Rep. Brooks: State House Summary

Thursday, July 25, 2013 - by Rep. Kevin Brooks
Tennessee Claims Key Ranking Of Lowest Debt in the Nation
 

House lawmakers from across the state joined together this week to announce that Fitch Ratings, one of the country's top bond agencies, has officially name Tennessee the lowest debt state in the nation.  

The news, which was released by Fitch earlier this week, is based on an analysis of total debt ratios in all 50 states. The calculation is measured by combining each state’s total debt and unfunded liabilities and measuring them against the state’s average individual income level.

The special report from Fitch revealed that the median level for states' combined debt measures 7.0 percent of 2012 personal income. Tennessee's was lowest at 1.8 percent. The nation's highest percentage was Illinois at 24.8 percent.

Fitch plans to use the debt ratios as a factor in evaluating states’ credit ratings. Favorable ratings from Fitch and the other rating agencies means lower interest rates when the state borrows money, resulting in big savings for taxpayers across the board. 

"There’s a simple reason why our state’s debt rate is so low – we borrow a small amount of money relative to the size of our government and we repay it quickly,” Tennessee Comptroller of the Treasury Justin P. Wilson said. “That’s a credit to our state legislators, who have managed our finances very wisely. They have helped keep the burden that future generations of Tennesseans will have to repay low.”

The award from Fitch complements other recent accolades given to the state which honor  Tennessee's top-rated fiscal environment, including placing as the 3rd best-managed state in the country by Barron’s Magazine and being named the #1 state in the nation for retirement by Bankrate.com. 

These important rankings come on the heels of House lawmakers wrapping up one of the most successful legislative sessions in Tennessee history, where efforts were focused on cutting taxes, decreasing the size of government, and passing commonsense reforms that make it as easy as possible to start and operate a business in Tennessee.

With the second half of the 108th General Assembly set to begin in only a few months, this most recent round of business-friendly awards prove that in Tennessee, things are moving in the right direction. Through the hard work and dedication of Governor Haslam and legislative leadership, state government has been successful in coming together to attract job-creators, inspire entrepreneurs, and put Tennesseans back to work. 

Launch Tennessee Kicks Off TENNProgram Initiative

Local entrepreneurs and leaders of Tennessee startup companies now have a chance to get more exposure and funding through a new state initiative called the TENNProgram.  

The new program, which is part of the public-private partnership called Launch Tennessee, aims to identify and assist the top 10 startup companies graduating from the state’s regional accelerators—the primary resource offered to entrepreneurs to launch their businesses in Tennessee. 

The program kicks off with a statewide demo day on Tuesday, Aug. 27, at the Bridge Building in Nashville, during which the top 10 startup companies from across the state will be identified. Following this initial event, the ten companies will embark on a statewide bus tour, where they will meet with leaders of Tennessee’s top corporations. In addition, the group will fly to various states to network with venture capitalists and potential investors.

Companies that have graduated from one of Tennessee’s nine regional business accelerators in the last year can apply to be one of the ten companies chosen to participate in the TENNProgram.  

Interested applicants can apply online by Aug. 2 by visiting http://ow.ly/niz2v.

State’s Agritourism Industry Continues Steady Growth

Researchers at the University of Tennessee released new findings this week that show Tennessee’s agritourism industry — which includes any agriculturally-based operation or activity that brings visitors to a farm or ranch — has more than doubled between 2006 and 2012, bringing in hundreds of millions of tourism dollars for farmers across the state.  

In 2012 alone, the study cites, Tennessee agritourism visitors spent more than $54 million in farm visits and agriculture purchases from farmers in all areas of the state. In addition, the study estimates approximately 200 agritourism operators hosted in excess of 1.75 million people on their farms in 2012. 

The most common types of activities and attractions that drew people to Tennessee farms, according to the study, were school field trips, pick-your-own product events, wagon rides, farm tours, and retail farm markets. 

To view the complete UT agritourism report, please visit http://tiny.utk.edu/ATStudy.

Annual Sales Tax Holiday To Take Place Aug. 2-4

Members of the Tennessee House of Representatives are reminding citizens across the state this week that Tennessee’s 9th annual sales tax holiday is scheduled for Friday, August 2nd through Sunday, August 4th. During the three day tax holiday, shoppers can save almost 10 percent on tax free clothing, school and art supplies, and computer purchases. 

The holiday begins at 12:01 a.m. on Friday and ends at 11:59 p.m. on Sunday. During the designated three day weekend, shoppers will not pay state or local sales tax on select clothing with a price of $100 or less per item, school and art supplies with a price of $100 or less per item, and computers with a price of $1,500 or less.

For more information, visit www.tntaxholiday.com. The Tennessee Department of Revenue also assists consumers via e-mail at salestax.holiday@tn.gov, and through its toll-free hotline, 1-800-342-1003.  

Rep. Kevin Brooks serves the 24th Legislative District in Cleveland and Bradley County.  Kevin and his wife, Kim are actively involved in their community and local schools with their two children, Zach and Elizabeth who are both attending Lee University.



Double Standards And The Police

Today I received a ticket in the mail. I was not pulled over. No officer saw me speeding.  And yet, I, as a citizen, received a ticket in the mail for the sum of no less than $50.  I was doing 15 over after a long 12-hour shift of working in the emergency room at my hospital of employment.   Interestingly enough, two Chattanooga police officers were recently caught ... (click for more)

David Carroll: Saluting Navy Hero Randall Smith

On Tuesday afternoon, we will once again pause to salute an American hero, gone too soon.  The fifth serviceman killed by a deranged shooter in Chattanooga will be laid to rest.  Once again, thousands will line the highways or attend the burial at Chattanooga National Cemetery.  They will carry flags, and salute as the procession goes by.  We know his name and ... (click for more)

Assessor Of Property Bill Bennett Will Not Seek Re-Election

Bill Bennett, a longtime fixture in Hamilton County government, announced Monday that he plans to retire at the end of his current term as assessor of property. Mr. Bennett said, "After careful thought, prayer and encouragement from my family, I have made the decision to retire at the end of my current term and not place my name on the ballot for assessor of property in the 2016 ... (click for more)

Funeral Service For Petty Officer 2nd Class Randall Scott Smith Is Tuesday

The funeral service for Petty Officer 2nd Class Randall Scott Smith will be held on Tuesday at 2 p.m. at First Baptist Church in Fort Oglethorpe.   Petty Officer Smith is the last of the five servicemen, and the second in Chattanooga, to be buried after the attack on July 16.   Parking at the church is reserved for family and friends of the Smith family. The public ... (click for more)

Former McCallie Swimmer Qualifies For 2016 Olympics

Sean Ryan, a 2010 graduate of McCallie, qualified for an Olympic swimming competition early Monday morning. His fourth-place finish in the 10-kilometer open-water race July 27 at the FINA World Championships earned him a spot on the United States Olympic Team for next year’s Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The race took place in the Kazanka River in Kazan, Russia, ... (click for more)

Chattanooga Football Club To Host National Semifinals Saturday

Saturday  Chattanooga Football Club won the National Premier Soccer League (NPSL) South Region Championship over the Myrtle Beach Mutiny – its second title in a row. That win puts CFC in the final four teams in the league still competing for the national title. By winning the South Region, Chattanooga FC became the number two seed in the country and will host the third-seeded ... (click for more)