Carson Springs Conference Center Hosts Legislative Breakfast
The Cocke County Partnership hosted the 13th annual Legislative Breakfast this morning at the Carson Springs Conference Center. A good size crowd was on hand to hear representatives from Senator Marsha Blackburn, Senator Bill Hagerty and Rep. Diana Harshbarger’s offices. Also filling attendees in on legislative happenings were Senator Steve Southerland, Cocke County Mayor Rob Mathis, Newport Mayor Trey Dykes, Parrottsville Mayor Gayla Hommel and state representative Jeremy Faison who mentioned that his office received more responses than ever before with a recent survey sent out to constituents. Rep. Faison stated that 700 survey letters were sent back to his office. One of the questions on that survey was a hot topic among respondents and that is the issue of gender affirming surgery of children. Faison stated that 98.2% of those responding were against allowing a health care professional to perform this life altering surgery on a child. The governor signed a bill into law Thursday making that practice illegal in the state of Tennessee. Faison also talked about his support for Governor Bill Lee’s proposal to add choice lanes in the four largest cities in the state, Nashville, Memphis, Chattanooga and Knoxville. Representative Faison stated his support for that bill stems from an assurance by the TDOT Commissioner that money raised from those Choice Lanes would be filtered back to rural areas such as Cocke County. That would help make projects like the 4 lane extension of Hwy 321 to Gatlinburg and other road projects a reality.
Michael Hensley from Senator Blackburn’s office announced her appointment to the position of Deputy Whip for the Republican party in the US Senate, as well as her being named to the powerful Senate Finance Committee. Blackburn is the sole female republican on that committee.
Senator Bill Hagerty’s representative, Nick Castle spoke about Hagerty’s support for a bill introduced by Sen. Ted Cruz which would put term limits on legislators. Two terms for the senate and three terms for the house would be the limit a lawmaker could serve. Hagerty will also be leading a congressional delegation to Japan soon. Before he was a senator, Bill Hagerty was the US Ambassador to Japan.
Daryl Brady from Representative Diana Harshbarger’s office spoke about a subject she feels is extremely important and that is border security. Brady mentioned how already this year 9,000 pounds of fentanyl has already come across the border from Mexico. That is enough fentanyl to kill 2.1 billion people. He also stressed that a representative from her office is in Newport the first Wednesday of every month from 10-11:30am at the Cocke County Mayor’s office.
Speaking of Cocke County Mayor, Rob Mathis touted how the county and the city of Newport continue to work together to progress certain projects like building a new animal shelter to serve both the county and city in the Industrial Park area. Another such project is the sewer line being run from Newport to the Cosby school. That sewer line will also be a big part in a planned development of Exit 440.
Newport mayor Trey Dykes, whom Cocke County Partnership President Lucas Graham called “the best dressed man in Cocke County”, stated that the Newport Bypass from the north side of town to the west side of town is progressing on time and is still set to be completed in 2025. The mayor also announced that free w-fi is now available in downtown Newport thanks to Newport Utilities. The mayor left the attendees with a cliffhanger, speaking of a major project in the works, but whose details he cannot disclose at this time.
After a few brief remarks from new Parrottsville mayor Gayla Hommel, the attendees left the 13th annual Legislative Breakfast with a full stomach and some good information.