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.

Roy Exum: We Want Our City Back

Late Saturday morning, there was a driving rain as I took my khakis to be hemmed by Bruce Baird, who owns a wonderful menswear store on Broad Street, and it was glaringly obvious that what the crazies among us have done with a looney bike-lane scheme is ridiculous. There are concrete barriers, reducing Broad Street to two lanes of traffic, which I believe will impede downtown businesses ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: How We Learned To Play

A couple of years ago I was reading a fascinating story that asserted the “Little Rascals” taught generations of children how to play with each other. When the comedy show about children in a poor neighborhood originated in 1922, there were just silent movies but in 1929, when the “talkies” were introduced, children and adults alike were mesmerized by the wonderful humor that producer ... (click for more)

Baylor Student, 16, Dies After Cardiac Incident At Pool

A 16-year-old Baylor School student died after a cardiac incident at a pool on Monday afternoon. Sumner Smith died in the incident on campus. The student was taken by ambulance to Erlanger. Baylor's Barbara Kennedy said it happened during a routine swim practice. He was found unresponsive in the pool. Counselors were being provided on the Baylor campus on Tuesday. ... (click for more)

Bradley County Commission Decides Not To Provide Animal Pickup Service

Bradley County Commissioners on Monday finally put animal control to rest. It was not easy and it was not without confusion, but in the end, the county will not provide animal pickup service.   Confusion began when commissioners were asked to approve the agenda, which included two options for animal control pick up. Item “D” provided for the SPCA of Bradley County ... (click for more)

Lady 'Canes Beat Bradley, Set Up Showdown With Ooltewah

CLEVELAND, Tenn. – East Hamilton and Bradley Central had played four times before their District 5-3A volleyball tournament opener on Monday. The two teams split the series. Monday’s match was clearly more important than the previous four, since the winner advanced in the district tourney and the loser went home. The No. 4 seed Lady Hurricanes (21-15) rallied impressively ... (click for more)

CSAS Advances In 5-A Volleyball With Win Over Copper Basin

Samantha Green didn't have any idea what her team's overall record was, but all that matters is that her CSAS Lady Patriots won their opening-round match of the District 5-A tournament on Monday at Silverdale and will face top-seeded Grace on Tuesday in the semifinals. The Lady Patriots beat the Copper Basin Lady Cougars on Monday, needing less than an hour to advance as CSAS ... (click for more)