Bill Lee

Lee to keep State of the State party going in Knoxville, Memphis

Bill Lee is inaugurated as Tennessee’s 50th governor on Jan. 19, 2018. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Gov. Bill Lee is scheduled to give his first State of the State address in Nashville on Monday. But he’s not stopping there. The new governor has announced plans to hold similar regional addresses in Knoxville and Memphis later in the week.

The addresses are dubbed the State of East Tennessee and the State of West Tennessee, respectively. What, no State of Middle Tennessee?

Here’s the full release from Lee’s office:

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Today, in an effort to reach new audiences outside the state capital, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee announced plans to deliver regional addresses following the State of the State speech next week.

“I look forward to delivering my first State of the State address on Monday during a joint session of the legislature in Nashville, however, I am excited to have these special events in Knoxville and Memphis,” said Lee. “As we present our budget and outline priorities for the next year, we want to engage with as many Tennesseans as we can.”

Gov. Lee will deliver his State of the State address to the General Assembly and members of the public on Monday, March 4 at 6 p.m. CT in the House Chamber of the Tennessee General Assembly in Nashville. The joint session will air statewide.

State of the State occurring in Nashville, and the addition of these two events, he will deliver an address in each Grand Division.

Details for the State of East Tennessee address and the State of West Tennessee address are listed below. The events are free and open to the public with tickets available at https://www.tn.gov/governor/sots. Tickets are needed for entry.

State of East Tennessee
Tuesday, March 5, 2019
6:00 p.m. ET
University of Tennessee – Knoxville
Clarence Brown Theatre
1714 Andy Holt Ave.
Knoxville, TN 37996

State of West Tennessee
Thursday, March 7, 2019
5:30 p.m. CT
University of Memphis
University Center Ballroom
499 University St.
Memphis, TN 38152

Lee outlines criminal justice plans in advance of State of the State address

Gov. Bill Lee speaks to the state chapter of the National Federation of Independent Business in Nashville on Feb. 19, 2019. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Republican Gov. Bill Lee is outlining his plans for criminal justice reform in advance of his first State of the State address on Monday.

“We will focus on helping individuals to ensure there is a pathway to a productive life beyond crime and ultimately make our state a safer place,” said Lee.

Here’s the release from the Lee administration:

Today, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee announced comprehensive plans to address criminal justice and public safety ahead of his State of the State address on Monday.

“We must significantly improve public safety in our state and I believe that starts with our criminal justice system,” said Lee. “We will focus on helping individuals to ensure there is a pathway to a productive life beyond crime and ultimately make our state a safer place.”

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Gov. Lee announces $15M mental health initiative

Gov. Bill Lee speaks to the state chapter of the National Federation of Independent Business in Nashville on Feb. 19, 2019. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Republican Gov. Bill Lee on Tuesday announced a $15 million initiative to address mental illness in Tennessee.

Here’s the full release:

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Today, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee announced three priorities to increase access to mental health treatment and expand suicide prevention efforts across the state.

“The mental health of our citizens is foundational to all other goals we seek to accomplish in education, job growth and public safety,” said Lee. “By prioritizing our mental health safety net and suicide prevention, we are caring for more Tennesseans and building healthier communities.”

Gov. Lee is proposing $11.2 million in new funding to expand access to services for Tennesseans living with serious mental illness. This investment seeks to cover an additional 7,000 uninsured Tennessee adults through the state’s Behavioral Health Safety Net program, which provides several essential mental health services.  Additionally, the investment addresses increasing costs at the state’s four regional mental health institutes and ensures that those facilities will continue to provide high quality care to Tennesseans with the most significant psychiatric needs.

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Lee proposes $40M for school safety officers

Gov. Bill Lee speaks to the state chapter of the National Federation of Independent Business in Nashville on Feb. 19, 2019. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Republican Gov. Bill Lee is proposing a $40 million grant fund to pay for more school resource officers around the state.

Here’s the full release from Lee’s office:

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Today, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee announced a new investment in school safety to better protect teachers and students and prepare against the threat of violence.

 

“The safety of our children and teachers is a top priority for my administration, and this investment ensures that school districts will have the resources they need to better protect our schools,” said Lee.

 

Gov. Lee is proposing a $40 million investment for the school safety grant fund. Legislation filed will provide additional changes to existing law to prioritize the distribution of these grants to school resource officers.

 

Approximately 500 Tennessee schools do not currently have SROs, and changes to the law will enable them to fill these positions. The proposal also accommodates underserved counties working to secure schools and fill SRO positions by adjusting limited match requirements to be proportional to districts’ fiscal capacity.

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Lee to include repeal of ‘gym tax’ in budget proposal

Gov. Bill Lee speaks to the National Federation of Independent Business at the Cordell Hull building in Nashville on Feb. 19, 2019. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Republican Gov. Bill Lee says he will repeal the ‘gym tax’ as part of his first annual spending plan. The tax 10% tax on gyms, fitness centers, and health clubs brings in about $10 million in state revenues per year. It remains to be seen how much of that savings will be reflected in the cost of individual gym memberships. But gym owners are bound to be pleased.

Here’s the full release from the Lee administration:

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Today, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee announced his plans to repeal the amusement tax on gym memberships in his upcoming budget.

 

“I’m pleased to be able to include a tax cut in my first budget,” said Lee. “Repealing the gym tax is an important step in reducing the burdens on small businesses in our state.”

 

The nearly 10 percent amusement tax is placed on memberships to gyms, fitness centers and health clubs and disproportionately impacts small business owners. On the books since the mid-1980s, the gym tax represents approximately $10 million in state revenue.

