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.


Confusion About Brown's Ferry And Fukushima

Re: Environmental Group Opposes Increase Of Output At TVA Nuclear Plants   In the subject article, you said Westinghouse Plants at Brown’s Ferry and Fukushima.  The author of the article, who obviously is anti-nuke, should at least have some idea about the topic. Brown's Ferry and Fukushima are GE design plants, I worked at Fukushima and SRO’ed there.  ... (click for more)

Pass The Tennessee Wilderness Act

I was recently drawn to a piece by Samantha Lynn urging Congress to protect the Cherokee National Forest as wilderness. I wanted to echo Samantha’s sentiments in regards to the Tennessee Wilderness Act.  I grew up in upstate New York backpacking the Adirondacks. Like many others, I was attracted to Chattanooga by its incredible outdoor opportunities including the Cherokee ... (click for more)

Avocet Hospitality Group Acquires The Read House; Multi-Million-Dollar Renovation Planned For The Historic Chattanooga Property

Historic Read House Associates, LLC, a subsidiary of Avocet Hospitality Group (AHG), on Wednesday announced the acquisition of The Read House in downtown Chattanooga. The seller, Read House Investors, LP , has owned the property since 1994 and entered a sale agreement with AHG in May. Hodges Ward Elliott represented and advised the seller in the transaction. The 242-room ... (click for more)

Judge Says Dyer, Brennan Can Obtain Loans From Friends And Families After Affidavits Are Filed

Federal Judge Travis McDonough ruled Wednesday that two Chattanooga men who were charged by the Securities and Exchange Commission with defrauding a large number of investors can obtain loans from friends and family to pay attorneys and for living expenses. However, he said details of the loans must be spelled out in affidavits that he and the SEC must approve. The loans to Doug ... (click for more)

Luthringer, Boyd Win Prep Cross Country Races

High school cross country runners didn’t get a break from the weather at Camp Jordan Tuesday afternoon. It was the first day of competition in the Chattanooga Cross Country League and even though the usual 5K distance was shortened to just two miles because of the heat and humidity, the effort was there as was plenty of sweat as 213 varsity runners representing 17 teams stepped ... (click for more)

Ooltewah Gets Past Improved McMinn, 3-0, In District 5-3A Volleyball

McMinn County may not be the patsy it once was on the volleyball court. Ooltewah, which have won a combined 26 regular season and District 5-3A tournament titles, 10 region tourney crowns and appeared in earned nine state berths with two second-place finishes, learned the Lady Cherokees have made significant improvement since the 2015 season. The Lady Owls (14-4, 4-0) ... (click for more)