Bill Haslam will take the oath of office as Tennessee's 49th governor tomorrow. Haslam's inauguration concludes a week of legislative organization during which Beth Harwell of Nashville was elected speaker of the House of Representatives, the first woman to be elected speaker of either house of the Tennessee General Assembly. Speaker Harwell then announced a rather thorough reorganization of committee officers and structure, appointing new committee chairs for all but two committees and eliminating most subcommittees.
In each of the houses of the legislature, Republicans control the body by almost two-thirds of the members. For the first time in Tennessee's history, Republicans control both houses of the General Assembly and the governor's office.
In the Senate, Ron Ramsey was re-elected speaker of the Senate. By virtue of that office, he is the state's lieutenant governor.
After having organized itself this week, the legislature will take a three-week recess. Thus, the House and Senate will reconvene on Monday evening, February 7, 2011. Sometime thereafter (the date has not been set), Governor Haslam will deliver his first budget address.
The General Assembly's Web site is a very good source of legislative information. Committee appointments for the House and Senate, profiles of legislators, bill filings and histories and streaming video of committee meetings and floor sessions can be found at www.legislature.state.tn.us/.
The deadline by which all bills must be filed has not been announced. We think it likely will be the week of February 28, 2011. Now is the time to prepare bills for filing and to procure bill sponsors.
As of the time of this writing, appointments to the following cabinet positions have not been announced: Education, Environment and Conservation, General Services, Health, Human Resources, and Labor. All other commissioners have been announced. Check the press releases at www.billhaslam.org for details.