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.


Protecting The Flock

I had an interesting experience last weekend. Being an avid Angry Bird player, I was anxious to see the movie. We traveled over to the Wynsong theater and were greeted by the first responders of our community. Firemen, sheriffs, police officers, Lifeforce all arrived to show that they were there to "protect the flock". The flock are the birds that are being eaten by the pigs...for ... (click for more)

Late-Night Harassment By The Signal Mountain Police - And Response (13)

I am writing about the misconduct of the Signal Mountain Police Department. This is a repetitive civil rights problem, systemic within their department, with no hint of remorse or regret or a notion to change, though they have been confronted numerous times.   I live on Signal Mountain. In the last few months, I have been pulled over three times while I was driving three ... (click for more)

Police Chief Says Community Will Have Input On Placement Of Crime Cameras; To Be Tied In With New Real Time Intelligence Center

Police Chief Fred Fletcher said Tuesday that the community will have input on the placement of cameras designed to deter crime. He told the City Council at a budget hearing that the cameras are part of a Real Time Intelligence Center designed to quickly analyze crime patterns so officers and detectives can react faster and with more knowledge about the situation. Chief Fletcher ... (click for more)

Robbery Arrest Made After Victim Gets New Replacement Phone And Pics Of Robbers Are Uploaded To New Phone

A robbery arrest was made after the victim got a new phone and then had pictures from her stolen phone uploaded to the new phone to her Cloud account. Among the pictures uploaded were photos of the robbers. The female victim identified Seth Benjamin Hardnett, 18, of 1703 E. 14th St., as one of the robbers from the incident on April 12. Hardnett was charged with aggravated ... (click for more)

Crosby Huckabay At Heart Of Baylor Softball Success

The Baylor Lady Red Raiders have had incredible success on the softball field in recent years. Baylor is the defending D-II Class AA state champion and has won state titles in four of the past five seasons. There are three seniors on this year's team that has compiled an outstanding record of 34-4, including shortstop Mari Gardner, pitcher Kayla Hughes and first baseman Crosby ... (click for more)

Spring Fling XXIII Notebook: Rare Feat For Athletes and Coaches

Few former athletes who are current high school coaches have the distinction of participating in Spring Fling (1994 to present) as a player and coach and have a state championship included in their resume. The Chattanooga area has at least three – Tara Garner (Boyd Buchanan tennis), Dustin Kane (Baylor tennis) and Kelli Howard Smith (Baylor softball) – who meet the above mentioned ... (click for more)