Rowland was first appointed to the TACIR commission by former Gov. Don Sundquist and later reappointed by Gov. Phil Bredesen.
The 25-member state commission returned Rowland unanimously to the vice chairman post late last week during a two-day work session in Nashville. The group also re-elected state Sen. Mark Norris, R-Collierville, who represents the 32nd Senatorial District in West Tennessee, to the chairman’s seat.
By state law, the TACIR chairman must be a member of the Tennessee General Assembly. Rowland’s selection puts him in good standing to begin his fourth consecutive two-year term as vice chairman.
“Members of TACIR are alternately appointed by the governor and by the speakers of the state Senate and state House of Representatives,” Rowland explained. Along with his appointment by Sundquist and reappointment by Bredesen, Rowland has been reappointed to the state advisory commission by Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey and former House Speaker Jimmy Naifeh.
TACIR is a state agency that serves as a forum for discussion and resolution of problems among various levels of local and state government.
Rowland’s election as TACIR’s No. 2 voice comes shortly after the organization released a jobs report that showed his hometown to be part of the state’s leading metropolitan area for employment growth. In 2012, the Cleveland Metropolitan Statistical Area — comprised of Bradley and Polk counties — led the state’s 10 MSAs in strongest jobs growth. For the year, according to the TACIR findings, Cleveland employment grew by 5.6 percent compared to 1.4 percent statewide.
“I have thoroughly enjoyed serving as a TACIR commissioner,” Rowland told the Cleveland Daily Banner. “It gives me a rare insight into issues affecting our state, as well as our cities and counties. I am both honored and humbled to be elected for another term as vice chairman by my fellow commissioners.”
TACIR membership is made up of four members each from the Senate and House of Representatives, four members from local city and county governments, the Finance Ways and Means Committee chairman for both the Senate and House, and the commissioners for the Department of Economic and Community Development and the Department of Commerce and Insurance. The TACIR body also includes two local government members and two members from the private sector.
Norris, who serves as majority leader in the Senate, is also Republican Caucus chairman and he serves on several Senate committees. With his re-election, Norris now begins his second term as TACIR chairman. He was first elected to the state Senate in 2000, and was last re-elected Nov. 6, 2012.
During last week’s commission sessions, and the committee hearings leading to the Rowland and Norris re-elections, TACIR members heard reports, and debated, a variety of annexation issues facing municipal and county governments across the state. Annexation by Tennessee cities was a key piece of legislation discussed by members of the 108th General Assembly which ended in mid-April. Further debate is expected in the next session which kicks off in January 2014. For now, a statewide moratorium on city annexations has been put into place by legislators until further deliberation in the next legislative session.
“We (TACIR) planned subsequent sessions to research the issues and make referrals to the state Legislature in coming months,” Rowland said.
Annexation is only one of a variety of issues tackled by TACIR through the course of a year, but municipal growth dominated some of the legislative attention during the recently completed session.
Locally, annexation proposed by both the cities of Cleveland and Charleston have captured spots in local headlines over the past year. Both actions are on hold pending the completion of the legislative debate.
Norris’s home is no stranger to the issue either.
According to the Memphis Flyer website, annexation — and even de-annexation — have been hot topics in Shelby County whose governing seat is Memphis. The Bluff City, located in the state’s southwestern corner along the banks of the Mississippi River, shares the area with a number of suburbs, including Norris’s home of Collierville.
For this reason, Norris — like Rowland and others — is eager to get TACIR started on its annexation work.
Of his re-election as TACIR chairman, the Memphis Flyer website quoted Norris as stating, “This study requires in-depth research by the staff and thoughtful consideration by the members of the commission. I am pleased to continue to lead TACIR as we look into this issue as well as many others.”
According to Rowland, TACIR holds two-day sessions at Legislative Plaza in the State Capitol. TACIR hearings can be reviewed on the commission’s website at www.state.tn.us/tacir.
TACIR was created in July 1978 by Chapter 939 of the Public Acts of 1978, according to the commission’s website. It points out, “TACIR was created in response to legislative findings in the late 1970s indicating the need for a permanent intergovernmental body to study and take action on questions of organizational patterns, powers, functions and relationships among federal, state and local governments.”
The commission’s first public gathering came in June 1979.
TACIR can be contacted at 226 Capitol Boulevard Building, Suite 508, Nashville TN 37243; or by calling 615-741-3012; or by fax at 615-532-2443; or by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
TACIR’s executive director is Lynnisse Roehrich-Patrick.