Redistricting, Legislation, Grants and Advocacy
Updates from the Capitol
This week has been a busy but productive week here in Nashville. On Monday, the House voted to approve the gerrymandered Republican-drawn maps for the Tennessee House, Senate, and US congressional districts. With the new district maps, the Republicans put politics before people by diluting the collective power of the minority vote, ignoring the interests of rural counties, and eliminating seats across the state.
As a result of this vote, it is now official that Rep. Torrey Harris has been drawn into District 91. This means that Shelby County lost one seat for a state representative. Many of you have asked what’s next? How can we fight this? Our fight begins with the US Census. If we do not complete the census then the data that is used to draw the maps is not actually representative of our communities. We must make sure that our families and community members complete the census with fidelity every time we have the opportunity. If you have any questions about how you are affected by these new maps, please email our office at email@example.com.
Now onto our legislation. Remember that every session has two years. Last year, we passed 3 pieces of legislation. HB 0017, commonly referred to as the Cyntoia Brown Law, allows victims of human trafficking claim self defense. We also passed HB 0117 increase the number of times teachers participate in human trafficking awareness training. Finally, we passed HB 0843 which requires the state to provide incarcerated women the appropriate health screenings to detect breast cancer. We had a really successful year in 2021. We’re geared up for a successful 2022.
I have an aggressive legislative agenda planned for the second half of the 112th General Assembly. I have filed a Momnibus bill, HB 1947 and HB 1971, this is a comprehensive package of legislation that will improve maternal health outcomes in the state of Tennessee. The package includes doulas for incarcerated women, a state license for doulas, and a grant for mothers returning to work. You all know my personal story with maternal morbidity and infant mortality. I will continue to champion the best quality care for moms and babies.
I have also filed legislation that protects our homes and neighborhoods. We have witnessed the tragic loss of life from the apartment explosions and fires across Tennessee, the Bronx and in Philadelphia. HB 1831 will require landlords and leasing companies to ensure that each unit has a gas detector and that it is up code. If they fail to comply, they will be fined. At the beginning of January, I sent a letter to Memphis City Council to inform them that I oppose the construction of the Red Roof Inn project. As a member of the Whitehaven community, community members did not have sufficient information to understand how this project would impact our neighborhood. As a result, I filed HB 1972 to allow communities to reject a developer proposal. If 70% of the community rejects the proposal then the local governing body cannot approve the developer’s proposal. Finally, I am sponsoring the House legislation for Senator Gilmore’s anti-gun violence bill. HB 1830 requires specific state departments to reduce gun violence in TN communities. Potential programs include a youth employment program, violence intervention program, and firearm buyback program. We have to pass this bill in order to save the lives of family and friends. Artemis Rayford, a 12 year old child, was shot and killed in his home by a stray bullet on Christmas Day. Before his murder, Artemis wrote a letter to Governor Lee opposing the passage of the permitless carry law in Tennessee. Artemis wrote, “It is my opinion that this new law will be bad and people will be murdered. You need to learn to use a gun to help you. Do not use a gun to kill someone”. To read more about Artemis’ story, click here. Artemis' death is heart wrenching and my thoughts and prayers go out to all who loved him. But I know that thoughts and prayers are not enough. As a legislator, I must act. HB 1830 will save lives and we must get it passed.
Next up on our agenda is criminal justice reform. I filed HB 1438 that will automatically expunge the records of people who have completed their sentence and who have a misdeanor or Class C, D, or E felony that was non-violent and not a sexual offense. HB 0340 requires there is an audiovisual recording of children who are taken into custody by police officers. HB 0340 is important now more than ever before. Especially after the re-emergence of the injustices against children in Rutherford County due to the exceptional reporting of ProPublica. I will continue to be a strong advocate for criminal justice reform and protecting children who encounter the criminal justice system.
Finally, I filed HB 1869 providing college students at large universities the opportunity to early vote from their institution of higher learning. It is imperative that every eligible person has the opportunity to vote during election seasons.
I told you we have an aggressive legislative agenda this year. But you know that District 91 never backs down from a challenge.
Black History Month and Days on the Hill
Next week, I am kicking off my Black History Month Lunch and Learn Series on Tuesday, February 1st at 12:00pm with Kendra Lee, Policy Director at The Equity Alliance & Shelby County Election Commissioner. Join us on Facebook at facebook.com/RepLondonLamar to watch live!
Day on the Hill season is upon us! On February 23, Healthy and Free Tennessee is hosting Mama's Day on the Hill - a day of advocacy for mothers and caregivers of all genders focused on issues that impact mamas! We will be highlighting our anti-shackling bill, which bans the use of restraints on pregnant incarcerated people during pregnancy and labor, along with other partner bills that impact mamas. The day (if in person) will include virtual lobbying training the night before, a welcome breakfast, direct lobbying of representatives, a lunchtime panel on substance use and mamas, and opportunities to connect with advocates across the state. Please register here.
Save the date! In celebration and recognition of Tennessee’s seven Historically Black Colleges and Universities, the Tennessee Higher Education Commission is proud to host the third annual HBCU Success Day on the Hill, to be held on Wednesday, March 9, 2022 from 10 am – 1pm Central, at the Cordell Hull State Office Building in Nashville. We look forward to this opportunity to bring together campuses, the community, policymakers, and other advocates to support and advance the enduring mission of HBCUs across the state.
Resources for District 91
FREE COVID TESTS from the federal government: Here’s what you need to know.
Every home in the US is eligible to order 4 FREE at-home COVID tests. Click this link to order yours now.
Your insurance company will reimburse the cost of 8 at-home tests per month. Click here for more information.
NEW GRANT OPPORTUNITY:
Families First Community Grant Initiative is a workforce development and employment program. Families First grants are awarded to public and private organizations who provide services to low-income families like assistance with transportation, childcare, education, job training, employment activities, temporary cash assistance, and other services. Applications close February 4 at 5pm. Please reach out to my office at firstname.lastname@example.org.
United Way of the Mid-South has partnered with Entergy to provide FREE tax prep services starting this week through April 15th. If you need assistance, please click the link for more information.
The Tennessee Homeowners Assistance Fund is now LIVE! Please click this link to apply for assistance.
If you are having issues, receiving your unemployment assistance, please email Rep. London Lamar office’s at email@example.com with the following information:
A description of the problem
Your full name (first, middle, and last)
Your phone number
The last 4 digits of your social security
The date that you filed the claim
The email address you used to file the claim