Democratic View On Top Senate Issues: April 23, 2024

  • Tuesday, April 23, 2024
  • Brandon Puttbrese

Lee’s $1.9 Billion Corporate Handout: Battle lines drawn over transparency

  • 10 a.m. CT Conference Committee SB 2103, by Sen. Jack Johnson, would give property-rich corporations $4.1 billion worth of franchise tax breaks over the next decade ($400M annually) and authorize $1.6 billion worth of immediate cash payments to those same taxpayers.
  • The House version of this bill includes the $400 million annual tax break for corporations, but the handout is about half the size at $700 million and it requires that the companies claiming a “refund” payment be named publicly.
  • Both sides will hash out their differences in a rare public meeting today.
  • Gov. Bill Lee – a wealthy business owner – says he included this massive corporate tax break in his budget to ward off potential legal challenges, but there is no lawsuit currently. Just a strongly worded letter.
  • Independent tax experts say the law could be fixed with a simple tax credit and the governor is conceding billions worth of revenue for no reason.
  • BONUS: Half (53%) of the $1.6 billion handout is headed OUT OF STATE, according to a new report in The Tennessean.

Taylor bill hits protestors who block a street with a felony charge, loss of voting rights

  • 9 a.m. Finance — SB 2570, by Sen. Brent Taylor, enhances the penalty, from a Class A misdemeanor to a Class D felony, for intentionally obstructing a highway and street.
  • The bill also authorizes a person who “suffers loss or injury as a result of such an offense” to file a civil lawsuit to sue for financial damages.

Niceley bill eliminates two judges in Shelby County

  • 9 a.m. Finance — SB 2517, by Sen. Frank Niceley, would eliminate two judge positions in Shelby County and create new judicial offices in 4th and 19th judicial districts.

$3M property tax break for wealthy landowners

  • 9 a.m. Finance — SB 1659 by Sen. Paige Walley could blow a new hole in county budgets by giving major landowners a new $3 million local property tax break.
  • The bill increases the number of acres a landowner can claim as lower-tax “farm property” from 1,500 to 5,000. Note: 5,000 acres is a larger land area than 48 state parks in Tennessee.

GOP vs. flags: Addressing exactly nobody’s priorities, Republicans move to limit flag displays on government property

  • 2 p.m. Senate Regular Calendar — SB 1722, by Sen. Joey Hensley, would restrict the kinds of flags that can be displayed at public schools in Tennessee. The US flag, state flags, city & county flags, school flags, country flags, university flags, armed forces flags are all protected as well as flags that are authorized under Tennessee’s Heritage Protection Act, which likely includes Confederate flags.
  • Similar to the previous bill, SB 0918, by Sen. Paul Rose, would restricts flag displays on all government buildings, including local governments and colleges, to the U.S. flag, state flag, and flags representative of the entity. P.O.W. & M.I.A. flags get a pass too.
  • What’s barred by both bills? Rainbow flags and Black Lives Matter flags would be banned. Pirate flags and joke flags, too.
  • In the TNGOP’s brain, symbolic flags (they don’t like) are a bigger problem than shuttered hospitals, gun violence, underfunded schools, child care deserts, climbing commute times, housing affordability, etc.

Already ruled unconstitutional in Louisiana, TNGOP pushes death penalty for child rape

  • 2 p.m. Senate Message Calendar – SB 1834, by Sen. Jack Johnson, would authorize the death penalty as a punishment for child rape – a policy that was ruled unconstitutional by the United States Supreme Court in 2008.
  • And, as justified as the policy may sound, advocates say child sexual assault is already underreported and this bill could lead to more family coverups and fewer police reports.
  • Experts say some parents will not report the attack if it means a death sentence for their sibling or one of their other children.

9 a.m. Finance: Bills Before the Budget

1. SR 0276 by Walley

Memorials, Recognition- National Window Film Day

2. HJR 0849 by Powers

General Assembly, Statement of Intent or Position- Urges the United States to withdraw from the United Nations.

