Rep. Floyd: Capitol Update

Thursday, January 19, 2012 - by Rep. Richard Floyd

GOP Lawmakers Get Back to Work Following Redistricting

This week, House lawmakers resumed normal business after the completion of the redistricting proposals passed by both the House and Senate. The new district maps now await the review and signature of Governor Bill Haslam in order to become law. The reapportioned districts for the Tennessee House and Senate, and the U.S. Congress, take effect after the next election.

Having completed that task, the House Republican Caucus has now turned its attention to job creation—the number one priority for Tennesseans. A number of proposals to help spur economic development await action in the General Assembly. Additionally, the House Majority will work closely with the Administration to pass a number of proposals to improve both the state's economic outlook and education.

Some highlights of the governor’s legislative package include changes to the Economic and Community Development FastTrack incentive program. This is a tool for the Department of ECD to attract and expand jobs here in Tennessee. The reforms highlighted by the Administration allow for the budgets to allocate more for grants and giving the Department more flexibility in utilizing the grants.

The governor also submitted a proposal to cut taxes in Tennessee. Under Gov. Haslam’s plan, the sales tax on groceries would be reduced so the tax burden on all Tennesseans will be reduced in a time of economic hardship. He also proposed cutting the death tax, a punitive tax that hurts Tennessee family businesses and farms. Both of these items have long been priorities of many members of the House GOP Caucus.

House Republicans Pass Constitutional Amendment Banning State Income Tax

More Evidence that Tennessee Works, While Washington Dithers

As expected, House Republicans quickly switched gears this week from redistricting to focusing on job creation and the economy.

A number of conservative members have talked about the certainty job creators must have in Tennessee in a number of different areas; including legal reform, regulatory mandates and, perhaps most important, tax law. While Tennessee is currently one of only a handful of states not to impose a punitive income tax on its citizens, several attempts have been made to change this fact.

On Thursday, Republican lawmakers took a strong stand on behalf of taxpayers to ensure Tennesseans will never have to face a tax on the money they work so hard to earn. Lawmakers overwhelmingly passed a constitutional amendment, Senate Joint Resolution 221, to permanently place language in the Tennessee Constitution banning the implementation of an income tax. The amendment now must pass the next General Assembly by a 2/3rds vote before being placed on the 2014 election general election ballot.

Rep. Glen Casada (R—Franklin) stated, “America was built on the notion of self-reliance. Our tax code should reflect that principle and provide greater flexibility for taxpayers. Countless studies have shown income taxes are hurtful to state economies and harmful to the financial well-being of taxpayers while a sales tax allows taxpayers to be in charge of their resources. With today’s vote, we are fulfilling our promise to Tennesseans that we will protect them from wasteful spending and government actions that hurt job creation in the private sector.”

In passing SJR 221, the Republican majority painted a strong contrast between how government operates in Tennessee and the dysfunctional ways of the federal government in Washington.

SJR 221 removes all doubt about whether Tennesseans should have an onerous income tax levied against them. Clearly, we hear what the voters are telling us. I would hope Washington would do the same and get the federal government out of the way of America’s job creators.

Republican Lawmaker Files Bill to Make Criminal Acts Conducted by Elected Officials Ineligible for Judicial Diversion

Rep. Ryan Haynes (R-Knoxville) this week announced he has filed legislation to disqualify elected or appointed officials from receiving judicial diversion for crimes committed during their term of office.

Judicial diversion is the process in criminal law when a person pleads guilty to a crime and can later have the charge removed (or expunged) from their record following a period of probation. It is granted by the judge.

“Accountability is a term that is thrown around a lot in public service these days. Unfortunately, not many take it seriously and that has to change,” said Haynes. “A law like this would go a long way towards restoring the faith Tennesseans once had in their elected officials. We must hold ourselves to a higher standard and I think this is a strong first step towards raising the bar in Tennessee.”

A person is eligible for judicial diversion in Tennessee if they do not have a previous class A misdemeanor, felony conviction, or never received diversion or had their record expunged before. Those charged with a class A felony, a class B felony, a sexual offense, or a DUI are not eligible for judicial diversion under state law. Senate Bill 2566 would simply add a criminal offense committed by an official in the executive, legislative or judicial branch to the list of those which are ineligible for judicial diversion, if the crime was committed in their official capacity or involve the duties of their office.


