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Business, Free Enterprise and Constitutional Issues; Pro-Life and Pro Second Amendment. Susan Lynn is a member of the Tennessee General Assembly. She serves as Chairman of the Consumer and Human Resources subcommittee, a member of the Finance Ways and Means Committee and the Ethics Committee. She holds a BS in economics and a minor in history.

Sunday, February 09, 2014

Weekly Wrap - January 20, 2014

The Tennessee State Legislature Reconvenes
The House of Representatives reconvened last week on Tuesday, January 14 at high noon.  This marks the 2nd half of the 1008th General Assembly.  One of the first orders of business was a memorial service for Rep. Lois M. DeBerry, who passed away July at age 68 after a four year battle with pancreatic cancer.

Immediately following the 20 minute long service her successor was sworn into office.  The next order of business was to swear in a new Republican Representative, Paul Bailey, due to the resignation of Rep. Charlie Curtis from District 43.  Rep. Bailey is a Republican businessman and farmer.  Bailey will not seek re-election to the House as he plans to run for State Senate to fill Senator Charlotte Burkes’ seat.  Burkes has decided not to seek re-election in 2014. 

Republicans now hold 71 seats in the state House and the Democrats hold 28 seats.

House Of Representatives Undergoes Annual Ethics Training

The House of Representatives also participated in our annual ethics training this week, with the Executive Director of the Tennessee Ethics Commission, Drew Rawlins, leading the training session. All 71 House Republicans were present, completing their required two hours of training per General Assembly.

The Tennessee Ethics Commission was created in a special session called by the Governor in 2005 in the wake of the Tennessee Waltz scandal. House Republicans supported stringent ethics requirements in an effort to clean up corruption on Capitol Hill. During that session, the Tennessee Ethics Commission was established to sustain the public's confidence in government by increasing the integrity and transparency of state and local government through regulation of lobbying activities, financial disclosure requirements, and ethical conduct.
Wilson County Commission Calls for Private Acts to Build Expo Center.
Center would be funded by 1%-3% hotel tax and by ticket surcharge.

Last fall with the idea of building an expo center at the Ward Agricultural Fair Grounds, the Wilson County Commission approved two Private Acts for consideration by the General Assembly in order to fund the facility.

A Private Act is necessary when a local government wants to implement a policy that their state charter (their local Constitution) does not authorize them to do.  An Act is run as a bill in the General Assembly by the representatives of the district.  The Act is not voted upon but rather adopted by the Assembly.  Basically, a Private Act asks the General Assembly for permission to allow the local officials to vote upon making a change to their state authorizing charter.

Private Acts are very common and typically ask the General Assembly to allow the locals to change their state charter to do a wide variety of different things – anything from changing the dates for elections to imposing a local tax.

The intent of Acts passed by the Wilson County Commission is to use the funds to build an expo center at the Ward Agricultural Fairgrounds.

Since the expo center is in Senator Beavers’ Senatorial district and Representative Pody’s House district it would be up to each of them to file the necessary bills and run them.  If done, this would allow the County Commission to vote and impose the change of policy asked for in the Acts.

An expo facility is heavily favored by County Commissioner Jeff Joines whose family enjoys participating in rodeos – Joines championed the Acts stating that if an expo center were built, Wilson County it would attract the National Junior Rodeo each year for the next three years.

The first Act would help pay for the expo center by implementing anywhere from a 1%-3% hotel/motel tax upon local hotels.

Wilson County already has a privilege tax on hotels set at 5%.  When combined with the city of Mount Juliet’s hotel tax rate of 5 %, the state sales tax of 7% and the county/city sales tax of 2.25 % – the tax rate for Mount Juliet hotels would be the highest in the nation at 22.25%.   

Naturally, this idea is strongly opposed by the hoteliers in Wilson County and Mount Juliet area elected officials, businesses and residents.  The hoteliers have expressed that they could live with an additional 1% tax but the county’s request, as drafted, calls for between 1%-3% additional tax.  It is not skeptical to imagine that if adopted, the tax would not stay at 1% because it would be allowed to grow to 3%.

The second Private Act passed by the county would impose a surcharge on tickets of $1 for use of the expo center.  The Wilson County Fair Board, who would be the single largest collector of the surcharge, has voted in favor of the measure because they feel the facility would benefit the Wilson County Fair.

