After his first session in the Tennessee General Assembly, Dr. Bryan Terry, freshman legislator from the 48th District, took a moment to reflect on his first-term experience serving in the Capitol.
In one sentence, describe your experience during the first half of the 109th General Assembly.
Dr. Bryan Terry: It was an incredibly rewarding experience to be able to represent District 48 and know that I have had an impact helping citizens in other ways than I do at the hospital.
Is the General Assembly and the legislative process what you envisioned?
I ran for office because I am a concerned citizen and I knew there were a lot of other citizens that share the same kind of concerns with what goes on in politics. I often jokingly tell people that being in the General Assembly has confirmed my fears and suspicions that I had prior to running. The reality is, though, that while some of the process gets misreported or distorted, there are a lot of people at the Capitol doing their best for their constituents and for Tennessee. There is, however, some truth to the concerns that I had prior to running, and it drives me to stay above the fray and be an advocate for the district.
There were many important bills passed during this year’s legislation session. Name three bills that you feel will have the biggest impact on District 48.
(The bill) HB440, which I was fortunate enough to carry, is, perhaps, the most patient friendly bill we passed this year. It improves the insurance entity credentialing process for physicians, which has the effects of improving access while decreasing costs for patients. Other representatives have tried to get that kind of bill passed for 10 years and I was fortunate to get the job done this year. With Rutherford County growing like it is, HB440 is going to mean a lot to our patients.
HB1035 was the bill to repeal and replace Common Core. My constituents, including parents and educators, asked me overwhelmingly to do my best to get rid of Common Core. In addition, my educators asked me to provide them with some stability, as well as fight for their pay raise that they had been promised. HB1035, as amended, allowed me to meet those criteria to the best of my ability. I say “as amended” because I was able to successfully fight to amend the bill to have the legislative intent to rescind Common Core, as well as give us legislative confirmation power over the committee appointments.
The budget will have the most overall impact on the district. It is a balanced budget, but has some positives and negatives. I fought against some of the pork, like the $120 million that went to a state museum, but couldn’t get enough votes to get rid of what I didn’t consider a priority. I preferred that the money go towards veterans, transportation, the rainy-day fund or a decrease in the Hall income tax. Ultimately, though, it has many more positives and provides funding for the teachers’ raises that they had been promised. I told teachers that I would support their raise and I kept my word.
Name one of the most surprising occurrences that happened to you this year.
Each year, they have Humane Day on the Hill to bring awareness to the humane treatment of animals. Growing up around animals and a farm, I have a soft spot for animals. Several animal rescue facilities brought dogs to the Capitol on Humane Day. Between meetings, I went outside to pet and play with the dogs. I fell I love with a little black and white hound named Trixie from Chattanooga. Our family adopted Trixie and she is now a wonderful addition to our family.
What is one piece of advice the “present you” would give to the “past you,” prior to the start of the legislative session?
I would tell the “past me” to keep digging, keep asking questions and keep offering amendments. What I learned is that when I started looking into an issue, some people would get defensive and rumors would fly. I even had some people come to me “concerned” that I might be stepping on toes, especially as a freshman. My objective has always been to be an advocate for my district and for Tennessee. Asking questions and finding solutions is the best way to advocate for your district. I think that by the end of session, people realized that I am truly working for the district and doing my best for Tennessee. Instead of me having to dig as much, I had people coming to me for my opinion on how to improve legislation.
Name a piece of legislation you plan on pursuing next year.
I have several pieces of legislation in mind. Without spilling the beans, I already have some rough drafts of bills dealing with health, education and the Second Amendment. In addition, I am working with some citizens on some issues that they have, as well as working with the treasurer and comptroller on helping counties with their rainy-day funds. This past year, I worked with Central Magnet School and MTSU students to co-sponsor legislation on their behalf. I look forward to working with students again this year.
What committees do you serve on?
I serve on the Health full and sub committees, as well as the Consumer and Human Resource full committee. I was, also, elected by the freshmen legislators to serve as the Republican Chair of the Bipartisan Freshman Caucus.
How can people contact you and your office, and how do constituents set up visits to the Capitol?
People can call my office at (615) 741-2180 or email me at rep.Bryan.Terry@Capitol.TN.gov. I am always happy to answer any questions or concerns. Jeni Hines, my administrative assistant, will be happy to set up an appointment, even in Rutherford County.
Are there any final thoughts you would like to share?
It is truly and honor and a privilege to serve as State Representative for District 48. If you have any issues or concerns, please, let me know, as I will be working on an agenda for the district the rest of the year. You can keep up with any news at bryanterry4tn.com or on facebook.com/dr.bryanterry. Please, be on the lookout for any events in the district where citizens can get involved.