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Lawmakers Reconvene on Capitol Hill - John Dunn

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Lawmakers return to Capitol Hill pledging to do what is best for Tennesseans, but there is already concern that election-year politics could be a distraction.
   
The House and Senate were called to order at noon on Tuesday. Both chambers have solid Republican majorities and they are ready to tackle key issues.

While wine in groceries, common core, school vouchers and expanding Medicaid will get plenty of attention, some fear other legislation could waste time.  "We've had some crazy bills the last few years, and I expect to continue seeing that.  We've got some people that think outside the box up here, or outside the whole stadium," says Rep. Mike Turner, (D) Old Hickory.

This is an election year, and it is not uncommon to see legislation designed to put lawmakers on the spot. Those proposals force lawmakers to vote on controversial topics, and those votes can be used in campaigns.

House speaker Beth Harwell says her goal is efficiency. Right now there is a limit on the number of bills a lawmaker can propose. Harwell hopes it cuts down on what some might consider odd ideas. "I put a bill limit in place just to say you better prioritize. Don't come up with a lot of legislation, come in with things that are really important to the state," says Rep. Beth Harwell, (R) Nashville.

The General Assembly's only independent sees partisanship on both sides. "I think it's almost impossible to have good government with all the partisanship," says Rep. Kent Williams, (I) Independent.

One leading Republican promised to keep focused on what's important. "Legislation that doesn't grow jobs, increase the testing and improvement on education, or doesn't improve Tennesseans lives, needs to be shelved till next year," says Rep. Glen Casada, (R) Williamson County.

Lawmakers sound committed to efficiency.  They hope to conclude their business in April, making this one of the speediest sessions in recent memory. 
      
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