On January 12, elected representatives from all across Tennessee made their way to the state capitol in Nashville to begin the second session of the 109th General Assembly. Both the House and the Senate began their work drafting, debating, and voting upon new laws for our state. The general consensus is that year’s legislative session will be fast-paced, as both the Speaker of the House and the Lieutenant Governor have indicated they hope to adjourn in early April – which would be the earliest adjournment in many, many years.

The legislature is likely to grabble with some issues of large consequence. Over the past year, Governor Haslam has begun a conversation about the inability of the state’s road building fund to keep up with the need to build and maintain the road system. The gasoline tax along with increasingly unreliable federal funding, is the primary method which the state funds its road program. While it is unlikely that an increase in the tax will pass this year, other sources of funding will be explored and debated. Disagreements between counties and cities over the distribution of sales tax revenue will likely result in legislation being offered, which is sure to result in spirited debate. And some are predicting that a proposal to  provide public funding for students to attend private schools may have the support become law this year.

TECA will be monitoring these issues closely to determine if any proposals have negative impacts upon electric cooperatives and our duty to provide reliable, low-cost energy to our member-owners. Specifically, we will be working with legislative leaders as they consider Tennessee’s response to the Clean Power Plan. Finalized late last year, the Federal mandate now requires each state to develop a compliance plan. This plan will be prepared by the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, and TECA will be working closely with TVA and other stakeholders to ensure that the concerns of rural and suburban Tennesseans are paramount in the development of the plan.

To stay better informed of TECA’s work on behalf of Tennessee’s co-ops make sure you subscribe to “View from the Hill,” our newsletter about legislative activities. To sign up, click here.

Mike Knotts serves as director of government affairs for the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association.

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