March 29, 2018 | Tennessee Chamber of Commerce & Industry
March 29, 2018
Legislative Session Begins to Wind Down, Candidate Filing Deadline Looms

2018 will be a significant election year in Tennessee. In the legislature alone it is anticipated that approximately 30 members will not seek reelection, the 2019 General Assembly will look very different. By this time next week, we will have a clearer picture of who all of the candidates are and what a future Legislature may look like. The candidate filing deadline is next week, Thursday April 5 at Noon (local time). If you or someone you know is planning to run, we suggest you turn in your petition early. Do not wait until the last minute to get it certified. 

The 2018 Legislative Session in Tennessee is beginning to move towards its conclusion. This week all but two House sub-committees completed their calendars. Most of the House’s full committees will complete their work next week. In the Senate only Judiciary and Finance, Ways & Means committees remain open. House and Senates Finance Committees are busy preparing the final language for the budget and we predict that the bodies could complete their work in the next two weeks. 

Since the Candidate filing deadline falls in the middle of this crucial period. It is possible that an unforeseen event could delay a speedy adjournment. For now, we are proceeding with haste to complete the Chamber led initiatives and celebrate a successful session.  
Tennessee General Assembly: Weekly Calendars
Senate’s weekly calendar click  HERE .
House of Representative’s weekly committee calendar click  HERE

All but two House of Representative’s subcommittees are closed.
Civil Justice and Budget Sub calendars are listed with the full committees
 
Additional Meetings or Diversions from the Norm
Monday, April 2, 2018
  • 1:00pm Joint Ad Hoc Committee on Disability Services meets in Senate Hearing Room 2 Agenda
  • 1:00pm House Criminal Justice Committee
  • 1:30pm House Government Operations Committee  
Tuesday, April 3, 2018
  • 8:30am Senate Finance: Appropriations Subcommittee
Wednesday, April 4, 2018
  • 8:00am House Floor Session
  • 8:30am Senate Floor Session

Note: The House is expected to suspend the rules next week and adopt “the flow motion”. During this period it is advisable to be alert; additional meetings can be announced and held on shorter notice. Rules regarding timely filed amendments may also be modified.
Senate Finance Committee Hears Testimony That Without State Action Franchise and Excise Taxes Will Increase
Experts testify on impacts to state taxes
 
This afternoon the Senate Committee of Finance Way & Means called a special meeting to hear from the business community and tax experts on the impact of federal tax reform. Unless you are an active participant in your company’s tax compliance, you may not realize that Tennessee’s business taxes mirror the schedules and methods of tax collection used by the IRS. When Congress passed and President Trump signed the Federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act last December, many of use cheered lower corporate tax rates for business. However, one consequence for states ( like Tennessee, who match the federal tax base ) is that the scope of state tax liability for state franchise and excise taxes was also increased, when the federal tax base was broadened. Without legislative action at the state level many businesses will pay more in state business tax than they did last year, even though their business operations have stayed the same. 

The Tennessee Chamber’s tax committee has spent the past two months analyzing the impact of federal tax reform on business taxes in Tennessee. Today’s meeting was an opportunity to update Senators on these findings.  You can view the testimony here .   The hearing begins at the 19 minute mark. Please watch the testimony from the Business tax experts that begins at the 55 minute mark.

Carl Hartley, Chairman of the Tennessee Chamber’s Taxation Committee summarized the testimony of the business tax experts, stating “ Our recommendation on behalf of the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce & Industry is to decouple from IRS section 163(j) [deduction for expensing interest payments], and also to set a policy statement that we are not going to tax grants from ECD. ” 

Call to Action:    In the coming weeks, we need the business community, local chambers of commerce and economic development professionals to weigh in with their legislators about this important issue.  
  • The TN Chamber believes we must align with neighboring states to preserve the deduction for interest payments as an expense, and
  • The TN Chamber wants to ensure that ECD grants for industrial development and job creation incentives are not subject to the 6.5% excise tax that businesses pay to the state

We need you to let your legislators know you support Sen. John Stevens’s (R-Huntington) and Rep. Gerald McCormick’s (R-Chattanooga) effort to hold the line and prevent an unintended expansion of business taxes in Tennessee. Their legislation SB2119 / HB2310 will be amended to decouple state business taxes from the federal provisions for the interest expensing deduction and maintain the status for capital contributions. The legislation would preserve the tax treatment for these provisions prior to the expansion of the tax base caused by federal tax reform. Simply put, we want to apply the tax the same way in 2018 and future years, as it was done in 2017 and prior years. Addressing these two areas will provide a safe harbor for members of the business community, who are facing additional taxes under redefinition of the federal tax law.

