“We should be focusing on creating good-paying jobs, restoring faith in our criminal justice system, fine-tuning the Affordable Care Act, and improving educational opportunities. We should be increasing funding for programs that are vital for the health and well-being of my constituents and so many people across the country such as food stamps, Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) programs, energy assistance and community health care centers.
“We should be protecting the environment and addressing the undeniable threat of global warming. Unfortunately, based on what we heard from the President tonight, I fear we may see the opposite. The President's plan to increase defense spending to historic levels will likely result in cuts to these important programs and services.
“I don’t feel that this apparent billionaire who lives a lifestyle of the rich and famous understands, much less is trying to serve, the middle class who often live paycheck-to-paycheck and find themselves in need a helping hand.”
"Tonight, we heard an uplifting and unifying speech from President Trump that outlined bold plans to strengthen our country. I’m glad the President addressed the need for a new health care law with patient-centric, cost-efficient choices. After years of struggling to recover from the devastating recession, we can expect relief for small businesses and individuals through reduced regulations and lower taxes.
“I was also pleased to hear how this Administration is prioritizing American safety by increasing defense spending, strengthening border security and supporting law enforcement. It is clear President Trump is already keeping his promises to the American people, and I look forward to working with the Administration and my colleagues in Congress to achieve real solutions and revive the American spirit.”
“What I hope to hear from the president tonight is his determination to restore local control to public schools the way Congress passed the law fixing No Child Left Behind more than a year ago. I want to hear more about deregulation of this country – getting rid of the regulations that are smothering job growth. I’d like to hear more about tax reform – lowering taxes and making it easier for companies to stay in the United States.
“And of course, in Tennessee, we badly need a rescue team to deal with Obamacare because it is failing in our state, according to our state insurance commissioner, and we need a new system of healthcare that will move decisions out of Washington back to the states so people can have more choices of lower-cost insurance.”
“The president’s speech was hopeful and well-delivered. I especially liked his focus on the importance of national defense, on restoring local control of schools, and on repairing the damage Obamacare has caused and replacing it with health care systems that provide Americans with more choices of health insurance at a lower cost.”
“There is a lot of anticipation about the president’s speech tonight to Congress – his first. I know that a lot of people will be tuned in.
“I spend a lot of time with him on foreign policy issues – and those throughout government – so for me, what is more interesting tonight is to hear what he is going to talk about regarding domestic issues.
“I hope there is going to be some clarity around repealing and replacing the health care bill. I hope there is going to be some clarity as to how he plans to deal with tax reform in a way that will grow our economy and at the same time cause us to be able to reduce our deficits. And, finally, just the whole issue of out-of-control spending, in general.
“Those are three areas that I hope he will address. I know he will talk about a number of other things, but I look forward to it and hope it goes well.”
“It’s up to us.”
“It was great to see members of @realDonaldTrump’s impressive Cabinet last night. Honored to have a front row seat for the #JointSession.”
Though currently approved projects like the Tennessee Valley Authority's plan for operating five wells to draw water from the Memphis Sand Aquifer won't be affected, a piece of legislation filed by two Shelby County legislators could substantially affect future water policy locally.
As Ward Archer, founder of Protect Our Aquifer, explains in a memo to the Flyer:The petition from Sierra Club and Protect Our Aquifer can be accessed here:
"On February 1, 2017, Protect Our Aquifer, along with the Sierra Club, filed a petition for a writ of certiorari in Shelby County Chancery Court seeking judicial review of the Shelby County Groundwater Quality Control Board's decision upholding the issuance of well permits to TVA to draw potable water directly from our Memphis Sand Aquifer.
"The case was assigned to Chancellor Jim Kyle. On February 9, 2017, Chancellor Kyle signed an order instructing the clerk of the court to issue the writ requiring the board to submit the record from the administrative proceeding to the court within thirty days.
"This is the first step in the appeal process."
(NASHVILLE), February 14, 2017 — State Senators Brian Kelsey (R-Germantown) and Lee Harris (D-Memphis) have filed legislation in the Tennessee General Assembly setting up a Memphis Sands Aquifer Regional Development Board to protect water supplies in West Tennessee. Senate Bill 776 also requires board approval to pump more than 10,000 gallons of water from the aquifer to ensure its long-term viability.The bill itself (SB0776/HB0816) may be seen here:
It is sponsored by Rep. Ron Lollar (R-Bartlett) and Rep. Curtis Halford (R-Dyer) in the House of Representatives.
“Clean drinking water is very important to our citizens and our future,” said Sen. Kelsey. “This legislation aims to ensure the aquifer remains a clean and reliable source for future generations.”