Tennessee Department of ECD Leading Trade Mission, Companies Encouraged to Apply


The Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development announced that Commissioner Bill Hagerty will lead ECD’s trade mission to China and South Korea April 15-21, that will focus on Tennessee’s medical device manufacturers and other health care companies.

Applications are available at http://www.tn.gov/ecd/tntrade/trademission, along with a video explaining the trade mission. The deadline for companies to apply is Feb. 1. The trade mission is part of the recently announced TNTrade, a new initiative designed to help boost exports by Tennessee’s small- and medium-sized businesses.


Secretary of State Announces ACT & SAT Test Prep Available Through the Tennessee Electronic Library
The winter test dates for the ACT and SAT are fast approaching. While some students may be nervous about how the upcoming exams could affect their college options, the Tennessee Electronic Library has the tools they need to succeed.

TEL is an online library funded by the Tennessee General Assembly and the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services. TEL is administered by the Tennessee State Library and Archives, a division of the Office of the Secretary of State.

"Success in education and in life begins with proper preparation, which is key for young students to understand," Secretary of State Tre Hargett said. "The free resources available through TEL show students what to expect and how to prepare for the academic challenges ahead."
The next SAT test will be offered Jan. 29, while the next ACT test will be Feb. 11.

The test prep resources in TEL are from the Learning Express Library, an online collection of study guides, practice tests and math and reading improvement courses. The courses are timed and structured to simulate actual test-taking experiences with instant grading results. Test takers receive personalized recommendations for free e-books and online courses to aid in their future study needs.

Learning Express Library has more than 1,000 online interactive practice exams and course series, plus more than 200 e-books.

"The chance to practice such an important exam is very helpful," TEL Coordinator Wendy Cornelisen said. "It gives students an idea of what their test day will be like, and hopefully lessen any test anxiety they might have."

TEL is free for everyone in Tennessee and provides the tools needed to prepare for a variety of exams and take studying to the next level. To use the test prep resources in TEL, go to www.tntel.info and click on Test Prep to create a free personal account with the user name and password of your choice. TEL is available from any Internet connection in Tennessee, including smart phones and computers at public libraries throughout the state.


Molehills On The Mountain

It just so happens that a very flat, level road on Signal Mountain named Mountain Creek  just received the first ever speed bumps on the mountain in its entire history. Please take the time to drive on Middle Creek and try to figure out how this road could possibley qualify under any public safety criteria for speed bumps, let alone the very first on Signal Mountain. I should ... (click for more)

Distaste For Competition

Councilman Hakeem said the new set-up was a threat to the continued viability of cab companies. Bad for the taxicab industry but good for the public. Taxi medallion prices are falling and so are sales volumes and the taxicab industry is fit to be tied. In New York medallion prices have fallen 17 percent in a just over a year and over 20 percent in Boston.  The taxi cab ... (click for more)

Erlanger To Proceed With Manager Bonuses In 2 Steps; Considering Employee Performance Incentive Plan

Erlanger President and CEO Kevin Spiegel said Wednesday night that the hospital plans to proceed with $1.7 million in manager bonuses in two steps. Current participants in the incentive program will receive 50 percent of the approved 2014 performance plan this month. The remaining 50 percent will be paid to the management group in July 2015. At the same time, Mr. Spiegel ... (click for more)

Caldwell Arrested In Rapes Of 2 Women Over 60 In Brainerd, Hixson

Investigators have made an arrest in the rape cases that were reported last weekend. Taken into custody was Derrick Dewayne Caldwell, 30. He is charged with two counts of aggravated rape and two counts of aggravated burglary. Police said two women over 60 years old were raped in Brainerd and in Hixson in separate incidents. (click for more)

UTC Cagers Upset No.7 Stanford

"Defense kept us in the game and our fans are great!." UTC sophomore Moses Johnson after the 54-46 win.   The giant killer has done it again. Relying on hustle, determination, key 3-pointers and 10 made free throws down the stretch the Chattanooga Mocs defeated visiting No.7 Stanford women 54-46 Wednesday at McKenzie Arena. Playing before 2,128 cheering ... (click for more)

Vols Land 4-Star JUCO Running Back Alvin Kamara

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Tennessee football coach Butch Jones has signed junior college four-star running back Alvin Kamara, who is from Norcross, Ga., and originally signed with Alabama and then transferred to Hutchinson (Kan.) Community College. Information on Kamara: ALVIN KAMARA R-Sophomore • Running Back • 5-11 • 200 Norcross, Ga. • Norcross H.S./Alabama/Hutchinson ... (click for more)