It is important to note. Six of our eight surrounding states are working to enact changes to their state business taxes to mitigate any negative impacts on business from federal reform. We must act this year to keep Tennessee’s tax structure competitive.

The Tennessee Chamber of Commerce & Industry/Tennessee Manufacturers Association (TMA), is pleased to announce the 2018 TMA Statewide Tour . This 13 date tour will feature TMA’s Denise Rice, who will update attendees on the state of Tennessee manufacturing, provide a recap on Tennessee’s 2018 Legislative Session & its impact on manufacturing, and conclude with a Q&A period.

Locations include: Franklin, Maryville, Clinton, Chattanooga, Knoxville, Cleveland, Memphis, Jackson, Gallatin, Nashville, Smyrna/Murfreesboro, Kingsport and Morristown

Three sponsorship levels are available: Presenting, Gold and Silver. Please contact Suzie Lusk for more information. Register at www.tnmfg.org or call (615) 256-5141.
Tennessee Chamber Work Based Learning Initiative Moves to Competitive Finance Committees

As you all know, Tennessee faces a skilled workforce shortage. Business and Industry needs young people to graduate high school and college equipped with the skills necessary to move our economy forward. Work based learning teaches students the soft skills that are expected in the workforce, connects what they learn in school to employers that can benefit from their knowledge, and provides focus to students who may otherwise struggle to find their career path.

The Chamber member survey results recently showed that employers find that there are regulatory and financial barriers that prevent them from participating in work based learning. Because of this, work based learning coordinators, the highly skilled career and technical education educators who teach and supervise work based learning students, sometimes struggle to find work placements for their students. In an effort to boost Tennessee’s work based learning efforts and help ensure that Tennessee has a ready workforce, the Tennessee Chamber with Rep. John Forgety (R-Athens) and Senator Mark Norris (R-Collierville) drafted, introduced, and advocated for legislation to increase work based learning in Tennessee.

HB 1599 / SB 1649 does two things to improve work based learning. First, it establishes franchise and excise tax credits ($500 for each student; up to ten students per employer) for employers who host work based learning students. This measure will help to offset the cost of hosting students and will incentivize employers to invest in work based learning. Next, the legislation clarifies the liability protection for employers that offer work based learning opportunities by stating that students who participate in work based learning are covered under the insurance policy of their local K-12 school systems or TBR institution. Tennessee statute surrounding work based learning liability will benefit from this additional clarity.

In the coming weeks, this legislation will come before House and Senate Finance Committees, its hardest test yet. We encourage you to contact your legislators and ask them to support this legislation that will be heard in the House Finance Subcommittee and the Senate Finance Committee .
Water Permit Shield Continues Its Journey through House Committees
State Senate passed legislation one week ago

This week the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee passed HB 2313 by Rep. Ron Lollar (R-Bartlett). This legislation adds a permit shield to operators of a NPDES water permit approved by TDEC. The clarification provides liability protections for good actors who are in compliance with the requirements of their permit. The Tennessee Chamber’s Environment committee has worked closely with TDEC to negotiate amendatory language that both industry and regulators agreed with. We look forward to this legislation being heard in the House Government Operations Committee this Monday. It potentially would be heard by the entire House the end of next week. 

Business and a Biscuit Legislative Series
A Fast Paced Preview of the Legislative Week Ahead

Week #11: Monday, April 2, 2018
10:00am – 10:30am CST
Location: TN Chamber Office, 414 Union Street, Nashville, TN 37219

**Join in person or dial-in by phone**
RSVP email required: info@tnchamber.org
Spring Has Sprung in 2018
Festival Season in Tennessee is now in Bloom
This week our friends from Fayetteville and Lincoln County, TN hosted the annual Hamburger Day on the Hill . This annual event is a hit among legislators and their staff, including topping off a hamburger with some "pool room slaw". While Garden and Gun Magazine included a recipe for “ pool room slaw ” in their 2015 cookbook, we suggest you go try one of the originals. To do so, travel later this month at the Slawburger Festival in Fayetteville April 21

Check out these spring festivals promoted by the TN Dept. of Tourism for the month of April.

Many other communities will be beginning their series of free events and concerts. Check in with your local Chamber of Commerce to see what is happening in your community. 

Tennessee Chamber of Commerce & Industry | www.tnchamber.org
(615) 256-5141 | info@tnchamber.org