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Capitol Talk Gives Residents Chance to Speak to Lawmakers

By Emily Cassulo
By ecassulo@wbbjtv.com

JACKSON, Tenn. - State legislators are speaking out about the top issues here in Tennessee.

The event is part of the Jackson Chamber's, "Capitol Talk."

The goal is to raise awareness about important issues affecting residents in Tennessee.

West Tennessee lawmakers said they are reforming a lot this year, including education.

"Not only are we reforming and talking about vouchers, we've already taken the cap off of charters and a lot of people want to talk about opening charter schools now," said Rep. Johnny Shaw, (D) Bolivar.

They said about 1,500 bills have been filed this session.
long with Shaw, legislators Lowe Finney and Jimmy Eldridge answered residents' questions about some of the bills.

They said they will be spending a lot of time looking at whether to expand Medicaid.

"It would mean saving healthcare jobs, it would mean creating jobs, it would mean keeping business taxes from going up," said Sen. Lowe Finney, (D) Jackson.

Eldridge said Tennessee needs to make changes to workers compensation. He said Tennessee and Alabama are the only states that have not reformed it.

"We're a little bit behind, so we want to move forward with this, and number one protect our employees, first and foremost, and help our employers and help us be more competitive in workers comp," said Rep. Jimmy Eldridge, (R) Jackson.

They are also looking at ways to use the lottery scholarship program.

"We have a lot of students, especially in the technical schools and in the community colleges, that want to continue into a four-year school, but the cost is often times prohibitive for them, and so my bills would allow them to continue that with that financial aid," Finney said.

Legislators told WBBJ 7 Eyewitness News they hope to finish up their session sometime in April, and so far they are on track.

The next Capitol Talk event is April 19 from 8 to 9 a.m. at the Jackson Chamber. The event is free and open to the public.