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.


Ideas For CARTA

RE: CARTA Ridership Down I have a couple of ideas that came after reading the above mentioned article.  First, if ridership is down that dramatically, perhaps we should begin to phase out the least-used routes.  These must be the most heavily subsidized routes, obviously because no revenue is being generated. Revenue seems to be important to CARTA, considering that ... (click for more)

District 1 Is Getting The Short End Of A Very Long Stick

These discretionary funds are just not proportional per district because each district has their own set of challenges. Each district has their own needs and no two districts are the same. Questions arose as to why we don't use discretionary funds in District 1 on all of the needs in the school for its schools.  Here is why that is a challenge for Commissioner Fairbanks. ... (click for more)

Severe Storms Rake Chattanooga Area; Flash Flooding Possible

Severe storms raked through the Chattanooga area on Saturday. Sale Creek was one of the hardest hit areas. Storm damage on Cooper Road included two crushed cars. Trees were on homes and railroad tracks that are the main line between Chattanooga and Cincinnati. Cooper Road is near Lake Chickamauga. There was also damage along Providence Road at Sale Creek. ... (click for more)

Body Believed To Be A Woman Is Found On Lookout Mountain

Hunters found a decomposed human body on Saturday afternoon in a remote area off High Road, Cloudland, Walker County. Law enforcement believes the unidentified remains to be a female. It appears the body may have been at the location for four weeks. On March 19, a vehicle was found abandoned on private property in close proximity to where the body was located ... (click for more)

Trojans Beat Eagles 4-3 On Couch's Walk-Off Single In Seventh

Signal Mountain rolled into Saturday afternoon’s high school baseball game against Soddy-Daisy riding a nine-game winning streak. The Eagles outscored the last six opponents in the streak by a combined 87-15, including a 26-2 rout of Red Bank just prior to taking on the Trojans. Soddy-Daisy used five pitchers to contain the Eagles, overcame a solid start by Signal Mountain ... (click for more)

Thompson Romps To Win In Chickamauga Chase

Nobody would have blamed Christian Thompson if he had decided to take it easy Saturday morning and simply enjoy running the 49 th annual Chickamauga Chase. After all, the 28-year-old Fleet Feet sales associate averaged 5:29 per mile in finishing 29 th overall in the Boston Marathon just five days ago with a world-classed time of 2:23:51. Admitting that his legs were just ... (click for more)