3. SB 2095 *Gardenhire (HB 1855 by *Ragan)

Education, Higher- As introduced, requires each public institution of higher education to establish a policy framework to promote the security of academic research conducted at the institution to mitigate against the risk of foreign influence. - Amends TCA Title 49, Chapter 7.

4. SB 0588 by Jackson

Environment and Conservation - Requires that grants provided by the Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) to assist distressed counties require a 10 percent match of funds raised locally, which may include public and private funds.

5. SB 0609 *Jackson, Walley (HB 1103 by *Littleton)

Children and Youth, Commission on- As introduced, creates the Tennessee juvenile justice review commission to review an appropriate sampling of juvenile justice cases and any critical incidents involving juveniles in order to provide the general assembly with findings and legislative recommendations. - Amends TCA Title 4 and Title 37.


6. SB 0768 *Jackson (HB 1074 by *Cepicky, Martin B)

Insurance Companies, Agents, Brokers, Policies- Prohibits a health insurance entity from discriminating between a chiropractic physician and a medical physician with respect to the methodology used to calculate reimbursement or the amount of reimbursement to be paid for a service that is in the lawful scope of practice of a duly licensed chiropractic physician. Prohibits a health insurance entity from attempting to circumvent such prohibition by creating a chiropractic specific code or payment methodology not listed in the nationally recognized code book used by the health insurance entity for determining the amount of reimbursement.

7. SB 2156 *Johnson (HB 2528 by *Gant)

Education- Requires the Department of Education (DOE) to administer a School Safety Alert Grant Pilot Program to award school safety grants to local education agencies (LEAs), public charter schools, private schools, and church-related schools for the purchase of mobile panic alert systems.

8. SB 2538 *Niceley (HB 2190 by *Fritts, Todd, White, Russell, Marsh, Hurt, Capley, Butler, Zachary, Barrett, Warner, Alexander)

Governor- It authorizes the governor to send a brigade sized force (2000 or more) to Texas for the purpose of defending the border.

Fiscal memo: The Tennessee National Guard deployed approximately 125 guardsmen to the southwest border in 2023. The guardsmen were deployed for 30 days at a cost of approximately $1,400,000

9. SB 1735 *Rose (HB 1807 by *Butler, Rudd, Todd, Barrett, Hicks T, Williams, Capley, Warner, Towns, Eldridge, Hale, Freeman, Vaughan, Burkhart, McCalmon)

Codes- Requires the State Fire Marshal (SFM) or appropriate state entity to conduct a requested inspection of new construction or the renovation of an existing building within three business days of the receipt of the request. Requires an inspection done in connection with a certificate of occupancy to be completed within five business days of the receipt of the request.

10. SB 2570 *Taylor, Rose, Johnson, Yager, Bowling (HB 2031 by *Barrett, Sexton, Cepicky, Todd, Martin B, Vaughan, Sparks, Moon, Warner, Sherrell, Capley, Hale, Grills, Johnson C, Zachary, Faison, Lamberth, Richey, Garrett, McCalmon, Hicks T, Powers, Fritts, Keisling, Lafferty, Carringer, Whitson, Davis, Doggett, Farmer, Russell)

Criminal Offenses- As introduced, increases the penalty for intentionally obstructing a highway, street, or other place used for the passage of vehicles or conveyances from a Class A misdemeanor to a Class D felony; allows a person who suffers loss or injury as a result of such an offense to bring a cause of action against the offender to recover compensatory damages from the loss or injury. - Amends TCA Title 39.

11. SB 1824 *Yager

Taxes- Authorizes individuals with a primary residence in Morgan County to file a sales and use tax refund claim on purchases of major appliances, residential furniture, or residential building supplies used in a claimant’s primary residence that was damaged or destroyed as a result of a tornado that occurred during the period of April 1, 2024 to April 3, 2024.

12. HJR 0854 *Hill, Russell, Hawk

Naming and Designating- Designates August 11, 2024 as Sheriff Eddie Tester Day

13. SB 0316 *Watson, Gardenhire (HB 0776 by *Helton-Haynes)

Taxes, Sales- As introduced, restricts the types of costs of a project within a certified border region retail tourism development district or regional retail tourism development district that can be covered by an apportionment of state sales and use taxes to a municipality or industrial development corporation; makes other revisions to the Border Region Tourism Development District Act and the Regional Retail Tourism Development District Act. - Amends TCA Title 7, Chapter 40 and Title 7, Chapter 41.

