CAPTION: Pictured are Representatives Esther Helton, Patsy Hazlewood, and Robin Smith.
Hamilton County Republican Women’s Club of Chattanooga, Tennessee, is very proud to have three members who are now serving in the Tennessee State Legislature. For years, women in Hamilton County have played a significant role in supporting and assisting the Republican Party. They have worked tirelessly at the grassroots level to promote the values and message of the party and have truly been integral in the local success of the Republican delegation. Today, women have ascended into a leadership position within the party, and this unprecedented representation has cemented women's importance into the present and future success of the Republican Party in Hamilton County.
These three women, Representative Patsy Hazlewood, Representative Esther Helton, and Representative Robin Smith bring their knowledge and passion to Nashville and work each day to represent their districts and their constituents in the best possible way. Each of these women use their talents and backgrounds to make positive and lasting impacts on the state's future.
Representative Patsy Hazlewood (R -Signal Mountain) is currently serving her third term in the Tennessee State House. She was first elected in 2014, running as a strong fiscal conservative with a lengthy business and community service background. Representative Hazlewood retired from BellSouth/AT&T in 2008 as VP for Government Affairs. She has been very involved in and chaired a number of business and not-for-profit organizations including the Chattanooga Chamber of Commerce, the Community Foundation, a United Way campaign, Better Business Bureau, and Junior Achievement. She was the first woman elected as President of the Chattanooga Downtown Rotary Club. In addition to her telecommunications business experience, Representative Hazlewood was a founding director of the start-up CapitalMark Bank and Trust which subsequently was purchased by Pinnacle Financial Partners. And, after retiring from BellSouth, she served as Governor Haslam's Director of Economic Development for Southeast Tennessee until choosing to successfully run for election from District 27 to the State House in 2014.
Representative Hazlewood was the first female GOP member elected as part of the Hamilton County state delegation. Because of her business and financial experience, she was assigned to the Finance Ways and Means Committee by then-Speaker Beth Harwell as a freshman -- an unusual occurrence. She also served on the Business and Utilities Committee and the House Ethics Committee during her first two terms. In her second term, Speaker Harwell assigned her to the Finance sub-committee as well. For the current legislative session, the 111th General Assembly, Speaker Glen Casada named her Vice-Chair of the Finance Committee which will oversee completion and passage of Tennessee's approximately $38 billion budget. She also continues to serve on the Finance sub-committee, which hears all bills that have a financial impact on the state budget. In addition, Hazlewood is a member of the Joint Council for Pensions and Insurance, the Banking and Investment sub-committee, the Commerce full committee, and the Information Systems Council.
As a now veteran lawmaker, Representative Hazlewood continues to focus on the financial health of the state, with a particular interest in job growth, workforce readiness, and ensuring that Tennessee provides a favorable climate for business. Hazlewood commented, "To paraphrase former Governor Bill Haslam and others, government can't be the source of jobs for Tennesseans, but it should make sure that it is as simple as possible for the private sector to expand existing businesses and to attract new businesses to our state. Tennessee has been incredibly successful at doing that over the past 8 years. I'm committed to making sure that we continue to be an attractive option for new capital investment that provides family wage jobs for our citizens and that Tennesseans are prepared with the skills necessary to fill those employment opportunities."
Representative Esther Helton (R-East Ridge) is currently in her first term as a legislator. Representing District 30, Helton is passionate about health care and local government. These passions are born out of her direct experiences. Representative Helton has been a nurse for 37 years, encountering patients in all sorts of situations. She has seen, firsthand, the ways that health care impacts people - both positively and negatively. As a result, she is energized and excited to work to help Tennesseans from all walks of life experience a health care system that works for their benefit and helps them to have the highest possible quality of life.
Similarly, because of her experience as East Ridge's Vice Mayor, Representative Helton knows the impact that government can have on its citizens. She is adamant that the government do its best to empower and propel its citizens towards success.
Currently, Representative Helton serves as the Vice Chair of the House Health Committee and is a member of three committees: the Facilities, Licensure, and Regulation Subcommittee, Local Committee, and the Property and Planning Subcommittee. Two pieces of legislation that she is currently carrying are HB 681 and HB 682. These two bills revolve around health care and public education.
HB 681 deals with the Volunteer Public Education Trust Fund of 1985. This fund was created to allow citizens and others to make personal contributions to public education. The interest generated by the fund is provided to Local Education Agencies (LEAs) in the form of grants. Unfortunately, the fund has not been well-utilized and the balance has not grown significantly. Representative Helton hopes to modernize the statute in order to meet current Treasury Department investment strategies and, hopefully, renew interest in and generate additional revenue for use by the LEAs.
HB 682, known as the Awake Legislation, is designed to ensure that facilities where emergency care is provided adopt protocols that require training of personnel in the detection and treatment of domestic violence and sexual assault victims. It is also designed to provide training of personnel to detect and identify the victims of human trafficking offenses. The hope is to use routine screenings to identify these victims, document their related injuries and illnesses in the medical record, and refer them to available local resources while ensuring provider training to identify these victims. These guidelines are aimed primarily at facilities that employ or contract with, either directly or indirectly, over twenty-five licensed health care providers who provide emergency care. The bill is not designed to impose liability for a provider' or facility's failure to detect victims of these types of crimes.
Representative Helton says she is "proud to be one of the three female legislators from Hamilton County. I feel very fortunate to serve with a high caliber of women like Patsy and Robin." She looks forward to working to improve the opportunities available to all Tennesseans and to helping them increase their overall quality of life.
State Representative Robin Smith (R-Hixson) has a lifetime record of advocating for conservative values. While serving as Chair of the Hamilton County Republican Party from 1998-2002, her leadership and efforts helped local Republicans make strong gains at the ballot box, including the only Republican to unseat an incumbent Democrat State Representative in Tennessee in 2002. After being unanimously elected State Chair of the Republican Party on August 4, 2007, she helped lead the Tennessee Republican Party to a stunning victory at the polls on November 4, 2008 - sweeping 14 non-incumbent races statewide and giving Republicans the majority of seats in the Legislature for the first time in 140 years.
Representative Smith currently serves in the State House representing District 26, which includes a portion of Hamilton County. Tennessee House Speaker Glen Casada (R-Thompson's Station) recently appointed Representative Smith to be Chairman of the newly created House Life & Health Insurance Subcommittee during the 111th General Assembly, becoming the first freshman lawmaker to lead a legislative committee in the Tennessee House of Representatives. The House Life & Health Insurance Subcommittee is responsible for all laws pertaining to life and health insurance. As a former nurse, Representative Smith will bring a unique perspective as she prepares to chair this important committee.
Smith said, "I have already engaged officials on a state and federal level on a series of healthcare reforms that will help restructure Tennessee healthcare and make it a more consumer-driven, patient-focused market that delivers quality healthcare at reasonable prices - which, in turn, increases access."
In addition to chairing the House Life & Health Insurance Subcommittee, Representative Smith will serve as a member of the House Health and House Insurance Committees, as well as the Facilities, Licensure, & Regulations Subcommittee.
Hamilton County is truly fortunate to be represented by three women who seek to serve their fellow citizens. These three Republican women are in positions of tremendous importance to the state of Tennessee's future. These legislators show the women of Hamilton County and the entire state that Republican women can lead in substantial and powerful ways. While these three women seek to serve the state to the best of their ability, their current actions help to pave the way for generations of future Republican women to come.