The action follows approval given to the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) to pump approximately 3.5 million gallons of aquifer water each day to cool its new power-generating plant in Southwest Memphis, a move which is deemed controversial by some scientists and environmentalists.
Under the bill, the board would have all of the powers, rights, and privileges necessary to manage, conserve, preserve, and protect the aquifer, and to increase the recharge of, and prevent the waste or pollution in, the aquifer. The nine-member board would be fairly comprised of the mayors of Shelby and two other West Tennessee counties overlying the aquifer. The governor would appoint the remaining members with two from the agricultural community, two from commerce, and two from the environmental/research community.
“This board would also help ensure that the flow of rain and water into the aquifer prevents pollution and waste,” Kelsey added. “I believe this legislation provides a well-balanced approach to ensure the aquifer is protected for many years to come.”
In addition, Senate Bill 886, sponsored by Harris and Kelsey, requires anyone planning to drill a well to give at least 14 days advance notice to the state commissioner of the Department of Environment and Conservation with the notice published on department’s website. Rep. G.A. Hardaway (D-Memphis), Rep. Lollar and Rep. Halford are sponsoring the bill in the House of Representatives.
Senator Harris said, “Everyone should know that our aquifer makes West Tennessee a very special place, as compared with other areas of the country. We need to work to preserve that asset. We know that there’s enough drinking water for today’s generation, but that’s not the worry. We want to make sure that the aquifer is preserved for future generations. That means we need to be careful with respect to the precedents we set today, since those precedents have a funny way to leading to negative consequences later. Because this aquifer is so special, we also want to do what we can to make sure that the public knows what’s happening with it and how it’s being utilized. When there are proposals to use that resource, we need to have a serious conversation with the public, and sometimes we need to be able to modify or even reject some of these uses.”
The water stored in the Memphis sand aquifer, which is also known as the Middle Claiborne, first fell as rain 332 BC. It covers 7,500 miles in portions of seven states, including 20 West Tennessee counties. Although aquifers are used for drinking water by more than 100 million Americans, Kelsey said the quality of the Memphis aquifer is unsurpassed.
“Earlier today I submitted a letter of resignation to The Speaker of the House, Honorable Beth Harwell, to resign my seat serving the 95th House District in the Tennessee House of Representatives.
"This was a tremendously difficult decision. I can only hope everyone who placed their trust in me to represent them in the State Legislature including all my constituents, neighbors, family and friends can accept my sincerest apology for having to resign at this time.
"Over the past few months, it has become evident to me that I was not fulfilling the promise I made to myself and my family to continue to be available to my family needs both physically and mentally. While I am extremely disappointed that at this time I do not feel I have the capacity to serve my constituents and represent them to the best of my abilities while also giving my family the attention they deserve, I must choose to focus on my family and myself at this time.
"Again, I am extremely grateful for all of the trust the great people in my district have placed in me and I apologize greatly for not being able to fulfill my campaign promises to them.
"Regarding any sexual harassment allegations, I stand by my statement that no improprieties happened and the allegations are completely false.
"So that I may begin focusing on my family, any further inquiries need to be directed to Valerie Morris, my communications representative.” – Mark Lovell
[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09) today was appointed by House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and approved by the House Democratic Caucus to serve on the House Committee on Ethics. In 2008, then-Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi referred to Congressman Cohen as the “conscience of the freshman class.”
“The Ethics Committee is critical to maintaining the dignity of the People’s House,” Leader Pelosi said. “With his leadership, integrity, and courage, Congressman Steve Cohen will be a strong addition to the Ethics Committee. As a Member of the Judiciary Committee with many years of dedicated service representing Tennessee, Congressman Cohen knows the high standards hard-working Americans have for their elected officials. Congressman Cohen will be a strong advocate for ensuring every Member of Congress honors this sacred trust.”
“I am proud to be appointed by Leader Pelosi to serve on the House Ethics Committee,” said Congressman Cohen. “One of the most important reasons I came to Congress in 2007 was to fight against the culture of corruption in Washington. I strongly advocated for and voted for the strongest ethics and lobbying reforms since the Watergate era and for the creation of the nonpartisan, independent Office of Congressional Ethics that Republicans sought to dismantle earlier this year. Throughout my legislative career, I have been aware that elected officials must be, like Caesar’s wife, ‘above suspicion’ as the public trust is most sacred. During my time in the Tennessee State Senate, I was the only Senator to twice receive the Common Cause Bird Dog Award for ‘dedication to honesty and integrity in government.’ I welcome the opportunity to serve on the Ethics Committee during a time when the trust and integrity of our government is being tested.”