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.


What Happened To All The Carmike Cinemas In Town?

Decided to take in a movie this weekend and went to the local theatre.  It was no longer a Carmike, but branded "AMC" now.    I didn't think things would be that different, because fundamentally it is still just a movie theatre, but I was wrong.  Tickets were astronomical, but not as bad as the concession prices.  It seems AMC Theatres has decided ... (click for more)

Paths Of Valor

As we take time from our busy lives this weekend, we pause to honor all those that have died in service to our country.  Take the time to go by an out of the way corner of the Northgate Mall and visit the temporary home of our own Medal Of Honor museum, as Chattanooga contemplates where the permanent building honoring these brave men and women will be constructed.  ... (click for more)

Fire Destroys Commercial Building On Dodson Avenue

Chattanooga firefighters responded to a commercial fire shortly after 1 a.m. Monday.   Captain Wadie Suttles with Engine 4 said heavy smoke and flames were visible when the first of four fire companies arrived on the scene at 3019 Dodson Ave. As firefighters forced their way inside to began an interior attack, Captain Suttles called for a second alarm response to bring ... (click for more)

Bradley Detectives Investigating Death Of 18-Month-Old Child; Foul Play Not Suspected At This Time

Detectives in the Bradley County Sheriff's Criminal Investigations Division are investigating the death of an 18-month old child that occurred Saturday evening.   Multiple phone calls into the 911 Communications Center led to patrol deputies responding to a residence on Lowery Street, N.E. Upon arrival deputies discovered a deceased child inside the residence, which ... (click for more)

Payne, Marlier Win Chattanooga Chase 8K Titles

(Updated with photos.) It looked sort of like the good old days at Riverview Park Monday morning. It was the 50 th running of the Chattanooga Chasen and while Monday’s number of participants didn’t surpass the numbers posted back in the mid-80s during the running boom, they were close. A total of 796 runners crossed the finish line in the 8K main event and the one-mile race ... (click for more)

Notre Dame To Host Tennessee-Georgia All-Star Hoop Games

Notre Dame High School will again host the Tennessee-Georgia All-Star basketball games at Phifer Gym on Tuesday, June 6. The girls’ game is slated for a 6 p.m. tipoff and a 3-point contest will be held at halftime. A dunk contest will take place between the girls’ and boys’ games with the boys’ tipoff being at 8 p.m. The boys’ 3-point contest will be held at halftime. ... (click for more)