Rep. Watson: Capital Hill Review

Tuesday, December 17, 2013 - by Rep. Eric Watson

State Legislature Faces Several Key Issues 

The second half of the 108th General Assembly is set to begin on Jan. 14, with several key issues on tap this year including taxes and jobs. With preliminary work already done on many issues facing the General Assembly, expect lawmakers to get off to a quick start for what is expected to be a short but busy legislative session. 

Tax Reduction — The governor’s budget proposal will likely fund the next phase of inheritance tax relief by raising the exemption level to $5 million in 2015.  The General Assembly approved legislation in 2012 and 2013 phasing out the “death tax” by 2016, as well as reducing the sales tax on food from 5.5 percent to 5.0.  In 2012 lawmakers eliminated Tennessee’s gift tax.  I have continually focused on putting money back into the pockets of the citizens.  As we go forward with the next phase, I will fight for the people of my district.

In addition, the legislature voted to raise the exemption level to allow more senior citizens to be exempt from the Hall Income tax in 2011 and 2013.  Since enactment of the Hall tax in 1929, the use of investment savings has grown as a primary source of retirement income.  Expect some continued Hall tax relief efforts to come before the legislature in 2014. 

Continued Focus on Job Creation is “Job One” in 2014 — Another area in which Tennessee is looking to be the fastest improving state in the nation is high quality job growth.  In addition to preparing students for the 21st century global marketplace, the legislature will continue its efforts to create a business-friendly climate which draws new and better paying jobs to the state.

I am extremely proud of the efforts that my colleagues and I have done over the past several years, with the number of initiatives that we have passed to create and grow jobs including tort reform to provide predictability to business and workers’ compensation reform to create a streamlined system for employees and employers.  In addition, the state also has one of the lowest state and local tax burdens in the U.S. 

As a result of these and other efforts, Tennessee has gained approximately 140,000 new private sector jobs since January 2011.  The state ranks first in the Southeast and 10th in the nation for personal income growth, and first in the Southeast and 5th in the nation for job growth.  Expect efforts to continue to focus on fostering entrepreneurship in Tennessee and on the growth of new and expanding businesses.


Why Educators Leave The Profession

Unfortunately, some school districts in Tennessee will begin the school year still needing to hire teachers to staff their schools. Statistically, our Colleges of Education are not graduating the number of students necessary to replace teachers who have left the field, either voluntarily or involuntarily. A recent infographic from the Learning Policy Institute illustrates the issue ... (click for more)

What Would You Have Done? - And Response

I was fortunate enough to go to two bike rallies in one summer sometime in the 90’s I think.  The first one was at Leavenworth Washington State and the second was Missoula Montana.  I went across Highway 2 and it was a beautiful ride.   The reason I'm talking about it is I would like other opinions besides doctors, nurses and EMTs, because I disagree with them ... (click for more)

Person Shot And Killed In Hixson

A person was shot and killed in Hixson early Friday morning. At 3:25 a.m., Chattanooga Police responded to a person who had been shot at 4849 Hixson Pike. Officers were on regular patrol in the area and located the victim suffering from a gunshot wound. The victim was pronounced dead on the scene by Hamilton County EMS. Members of the Violent Crime Bureau are following ... (click for more)

County School Board Members, Rep. Favors Rap State Take-Over Plans For Low Performing Schools; New Superintendent To Come Up With Community Plan

County School Board members at a Thursday work session took turns rapping a state take-over plan for low performing schools. New Supt. Bryan Johnson said he will work over the next 30-45 days to come up with a community proposal for strengthening the iZone schools. He said, "I'm not sold myself" on some of the aspects of a proposed state partnership with the school district. ... (click for more)

Chattanooga State Basketball Camp Is More Than Basketball

As Chattanooga State head men’s basketball coach Jay Price out it simply, “Chattanooga Parks and Recreation had the kids, we had the resources.” So, a partnership was struck where the city supplied 140 boys from the inner city and Chatt State brought the facilities. The girl's camp last week had 75 participants.   Just like that the first of what Coach Price hopes will ... (click for more)

Lookouts Announce That Playoff Tickets Are On Sale Beginning July 24th

The 2017 First Half North Division Champion Chattanooga Lookouts have announced that individual tickets for the Lookouts 2017 playoffs presented by CoreCivic Silverdale Detention Facility will go on sale online at Lookouts.com and over the phone on Monday, July 24 at 9:00 a.m.  Tickets start at just $6.  On Monday, fans will be able to secure their seats to the team’s ... (click for more)