National Census Day is April 1, 2020 and Gov. Bill Lee has created the Tennessee Complete Count Committee.
As a member of this committee, my colleagues and I will partner with our U.S. National Census Bureau so we can achieve a complete and accurate census count for Tennessee.
The census is conducted once a decade, and it is critical in determining our current population and households. Census numbers will provide a basis for reapportioning congressional seats and also impact statewide legislative redistricting.
According to the National Census Bureau, numbers will also impact the distribution of $675 billion in federal monies annually to support states, counties, and vital programs that serve communities. These programs impact items like infrastructure, housing, education, employment, health care, as well as public policies that are important to all citizens.
In recent years, counting a diverse and growing population across Tennessee and our nation has become a considerable challenge. According to the bureau, census survey responses and responses for surveys in general continue to decline because citizens are overwhelmed with informational requests. Safety issues involving the sharing of personal information have also become more common and have further discouraged citizen participation.
Improvements to technology and a more mobile population than previous generations have also posed additional challenges that will require considerable planning and collaboration in order to improve outreach and engagement. These are critical for next year’s census count so we can include all Tennesseans.
To increase participation and to make information gathering easier next year, the 2020 Census will be the first census to offer options to respond online or by phone, in addition to the traditional paper response. Tennessee households will also receive a letter from the bureau inviting them to respond as early as March 2020.
I believe our efforts on the Complete Count Committee and our partnership with the U.S. Census Bureau will result in a complete and accurate count for the 2020 Census. This successful and important outcome will allow our community and our entire state to continue to receive critical federal resources to help us keep up with our growing and unique needs.
William Lamberth is the House Majority Leader for the 111th Tennessee General Assembly. He is also a member of the House Finance, House Government Operations, and House Calendar & Rules Committees, as well as the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee. Lamberth lives in Portland and represents Tennessee House District 44, which includes part of Sumner County.