9 a.m. Finance: Bills Funded in the Budget

1. SB 2158 *Haile, Yager (HB 2774 by *McCalmon, Bulso, Rudd, Davis, Capley, Carr, Littleton, Alexander, Carringer, Doggett, Cochran, Fritts, Hulsey, Sherrell, Williams, Martin B, Rudder, Boyd, Zachary, Garrett)

Immigration- establishes the procedure for the district attorney general conference to collect and compile data on the cost incurred by the state as a direct result of known illegal aliens charged or convicted of a criminal offense and submit a joint report to the Governor and the Speakers of the General Assembly.

2. SB 2159 *Haile, Massey, Reeves (HB 2321 by *Hazlewood, Marsh)

Hospitals and Health Care Facilities- As introduced, increases the amount of personal needs allowance from $50 to $70 for long-term nursing home residents. - Amends TCA Title 71.

3. SB 0503 *Johnson, Lundberg (HB 1183 by *Lamberth, White, Cepicky, Moody, Slater, Garrett)

Education- Gov. Bill Lee’s Private School Voucher Scam

4. SB 2146 *Johnson, Swann (HB 2497 by *Hurt)

Disabled Persons- Requires the Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (DIDD) to establish and implement a residential pilot program to license two participants to provide permanent housing to more than four persons with intellectual or developmental disabilities. Requires one participant to be located in Williamson County and one participant to be located in Shelby County.

5. SB 1771 *Lundberg (HB 2808 by *Hulsey)

Jails, Local Loc-ups - As introduced, makes the state liable and responsible for paying the expenses for HIV medication for inmates committed to a county jail or workhouse who previously received prescription medication to treat HIV or AIDS through a state department, agency, or program, including TennCare. - Amends TCA Title 5; Title 41 and Title 68.

6. SB 0756 *Massey, Briggs (HB 1248 by *Powers)

Elder Abuse- As introduced, requires the department of human services to advertise prominently on the home page of the department's website the division of adult protective services' toll-free telephone service that enables citizens within the state to call the division free of charge to report abuse, neglect, or exploitation and to seek relevant assistance from the division in such matters. - Amends TCA Title 8; Title 38; Title 39; Title 45; Title 68 and Title 71.

7. SB 2517 *Niceley, Southerland (HB 2002 by *Farmer, Lamberth, Russell, Johnson C, Eldridge, Glynn, Capley, Burkhart, Grills, Garrett, Carr, Todd)

Judicial Districts- Passage of the proposed legislation will eliminate two current judge positions in the 30th judicial district, the judge in part IX of the criminal court effective July 1, 2024, and the judge in part VII of the circuit court effective September 1, 2024. Effective September 1, 2024, creates one additional trial court in each of the 4th and 19th judicial districts.

8. SB 2639 *Niceley (HB 2553 by *Reedy, Hulsey, Sherrell, Lynn, Howell, Gant, McCalmon, Russell, Zachary, Travis, Burkhart, Marsh, Sparks, Wright, Fritts, Hurt, Capley, Vital, Rudd, White, Raper, Grills)

Real Property- As introduced, restricts certain foreign investments in land located within this state through the creation of two separate prohibitions, one that restricts a prohibited foreign-party-controlled business from acquiring real property and another that restricts a prohibited foreign-party from acquiring agricultural land located within this state. - Amends TCA Title 43; Title 44; Title 47; Title 48 and Title 66.

9. SB 2710 *Taylor (HB 2814 by *Gillespie, Hardaway)

Criminal Offenses- As introduced, raises the penalty for the offense of drag racing from a Class A misdemeanor to a Class E felony. - Amends TCA Title 40, Chapter 33 and Title 55, Chapter 10, Part 5.

