Local government does not have its hands solely in where it resides but also has arms stretched out to the state level to improve what it offers at home.
The Franklin County Leadership Program got the opportunity last week to hear about how it all works with a visit to the capitol of Tennessee.
The second-to-last Leadership Program class trip was to Nashville on Wednesday with a tour of the state capitol building that was built in 1845 and took 14 years to complete.
Due to the fact that the trip was to Nashville, the day’s adventure started bright and early at the Franklin County Chamber of Commerce to load up in vans to make the hour-plus journey to Music City.
The class would arrive on time in Nashville to be able to sit in on a 111th General Assembly House session, seeing how the newly elected government body operates.
The sit-in included a special shoutout from Rep. Iris Rudder, R-Winchester, who thanked the leadership class for being at the capitol and encouraged her fellow legislators to give her hometown a warm welcome.
After the General Assembly House session, the group moved to the old Supreme Court Chambers, where the Tennessee Supreme Court used to hold proceedings. Now the facility is used for press conferences and other activities.
The class would hear from several lawmakers with the whole day organized by Kim Reasonover, Rudder’s legislative assistant, who had placed Rudder first on the list.
Rudder talked about what the class witnessed in the session because, from afar, it appeared representatives were talking among themselves with no care to what was going on upfront.
Rudder explained that it was a filing day for upcoming bills, and representatives can only carry 15 themselves, so they were trying to find out who had similar bills on the table to figure out if they could drop any so as not to compete on the same issues.
Rudder also told the group about all the committees she was assigned to recently and shared what she likes best about each assignment.
She is the vice-chairman of the House Government Operations Committee, and is also on the House Education and House Judiciary committees, as well as the House Children & Families Subcommittee and the House K-12 Subcommittee.
Longtime Secretary of State Tre Hargett took some time to talk about some of the main details his office handles.
Hargett talked about how part of his job is to make sure elections throughout the 95 counties are run fairly and are not influenced by personal politics.
He also pointed out the power of voting versus not voting in elections to the younger members of the class who will be able to vote in the next presidential election in 2020.
After Hargett finished, the group took a break before embarking on a tour of the whole capitol building that included learning that it is the only building to have two people buried in its walls.
The group then attended more presentations at the Legislative Library, which goes up four stories and features a spiral staircase.
New Speaker of the House Glen Casada briefly dropped in on a busy day to talk about what he does as speaker of the house.
Casada added that the participants could feel free to talk to him or Rudder anytime about any concerns they might have.
The last to speak for the day was Sen. Janice Bowling, R-Tullahoma, who also represents Franklin County.
Bowling talked about the importance of providing fiber-optic service to the rural parts of the state and explained a little bit of the craziness that comes with the bill-filing deadline that would occur later in the day.
Bowling briefly talked about the last experience the class would have for the day — touring the Cordell Hull Building that now houses all of the legislators’ offices and hearing rooms.
The building is named in honor of the former U.S secretary of state from Tennessee.
Leadership Franklin County class member Lexie Limbaugh said her favorite part of the day was seeing the tunnel that leads to the Cordell Hull Building because, despite being five floors below ground, it has an appearance of being illuminated by natural light.
Limbaugh also said the staircase in the Legislative Library was also a beautiful sight to see during the tour of the capitol.
Class member Evan Morris said the tour gave him a new sense of pride for being from Tennessee and a deeper appreciation for what goes on daily in the state capitol.
Morris added that he also gained a better grasp of the importance of participating in the voting process when election season comes up on the calendar.