State Representative Kelly Keisling Capitol Hill Review for February 20, 2020
Governor’s Initiatives Begin Journey Through House
This week in Nashville, almost three dozen administration bills began making their way through the House chamber. These initiatives build upon Tennessee’s recent momentum and are key components of Gov. Bill Lee’s agenda for the 2020 legislative year. Some of them include: House Bill 2223: Clarifies the Department of Agriculture is responsible for establishing the standards applicable for certain donations of food. Strengthens a food donor’s immunity against liability for damage resulting from distribution of apparently wholesome food. House Bill 2223 will now be heard by members of the House Judiciary Committee House Bill 2227: Creates a rural Brownfield Tax Credit Enhancement Program. These brownfield sites are locations in our rural communities where former industries once stood. House Bill 2227 will allow companies looking to reinvest in these properties and the communities they serve to receive a tax credit in order to encourage them to relocate and create new jobs. The measure now moves to the Finance, Ways, & Means Committee. House Bill 2242: Ensures integrity within the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and will help our Department of Human Services to fight instances of fraud, waste, and abuse within this program. House Bill 2242 now heads to the House State Committee for additional discussion and debate.
Lawmakers Approve Legislation Creating 32nd Judicial District
Lawmakers on Thursday overwhelmingly approved a measure designed to create a new judicial district in Tennessee.
House Bill 1156 was approved in the House chamber by an 84 to 5 vote, and it creates a new 32nd judicial district.
This new district will serve the citizens of Hickman, Lewis, and Perry Counties. Currently, they and Williamson County comprise the 21st judicial district.
The 32nd judicial district will allow for more specialized legal attention to better address the unique needs of citizens in these counties by reducing the backlog of court cases currently on the books because of Williamson County’s exponential growth. Additionally, the bill would allow Williamson County to become its own standalone judicial district.
The Tennessee House of Representatives is committed to providing new resources and additional support to our local judicial and law enforcement communities. This will ensure we remain tough on crime and hold the worst of the worst accountable so we can continue to create safe communities across Tennessee.
Legislation Lowering Tennessee’s Business Income Tax Gains Support In House
A measure designed to lower Tennessee’s business income tax (excise tax) is gaining support in the House.
House Bill 2301 is a fiscally responsible approach to attract new business to our state and to encourage small business owners to reinvest into their communities by beginning the process of lowering the excise tax from 6.5 percent to 6 percent over a five year period.
The measure would reduce the tax by one-tenth of a percent every year over the next five years, provided revenue growth remains above two percent.
House Bill 2301 also contains built in safety mechanisms that are based upon revenue collections, in the event Tennessee suffers an unexpected economic downturn. If the revenue growth rate is more than one percent but less than two percent, the tax would remain flat.
Should the state’s revenue grow less than one percent, than the tax rate will increase incrementally in the same manner in which it decreased (one-tenth of a percent).
Finally, if revenue collections demonstrate a negative growth rate at any point in the process of lowering the tax, this rate would then return to the original 6.5 percent.
Cutting the business income tax on businesses will put money back into the pockets of owners so they can expand and create new jobs.
Spencer Bristol Act Heads To Finance Subcommittee
Legislation honoring the life and legacy of Hendersonville Master Patrol Officer Spencer Bristol is closer to a vote in the House chamber.
The Spencer Bristol Act holds criminals accountable by significantly increasing penalties for evading arrest when a law enforcement officer is injured or dies during a pursuit involving a fleeing suspect. House Bill 1805 is scheduled for discussion and debate in the House Finance Subcommittee next week.
Currently, evading arrest is a Class D felony punishable by not less than two years and not more than 12 years in prison. This initiative enhances that penalty to a Class A offense, punishable by 15-60 years in prison.
The Spencer Bristol Act also increases penalties for causing serious bodily injury to a law enforcement officer during a pursuit from a Class D felony to a Class C felony.
Officer Bristol was killed in the line of duty on Dec. 30, 2019 pursuing a fleeing suspect following a crash and high-speed car chase that began in Hendersonville and ended on Interstate 65 in Goodlettsville.
House Bill 1805 is expected to be heard by members of the Finance, Ways, & Means Committee on Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2020.
Legislation Improving Transportation for Disabled and Aging Citizens Moves Forward
Members of the Finance, Ways, & Means Subcommittee this week approved legislation aimed at improving transportation options for Tennessee’s disabled and aging populations.
The Tennessee Accessible Transportation and Mobility Act of 2020 creates an office within our Department of Transportation dedicated to expanding and improving accessible transportation.
Public transportation is a challenge in certain areas; it can be especially difficult for the disabled and aging. The new office created through House Bill 1596 will be tasked with identifying and working to eliminate barriers to reliable forms of public transportation for these specific populations.
House Bill 1596 heads to the Finance, Ways, & Means Committee for additional discussion on Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2020.
Good Samaritan Sentencing Enhancement Act of 2020 Advances Out Of Criminal Justice Subcommittee
Members of the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee this week backed House Bill 1816, also known as the Good Samaritan Sentencing Enhancement Act of 2020.
This permissive legislation creates a sentencing enhancement for individuals who commit offenses against those rendering emergency care or assistance to crime victims and who are classified as Good Samaritans.
House Bill 1816 will now be heard by members of the House Judiciary Committee next week.
General Assembly Honors Northeast Tennessee Heroes
Members of the Tennessee General Assembly honored members of the Mountain Electric Cooperative this week for saving the life of a motorist trapped during a mudslide and local flooding event on Feb. 11 in Johnson County.
Linemen Cody Bryant, Rick Courtner, Charlie Grindstaff, Mollie Ingle and Dakota Tester rushed into action to save a woman after her truck was overrun by high water in a swollen creek. Risking their own lives, the group pulled the motorist from her nearly submerged vehicle, made sure she was safe, and then quietly returned to their jobs.
Thursday was an opportunity for House members to recognize these humble and courageous heroes who went above and beyond during a stressful situation that could have ended in unimaginable tragedy.
Those who attended the ceremony at the capitol in Nashville were presented with a House Proclamation as a small token of appreciation for their dedication and service to the citizens of Johnson County and Tennessee.