State Sen. Mae Beavers gave a quick overview Tuesday of legislation she was involved in during the recently ended legislative session – some successful and some not.
After warming the Lebanon Noon Rotary crowd with a reference to "Duck Dynasty," Beavers said the legislature had a shorter session this time, and that would save the state some money. She recognized Lebanon city attorney Andy Wright. He told the group when he was part of Leadership Wilson, his group did a project concerning education.
"We realized that what we lack is a technology center," he said, adding his group worked with Beavers and state Rep. Susan Lynn to approach the Tennessee Board of Regents about locating a tech center in Wilson County.
"The county school board just approved the idea last night," Wright said. "I'm going to take credit for it."
Beavers then moved on to highlight some of the legislation she covered during the General Assembly that ended in April.
"Our budget is balanced in contrast to Washington's," she said. "We are a AAA-rated state. We are also the No. 1 state to retire to because we have no gift tax, and we've made a second reduction in the inheritance tax. We have a lot of family farms in Tennessee, and sometimes children who inherit the farm can't afford to pay the taxes."
Beavers said the state funded K-12 schools throughout the state with Basic Education Program funds, gave state employees a 1.5-percent raise along with more funds for their health insurance, will spend $350 million on TennCare and placed a substantial amount in the state's rainy day fund. She said the legislature gave tax relief to seniors and reduced the sales tax on food once again.
"The sales tax on food is a tax, I think, is unfair to everyone," she said.
Beavers also said the state passed proposed amendments to the state constitution requiring judges be elected, as well as the state attorney general.
"Judges should be elected by the people," she said.
Beavers expects the public to vote next year on an abortion amendment, on whether to ban a state income tax and more laws will be enacted restricting the sale of pseudoephedrine. She touted the bill she worked with Mothers Against Drunk Driving to produce that requires interlock devices for people convicted of driving drunk, noting "20 percent of all traffic fatalities in the state are caused by drunk drivers."
Beavers told the Rotarians she also helped pass a bill making it illegal for the names of gun permit holders to be published. She also supported the Firearms Freedom Act, which she said means the state can arrest federal officers who are looking to enforce any federal law to confiscate guns. That proposed law didn't pass.
"This law would mean when it comes to guns, the feds can't tell us what to do or come after our guns," she said, adding the proposed law is a contest between the Second Amendment's guarantee of gun owners' rights versus the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution that ensures federal laws surpass state laws.
Beavers said 14 states have passed similar laws.
"It's something that's going to play out," she said.
Other legislation she worked on included a bill to ensure a victim of bullying who fights back cannot be suspended from school for defending his or her self. She also backed failed legislation to ensure a parent's mental health is taken into consideration when a court decides child custody cases.
"This was not passed this year, but we'll be bringing it back," she said. "Shouldn't we be concerned about who is getting custody of children? That's what's important in life - future generations."