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UT Martin students put bill before state legislature, advance to committee review


Contact 1: Erin Chesnut

MARTIN, Tenn. – Any driver who has ever traveled miles between speed limit signs and checked the speedometer with concern may have their fears eased through the efforts of students from the University of Tennessee at Martin.

Jordan Long, of Martin, is a freshman political science major at UT Martin. He is also the current speaker pro tem of the senate for the 2016 Tennessee Intercollegiate State Legislature and vice chairman of the TISL transportation committee. Long, with the help of fellow UT Martin student Marabeth Kennedy, a junior from Franklin, wrote and presented a bill to regulate a maximum distance between speed limit signs on state-owned highways and interstates.

“It is crucial for drivers to know the speed limit for their safety and the safety of the vehicles around them,” said Long. “We wrote this (bill) to ensure that there will always be a reminder of the speed limit coming up.”

Ten TISL bills per year are delivered to the state legislature for consideration, and Long’s legislation was included after a unanimous vote by the TISL transportation committee and the signature of TISL governor John Domanski, also a UT Martin student. Long wasn’t content to sit and wait, however, and took it upon himself to find official sponsors in the Tennessee House of Representatives and Senate.

Sen. Paul Bailey (R-Dist. 15) and Rep. Raumesh Akbari (D-Dist. 91) agreed to sponsor the bill, now known as SB2179. "I think it is a wonderful thing when students offer their ideas to the legislature," said Bailey via email. "I decided to sponsor this legislation because I think it will be beneficial to all motorists."

The legislation was officially introduced to the House and the Senate Jan. 21. It passed first and second considerations and has since been sent to committee in both assemblies.

“This year the House of Representatives had a 10-bill limit per representative, so it was special to have our piece picked up even when there was a limit,” said Long. “It shows us that even though we are college students, we all have a voice that makes an impact.”

Pending committee approval, the bill will officially be heard on the floor. If the legislation is ultimately passed, legislators will work with the Tennessee Department of Transportation to determine an appropriate distance between signs installed after July 1, 2016.

It is rare for a TISL bill to advance so far through the state process, so Long and Kennedy have already accomplished something few students can claim to have done.

Those who would like to follow this bill’s progress may do so on the legislature's website.

Anyone who would like to express personal support for SB2179 is encouraged to write or call the senators and representatives from his or her home district. Contact information for each district can be found at


MARTIN, Tenn., Feb. 4, 2016 – UT MARTIN STUDENTS PUT BILL BEFORE STATE LEGISLATURE, ADVANCE TO COMMITTEE REVIEW – The Tennessee State Legislature is currently considering a bill to impose a maximum distance between speed limit signs on state-owned highways and interstates later this year. Jordan Long (right), of Martin, introduced the bill. Long is a freshman political science major at the University of Tennessee at Martin and the current speaker pro tem of the senate for the 2016 Tennessee Intercollegiate State Legislature. He is pictured with fellow UT Martin students Marabeth Kennedy (left), a junior political science major from Franklin serving as TISL secretary of state; and John Domanski, a senior political science major from Dickson and the 2016 TISL governor.

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