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Wednesday, July 08, 2015

Dear friends,

First, I want to say THANK YOU for allowing me the great privilege of serving you in the state senate. We couldn't have done what we did with out you.

Second, I would like to share some thoughts and triumphs with you. 

 Although legislators, and others working in government, are sometimes fearful of change or exposure, I thought we should  always be openly improving our government.and when possible exposing the corruption that some felt was allowed with their position  I hope you will enjoy learning a little bit more about the other side of my experiences in the legislature.

Before you elected me, I was frustrated by an apparent lack of openness in the state capitol. I vowed that, if you allowed me to serve you, I would be open about my work and all other information I could share. In that time I had well over 100 listening tour stops, Had the states legislatures first (and one of the first in the nation) political blog telling about legislative issues, had the legislatures first facebook accounts talking about legislative issues, not to mention doing hundreds of interviews for anyone who asked. My office never closed or locked our doors. Any and all people and groups were welcome in my office at any time. 

 Because I was never afraid to “Upset the apple cart,” it wasn’t long before my personal reputation and anything I said became a target for those who liked to ridicule others, rather than work on issues or fix problems. Anything and everything I said, or even didn’t say, would be twisted in attempts to distract from the true goals of my work. I have to say that there were many times I had a good chuckle at the shenanigans played on me by the media, but it was sometimes incredibly frustrating and unpleasant for both myself and my family.

In the end, the frustration was worth it.

 Starting out, our state was in tough times, our education system was not far from last in public rankings, and freedoms other states took for granted were limited or withheld completely. The court system had become the weapon of choice for those who stood ready to ensure that political correctness and the status quo triumphed at the expense of freedom and positive change. Job and business growth were nearly stagnant.  The family unit, the glue of our society, continued to decay.  Our government continued to increase in cost, complexity, and corruption.  

My approach was to address our problems in a straight forward, open and practical fashion. 

While much of my work was in development of legislation in the committees (I served on the senate education, judiciary and transportation committees) I think many of the  laws of the great State of Tennessee have significantly improved.

 While there were more, some of my personal highlights follow.

Drug testing for people receiving government benefits.  In today's world, being drug free is a key step in finding a good job and a way out of poverty. Many jobs with upward mobility require drug testing prior to employment.  To increase unemployed workers’ odds of success, we need to help those who are willing to help themselves. State dollars to help people are limited.  To ensure the success of state programs, citizens receiving benefits are screened and then offered free counseling, if they test positive for illicit drugs. Any money saved by those refusing the process goes back into the program to help more people conquer their addictions and become independent workers. I am proud 
to have successfully sponsored and passed this bill.

Parental involvement for success in education. The state has exerted great pressure on our school systems, including classroom teachers, in a noble attempt to improve students’ performance in school.  However, the biggest factor for student success is not the school system or the teachers. It’s the family. No amount of effort on the part of a school system or teacher can compensate for an uninvolved parent.  A lack of parental involvement often sets a child on a trajectory toward a lifetime of poverty.  If a child is failing school, a parent must now become involved in that child’s education in Tennessee.  The parent must select from several options to continue receiving state benefits: they can enroll the failing child in a free tutoring program, go to a free parenting class, or attend parent-teacher conferences. I was your sponsor for this bill that became law.

The "Tim Tebow Bill". A basic sense of fairness motivated me to sponsor this bill.  All state citizens contribute financially to our public education systems, but not all children had access to team and other school sports.  Now, all children in Tennessee have the same access to public school athletic teams, whether they go to our state institutions or receive their mandated education at home.  Physical education is vital to a child’s education.  Children are taught how to successfully interact with others, how to persevere toward a goal, handle competition, work at part of a team, and form habits that can promote lifelong health.  Because this bill was passed into law, now all of Tennessee’s children are allowed to try out for their local, public school athletic teams -- just like Heisman trophy winner Tim Tebow did in Florida.

Free scholarships for all high school graduates. The Norris/Campfield "Tennessee Promise" gives every high school graduate, new or old, a free college scholarship.  Each graduate, may attend a state community college or tech school for two years at no cost to the student or his family. This legislation comes at zero cost to Tennessee taxpayers.  It is wholly funded by a portion of the interest 
from surplus state lottery reserves.  In accordance with our state constitution, lottery funds can only be used for pre K or after school programs or educational scholarships.  This is a great, constitutional way to use a portion of the interest from those reserve funds.

