State Rep. Mark Cochran (R-Englewood) believes Gov. Bill Lee’s State of the State address last week covered a lot of the areas that needed to be.
“He had a lot to go over after facing the pandemic for a year and so it is good to hear a lot of the positive economic numbers,” said Cochran. “The whole theme of the speech was strong. One thing in particular that I was happy to hear him talking about was the 10th Amendment and talking about, basically, any power not expressly given to the federal government is reserved for the states and that Tennessee would be pursuing policies that honor that and make sure that Tennessee is leading and that we are not taking our lead from the federal government.”
Cochran believes the “big headline” that came from the governor’s speech was the $200 million broadband expansion.
“It will basically be an expansion of the current program,” Cochran noted. “They feel that that would help get most of the rural area’s covered, but there will still be about 10% or so that we may not be able to help just yet.”
One of Cochran’s concerns pertains to the approach of broadband expansion.
“We definitely want to do things that incentivize the expansion of broadband,” he said. “I think we also want to look at wireless technology as far as satellite-provided and make sure that we are not investing all in fiber if that is becoming antiquated, so I think we should be careful.”
Cochran expects to see some initiatives from last year reappear due to last year’s session being cut short from the COVID-19 pandemic.
“One of the big items is the constitutional carry, that was one of the governor’s initiatives that was cut short last year, so I look forward to seeing what that bill looks like,” Cochran said. “I imagine that it would look pretty similar to the way it was written last year ... any measure that is expanding those Second Amendment rights and enabling people to carry safely, I think, is a good thing so I look forward to seeing his bill on that.”
Another issue that Cochran believes will be covered will be the transgender athlete bill.
“I think most Tennesseans would agree that biological males do not need to be competing against biological females because that is discrimination against biological females,” Cochran said. “There was a bill to address that last session and, again thanks to the pandemic, we did not get to talk about it.”
The bill has moved out of the House Education Subcommittee into the full House Education Committee.
“I think that is something that we need to address because we need to protect our female athletes,” he expressed.
The last topic that caught Cochran’s attention pertained to the governor’s initiative to make a sizable investment in local infrastructure.
“Tens of millions of dollars in local grants to local governments for capital investments, whether that be for bridges, roads, or buildings, is meaningful to any county,” Cochran said.