By Hartsville Vidette Staff Reporter

Republican gubernatorial candidate Bill Lee announced recently the first major policy initiative for his 2018 campaign.

Marking one of the most important issues facing Tennessee over the next several years, Bill is unveiling his Roadmap for Rural Tennessee, a set of policy initiatives to preserve the way of life in rural Tennessee and address some of the most pressing issues facing the region.

Lee visited Hartsville in late May as part of a 95-county tour to kick off his campaign for governor.

“Growing up and still living on our family farm, I know many of the issues that face farmers and rural communities, but after touring the state for nearly 75 days, I have seen and heard first-hand how much Tennessee’s rural communities are hurting. We need a concerted, consistent effort that builds for the future and reflects the fundamental values of Tennessee,” Lee said in a press statement.

Bill Lee

Lee’s plan is organized around four major calls to action:

1. Promote the dignity of work and economic independence. Lee believes it is crucial that we: (a) invest early in vocational, technical and agricultural education to increase the number of high school graduates ready to work, (b) strengthen work requirements for social programs to lead Tennesseans out of dependency and (c) reform state licensing laws to eliminate unnecessary government regulations that create a barrier to work for our citizens.

2. Support innovation and technology to improve economic, health and educational opportunities. Lee wants to: (a) reduce the tax burden for small businesses to reward entrepreneurship and investment in rural communities, (b) expand the availability of health care options through innovative investments in telemedicine and rural health residency incentives and (c) develop technology solutions to help rural schools deliver on their educational goals.

3. Attack the epidemic of opioid abuse and addiction. Lee wants to: (a) seek significantly stronger penalties for drug traffickers, (b) invest in sustainable, community-based options that give non-violent addicts a path back to society and (c) crack down on the taxpayer funding of addictive drugs.

4. Strengthen our state’s commitment to faith, community, and family. Lee wants to: (a) increase our support for civic and character education to help our schools build the next generation of productive citizens, (b) strengthen our support for children in need, particularly at DCS and in our juvenile justice system and (c) ensure that state policies are protecting and encouraging strong families and communities.

To show his commitment to rural communities and to discuss his plan with those most impacted by it, Bill will begin a statewide tractor tour of Tennessee in August.

“A tractor might not be the fastest way to get around, but I will take as much time as I need to bring attention to our rural communities. I’m really looking forward to spending some quality time connecting even more with my fellow farmers and rural Tennesseans to share my ideas to ensure that our rural communities thrive,” Lee said.

Lee, who lives in Williamson County, is chairman of Lee Company, a family-owned construction, facilities and home services company with offices and operations throughout Middle Tennessee, Northern Alabama and Southern Kentucky. In addition, Bill is also active in Triple L Ranch, a fourth-generation family farm, which operates a 1,000-acre, 400-head Hereford cattle operation, providing natural beef to farmers markets and farm to table restaurants throughout Middle Tennessee.

More information is available about Bill and his campaign at BillLee.com.