10. SB 1659 *Walley (HB 2054 by *Eldridge)

Real Property- As introduced, increases from 1,500 to 5,000 the number of acres of land that may be placed within one property tax jurisdiction for purposes of classification and assessment as agricultural, forest, or open space land; increases from 1,500 to 5,000 the maximum acreage available to a real property owner that may be classified as forest or open space land.

Tax break for wealthy landowners. Unfunded tax break that reduces revenue for local governments without replacing lost revenue.

11. SB 2155 *Watson, Gardenhire (HB 2323 by *Hazlewood, Martin G, Gant)

Criminal Offenses- As introduced, increases the mandatory minimum confinement period for a defendant after a third or subsequent conviction of domestic assault to 90 days; upgrades the offense classification to a Class E felony upon a defendant's conviction for a sixth or subsequent qualifying misdemeanor. - Amends TCA Title 39 and Title 40.

12. SB 2791 *Watson (HB 2940 by *Hicks T, Jernigan, Gillespie, Behn, Lynn, Whitson, Helton-Haynes, Rudd, Harris, Vital, Alexander, McCalmon, Carringer, Miller, Hardaway, Eldridge, Parkinson)

TennCare- As introduced, enacts the "TennCare for Working Individuals with Disabilities Act." - Amends TCA Title 71, Chapter 5.

13. SB 2062 *White (HB 1881 by *Capley, Lamberth, Sexton, Garrett, Leatherwood, Barrett, Littleton, McCalmon, Keisling, Butler, Rudd, Boyd, Martin G, Bulso, Davis, Hill, Eldridge, Burkhart, Russell, Hicks T, Crawford, Carringer, Johnson C, Howell, Cepicky, Doggett, Hurt)

Criminal Offenses- As introduced, increases the penalty for assault against a law enforcement officer from a Class A misdemeanor with a mandatory minimum 30-day sentence and $5,000 fine to a Class E felony with a mandatory minimum 60-day sentence and $10,000 fine. - Amends TCA Title 39 and Title 40.

Unfunded mandate.

14. SB 2659 *White, Watson, Powers (HB 2180 by *White, Hazlewood, Haston, Cepicky, Cochran, Lafferty, Faison, Garrett, Hurt, Moody)

Scholarships and Financial Aid- As introduced, expands student eligibility for a Tennessee future teacher scholarship to include students enrolled in an approved educator preparation program at Western Governors University.

15. SB 1000 *Yager (HB 1046 by *Vaughan)

Tennessee Housing Development Agency- As introduced, decreases, from nine to eight, the number of affirmative votes required by members of the agency's board of directors in order for the agency to approve the operation of its financial assistance programs, which support the financing of residential housing construction for lower and moderate income persons and families.

16. SB 2332 *Yager (HB 1659 by *Hicks G)

Public Officials- As introduced, raises the base salary from $156,024 to $205,328 for district attorneys general and district public defenders.

10 a.m. Conference Committee on Lee’s Corporate Handout

1. SB 2103 *Johnson, Yager (HB 1893 by *Lamberth, Cochran)

Taxes, Franchise- As introduced, deletes the provision requiring that the measure of the franchise tax must not be less than the actual value of the real or tangible property owned or used by a taxpayer in this state; authorizes the commissioner of revenue to issue refunds under certain conditions to taxpayers who properly file a claim for refund for taxes paid under that provision.

Gov. Lee’s giant corporate tax handout.

2 p.m. Senate Regular Calendar

1. SB 1137 *Oliver (HB 1229 by *Hemmer)

Housing- Authorizes a municipality to aid or otherwise provide assistance to an industrial development corporation (IDC) by granting, contributing, or pledging to or for the benefit of the IDC revenues derived from any source except property tax revenues, for certain projects.

2. SB 2009 *Reeves (HB 2269 by *Boyd)

Health Care- with the amendment, revises the process for reviewing applications submitted to the health facilities commission. Establishes a “contested case process” for applicants.

