House lawmakers focus on jobs, education, business
by Kevin Brooks and Eric Watson
May 11, 2014 | 642 views | 0 0 comments | 27 27 recommendations | email to a friend | print
(Editor’s Note: State Rep. Kevin Brooks, R-Cleveland representing the 24th Legislative District, and state Rep. Eric Watson, R-Cleveland representing the 22nd Legislative District, have submitted a comprehensive recap of actions taken by the Tennessee House of Representatives during the recently completed second half of the 108th General Assembly. It is being published as a five-part series in the Sunday editions of the Cleveland Daily Banner. Today’s installment is Part 1.)

The Tennessee House of Representatives recently wrapped up the second half of the 108th General Assembly, focusing efforts on passing common-sense legislative initiatives to aid both immediate and long-term economic development in Tennessee’s private sector.

Measures to protect teachers, ensure employers find Tennessee an attractive destination for their businesses and reinvigorate the state’s education system to better train the next generation of Tennessee workers were among the House’s priorities. In addition, House Republicans worked hard this year to ensure the state continues to foster an environment where new jobs are created and small business can thrive.

With Republicans at the helm, the state Legislature finished its work in record time, saving millions of dollars for taxpayers across the state.

After adjournment of the Legislature, House Speaker Beth Harwell, R-Nashville, remarked, “I am proud of what we have accomplished together this session, and adjourning this early reflects the Legislature’s commitment to conducting its business in an efficient and effective manner. I have enjoyed working with Gov. Bill Haslam and my colleagues in the General Assembly to help make Tennessee the number one location in the Southeast for high quality jobs. I look forward to building upon the progress we have made this session to make our state an even better place to live, work and raise a family.”

With the 108th General Assembly now in the books, the House Republican Caucus is ready to continue advocating for conservative fiscal policies to carry forward this year’s efforts into the next legislative session.

House passes fiscally

responsible budget, cuts

government waste

and focuses on jobs

The House of Representatives passed Tennessee’s annual budget on a 68 to 27 vote. The bill’s passage was the culmination of months of tireless work crafting a fiscally responsible and balanced budget.

While the $32.4 billion budget does contain cuts due to a shortfall in projected tax revenue collections for the year, House Republicans focused their efforts on passing a lean, well-planned budget that preserves and protects those services Tennesseans depend on across the state while also helping provide an even better environment for businesses to grow and for jobs to flourish.

Budget highlights include:

1. Providing $8.5 million in salary equity funds for the 83 lowest paid school systems across the state;

2. A continued investment in jobs by providing over $56 million to the Jobs4TN program;

3. $77 million to TennCare to handle increased enrollment;

4. Increased funding for the Department of Children’s Services and the Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities;

5. Expanded the Turney Industrial Complex by 200 beds to help overcrowding in local jails;

6. $35.5 million to the state's Rainy Day Fund;

7. Fully funded the state's pension plan, making it one of the most healthy retirement systems in the entire country;

8. Preserving full funding for the state’s Basic Education Program’s equity fund;

9. $31 million to continue the state's property tax freeze for seniors and disabled veterans; and

10. Fully funded the cost of increased insurance premiums for state employees.

When Republicans became the General Assembly’s majority party in 2010, they promised Tennesseans that fiscal responsibility would be a priority. The budget they crafted holds true to that principle while ensuring Tennesseans get the services they expect and deserve.

Tennessee is named

‘2013 State of the Year’

for economic development

Earlier this year, Business Facilities magazine, a national economic development publication, officially named Tennessee as its “2013 State of the Year” for economic development, based on the state’s huge success over the last 12 months in recruiting new business and promoting economic development across Tennessee.

Cited in the magazine’s report were the state’s top five economic development projects of 2013 which created a total of 6,900 jobs, $3.2 billion in capital investment and included seven expansions and three new recruitments.

This new award comes on the heels of other recent accolades for Tennessee, including being named No. 1 state in the nation for automotive manufacturing strength for an unprecedented four years in a row. Tennessee was also ranked in the top five states with the best business climate by Site Selection magazine and as the fourth best state in the U.S. for business in Chief Executive Magazine’s Annual Best & Worst States for Business Survey.

The top economic development projects for number of jobs created and amount of capital invested named by Business Facilities include:

1. Top Five Projects for Jobs: Hankook Tire Co. Ltd. (Montgomery County), 1,800 jobs; ARAMARK (Davidson County), 1,500 jobs; Nissan North America, Inc. (Rutherford County), 1,400 jobs; Calsonic Kansei North America (Bedford, Marshall and Rutherford Counties), 1,200 jobs; and UBS (Davidson County), 1,000 jobs.

2. Top Five Projects for Capital Investment: Eastman Chemical Company (Sullivan County): $1.6 billion; Hankook Tire Co. Ltd (Montgomery County), $800 million; International Paper Company (Shelby County), $321 million; and Nike Inc. (Shelby County), $276 million.

Unemployment Insurance

Rate Reform Bill passes

House of Representatives

House Bill 1386 — legislation designed to help attract new businesses to the state and save tens of thousands of dollars once businesses relocate here — passed the full House of Representatives this year with bipartisan support from state lawmakers.

Under present law, workers who lose their jobs through no fault of their own are provided weekly unemployment insurance payments. These payments are funded by employers who pay taxes on the wages paid to employees. The tax rate that employers must pay is based on whether they are a new employer or an experience rated employer. New companies locating to the state must currently pay a higher rate because they have no prior experience in Tennessee.

House Bill 1386 allows new companies coming to Tennessee to base their unemployment insurance premiums on the past history of the state they are relocating from, saving thousands of dollars for the company. Proponents of the legislation believe this change in the unemployment insurance law will help recruit an additional five manufacturers to the state each year.