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.


Bright Lights At Hamilton Place Mall

Our area has been blessed with new signs beaming with the new Light Emitting Diode technology lately. Most of these signs have been a great addition to the local landscape. I enjoy reading the scrolling ads or the upcoming classes/events at the local churches, schools and businesses. These signs are great. But, LEDs are capable of being very, very bright. They can get so bright, ... (click for more)

Chattanooga Goodwill Thanks The Community For Giving

For nearly a century, people of Southeast Tennessee and Northwest Georgia have generously and faithfully given gently used clothing and household items to benefit Chattanooga Goodwill Industries. Thanks to their support, we have helped thousands of people with disabilities find jobs, earn paychecks, learn job skills, receive free medical equipment and so much more. One might ... (click for more)

Kiser Takes Witness Stand For First Time; Says He Did Not Kill Deputy Donald Bond

Marlon Duane Kiser took the witness stand at his post-conviction hearing on Tuesday to declare that he did not kill Deputy Donald Bond, who was gunned down at a produce stand in East Brainerd 13 years ago. Kiser had not opted to go on the stand when he was convicted by a Nashville jury and given the death penalty in 2003. He said he believes it was Mike Chattin, the man he ... (click for more)

Courtney Godwin, 25, Was Victim In Monday Night Fire In Hixson

Chattanooga firefighters battled a fully-involved structure fire in Hixson Monday night, and the incident involved at least one fatality.  Dr. Steve Cogswell with the Hamilton County Medical Examiner’s Office identified the victim as Courtney D. Godwin, 25. Dr. Cogswell said Ms. Godwin died from smoke inhalation.   The first call to 911 Communications was received ... (click for more)

Vols' Jones: Vanderbilt Will Present Various Challenges

Tennessee football coach and selected players met with the media Monday during the Vols’ weekly press conference at Neyland Stadium. The coach and players – linebacker Jalen Reeves-Maybin and defensive back Cameron Sutton discussed last week’s loss to Missouri and the upcoming Southeastern Conference finale against rival Vanderbilt in Nashville. The Vols 5-6, 2-5 SEC) ... (click for more)

Ooltewah's Toser, Turner Set For TACA All-Stars

Ooltewah place-kicker Laszlo Toser and cheerleader Haley Turner, both seniors, will participate in the 2014 East-West All-Star football game at Tennessee Tech University on Dec. 12. Toser, the Owls’ record-setting kicker who is a Mr. Football finalist, will report on Tuesday night for practices leading up to the eighth annual game promoted by the Tennessee Athletic Coaches Association. ... (click for more)