Rep. Hill eyes session ahead as Legislature sworn in

Published 5:02 am Tuesday, January 10, 2017


Members of the Tennessee State Legislature are being sworn into office today to begin work for the 2017 legislative session, and one local Representative said he is eager to get to work.
“I’m excited to be able to once again serve the people of Carter, Sullivan and Johnson counties,” said State Rep. Timothy Hill.
In addition to his duties as a State Representative, Hill also serves as the Majority Whip for the Republican Party in the House of Representatives.
As the Majority Whip, Hill stays busy with legislative and party business not only when the legislature is in session, but when it is out of session as well.
During an election year such as was just seen in 2016, Hill helps the party caucus with promoting campaigns of other Republican candidates to help defend seats currently held by the party and to try to pick up new seats as well.
With the elections now behind them until 2018, Hill is looking forward to getting to business he was elected for.
“The Session gives me the ability to focus intensely on constituent issues,” Hill said.
During the upcoming session, Hill said he has some bills he would like to introduce and see passed, but added he is not ready to discuss those matters yet until the bills are finalized and ready for introduction.
“I’m putting the finishing touches on them,” he said.
This week will serve as an organizational week for the legislature, Hill said. Today the elected Representatives and Senators will be sworn into office. Later in the week, possibly on Thursday, committee assignments will be made. Once the committees are set, Hill said he and his colleagues will have a better grasp of the upcoming session.
During this year’s session, Hill said he feels the legislature will tackle some heavy duty, and possibly controversial, issues.
One of the biggest issues that will come before the legislature, in Hill’s opinion, will be the subject highway funding reform in order to improve the state’s roads and bridges.
“For some that includes an increase to the gas tax while for others it does not,” Hill said, adding some are looking at a variety of different funding mechanisms to try to find a solution to the funding issue.
Hill also anticipates a familiar topic will return for debate.
“I think we are going to be talking about Medicaid expansion again,” Hill said.
The subject of expanding the state’s Medicaid program has previously failed to garner enough support to pass the legislature in recent years as it was linked to the Affordable Care Act and mandates from the federal government. With a new Presidential administration preparing to take office, the scope of the matter may change if statements already made by President-Elect Donald Trump and Republican leadership hold true regarding grant funding to the states for the expansion.
“I think it would be fantastic because we would be able to control it on the state level instead of in response to federal mandates,” Hill said.
Another healthcare related topic that Hill feels will be a major point of discussion during the upcoming legislative session will be the debate regarding legalizing medical marijuana.
“I’ve said publicly and privately that I’m open to the subject but the legislation has to be right,” Hill said, adding he believes the topic could prove to be very controversial.

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