Ending state funding for the abortion provider "Planned Parenthood" A budget amendment I passed shifted funding away from abortion provider “Planned Parenthood,” and gave the funding to local government health care clinics that do not perform abortions. These state clinics were in desperate need of funding to perform their life saving services and now they get first shot at the money.

Cutting taxes/ growing jobs. Money is the lifeblood of any employer, whether they are a member of the government or private sectors.  People in government positions often have an “us vs. them” mentality.  The reality is better summarized as "us and them." Tennessee had little success in attract employers looking for a place to open new facilities.  We were so desperate that our state was giving out corporate handouts with virtually no performance requirements, and practically begging companies to come to Tennessee.  Then we reduced or removed the: death tax, sales tax, Hall income tax, and gift tax. I co-sponsored these bills and even helped lower Knox county property taxes. By cutting taxes for everyone, we made our state more attractive for employers.  Those new employers are bringing jobs and other growth opportunities with them into our state. The results have already been positive. Tennessee is now ranked in the top three states for new employer recruiting. New businesses and jobs are contributing to our economy more than the taxes we were taking from them. 

Protecting your freedom and safety.  Tennessee was behind the times in allowing 2nd amendment 
rights.  We have removed restrictions on your rights to: carry in self-defense, fish and hunt, and transport and store legal firearms in your vehicle. These steps are just beginning to restore our state to a moderate position relative to our sister states, but we are moving in the right direction.  Firearms manufacturers, such as Beretta firearms,  are now moving to Tennessee.  They commented on bringing new jobs into the area  because of our legislation honoring your inherent 2nd amendment freedoms.

"Merry Christmas" and "In God We Trust" bills.  For too long, schools, teachers and students were in fear of lawsuits from simple holiday greetings such as "Merry Christmas" or "Happy  Hanukkah".  Now, holiday art and greetings may be displayed without the fear of a lawsuit, as long as multiple faiths are allowed to be represented. I also passed legislation to allow our national motto, "In God We Trust," to be displayed at our state capitol, as long as the display was purchased with private funding. 

Improvements to the Uniform Landlord Tenant Act. In addition to my legislative work, I also own and manage a successful rental property business.  Based on my experience, I found that our laws regarding rental property were so vague that they were not being interpreted consistently.  The law even seemed to contradict itself.  I undertook to redraft the entire landlord tenant act to give it greater clarity, fairness, and predictability. Now, all sides agree the system is much more clear and fair for all involved.

Affordable service of court documents. Service of warrants is often expensive and time-consuming. I changed the process so that police officers are allowed to serve warrants, summons, and restraining orders at traffic stops. This is expected to lower court costs and improve efficiency.  In addition, if the documents can be served at a simple traffic stop, the individual requesting service will be saved money and time.

Judgment and garnishment reform.   In the past, deadbeat debtors could avoid paying judgments by frequently changing jobs. I was able to pass legislation that requires debtors to notify the courts and pay the costs for the records change if they switch jobs.  Debtors who fail to comply can be prosecuted for contempt of court. This will allow those who have received a fair judgement to get what they are owed.

Protection for victims of sexual crime. Incarcerated sexual predators were allowed to communicate in ways that often resulted in the harassment of the very people they had already victimized.  I was also able to pass legislation closing that legislative loophole. Now, predators who continue to harass their victims with unwanted communication can be prosecuted for these actions.  No one should be sexually victimized once, much less twice.

Supporting rescue pet adoption.  There is no doubt that our furry friends improve the quality of many people's lives.  I passed a heart-warming bill to draw attention to our need to find homes for shelter animals, by making rescued dogs and cats our official state pet.

Prevention of communicable disease.  I was able to pass legislation that creates penalties for knowingly exposing someone to a life-threatening communicable disease without the other person’s knowledge and consent. Exposing someone to disease can be like playing Russian roulette with someone else's life.

These and other bills and amendments are some of my contributions to our state. Things have turned around. Tennessee is now ranked as one of the most open legislatures, we are number one in student achievement growth according to the latest NAPE exams, we are ranked number two by CNBC for roads and infrastructure. Our state is the lowest in debt in the nation, Tennesseans are the  least taxed and we are ranked the third "Most Free" state by the Huffington Post. We are ranked number one for economic development by Business Development magazine so the jobs should come. All this could not have been accomplished without your support. Thank you for honoring me with these opportunities to improve the state we both love so much.

Although I am stepping away from public office for a time, please still feel free to call or hit me up on Facebook if I can ever assist you in any way.

Yours, ever in service, 

Stacey Campfield