3. SB 2117 *Massey, Yager (HB 2261 by *Wright, Vital, Davis, Zachary, McKenzie, Carringer, Butler, Sherrell, Hale, Sexton, Keisling, Crawford, Holsclaw, Hill, Hulsey, Hawk, Gillespie, White, Leatherwood, Haston, Todd, Clemmons, Marsh, Powell, Littleton, Whitson)

Hospitals and Health Care Facilities- As introduced, defines a home for the aged that houses three or fewer nonrelated persons as a tier 1 home for the aged that is subject to licensure and regulation by the department of intellectual and developmental disabilities; defines a home for the aged that houses four or more nonrelated persons as a tier 2 home for the aged that is subject to licensure and regulation by the health facilities commission; makes other related changes to the meaning of a home for the aged. - Amends TCA Title 68.

4. SB 2550 by Swann. (*HB2624 by Carr.)

Taxes, Ad Valorem - Amends TCA Title 5; Title 8; Title 13; Title 26 and Title 67. As introduced, grants first priority to property tax liens relative to receiver's liens and other liens established under the Neighborhood Preservation Act and the Tennessee Local Land Bank Program; clarifies that various provisions governing judicial sales do not apply to property tax proceedings; makes various revisions to laws governing property tax liens, delinquent property taxes, and property tax proceedings.

5. SB 2160 *Yarbro (HB 2454 by *Whitson)

Firearms and Ammunition- As introduced, enacts the "Anti-Road Rage Act of 2024"; creates a Class E felony for the reckless discharge of a firearm while operating, or as a passenger in, a motor vehicle; creates a Class A misdemeanor for the reckless brandishing or display of a firearm while operating, or as a passenger in, a motor vehicle. - Amends TCA Title 39 and Title 55.

6. SB 1722 *Hensley (HB 1605 by *Bulso, McCalmon, Powers, Todd, Warner, Sherrell, Barrett, Hill, Richey, Grills, Moon, Wright, Vaughan, White, Capley)

Flags- As introduced, prohibits LEAs and public charter schools from displaying in public schools flags other than the official United States flag and the official Tennessee state flag.

7. SB 2979 Bowling

Tullahoma - Subject to local approval, rewrites the city charter.

8. SB 0918 *Rose (HB 1319 by *Kumar, Cepicky)

Flags- As introduced, requires the United States flag and the official state flag to be displayed continuously on property owned, operated, or controlled by this state or a political subdivision of this state, including educational institutions and public school buildings; restricts the display of flags other than the United States flag and the official state flag on said property to only those periods of time for which an entity represented by the flag is meeting or performing an authorized function on the property, with certain exceptions. - Amends TCA Title 4; Title 5; Title 6; Title 7; Title 15; Title 49 and Title 58.

Prohibits ANY unauthorized flag from being flown on state property.

2 p.m. Senate Message Calendar

1. SB 0191 *Lundberg (HB 0390 by *Cepicky)

Education- Removes “bullet-resistant” as a specification for entry-resistant film that is required on the glass panel of each exterior entry or basement level window and door for schools constructed or remodeled after July 1, 2023; makes various other changes to RTI instruction.

2. SB 1140 *Lundberg (HB 0886 by *Hawk)

Taxes, Sales- Directs the Tennessee Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations (TACIR) to conduct a study on the cost to businesses of collecting and remitting state and local taxes, the cost to the State of Tennessee for reasonable remuneration for sales tax collection including vendor compensation to businesses as compared to other states, and the cost to businesses of payment card interchange fees on the tax portion of transactions.

3. SB 1594 *Massey (HB 1607 by *Howell)

Highways, Roads and Bridges- As introduced, requires the commissioner of transportation to include any change orders in the commissioner's quarterly report submitted to the state building commission regarding the status of road projects.

4. SB 1692 *Johnson (HB 1731 by *McCalmon)

Consumer Protection- Creates the Modernization of Towing, Immobilization, and Oversight Normalization (MOTION) Act. Prohibits a commercial parking lot owner from: (1) booting or towing a motor vehicle located on the lot owner's lot if the motor vehicle is not an abandoned, immobile, or unattended motor vehicle; (2) utilizing an automatic license plate reader to enforce the lot owner's parking requirements without first posting a sign; and (3) charging a penalty for non-payment of parking fees for a first violation in excess of the actual cost of the unpaid cost to park; provided, however, that a commercial parking lot owner may charge a late fee of up to $50.00 in addition to the actual cost of the unpaid cost to park if the actual cost of the unpaid cost to park is not paid within 30 calendar days.

