State of Tennessee
Legislative Update from
Senator Joey Hensley, MD
Preview of the 2022 Legislative Session of the 112th General Assembly
The Senate Ad Hoc Committee on Redistricting voted on Thursday to recommend both State Senate and Congressional redistricting maps to the Senate Judiciary Committee. The maps are expected to be voted on by the General Assembly soon.
Redistricting occurs every 10 years following the census. The purpose of redistricting is to ensure Tennesseans have equal representation. This right is rooted in both the federal and state constitutions and has been ruled upon by the courts numerous times. The most famous case is the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision in Tennessee’s Baker v. Carr, which led to the "one man - one vote” standard used in redistricting nationwide.
The new senate map balances the federal mandate of “one person, one vote” with the state constitutional mandate not to split counties. The map has a historically low deviation among districts — 6.17% — with only nine county splits. No incumbents are paired together, and current district boundaries were disturbed as little as possible.
While the map is legal and fair to most of the state, I do not agree with changes made to the 28th district. I do not agree with Perry, Wayne and Lawrence counties being paired with West Tennessee Districts. While I understand the population shifts necessitate changes to the district, these counties need to be combined with other counties in Middle Tennessee that have similar issues, so that they are in closer proximity to their senator.
The new congressional map adheres to the constitutional mandate of “one person, one vote” and splits just nine counties. In accordance with the Voting Rights Act, the map preserves the 9th District as a majority-minority district, and no incumbents are paired together.
Population increases in and around Davidson County have made splitting the county a logical move to manage growth. There is also precedence for doing so. The last two Democrat-drawn maps in 2002 and 1992 split Davidson County in two. In the 1990s, Congressman Bart Gordon represented a portion of Davidson County, and in the 2000s, Congressman Blackburn represented a portion of the county. Democrats have also split both Shelby County and Knox County three ways at various points in history.
The changes to the districts have to be finalized soon so that candidates know boundaries for this year’s election because the qualifying deadline will be soon.
Tennessee expected to see higher than budgeted revenues this fiscal year
Tax revenue is expected to continue growing in Tennessee to $3.18 billion over budgeted estimates this fiscal year, according to the Fiscal Review Committee. It presented on the state’s fiscal outlook before the Senate Finance, Ways and Means Committee Tuesday.
In the first four months of the current fiscal year, collections have increased over the same period last year by 21.8%, and have exceeded current budgeted targets by over 25% or $1.2 billion, said Fiscal Review Committee Director Bojan Savic.
The Fiscal Review Committee is estimating total current year growth of 8.8%, and fiscal year 2023 growth of 4.85%.
Savic noted inflation continues to be a concern as supply chain issues and energy costs have contributed to higher prices, but pent-up demand and business and population growth continue to drive growth in tax collection.
Chief Economist Joe Wegenka said the state has seen improving employment numbers, but noted total employment remains relatively low due to labor force participation.
“Most sectors have improved to pre-pandemic levels,” he said. “Education and health services are still down slightly, leisure and hospitality has recovered quite a bit, but there are still about 32,000 jobs fewer than before the pandemic.”
Federal Transportation Infrastructure Bill – The Senate Transportation and Safety Committee heard testimony on Wednesday that the new Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) authorized by Congress will appropriate about $1.7 billion more than the previous federal transportation bill for Tennessee over a five-year period. This includes $1 billion for Tennessee’s core road and bridge programs, and $0.7 billion in new programs such as carbon/green initiatives and electric vehicle infrastructure. TDOT Interim Commissioner and Chief Financial Officer Joe Galbato said there are many unknowns regarding set asides or how these funds can be used.
The funds are substantially less than the additional $6.2 billion being touted by IIJA supporters. Tennessee already receives $4.5 billion under the previous Fast Act highway funding program.
The five-year IIJA required a transfer of $118 billion to keep the highway transportation fund (HTF) solvent. Congress did not take action to address a long-term sustainable solution for revenue shortfall. According to the Congressional Budget Office, the IIJA will add $256 billion to projected deficits over the 2021-2031 period, thus likely contributing to inflation.
As further guidance from the federal government is released, the responsible use of these federal dollars will be a top issue for the Transportation and Safety Committee as well the Finance, Ways and Means Committee this year.
You May Contact Senator Hensley at
425 Rep. John Lewis Way N., Suite 742
Nashville TN 37243
Toll Free 1-800-449-8366 ext. 13100
855 Summertown Highway
Hohenwald TN 38462
Cell Phone 931-212-8823
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