Lamar Alexander has been quietly effective

Posted on September 29, 2005

With Election Day 2004 now less than three weeks away, Americans' attention is focused primarily on local and state races, and of course, on the presidency. But now is also a great time to check in with other elected officials who already are serving. One official who especially bears noting is Tennessee's junior senator and former governor, Lamar Alexander. Alexander is well-known in this state, having served two terms as governor, then as U. S. Education Secretary. He also is a two-time candidate for president. Two years ago, after some time away, he re-entered politics promising to run with "conservative principles and an independent attitude." To a large extent, he has done that. Alexander has picked up where he left off as Tennessee's education governor, and now become this state's education senator. Many of his early bills dealt directly with education. Among the notable ones: He passed a bill out of the Senate which would create residential summer academies for outstanding teachers and students of American history and civics. He passed a bill which would protect Head Start for military families to make sure extra combat didn't disqualify them from the program, or from other federal benefits. He passed a bill to give states more time and flexibility to ensure that special education teachers are qualified under No Child Left Behind. Alexander also has distinguished himself in his first term by fighting to protect the environment. Among his notable achievements: He is principal sponsor of a clean air bill that would limit power plant emissions of sulfur, mercury, nitrogen and carbon. In this bill, he broke with the president. He is sponsoring a bill to use revenue from off-shore oil and gas drilling on federal lands for wildlife conservation, city parks and the Land and Water Conservation fund. Alexander may not have been the most high-profile senator in his first two years, but he clearly has been one of the most effective. Tennesseans are fortunate to have him in their corner. Copyright 2004 The Jackson Sun (Jackson, TN) All Rights Reserved