on the House floor on Monday evening to deliver the current status of Tennessee’s National Guard Units. Hargett said over 1,300 troops are currently serving overseas, with 1,280 of those stationed in Iraq. The remaining members current serve in Kosovo, Kuwait and Afghanistan.
“Our men and women know what it means to serve and are shining examples of the Volunteer State,” said Pinion.
Since Sept. 11, 2001, more than 12,000 Tennessee National Guard troops have served overseas, while another 1,300 assisted in Mississippi and Louisiana during Hurricane Katrina, and almost 1,200 have patrolled the southwest border of the United States.
Published in The Messenger 2.8.08

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