Sen. Massey retires from regular job, expands legislative work with new disabilities committee

While some of her colleagues are planning to leave their state Senate seats, Knoxville Republican Sen. Becky Duncan Massey says she plans to devote more time to legislative duties with retirement from her regular job, reports  Georgiana Vines. She retiring as executive director of the Sertoma Center, which serves individuals with disabilities and where she has worked for 24 years.

A major focus for new legislative duties will be co-chairing with Rep. Kevin Brooks, R-Cleveland, a new joint ad hoc committee on disability services appointed by Lt. Gov. Randy McNally and House Speaker Beth Harwell, to examine state services for the disabled, with a goal of making recommendations on how to streamline the services and improve their quality, access and affordability. The recommendations are for the next governor elected in 2018, she said.

Some 10 departments within state government already offer services, she said, and with one in five people already having some disability and an aging population, “more and more people are going to need them.”

… Massey said the ad hoc committee came out of a discussion she had with McNally on some needs of the blind community that presently are not being addressed.S Then there was a discussion with Harwell, she said.

“That was kind of the impetus. I knew some other issues (too),” she said.

The committee’s first meeting likely will be in early December, when a baseline of services will be developed, she said. Over the next year, the committee will meet frequently in Nashville and will have meetings across the state, she said.

Massey went to work for Sertoma in 1993 as public relations and development director after working most frequently as a volunteer, she said. She was co-chair of the Dogwood Arts Festival in 1992 and then worked part time for the organization as an event coordinator.

In 1998, she was promoted to Sertoma’s executive director. Since then the agency has expanded from a $2 million budget to a current $10 million budget, which serves 120 individuals with disabilities. The agency also has grown from operating six residential homes to having 32 residential locations. The home expansion resulted from a capital campaign that raised $3.8 million to build five duplexes and enhance employment opportunities for the agency’s clients, Massey said.

Note: Indications are that at least seven state senators in office for the 2017 legislative session may be ending their service in the General Assembly soon. Sen. Mae Beavers, R-Mount Juliet, has already resigned to run for governor. Sen. Mark Norris, R-Collierville, has been nominated to become a U.S. District Court Judge and Sen. Doug Overbey, R-Maryville, has been nominated to become U.S. attorney for East Tennessee. Sen. Mark Green, R-Clarksville, is running for the 7th Congressional District nomination. Sen. Bill Ketron, R-Murfreesboro, is running for Rutherford County mayor. Sen. Lee Harris, D-Memphis, is running for Shelby County mayor. Sen. Thelma Harper, D-Nashville, is widely expected to retire, though she’s made no official announcement.

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Former Knoxville News Sentinel capitol bureau chief Tom Humphrey writes about Tennessee politics, government, and legislative news.
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