Recap of what state leaders shared at the 2019 TML Legislative Conference

Gov. Bill Lee, Lt. Gov. Randy McNally, and House Speaker Glen Casada were part of the all-star lineup of state leaders who city officials heard from and met with during the TML Legislative Conference recently held in Nashville.
Lawmakers touched on subjects like criminal justice reform, the state budget, education, and workforce development issues.
Gov. Bill Lee stressed the important role local governments play and said his goal is to create an environment where local governments can thrive.
“It’s the local leaders in our communities who are going to transform our state,” Lee said.
He also discussed issues he hopes to work on in the coming months such as investments in vocational education and criminal justice reform. Gov. Lee unveiled some of these initiatives when he announced his $38.55 billion budget for fiscal year 2019-2020.
Lt. Gov. Randy McNally detailed the upcoming state budget, including teacher raises and school safety funding, as well as the desire to beef up the state’s Rainy Day Fund in preparation for any future economic downturns.
House Speaker Glen Casada said “state government is a partnership” that needs the voices of city leaders to help make it work. He said that municipal leaders should talk with lawmakers both during and outside of the legislative session to discuss important issues.
Senate Finance Chairman Bo Watson discussed the ongoing budget process and financing for education, capital improvements, and the Rainy Day Fund.
“If you want to know what is important to Tennessee, you look at how we spend our money. It’s on K-12 education. It’s fundamentally the most important thing that the state does,” said Sen. Watson.
House Finance Chair Susan Lynn spoke about her work with the state budget and funding for education, workforce development, and mental health. Lynn also detailed how her committee handles finance bills that are not part of the governor’s general budget.
Senate State and Local Government Committee Chairman Steve Dickerson spoke out against preemption of local autonomy. He encouraged city officials to always oppose preemption bills even if a particular piece of legislation may not effect their community directly.
“If one community gets preempted today, it could be your community that gets preempted tomorrow,” said Sen. Dickerson.
House Local Government Committee Chairman John Crawford said his committee has been working on bills that deal with elections and campaign finance, property and planning, and internet sales tax.
“Our committees are working hard to do what is good for Tennessee. We are in great shape as a state. And we don’t want to do any harm – not to you (cities), and not to the counties. We want to make sure we keep Tennessee moving forward,” said Rep. Crawford.
State Comptroller Justin P. Wilson touted the benefits of the CMFO program and praised municipalities for meeting the program’s requirements. He also encouraged cities to conduct annual fiscal inventories to ensure cities are in compliance with financial regulations.
Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bob Rolfe discussed the value of the state’s Select Tennessee Certified Sites program in helping communities attract new businesses and the important role the local communities play in bringing new industries to the state.
TBI Director David Rausch discussed TBI’s role in aiding local law enforcement as well as initiatives TBI is working on concerning opioids, human trafficking, and juvenile justice reform.
Tennessee Department of Transportation Commissioner Clay Bright updated city officials on projects being funded through the Improve Act as well as weather-related and road maintenance concerns.
Complete coverage of all of the speakers remarks can be found on TML’s website at