On Wednesday morning, I visited Fayetteville in Lincoln County, where we lost two Tennesseans as a result of Monday’s tornadoes. Crissy’s and my deepest sympathies and prayers go out to all affected by these devastating storms.
One thing I always take away from a day like today is that even though this is an extremely difficult time for those who are impacted, seeing people come together to lift each other up and help each other rebuild their lives is always so encouraging.
Earlier this month, the 108th Tennessee General Assembly adjourned for the year. In addition to passing our balanced budget proposal, the Legislature overwhelmingly approved the Tennessee Promise. Passage of this proposal means that beginning in 2015 high school graduates in Tennessee can attend a community college or college of applied technology absolutely free of tuition and fees.
We are the only state in the country making this bold promise, and it makes a clear statement to Tennessee families that education beyond high school is a priority in our state, speaks volumes to current and prospective employers, and will make a difference for generations of Tennesseans.
I’m grateful to Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, Speaker Beth Harwell, and Majority Leaders Mark Norris and Gerald McCormick for their leadership and hard work this session. You can watch clips from our end of session press conference here.
Several other notes from this month include an event Tuesday, where I was joined by former Gov. Phil Bredesen and former Sen. Fred Thompson along with a bipartisan and diverse group of leaders for the official launch of the “Vote Yes on 2” campaign. The goal is to support the Judicial Selection Amendment to our state constitution, which is the second of four proposed constitutional amendments that will be on the ballot this fall. A stable and impartial judiciary is important to all of us.
In recent years, there have been numerous legal challenges to the way we select our appellate judges. Passing Amendment 2 will give us clarity and will strengthen the voice of Tennessee voters in the selection process. We hope all Tennesseans will go to the polls and Vote Yes on 2 this fall.
Also this month, I had the pleasure of being on hand as the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum unveiled its 210,000-square-foot expansion, more than doubling its size.
April has also been a busy month at the Tennessee Residence, with Crissy hosting a number of events for young Tennesseans. Our fourth annual Easter Egg Roll brought 115 children from Nashville area daycare and Head Start centers out to enjoy a variety of activities on the lawn. She also hosted third grade students from Algood Elementary School to launch the Tennessee Residence Tree-Mendous Trail, a new program created in partnership with the Tennessee Department of Agriculture Division of Forestry to encourage students to learn about the trees at the Residence and how they contribute to our environment.
We believe the Residence is an asset for our state and that educational programs like these create great opportunities to share Tennessee’s home with students.
As always I welcome your feedback on the items I’ve mentioned above or anything else that’s on your mind.
Bill Haslam is Tennessee’s governor. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.