111th Tennessee General Assembly ushers in new leadership, 32 freshmen legislators

The first session of the 111th General Assembly got underway on Jan. 8, swearing in one of the largest freshmen class of legislators in more than two decades and electing a new Speaker of the House.  The first session of the 111th General Assembly got underway on Jan. 8, swearing in one of the largest freshmen class of legislators in more than two decades and electing a new Speaker of the House.  

Rep. Glen Casada was officially elected by his fellow lawmakers as the new speaker of the Tennessee House of Representatives. He succeeds Rep. Beth Harwell, who served in that position for eight years. 

Casada, R-Thompson’s Station, has served in the Tennessee House for 16 years, holding key leadership positions including most recently the House Majority Leader and Republican Caucus Chairman.

In the Senate, Lt. Gov. Randy McNally was elected to his second term as Speaker of the Senate. He was sworn into office by a fellow senate colleague – Mark Norris, who was recently appointed as the U.S. District Judge for the Western District of Tennessee. 

Both men pledged to work in a non-partisan fashion to keep Tennessee moving forward. 

“We must resist the urge to concentrate on what divides us,” said Lt. Gov. McNally. “Our success has been achieved together. It can only continue together. Urban and rural, legislative and executive, house and senate, Democrat and Republican — we are all here to make Tennessee a better place. Let’s continue to believe in Tennessee together. Let’s get to work.” 

“I accept this gavel in partnership not partisanship,” said Speaker Casada. “At the table of governing, everyone is welcome and my door is always open ….. Respect and decorum will be the rule of the day.” 

The new year will also welcome a new governor. Republican Gov.-elect Bill Lee is scheduled to be inaugurated on Jan. 19. 

Among the issues expected to be addressed this year are criminal justice reform, boosting vocational and technical education, rural development, and school security.

Some of the more controversial issues will include medical marijuana, sports gambling, school vouchers, and Medicaid expansion.