The 2019 legislative session was incredibly successful, thanks to conservative leadership in the Tennessee House of Representatives.
During my first legislative session, I was successful in passing multiple pieces of legislation.
For instance, I introduced House Bill 1425, which increases the number of additional enrollment courses a student may take under a dual-enrollment grant.
I am pleased this legislation passed with strong bipartisan support as it will put students halfway to an associate’s degree upon graduation.
I was also successful in passing legislation to exempt historic military vehicles from the requirement to display license plates on the vehicle and remove the requirement that the office of local government have a director who is both appointed by the Comptroller of the Treasury and serves at the pleasure of the Comptroller of the Treasury.
While I am proud of these pieces of legislation for passing the General Assembly and becoming law, my colleagues and I supported bills that continue to make Tennessee the greatest state to work, raise a family and retire.
For example, the House Republican caucus led on several important issues this year, passing one of the most fiscally responsible budgets in state history.
It invests $239 million into the Rainy Day fund, bringing the state savings account up to a total of $1.1 billion.
The budget also fully funds the Katie Beckett Waiver program which provides life-saving medical services through TennCare for children with the most significant disabilities and highest medical needs, regardless of parental income levels.
Finally, our budget cuts more than $35.2 million in taxes and preserves Tennessee’s AAA bond rating.
Additionally, we worked to improve access and the quality of care available to our citizens through the comprehensive CARE Plan.
This plan is designed to transform healthcare through Consumerism, increasing Access, improving Rural health systems, and Empowering patients to guarantee individuals and families can make all medical decisions instead of insurance companies or the government.
As part of this plan, we paved the way for Tennessee to create a patient-centered system of care through the implementation of block grants.
These block grants must convert the federal share of all medical assistance funding for Tennessee into an allotment that is tailored to meet our specific needs.
This will empower Tennesseans, their loved ones, and their doctors to be in charge of all healthcare decisions with limited government interference.
Finally, we began what will become a much larger discussion about criminal justice reform. As part of this discussion, we provided significant tools for our law enforcement communities to get fentanyl and other deadly, synthetic drugs off our streets.
We also passed legislation that saves taxpayers about $13.7 million on incarceration costs, cracks down on bad actors and assists those with a strong desire to overcome their prior mistakes.
This year, we removed state fees on records expunction for those who have successfully completed a diversion program, and we created a statewide payment plan for individuals who submit proof of their inability to pay fines, taxes, or court costs on citations and have had their licenses suspended.
This will allow them to obtain restricted driver’s licenses so they can work, pursue their education, or attend church.
The overall goal is to ensure accountability while also supporting rehabilitation efforts as these individuals work toward prosperity.
Tennessee is leading the national on several important issues. However, there is more work to be done in the coming days, weeks, and months ahead.
It is an incredible honor to serve in the General Assembly and to represent our community. I am humbled by your support, and I thank you for your continued prayers. May God bless you, your families, and this great state.
Iris Rudder represents House District 39. She is the vice-chair of the Government Operations Committee. She also serves on the House Judiciary Committee, the Education Committee, the Children and Families Subcommittee, the House K-12 Subcommittee, and the Education, Health and General Welfare Joint Subcommittee.