NASHVILLE, Tenn.- When state lawmakers go back to work there could be some new rules in the House. House Speaker Beth Harwell has proposed new rules to streamline the process and make it more efficient.
The new laws will have a big impact on lobbyists. One of the proposals limits the number of bills a state representative can introduce to ten per year. That means lobbyists are scrambling to find sponsors of legislation they want to see pass.
"I get paid to pass bills and to stop bills from passing," said Lobbyist Mark Greene.
Greene has lobbied Tennessee state lawmakers for 27 years. He represents clients like dentists, psychologists, pharmacists and even the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma.
"I use my knowledge of the legislative process and the legislators to work on behalf of my clients," he explained.
Greene said it's a job that can be crazy. When the session starts he speaks to legislators on a daily basis, and keeps his clients informed about the progress of legislation in committees and on the floors of both houses. This year the craziness has started early.
House Speaker Beth Harwell is proposing new rules limiting the number of bills filed by lawmakers to ten per year.
"Certainly, we don't want to spend a lot of time on lesser issues. We really want to focus on what we hear Tennesseans are concerned with," explained Harwell.
The announcement sent lobbyists like Greene scrambling to line up sponsors for the bills their clients want to see become law.
"I think the experienced lobbyists and smart lobbyists recognized that if you wait until the session starts it's going to be too late," said Greene.
Greene said he's been looking for sponsors who have good reputations for passing legislation. Many of them are in leadership positions.
"People who can pass bills are going to be in great demand and their ten spots are going to fill up right away," Greene said.
Speak Harwell understands the impact of the new rules on lobbyists, but the goal is to streamline government and make it more efficient.
"Ultimately, keep in mind the Tennessee General Assembly and its members work for the state of Tennessee. Not for lobbyists, and so I think we want to make sure that we're reflecting the will of the people who elected us," said Harwell.
Greene said the proposed new rule should mean more freshman lawmakers playing bigger roles this legislative session. Speaker Harwell's proposed rule changes include a restructuring of committees to balance the workload. She also wants to stop the practice of lawmakers voting for each other on the floor of the House.