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Full text of Gov. Bill Lee’s State of the State address

Gov. Bill Lee delivers his first State of the State address in Nashville on March 4, 2019. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Here is Gov. Bill Lee’s third State of the State address, as prepared for delivery on Monday evening:

Lieutenant Governor McNally, Speaker Sexton, Speaker Pro Tem Haile, Speaker Pro Tem Marsh, Members of the 112th General Assembly, Justices, Constitutional Officers, fellow Tennesseans:

I would also like to acknowledge the First Lady who is in the audience.
Maria serves our state with genuine compassion and is my partner in every aspect of this role.

I love you and am proud that you are ours.

I also share my gratitude to members of my Cabinet and staff who are here tonight.

Each of these men and women have committed to lives of service and honor.

They are battle-tested and I am proud of their work and their friendship.
Members of the General Assembly, let me say that it’s good to be here in person.

Last year, we stood together at the starting line of 2020 ready for a challenge and even more ready to leave our mark on what was sure to be a historic year for our state.

The events that would take place just a few weeks after, would set the tone for our year.

An unimaginable one for us that included the rise of a global pandemic, devastating tornadoes, flooding, violence, unrest, economic collapse, a downtown explosion and witnessing our nation undergo painful turmoil at the highest levels of government.

There have been heartbreaking losses.

We mourn the more than 10,000 Tennesseans we have lost in those deadly events this year.

In many respects, what was optimism has become a tempered feeling of resolve, and perhaps even cautiousness about what lies ahead in 2021 as we move forward but work to make sense of it all.

Scripture has a lot to say about that crossroads and what to do on the heels of suffering.

Where do we find the promise in this season?

The promise is found in perseverance, which produces character that leads to hope.

Tennesseans will know tonight that tragedy has no hold on who we are or where we are headed.

Tragedy will not define us and will not rob us of the opportunity that 2021 holds.

In fact, this year holds its own unique place for our state as we celebrate 225 years of statehood.

Since 1796, our state has been the portrait of perseverance, character and hope because of everyday heroes.

Ordinary Tennesseans are more than constituents – they are the strength of our state and the lifeblood of our country.

From early settlers, the farmers and factory workers, teachers and tradesmen, doctors and pastors.

We will celebrate that since 1796 the ordinary has made us extraordinary and remember that generations before us have not just weathered but excelled in the cycle of perseverance, character and hope.

I will once again travel to all 95 counties to reach the unsung people and places that make our state who she is.

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