Tennessee lawmakers kick off 108th legislative session

10:53 PM, Jan 8, 2013   |    comments
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East Tennessee lawmakers went back to Nashville Tuesday to kick off the new legislative session.

The 108th General Assembly officially started business at 1 p.m. Eastern Time.

Republican Rep. Beth Harwell, of Nashville, was re-elected Speaker of the House. Meanwhile, Republican Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey, of Bristol, will once again be Speaker of the Senate.

There are also many of new faces at the Capitol building too. East Tennessee legislators Kent Calfee, Gloria Johnson and Tilman Goins were just some of the new representatives sworn into the House as well.

And, this year, all lawmakers, whether they be freshmen or veterans, are expected to tackle a lot of issues.

This year the legislature is expected to tackle a wide variety of issues.

"It will be a busy year for us," said Harriman's Republican representative Ken Yager.

A big issue lawmakers are expected to discuss is whether schools should have armed resource officers as a form of protection.

"It [the bill] would require that every school have a resource officer or trained staff member," said Republican Senator Frank Niceley of Knoxville.

Another issue that is getting a lot of attention is whether wine should be sold in grocery stores. Currently, such sales are illegal in Tennessee.

Ramsey has voiced support for the move. However, Republican representative Tilman Goins of Hamblen County isn't quite so sure.

"I think local governments will decide what's best for their constituents," he said.

The first day of session little scent of partisan politics. Politicians had plenty of smiles as they posed for pictures with their families.

Things might not look the same later this year, however.

Republicans currently hold a super majority of representatives and senators in the general assembly.

"I don't think we'll [republicans] abuse the power and you know the democrats for decades had a big majority if not a super majority like this," Ramsey said. "I think the people of Tennessee spoke, they truly like what we're doing."

Gloria Johnson, a Democrat representative from Knoxville, said she expects both parties to read across the aisle.

"I've met a lot of people, I've talked with folks, it doesn't matter which side of the aisle you're on," she said. "A lot of us have similar ideas."

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