5. SB 1740 *Haile (HB 1723 by *Hazlewood)

TennCare- As introduced, enacts the "Annual Coverage Assessment Act of 2024," which requires each covered hospital licensed as of July 1, 2024 to pay an annual coverage assessment for FY 2024-2025 of a certain percentage of the covered hospital's annual coverage assessment base. - Amends TCA Title 71, Chapter 5.

6. SB 1834 *Johnson, Yager, Haile (HB 1663 by *Lamberth, Littleton, Faison, Capley, Sexton, Garrett, Doggett, McCalmon, Zachary, Grills, Sherrell, Bricken, Wright, Davis, Russell, Martin G, Vital, Hawk, Moon, Hicks G)

Sentencing- As introduced, authorizes the death penalty as a punishment for rape of a child, aggravated rape of a child, or especially aggravated rape of a child.

7. SB 1844 *Briggs (HB 1937 by *Holsclaw)

Alcoholic Beverages- Omnibus liqueur by the drink bill

8. SB 1972 *Rose (HB 2692 by *Doggett, Hardaway, Towns, Lamberth, Moody, Russell, Gillespie, Davis, Howell, Hulsey, Johnson G, Farmer, Carringer, Fritts)

Domestic Violence- As introduced, requires the court to order an offender to wear a global positioning monitoring system device under certain circumstances unless the court finds the offender no longer poses a threat to the alleged victim or public safety; specifies that a cellular device application or electronic receptor device provided to the victim must be capable of notifying the victim if the offender is within a prescribed proximity of the victim's cellular device or electronic receptor device; requires a county or municipality utilizing global positioning monitoring system devices to enter into a written agreement with a qualified contract service provider; removes civil and criminal liability under certain circumstances.

9. SB 2044 *Lundberg (HB 2188 by *Lamberth)

Sentencing- As introduced, states that, for inmates serving a sentence of two years or more for an offense committed on or after July 1, 2024, sentence reduction credits shall not operate to alter the defendant's sentence expiration date, but may be used to reduce the percentage of the sentence imposed by the court that the person must serve before becoming eligible for release on parole; requires release eligibility for each defendant to occur when the defendant becomes eligible for parole or upon expiration of the entire sentence imposed on a defendant. - Amends TCA Title 39; Title 40 and Title 41.

Watch. Clarifies that TDOC cannot use sentence reduction credits to reduce sentences imposed by a judge. Under the bill, TDOC is only allowed to reduce the defendant’s time in prison.

10. SB 2136 *Reeves (HB 2318 by *Williams, Whitson)

Medical Occupations- As introduced, makes various changes to the authorized scope of practice of physician assistants and advanced practice nurses who meet certain qualifications. - Amends TCA Title 55; Title 63 and Title 68.

11. SB 2221 *Powers (HB 1658 by *Lamberth)

Criminal Offenses- As introduced, creates the Class E felony offense of assault against a participant in judicial proceedings, which occurs when a person, while on the premises of a building in which judicial proceedings occur, knowingly assaults a victim that the person knows or reasonably should know is present due to the victim's participation in judicial proceedings. - Amends TCA Title 39.

12. SB 2820 *Haile (HB 2922 by *Sexton)

Education- Authorizes the formation of opportunity public charter schools, which are public charter schools that serve any of the grades six through twelve (6-12) for which at least 75 percent of the students enrolled are at-risk and which may operate a residential program.

13. SB 2915 *Bailey (HB 1805 by *Butler, Whitson)

Motor Vehicles, Titling and Registration- As introduced, authorizes proration of the registration fee for freight motor vehicles operated for commercial purposes upon the death of an eligible operator of the freight motor vehicle; requires submission of certain documentation prior to issuance of a refund for the unused portion of the registration fee paid.

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