state house

Members of the state House of Representatives take their oaths of office on Tuesday.

Washington County’s two new representatives in the state House were sworn into office when the 112th Tennessee General Assembly convened in Nashville on Tuesday.

State Reps. Rebecca Alexander, R-Jonesborough, and Tim Hicks, R-Gray, begin their legislative careers less than a week after FBI agents searched the homes and legislative offices of the former House speaker and two other Republican lawmakers. Federal officials have declined to speak on the reason for the inquiry.

Alexander and Hicks took their oaths as family members joined them on the House floor. The two are among 10 freshmen serving in the House this session.

Alexander and Hicks defeated Republican incumbents last year to win their jobs on Capitol Hill.

Hicks, who represents the 6th District, said he was “very humbled” to be able to be among the 99 members of the state House sworn in Tuesday.

“My wife Keri was there and stood with me on the floor,” Hicks said.

He said the experience brought back memories of when he was on the floor of the House in 1995 to see his father, the late Rep. Bobby Hicks, sworn in to the first of his two terms in Nashville.

“I’m anxious to get to work,” said Hicks, who noted that he and his colleagues will be dealing with “a number of important issues” in the coming weeks.

That includes a special session called by Republican Gov. Bill Lee to start on Jan. 19 to address education issues related to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Despite the federal scrutiny on Capitol Hill, Hicks said his colleagues seem to be “unified” and in a “very good mood.”

Alexander, who represents the 7th District, also believes her colleagues are undaunted by last week’s news of an FBI probe.

“We are here to do our business and to focus on what’s best for the people we serve,” she said.

Alexander was joined by her husband, Howard, on the floor for the swearing-in ceremony while their two daughters watched from the gallery. Because of COVID-19 restrictions, she said only two family members could join lawmakers on the floor for the event.

“It was really special, and an emotional time,” Alexander said. “I am very honored to be representing Washington County.”

Tuesday’s session of the House saw members re-elect state Rep. Cameron Sexton, R-Crossville, to a second term as House speaker. He was tapped last year to serve in that role when Glen Casada, R-Franklin, stepped down as speaker.

Casada and fellow Republican state Reps. Robin Smith of Hixson and Todd Warner of Chapel Hill were the subjects of FBI searches on Friday.

Sexton told House members Tuesday that the state had weathered some “dark clouds in the past year” as a result of tornadoes, the pandemic and the Christmas Day bombing in Nashville. He called on lawmakers to “work together during these challenging times,” and to “rise above anger, frustration and division.”

The House speaker also noted that education would be a priority of the General Assembly this year.

“We must get children back into the classroom to learn from teachers as soon as we can,” Sexton said.

The House is scheduled to go into a joint session with the Senate on Wednesday to elect constitutional officers. Among them is the state comptroller of the treasury, a job which former state Rep. Jason Mumpower, R-Bristol, is vying to fill.