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.


Physicians Thank Their Patients On Doctor’s Day

March 30 has been set aside as National Doctors’ Day since 1933 as a time to recognize the contributions made by our physicians. While the recognition is appreciated, our greatest satisfaction comes from caring for our patients.  For 132 years, the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Medical Society has been the physicians’ voice as we worked together to improve health of our community. ... (click for more)

Justification For A Utility Rate Hike

In justification of a proposed utility rate hike the CEO of Cleveland Utilities cited a March issue of a regional magazine that declares Cleveland Utilities rates are 18.7 percent below the national average. This is not a new tactic but a worn out one that gets played over and over again and not only with a utility hike but with property taxes.  According to data from 2008-2012 ... (click for more)

Cleveland, Tn., Production Company Owner Charged With Defrauding Church Of God International Of $100,000

The head of a Cleveland, Tn., production company has been charged with defrauding the Cleveland-based Church of God International of $100,000 in connection with his part in setting up the church's world convention in Orlando, Fla., in 2010. Troy Scot Carter was charged by federal authorities with securities fraud. A four-page criminal information says the church hired Carter ... (click for more)

City Set To Commission $200,000 Mural On MLK Boulevard By Famed Muralist Meg Saligman; Foundations To Cover Cost

The city is set to commission a $200,000 mural on the side of the AT&T Building on MLK Boulevard by famed muralist Meg Saligman. Ms. Saligman has created over 50 murals all over the world, including one called  "Fertile Ground" that is 32,500 square feet in Omaha, Neb. Her most famous mural is "Common Threads" on the west wall of the Stevens Administrative Center ... (click for more)

Rail Runners Win In Double OT

East Ridge Alum Alex Wells has an impressive scoring resume from high school to now in semi pro, but missing is a game-winning shot at any level.   But Sunday afternoon in a Central Basketball Association game, he did everything but hit the winner (16 points) in guiding the Chattanooga Rail Runners to a 116-113 double overtime win against visiting Bowling Green (Ky.). ... (click for more)

UTC Women's Tennis Takes 1st Win Over Furman Since 1997

The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga women’s tennis got a huge monkey off its back with a 4-3 win over Furman on Sunday.  The Mocs snapped a 24-match losing streak against the Paladins with their first win in the series since 1997. UTC had come close in the last four meetings, falling 4-3 each time.  Today’s win gives Chattanooga a 14-2 overall record as it ... (click for more)