The Unemployment Insurance Accountability Act of 2012 was put together after a series of meetings with Tennessee businessmen and job creators. A series of hearings with members of the small business community, entrepreneurs and other individuals involved with private economic development took place and they each came back with serious proposals to jumpstart Tennessee’s economy, but the main complaint focused on government and the lack of accountability in the unemployment insurance program.
Rep. Jimmy Matlock from Monree County sponsored the bill and cited these concerns during the House debate.
“We are for helping everyone with legitimate needs and building them up into the economy,” he said. “Our intent, with this legislation, is to motivate and help those citizens who need the support.”
The East Tennessee lawmaker also discussed the work of the small business task force that helped him craft this legislation. He remarked, “We spent a lot of time figuring out the best way to reform the process and ensure those who have legitimate needs can get that help without taking advantage of taxpayer dollars.”
This legislation instills more accountability in the system which is a priority for the job creators in this state. Additionally, it incentivizes those who are on unemployment to actively look for work. I believe it is our job to advocate for the taxpayers and make sure we are being good stewards of their resources.
The legislation makes the following revisions to the system:
1. Increases definition of misconduct to absenteeism;
2. Increases audits of those seeking unemployment benefits;
3. Heightens work search requirements for those utilizing unemployment benefits;
4. Prohibits claimants from obtaining benefits if the claimant is "incarcerated four or more days in any week for which unemployment benefits are being claimed"; and
5. Ensures claimants cannot receive both severance package and draw unemployment support at the same time.
As a member of a locally own family business, I know how unemployment insurance rates have skyrocketed for businesses recently. It’s because there are problems within the system that we can start fixing here today. The passage of this bill will untie the hands of small businesses — our job creators.
Synthetic drug bill
sees landmark passage
We took two major steps in the battle against the manufacture and usage of synthetic drugs with passage of a landmark bill and a bill to strengthen the penalties against synthetic drug peddlers by another lawmaker.
Earlier this legislative session, the General Assembly passed House Bill 2645 that defined the chemical compounds that make up the synthetic drugs. House Bill 3175 received bipartisan support, passing the House Monday by a 94-0 vote. The legislation, which is headed to the Senate for approval, creates various felony offenses regarding synthetic drugs such as bath salts. The legislation maintains continuity throughout the Tennessee Code by ensuring that most present law provisions regarding controlled substances would also apply to synthetic drugs and the bill strengthens certain criminal penalties.
As we all know from numerous recent new reports, “bath salts” are ripping our communities apart and hurting Tennesseans, This bill will put our laws at the forefront of the fight against synthetic drugs that have already claimed far too many lives. I believe the bill breaks new ground in the fight against illegal analogue synthetic drugs because it criminalizes the drugs and takes the additional step of listing the effects of the drugs on the users so magistrates will have a detailed understanding of the substances. This allows for greater judicial flexibility in determining felony violations.
The other bill takes aim squarely at illegal drug manufacturers and sellers. HB 2286 makes it a Class E felony for a person to knowingly manufacture, deliver, sell, or possess with the intent to sell, deliver or manufacture an imitation controlled substance. The bill received the overwhelming support of the House on Monday night, passing 99-0. Along with those bills, House Bill 2645 adds over 20 synthetic derivatives or analogues of meth to the current Tennessee Code and criminalizes possession of the bath salts. The bill overwhelmingly passed the House of Representatives in bipartisan fashion, 95-0, on April 9. The legislation continues the House Majority’s fight to crack down on meth production that is derived from the use of ingredients found in bath salts or Molly’s Plant Food.
With the passage of these bills, the House has spoken with one voice that stopping these illegal drugs is a top priority of our state. When these bills become law, the manufacture, distribution, use and possession of these analogues will be met with serious consequences and anyone involved with these drugs should take notice. While my colleagues and I can certainly be proud of our actions, the need for these bills was brought to our attention by the people of East Tennessee who deserve a lot of credit for being vigilant, taking action and making a stand against these drugs.
(Editor’s Note: The second part of State Rep. Eric Watson’s “Capitol Hill Review” column will be published in Sunday’s edition).