Representatives ushered legislation to full passage that protects Tennessee workers while at their places of employment. The bill, HB 1586, addresses violence in the workplace by criminalizing extortion, coercion and violence at work.
Recently, there have been a number of accounts of violent situations at work. In fact, a study by the U.S. Department of Labor found that 50 percent of firms that employ over 1,000 workers reported instances of workplace violence. Annually, over 1.7 million individuals are victims of violence at the office.
The bill sponsor seeks to put an end to those situations. He remarked, “Instituting these reforms is consistent with our efforts to make Tennessee the best right-to-work state in the nation.”
Employers are also protected by the legislation and the exemption for labor unions is removed from the Tennessee Code.
measure passes full House
In a move that many view as a way to restore accountability to the judicial system, the House passed HB 694 this session. The bill consolidates the methods for deferral of criminal proceedings and removes an avenue that criminals could use to delay their sentence or avert taking responsibility for their actions.
“With the current system, criminals can avoid responsibility for their actions and that is unacceptable,” stated the majority chairwoman of the House. “Under this bill, defendants can still make a case in front of a judge to obtain probationary status but must take responsibility. It brings fairness to the courtroom and sends a message that accountability and victims’ rights will be respected in our judicial process.”
Voter photo ID
Late in the final legislative week, the House passed a major reform to our electoral system that calls for Tennesseans to present a valid photo ID in order to vote. Various public opinion polls from Tennessee show citizens overwhelmingly support the common sense measure.
The bill, HB 7, passed the House by a wide 57-35 margin. Numerous comments were made in support of the legislation. One of the bill’s backers stated, “For years, our system has operated under the premise of ‘one person, one vote.’ This bill respects that premise and removes any doubt that is the principle guiding our electoral system.”
By requiring a simple photo ID, the legislation institutes a common sense reform that ensures every legitimate vote in Tennessee counts. “With the technology we have in today’s world,” noted another conservative legislator, “there is no excuse to allow someone’s legitimate vote to be canceled out by a person who shouldn’t be voting in the first place.”
The governor recently signed the bill into law.
from the first session
of the 107th General Assembly
- Blue Alert Law: The governor signed into law House Bill 724, the “Blue Alert Act” that was passed by the House. The new law allows the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) to utilize the existing “Amber Alert” infrastructure to notify the public in an efficient and timely manner about violent criminals who have either severely injured or killed a law enforcement officer. The law costs nothing to Tennessee taxpayers, yet it greatly enhances the information available to the public about violent criminals who are at-large in their communities.
- Brownfield Redevelopment: This straightforward economic development bill will help reinvigorate downtown “brownfield areas,” locations formerly occupied by factories. The law creates redevelopment zones that allow economic studies to be conducted and plans created for how to best utilize these areas. With this legislation, communities now have a way forward to develop a solution in order to bring more job opportunities into their areas.
- Unclaimed Property: The House urged all citizens to visit an updated state website that features hundreds of listings for unclaimed property. In terms of property, Tennessee does not hold to a law of escheat, meaning that unclaimed property after a certain time period “returns to the crown.” The state of Tennessee, through the Treasury Department, holds unclaimed property until it is reclaimed by the rightful owner, or by the owner’s heirs (if the owner is deceased). Anyone can search for unclaimed properties by name at this website: http://treasury.tn.gov/unclaim/FindUnclaimed.html.
- Storm Shelter Tax Relief: Concerns over how best to help Tennesseans recover from tornadoes and strong storms led one legislator to introduce legislation that provides a tax exemption for expenses resulting from the construction of a tornado or storm shelter, as well as improvements to existing shelters. In order for an individual to qualify, the sales price per item must be $3,200 or less. The legislation will soon become law.
- Taxpayer Funds Saved Through Increased Buying Power: House members passed a common sense initiative to allow any emergency communications district to purchase emergency equipment under the same terms of a legal bid initiated by any other district. The new law will help save Tennesseans’ hard-earned taxpayer dollars during times of emergency when every dollar counts.
- Flags for Veterans: At the urging of House members in February, the Tennessee Department of Veterans Affairs changed state cemetery policies and procedures to permit decoration of all graves with American flags at each state Veterans Cemetery (East, West and Middle) for Veterans Day and Memorial Day. Previously, the placement of American flags on graves was permitted only on Memorial Day. The department’s change in policy regarding placement of flags on graves on Veterans Day is expected to conform to the anticipated change in Federal policy. The placement and removal of such American flags will be coordinated with the applicable cemetery director.
Having completed its business, the 107th General Assembly is set to reconvene at noon on Jan. 10, 2012.