Working for Tennessee
Since his election to the United States Senate in 1994, Fred Thompson has been working to make sure that Tennesseans and issues important to Tennessee are well represented in our nation?s capital. Whether listening to constituents in visits to all 95 Tennessee counties, or debating issues on the Senate floor in Washington, Senator Thompson is doing the business of Tennessee.
He pushed legislation to protect 2,000 civilian Tennesseans working on the Kentucky side of Fort Campbell from being forced to pay unfair Kentucky state taxes. As Chairman of the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee at that time, his hearings on the issue led to long-sought relief.
After a spring trip to our nation?s most visited national park, Thompson founded the Great Smoky Mountains National Park Congressional Caucus to raise the profile of the park in Congress and with the National Park Service. Recognizing the challenges faced by a park, which receives 10 million visitors a year, Thompson helped pass legislation allowing the park to keep 100 percent of the fees collected within--up from 80 percent. He worked with the Park Service on an agreement allowing the Friends of the Smokies to keep their donation boxes in the park, and helped secure much-needed resources for trail maintenance and a study of the park?s air quality.
When the Senate considered the increasing funding for highways, Thompson worked to make sure Tennessee received the federal investment it needs for safe roads and bridges. In the past, Tennessee motorists have paid significantly more in federal highway user taxes than the federal government gave back for construction, repairs and maintenance. Thompson made sure that Tennessee drivers will get a fair share, and a commitment to safer roads.
In the 1998 and 1999 budgets, Thompson convinced the Senate to continue funding for the Tennessee Valley Authority to carry out its important land and water stewardship activities, paid for by the federal government in all other parts of the country. When the Clinton Administration and the House of Representatives made the decision to slash funding, Thompson returned with a proposal to allow TVA to refinance its federal debt and save ratepayers millions each year. This refinancing proposal was enacted into law.
Whether in the arena of research and development or defense work vital to our national security, Thompson has long been a supporter of the important work being done at Oak Ridge. Due to his efforts, Congress has provided funding for the initial construction of the Spallation Neutron Source, a billion dollar project which will provide 2,300 jobs during construction, and 1,500 permanent jobs at Oak Ridge.
In addition, Thompson helped secure critical funding for infrastructure upgrades at the Y-12 plant, passed an amendment naming Y-12 a ?National Prototype Center,? and helped pass an amendment prohibiting the president from choosing Oak Ridge as a temporary dumping site for spent nuclear fuel.
As a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Thompson urged passage of copyright term extension legislation protecting songwriters. In addition, he helped expedite Senate confirmation of qualified Tennesseans for the federal bench, including Ron Gilman in the Sixth Circuit, Aleta Trauger as the first woman appointed to Tennessee?s Middle District, and Bernice Donald to the Western District. Judge Donald is the first African-American woman ever to sit on the federal bench in Tennessee. And to ease the pressures of severe overcrowding, Thompson pushed through funding for construction of a new federal courthouse in Greeneville.
To protect Tennessee?s farmers, Thompson supported emergency funding during economic hardship, and opposed a massive tobacco tax increase.
To preserve Tennessee?s rich historical legacy and treasured natural resources, Thompson successfully persuaded Congress to invest in the fight against erosion at Shiloh National Military Park, and helped pass legislation authorizing the federal government to purchase land for the Chickamauga-Chattanooga National Military Park.
As a result of an adverse pipeline decision in Marion County, Tennessee, Thompson introduced legislation guaranteeing that property owners receive personal notice, by certified mail, when a private company is seeking the right to acquire an interest in their land through the power of eminent domain. As a result, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has announced its intention to adopt a system that closely follows the Thompson bill.
Thompson recognizes the need to protect tourism and travel in Tennessee. In 1998 the Senate passed legislation he cosponsored to bring more air service to underserved communities such as Chattanooga and the Tri-Cities, helped secure funding for a ?New World Runway? in Memphis, and cosponsored a Senate resolution calling on the President to end the Northwest Airlines strike.
Believing that resources should not be wasted, Thompson successfully authored an amendment providing for the transfer of 1,000 acres at the Volunteer Army Ammunition Plant to the City of Chattanooga and Hamilton County, making it available for immediate economic development.
In addition, when the U.S. Postal Service was considering relocating its Southeastern Regional Headquarters to Atlanta, Thompson intervened to save 87 jobs in Memphis.
From saving jobs in Tennessee to protecting farmers and preserving Tennessee?s natural resources, Fred Thompson has proven his dedication to one purpose in Washington: working for Tennessee.
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