Both Acts received a 2/3rds vote of approval by the Wilson County Commission last fall.  Senator Beavers and Rep. Pody have had a standing policy that if a Private Act initially passes the County Commission by two/thirds vote they will each carry the measure through the General Assembly for adoption.  The 2/3rds vote requirement is because after adoption by the General Assembly the local government must then actually carry out the vote that will change their state charter.  Constitutionally, votes to change a charter require a 2/3rds vote of the local boy in order to effective.

However, Rep. Pody reports that Senator Beavers has refused to file the bills unless the bills are each first adopted by the House.

However, House committees have a standing policy that no bill without a companion bill filed in the Senate will be considered by the committee.  This is because it is a terrible waste of the committee’s time when no Senate companion bill is filed.

Stay tuned…

Republicans Come Together To Kick Off A Jobs-Focused Legislative Session

This week marked the beginning of the second half of the 108th General Assembly, with the House of Representatives gaveling into session on Tuesday, January 14 at “high noon” in accordance with the Tennessee Constitution.

Having now officially convened, a number of issues await legislators in Nashville, with House Republicans vowing to make private sector job creation the top priority for the General Assembly.

Tennesseans can also expect Republicans to take up measures that will solidify the state’s ranking as a business-friendly, right-to-work state. In addition, the House Majority will work together to pass a number of proposals to continue improving both the state's economic outlook and education.

With regard to the state budget, officials say revenues have come in below expectations, meaning there will have to be some trimming to how much the state can spend this year. Nevertheless, Republicans have committed themselves to once again crafting a fiscally responsible, balanced budget that does not raise taxes. Just as Tennesseans across the state must live within their means, House Republicans have promised to continue managing taxpayer dollars in a thoughtful, fiscally prudent manner.

Tennessee Named ‘2013 State Of The Year’ For Economic Development

Earlier this week, Business Facilities magazine, a national economic development publication, officially named Tennessee as its ‘2013 State Of The Year’ for economic development, based on the state’s huge success over the last twelve months in recruiting new business and promoting economic development across Tennessee.

Cited in the magazine’s report were the state’s top five economic development projects of 2013, which created a total of 6,900 jobs, $3.2 billion in capital investment, and included seven expansions and three new recruitments.

This new award comes on the heels of other recent accolades for Tennessee, including being named #1 state in the nation for automotive manufacturing strength for an unprecedented four years in a row. Tennessee was also ranked in the top five states with the best business climate by Site Selection magazine and as the fourth best state in the U.S. for business in Chief Executive Magazine’s Annual Best & Worst States for Business Survey.

The top economic development projects for number of jobs created and amount of capital invested named by Business Facilities include:

Top Five Projects for Jobs
·        Hankook Tire Co., Ltd (Montgomery County): 1,800 jobs
·        ARAMARK (Davidson County): 1,500 jobs
·        Nissan North America, Inc. (Rutherford County): 1,400 jobs
·        Calsonic Kansei North America, Inc. (Bedford, Marshall and Rutherford counties): 1,200 jobs
·        UBS (Davidson County): 1,000 jobs
Top Five Projects for Capital Investment
·        Eastman Chemical Company (Sullivan County): $1.6 billion
·        Hankook Tire Co., Ltd (Montgomery County): $800 million
·        International Paper Company (Shelby County): $321 million
·        Nike, Inc. (Shelby County): $276 million
·        Alcoa, Inc. (Blount County): $275 million
Governor’s Children’s Cabinet Launches New Website For Families
Led by Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam and First Lady Crissy Haslam, the Governor’s Children’s Cabinet announced this week they have officially launched a new website, www.kidcentraltn.com, aimed at helping families across the state more easily find and navigate information and resources related to state government.

The website, described as a “one-stop shop” for families, gathers important information from across different state agencies, making it more convenient for families to find exactly what they need. It also gives individuals a platform to search for various state-related content areas, especially programs related to children’s health, education, and development.

Through www.kidcentraltn.com, parents can receive recommendations for relevant articles and services that might benefit their family. In addition, the website offers families the ability to download a mobile app to search for needed services as well as a directory of all state services available.

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