NASHVILLE (WATE) – With the drop of a gavel, the 109th Tennessee General Assembly was called to session Tuesday. The biggest issue on the agenda this year will be the special session on the Governor’s health care plan Insure Tennessee.
“No question that its going to be controversial. No question that its going to be a very interesting debate,” said State Sen. Dr. Richard Briggs.
This is Briggs’ first session as a newly elected state senator for Knoxville. He was sworn in Tuesday. Dr. Briggs says he still has questions about the governor’s health care plan, but says for now he believes its a step in the right direction.
“We need to do something to help the people that don’t have insurance particularly those that are working,” he said.
Another key legislative issue this year will be surrounding abortion laws. Voters in November passed Amendment 1, which allows lawmakers to pass abortion regulations. Lawmakers like State Sen. Becky Duncan Massey say they expect laws regarding implied consent to pass.
“If we are going to have abortion which is the law of the land we need to make sure it’s safe just like any other medical procedure,” she said.
Rep. Ryan Haynes expects any legislation on abortion regulations to be limited.
“There’s no reason to go past something that we know is going to get struck down in federal court. No sense in wasting taxpayer money on that until the Supreme Court changes some of their rulings we’re very limited in what we can do,” said Haynes.
Some Knoxville legislators say they plan to tackle safety issues on school buses this year, following last month’s deadly bus crash.
“Certainly looking at safety and the school buses. Looking at the criteria for drivers and to make sure standards are set,” said State Rep. Joe Armstrong.
The one legal requirement for lawmakers is to pass a balanced budget. They say that’s the number one priority for this legislative session.