Tennessee’s lawmakers have a new home.
This year, the legislature has moved to the newly renovated Cordell Hull building, located between the state Capitol and the Municipal Auditorium in Nashville. TTA staff and lobbyists have scheduled meetings throughout the day with various lawmakers around the state.
TTA member company executives will be visiting the new facility for the Legislative Day on the Hill on March 6 in their annual effort to raise awareness of rural telecommunications needs and obstacles.
“We’ve seen from the Broadband Accessibility Act and ad valorem tax revisions last year that legislators are willing to help us fight the challenges of broadband access for rural Tennesseeans — but only if they know what those challenges are,” says TTA Executive Director Levoy Knowles. “The Day on the Hill is an important opportunity to make sure lawmakers know and understand the issues we’re facing.”
The legislative session kicked off Jan. 9 in the renovated Cordell Hull building on the grounds of the Tennessee State Capitol. The building opened in November, following months of renovation. It also houses the comptroller of the treasury.
The 11-story, 479,000-square-foot structure received a $126 million makeover, including a new roof, windows, electric generator, plumbing and nearly all electrical systems.
Demolition was discussed originally, but the decision was made to renovate the historical structure, built from 1952 to 1954. The building was named in honor of Hull, a native of Tennessee who served as secretary of state from 1933 to 1944 under Franklin D. Roosevelt. Hull was also the first Tennessean to win the Nobel Peace Prize.
The renovated structure makes access easier for the public. Also, the committee rooms for the House and Senate have more space.
There are two public entrances, one off 5th Avenue, across from Municipal Auditorium, and the other off 6th Avenue, across from the Capitol.
A new tunnel to connect the building to the Capitol is more than 80 feet underground and 452 feet long. Architects designed the new tunnel to include several arches to break up the long walk. Faster elevators to and from the tunnel also are new.
Knowles says legislators have adapted to the new space quickly and that he hopes TTA will have a good number of member companies represented to welcome the lawmakers into their new home. “Last year was a remarkably busy year for broadband and telecommunications legislation,” Knowles says. “It’s important for us to have a good showing this year to show our appreciation to the senators and representatives who listened to our positions over the last few years.”