Ag Day held in Nashville
By Karen Hall
Representatives of agriculture in Marshall County visited Nashville Tuesday to participate in Ag Day on the Hill, and stayed to watch their legislators in action.
State Rep. Billy Spivey said he was thrilled to look up during a committee session and see Tony White, John Reese and his children Tanner and Samantha, and Claire Garrell in the audience. He said no one else on the committee could claim to have people from top leadership positions in their district observing their work that day.
Spivey stopped by the Tribune Wednesday on his way home.
He says he's extremely fortunate to live close enough to Nashville to go home every night. Eating and praying every evening with his family "helps remove the clutter and distraction" of the busy days in the legislature.
"It's such a blessing," Spivey said. "We're blessed to live where we do."
The 108th General Assembly is only in session for a total of 90 days in 2013 and 2014, so right now things are especially hectic as they ramp up toward the end of the session for this year.
One of the most talked about bills, Spivey said, is the one dealing with annexation.
He's signed on to support the annexation bill and says right now it's like a raw piece of clay, still being discussed and shaped in order to create an equitable atmosphere for property owners.
"Giving property owners a voice, I think that's healthy," Spivey said. "It's always been a hot-button issue with people feeling like they don't have a voice."
In many cities, he explained, only owners of property inside city limits can speak at council meetings, so owners of land outside city limits that is being proposed for annexation are not allowed to say anything.
Spivey said the annexation bill has passed the house finance sub-committee and is on its way to the finance full committee, where it will get some modifications, he's sure. The Senate annexation bill is in the calendar committee, the last stop before the Senate floor.
"I fully expect some form (of the annexation bill) to make it through both houses by the end of the session," Spivey said.
He noted that the legislature has discussed annexation bills many times before, but this time the media notified constituents it was being talked about again, and now there's more of a public voice in the argument.
"There's more possibility of something meaningful coming out of discussion now than in times past," Spivey said.
Cities across the state which started trying to get annexations done before the bill passed, for what Spivey called "questionable motives" will most likely have those annexations frozen if they were not completed before April 1.
"It's all about an equitable environment," Spivey said.
He also expects a version of the school vouchers bill to pass, but what version, he doesn't know.
"The one positive thing (about that bill) is that it's made people start talking," Spivey said.
The County Commission passed a resolution last month that tells the state legislature they are opposed to school vouchers.
"Vouchers may not be the answer for Marshall County," Spivey admitted.
"My No. 1 goal is to be as effective a legislator as I can be for you," he said. "I'm never willing to vote for something that will hurt the people of this state or this district, My job is to be a good representative for you."
Spivey says he tries to be mindful of what effects legislation he votes for will have in the long term as well as the short term.
"Who are you excluding?" he asks, "Where does it stop? These are slippery slopes."
For the second half of the 108th General Assembly's session, Spivey says he has a series of bills and issues that are important to him. He plans to have all his bills in final draft by June so they are ready to be heard by a committee.
Spivey promises to address constituents' issues as they arise, at whatever time of year, but right now he's looking forward to the break.
"It's been extremely hectic," he said.