A legislative update from State Senator Mae Beavers


Senator Mae Beavers

Senator Mae Beavers

NASHVILLE, TN-State lawmakers returned to Capitol Hill this week to begin the work of the first regular week of the 106th General Assembly.  The first order of business was a joint session of the House and Senate to hear Governor Phil Bredesen’s State of the State address.  

The governor had been scheduled to lay out his budget plans in the annual address, but due to the potential impact of the federal stimulus legislation, those details have been delayed until mid-March.

The governor emphasized in his budget address that Tennessee has a rough road ahead with its state budget regardless of the stimulus package, due to declining revenues.  That point was echoed by State Finance Commissioner Dave Goetz who told members of the Senate Finance Committee on Wednesday that Tennessee’s year-to-date collections were $522.1 million less than the budgeted estimate.  The January revenues reflected dismal holiday retail sales and is the eleventh negative growth month in sales tax collections, starting with January 2008.

“Gov. Bredesen needs to pass a responsible and conservative budget,” said Sen. Mae Beavers.  “During these uncertain times, we cannot afford to toss out our conservative principles as we move forward.  We will emerge from these hard times and Tennessee will continue to prosper as long as we govern by our principles and convictions.”

Senate committees convene

Senator Beavers began work in all three of her committees this week, hearing reports in the Transportation and Commerce committees, in addition to holding an organizational meeting for the Judiciary Committee.  In the Commerce Committee, Greg Gonzales, Commissioner Department of Financial Institutions, told members that Tennessee’s state banking system remains sound “despite the increased number of problem assets that we are seeing in the system resulting from the current economic environment.”  He said state banks remain profitable as a whole and capital averages far exceed national averages.  Gonzales noted, however, the non-bank mortgage industry has had a reduction of mortgage loan originators by half.  Delinquencies have been most dramatic in construction and loans, particularly those in larger projects.

“It is very important we work to ensure our banking system remains strong as we move through these hard times,” said Sen. Beavers.  “The Commerce Committee will continue to hold people accountable for their actions and to make sure there is transparency available on all levels of our banking system.”

Sen. Beavers to again chair Judiciary Committee

Sen. Beavers will once again serve as the Chairman of the Judiciary Committee – one of the most important and largest committees in the Senate.  She plans to hear a variety of issues ranging from gun and ammunition bills, sexual predator bills, as well as bills governing the way Tennessee selects its judges.  

Sen. Beavers welcomed new members Sen. Mike Faulk, Sen. Doug Overbey, and new committee member Sen. Dewayne Bunch to Senate Judiciary as well as six returning members.  Those members include Judiciary Vice-Chair Doug Jackson, Sen. Diane Black, Sen. Jim Kyle, Sen. Beverly Marrero, and Sen. Paul Stanley. 

Next week the committee plans to hear a presentation regarding changes to the rules of the courts and a presentation regarding incarceration costs, in addition to hearing bills discussing criminal procedure and sexual offenders.  “I look forward to once again serving my district and my state as the Chair of the Judiciary Committee.  Even amidst the current financial and political environment, I encourage all leaders to move forward to tackle the difficult tasks at hand for everyday Tennesseans,” said Sen. Beavers.