Tennessee republican leaders say significant changes made this session

(Photo: WKRN)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – State republican leaders, starting with the governor, say they have made significant changes to the lives of everyday Tennesseans.

Those words came just moments after the legislature adjourned for the year earlier Wednesday afternoon.

While acknowledging a sometimes stormy session, Gov. Bill Haslam cited some history to go with the accomplishments affecting his residents.

“I am actually the very first Republican governor in history to serve with Republican majorities. So we started this experiment, if you will, in Republican government six and a half years ago. These are the results: lowest taxes in the country, lowest debt in the country, fastest improvement in education, first state to open up to education to everyone,” he said.

Republican majority leader Sen. Mark Norris cited the IMPROVE Act where new road funding means new bridges for some parts of Tennessee and safer routes for school buses.

“Buses today are bigger and heavier than they were when a lot of these bridges were built, and the only reason they hold up is because there is only one axle on at a time, or the fire departments that cannot respond to calls,” he said.

But there are also some major issues left for next session, say democrats. Senator Jeff Yarbro said lawmakers had largely punted on the opioid issue, and 200,000 people are still left without health care who would have gotten it with Medicaid expansion.

Other issues still unresolved are school bus safety measures and medical marijuana.

Many of the bills brought up this year can be brought back in January when lawmakers return because each session is two years and this year was the first one.