 

“Unfortunately, we’ve discouraged Tennesseans from investing in their health and wellness by taxing their efforts,” said Lee. “The skyrocketing costs of health care and Tennessee’s high rates of obesity and diabetes means we simply cannot afford to discourage healthy habits.”

 

According to the Department of Health, Tennessee ranks 40th in the nation for physical activity and 35th for adult obesity. Recent estimates show that illnesses related to diabetes, hypertension and cardiovascular disease cost Tennessee more than $5.3 billion annually in direct and indirect costs.

 

“I look forward to working with the legislature to modernize our tax code and prioritize the wellness of Tennesseans,” said Lee.

Lee unveils ‘Future Workforce Initiative’

Gov.-elect Bill Lee speaks to a Chamber of Commerce event in Memphis on Dec. 6, 2018. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Republican Gov. Bill Lee’s office unveiled a Future Workforce Initiative to promote science, technology, engineering, and math (or STEM) education training in K-12 schools.

Here’s the full release from Lee’s office:

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Today, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee announced the Future Workforce Initiative to increase science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) training in K-12 schools as part of his first-year legislative agenda for education.

“Our agenda advocates for increased access to career and technical education for K-12 students and a key part of this includes prioritizing STEM training,” said Lee. “The Future Workforce Initiative is a direct response to the emerging technology industry and making sure our students are first in line to be qualified for technology jobs.”

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New FedEx Logistics HQ to add 689 jobs in downtown Memphis

Gov. Bill Lee has announced that FedEx Logistics will consolidate its headquarters in downtown Memphis. The move will involve a $44 million investment in the former Gibson Guitar factory and the creation of 689 jobs.

Here’s the full release from the Lee administration:

MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee, Department of Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bob Rolfe and FedEx Logistics announced today that the company will move its headquarters to downtown Memphis, where it will invest $44 million and create 689 jobs.

“With FedEx Logistics creating more than 680 jobs, and investing more than $44 million in Shelby County, they are once again showing that Tennessee is a great place to do business,” Lee said. “FedEx and its subsidiaries have been a true Tennessee success story, and we as a state are proud to see this company continue to grow and call Tennessee home.”

“I congratulate FedEx Logistics on its decision to move its headquarters to downtown Memphis,” Rolfe said. “FedEx Logistics has been located in Memphis since its creation in 2000, and it means a great deal that this company continues to call Memphis home. I appreciate FedEx and FedEx Logistics for choosing to create nearly 700 high quality jobs in downtown Memphis and for its continued commitment to Tennessee.”

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Lee wants to ‘explore alternatives’ to medical marijuana legalization

Republican Gov. Bill Lee wants to “explore alternatives” before the state takes steps to legalize medical marijuana, WKRN-TV reports.

“I think we ought to expand the use of low-THC CBD oils first to alternative treatments before we go there,” said Lee said.

A renewed effort to legalize medical marijuana in Tennessee would establish a framework to license growing and dispensing cannabis. Supporters note  that 33 states representing two-thirds of the national population have already enacted medical marijuana programs. They also argue legalization would lead to a significant drop in opioid abuse.

Recreational use would remain banned under this year’s bill sponsored by Rep. Ron Travis (R-Dayton) and Sen. Janice Bowling (R-Tullahoma). The measure would require patients suffering from a specific set of maladies to obtain a cannabis card from a doctor, physician’s assistant, or nurse practitioner.

Lee to make first economic development announcement in Memphis?

UPDATE: An updated public schedule  has the governor attending an “economic development announcement” in Memphis at 11 a.m. on Tuesday. The location for the announcement is outside the old Gibson Guitar building on South B.B. King Boulevard.

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The Daily Memphian reports Gov. Bill Lee is expected to make his first economic development announcement in Memphis on Tuesday.

Speculation surrounds whether the announcement will have to do with FedEx Logistics and a potential move into the Gibson Guitar building downtown.

Shelby County lawmakers were told Monday by Lee’s office there will be an announcement in Memphis on Tuesday morning, the news site learned.

FedEx’s possible plans for the Gibson building came into discussion after the sold it in 2017. But the company issued a statement in November to say “FedEx Trade Networks can confirm it is no longer considering the Gibson Guitar Factory building as a potential option for relocation of its headquarters.”

FedEx Logistics currently has corporate offices in East Memphis and around the  area.

 

Lee makes vocational education push his first legislative initiative

Bill Lee is inaugurated as Tennessee’s 50th governor on Jan. 19, 2018. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Republican Gov. Bill Lee’s first legislative initiative calls for expanding access to vocational and technical training in Tennessee.

The Lee administration has dubbed it the Governor’s Investment in Vocational Education, or GIVE, program.

“We have the opportunity to help students discover quality career paths and gain skills that are needed right now in the workforce by emphasizing career and technical education,” Lee said in a release.

Here’s the full release:

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Today, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee announced his first legislative initiative, the Governor’s Investment in Vocational Education (GIVE) to expand access to vocational and technical training for Tennessee students. 

“I believe that expanding our vocational and technical offerings will be transformational for Tennesseans and the future of our state,” said Lee. “We have the opportunity to help students discover quality career paths and gain skills that are needed right now in the workforce by emphasizing career and technical education.”

The GIVE initiative is a two-pronged approach that utilizes regional partnerships to develop work-based learning and apprenticeship opportunities. Communities will now have the funding and flexibility to build programs that best reflect local needs and work directly with private industry to structure programming. 

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