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As Nashville-based Chattanooga Times Free Press reporter Andy Sher shared with readers Monday, Tennessee's state legislators get back to work Tuesday.

Well, I guess they show back up to work; how much work they actually do will be debated for a while.

Still, the gavel drops Tuesday, and there is not a shortage of issues to address.

Sher noted there seems to be three big categories — and one very large number — that will be familiar talking points in our state in 2022.

First, with the number. According to House Speaker Cameron Sexton, R-Crossville, there is an obscenely large budget surplus looming for Tennessee (thanks, robust sales tax collections). Like more than $1 billion-surplus, and that's just through the first half of the budget cycle.

That is good news. You can expect legislators to circle around that windfall like hyenas on a water buffalo carcass. Here's hoping our local lawmakers are successful in fighting for every extra Benjamin they can bring home for projects of immediate and for-one-time need.

Of the three other main topics, well, there will be a lot of noise and no meaningful movement on one, a lot of noise with anyone's guess possible on outcomes on another issue, and one issue that will likely generate the least amount of noise and may be as important as any.

(READ MORE: Opinion: Happy New Year, because we're all ready for better in '22)

The first of the three is the redistricting hullabaloo on the political horizon soon.

Yes, redistricting will get a 55-gallon drum of ink, and consume more videotape than the first draft of "Titantic," but no matter how the lines are drawn in Tennessee, every time you reach into the Volunteer State's political Crayola carton, you will come out with some shade of red.

Heck, AOC, Al Sharpton and Joe Biden himself could come to Nashville and demand to hold the Sharpie on redistricting and the only thing blue in this state will still be Elvis' suede shoes.

The issue with the most unknowable outcome that also affects a majority of people will be the school funding debates that Republican Gov. Bill Lee is eager to have.

The uneasiness of local officials about the uncertainty of the future direction of how the state pays for K-12 education should set off red flares in all of us with school-age children, as well as employers and even those who do not have children — or grandchildren — in the school system.

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The quality of public schools — or the lack of quality, as the case may be — affects everyone and everything in a community. Pay attention to what happens in our public school funding discussions because those debates could influence what you do in the voting booth later this year.

Finally, discussions about sentencing and bail may not generate head-turning headlines like the causes of redistricting, school vouchers or charter schools, but the issue of transparency in sentencing and fair policies for bail are worthy.

Sure, there will be the sound bite stealers bemoaning the political sensationalism, the public schools and people's safety, so it may feel like business as usual in Nashville.

But there is some unusually important business on the agenda this year, and that business starts Tuesday.

Contact Jay Greeson at jgreeson@timesfreepress.com.

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Jay Greeson
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