Beth grew up the youngest of five children in a family who valued faith and education. At the age of 16, Beth came to Tennessee to attend David Lipscomb University, and went on to earn a master’s degree from George Peabody College and a Ph.D. from Vanderbilt University.
Her interest in government and politics was inspired by her grandmother, and while teaching political science at Belmont University, Beth ran for State Representative in the 56th District, coming up just short of being elected. Two years later, she ran again, winning handily and has served her district with distinction since then.
Since becoming Speaker in 2011, Beth has led the House to enact conservative reforms that have earned national recognition. Including:
- A balanced budget every year
- Lowest debt per capita in the nation
- One of the lowest taxed states in the country
- Cut more taxes than ever before, including eliminating the death tax, ending the gift tax, lowering the sales tax on food 3 times, and phasing out the Hall Income Tax
- Recognized as the fastest improving state in education
- Record-breaking low unemployment by ending regulations and fostering the free market to create a business-friendly environment
A Ronald Reagan Republican…
“The Federal Government did not create the states; the states created the Federal Government.” – Ronald Reagan
- As State Party Chairman (2001-2004), Beth led the State Senate to its first Republican majority in over 100 years.
- In 2011, Beth became the first female speaker of the Tennessee House of Representatives and the entire Southeast.
Under Beth’s leadership, the House Republicans captured the supermajority.
Beth has won numerous awards, including:
- The Tennessee Press Association’s Open Government Award
- Two-time recipient of the Champion of Small Business from the National Federation of Independent Businesses
- Two-time recipient of the Harold Bradley Award for Excellence in Education Policy
- The Champion for Children Award
- The Conservation Legislator Award
- The 2015 Legislator Award from Mental Health America, a national recognition for her work on mental health issues
- The Junior Leagues of Tennessee’s Legislator of the Year Award
- The American Cancer Society Legislative Leadership Award
Beth has been married to Sam Harwell, a 7th generation Tennessean, for over 25 years. They have three children – Allie, Sam and Tucker. Beth enjoys spending time with her family, likes the outdoors, and is an avid reader.